Greater Visibility and Intelligence Sharing across Departments and Teams
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, retailers didn’t realize how much it would impact the way they conducted business. The first hint came when lockdowns shuttered brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers shifted even further to online options. (Over two billion people purchased goods/services online in 2020.) And small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) quickly realized the need to either add an eCommerce site or expand their existing one.
However, just having an omnichannel commerce presence isn’t enough to guarantee success. As a retailer, you must understand your eCommerce retail pipeline, and that knowledge comes when you have a 360-degree view of your business, full access to your financial data, and easy collaboration between your departments and teams.
Greater visibility and intelligence sharing is possible by supporting eCommerce with ERP.
What Information Comes through Your eCommerce Solution, and Why Should You Integrate with ERP?
Before looking at how ERP software supports an eCommerce solution, we first must understand what information can be obtained from it.
An eCommerce solution is the online platform through which businesses can easily interact with customers. In addition to contact information, this site provides data about customer preferences, behaviors, and interactions with the company website and team members. It also gives an overview of which carts are abandoned and which convert into sales and revenue.
This data is essential for running a business, but it’s not enough in and of itself. The eCommerce platform must be integrated with other departmental data—including sales, accounting, finance, manufacturing, service, and supply chain information—to get a complete picture of how the business is doing and how it can be improved. Integration between departments is made possible with ERP software or ERP systems.
ERP systems are single business management solutions that connect every facet of an organization, end-to-end. Data from each department flows to—and out of—the centralized ERP software, which you and your team members can access simultaneously, whether in-office or remotely. You can report, analyze, and apply this synchronized information to make intelligent, business-growing decisions. An ERP solution can seamlessly integrate with third-party applications, streamline workflows, and automate business processes across the board.
ERP consolidates all orders into one order management system where you can automate much of the order fulfillment process. As a growing eCommerce brand that is expanding to multiple sales channels, you can effortlessly manage the orders and inventory allocations coming from those multiple channels. Additionally, ERP software helps merchants, such as yourself, who may be losing tens of thousands per month (sometimes 100’s of thousands per month) to returns, easily track returning items, ensure items are returned in appropriate condition, and issue a refund to buyers.
Further benefits include:
- Eliminating manual data entry.
- Improving order processing.
- Increasing inventory accuracy.
- Enhancing customer satisfaction.
- Improving business intelligence.
You can also efficiently track sales, generate reports, and allocate resources. The truth is, customer-facing platforms and back-office solutions are just better together.
Which ERP Systems Are Best for eCommerce?
The best ERP systems for eCommerce are those that provide a full suite of connected applications within the solution itself and have open APIs for rapid, bi-directional connections to eCommerce platforms. They should be flexible and customizable, able to fit the unique needs of every retailer. They should also be affordable, so SMBs can compete with larger, more established companies.
Additionally, eCommerce ERP systems should provide deployment options, such as on-premise, cloud, or hybrid approaches. However, on-premise solutions require expensive, upfront hardware investments, and they place full control of the software and hardware—including updates, upgrades, and security—into the hands of the business’s IT department. A cloud option eliminates the initial expenditure and holds the cloud ERP vendor responsible for maintenance and safety. Cloud deployment also enables users to access the system from anywhere, at any time, via any web-enabled device—which means 24/7, real-time data visibility.
How to Integrate eCommerce with ERP
Selecting the best eCommerce solution for your business is the first hurdle. But other bottlenecks to implementation can arise. For example, getting leadership and organizational buy-in is the next step. Without the backing of every team member, your ERP implementation will be an expensive, time-consuming endeavor that may not succeed. Prior to the implementation, your team will need to understand how the ERP system will benefit them: such as spurring effective collaboration, giving them a single solution vs. multiple, disconnected ones, and providing updated, accurate information at all times.
Once the team is excited about (or at least accepting of) the integration, the next steps vary. If you choose an on-premise deployment, you’ll need to wait for the hardware and software to arrive. In an article on the ERP implementation lifecycle, Todd Kuhns, Acumatica’s VP of Professional Services, writes, “Sometimes there is a lead time for delivery of hardware and software, installation of infrastructure components like networking facilities and data collection/display devices, and installation of software that could be anywhere from several days to several weeks or more. Cloud-based ERP may have little or no installation lead time and no software installation requirements.”
Data conversion and loading make up the next step, followed by user training and procedure development, testing and validation, “go-live,” and ongoing support/improvements. Through each step, the ERP vendor will help integrate your eCommerce site with the ERP software in the best way for your business.
How Acumatica Can Help
Acumatica Cloud ERP is a comprehensive ERP solution sold and implemented by dedicated, expert Acumatica Value Added Resellers (VARs). Their job is to walk with you, step-by-step, through—and beyond—the implementation process.
As I noted in “How ERP Solutions Can Help Retailers Exceed Expectations in 2022”: “Retailers can expect to improve their customers’ omnichannel sales experiences, automate sales order and fulfillment processes, and enable continuity of operations by tightly integrating Acumatica’s Sales, CRM, Financials, Fulfillment, and Inventory applications with eCommerce solutions. These thorough, native integrations extend the Acumatica system, creating an automated omnichannel environment that produces optimal merchant and customer experiences.”
Acumatica also offers native integrations with BigCommerce and Shopify, and these eCommerce ERP partnerships help SMBs achieve accelerated growth and enjoy multiple benefits, including reduced stock-outs and back orders, faster order processing and fulfillment, streamlined returns and exchanges, easy integration with web stores and POS systems, and a smooth omnichannel experience for customers.
To learn more about supporting eCommerce with ERP, contact our experts today.