Your eCommerce business has started small but has now grown into a major brand. You are thrilled to see the customers and orders flow and the sales increase.
But, as your customer base grows, so does your operations complexity. You might face difficulties each day managing all the spreadsheets, inventory apps, shipping trackings, and CRM systems. As much joy as this business brings, you will also suffer from stress.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
ERP (enterprise resource planning) is one of the best eCommerce tools to make the management of your eCommerce business operations less time- and effort-consuming. The Hubspot survey reports that 46% of organizations improve their key business processes and 49% of organizations improve all business processes only with the help of ERP.
If you were looking for a way to keep all your operations in one place, you have stumbled on the right article. Keep reading and find out what ERP for eCommerce is, how it can benefit your business, and how to start using it in the most productive way.
What Does ERP Mean for eCommerce?
An ERP (enterprise resource planning) system pulls all your eCommerce business operations into a single channel. You do not have to rely on different systems for payments, inventory management, customer relationship management, packaging, shipping, analytics, etc. An ERP ensures all the data stays in one place, and you can control every side of your eCommerce business from one platform.
Some of the functions are already built into the ERP, but you can also integrate systems that you already use into the platform.
Benefits of eCommerce Website Integration With ERP
The process of ERP eCommerce integration does require some planning, but you will get your return of time and effort fast – that is the primary benefit of an ERP to any eCommerce business.
When all your business processes are scattered around different platforms, you have to do a lot of manual work that takes time and effort. You will have to transfer data from payments to inventory and shipping and squeeze customer relationship management somewhere in between.
When entering data manually, you risk losing some data or transferring it incorrectly, let alone taking days to complete the process. For example, you may forget to send customers updates on their order while transferring data into CRM or incorrectly type in the shipping address. The only way to prevent human errors is to automate the operations.
ERP implementation improves business processes in 95% of cases. It automates data transfer and even does some business predictions for you – like estimating when some type of product is going to be out of stock – so that you can focus on more essential tasks rather than micromanagement.
Real-Time Data Availability
Centralized enterprise-wide data is among the 3 top benefits of ERP software. As a result of automation, you will be able to see the whole picture of your business in real time. You won’t need to wait till the end of every month to finally pull the data together and devise process improvement strategies. On the contrary, you will be able to see new growth opportunities and the coming risks in real time.
ERP pulls together data from every business operation and turns it neatly into graphics and suggestions. It can also provide you a comparison to historical data or even track some data of your competitors. Just click that refresh button and you will have a full overview in less than a second.
Greater Control and Insight
Some of the best ERP software has built-in reporting and analytics tools. You can analyze data on your own or let artificial intelligence do it for you and, eventually, gain valuable insights into how productive and efficient your operations and communication between different departments are.
For example, you may learn how often your inventory runs out of stock, when it happens, and why. You might discover that you need fewer or more people to handle customer service. Overall, an ERP enables businesses to make more informed decisions and spot areas of improvement.
It’s predicted that by 2022, 65% of Chief Information Officers would integrate AI into ERP systems which would enhance its analytical capabilities even further.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
ERP increases on-time deliveries by 24% which has a positive effect on customer satisfaction. When business operations run smoothly, customers get all their wanted products on time and with exceptionally great customer service.
With an eCommerce ERP system, you will always have the required products in stock and carefully track order within one system. An ERP will provide both shoppers and customer service teams with real-time data on the order status with no delays or mistakes caused by manual data entry.
Naturally, you’ll boost your customer satisfaction and retention rates. Your target audience is also more likely to recommend your business to their friends and family, and you will be able to get free but the most effective advertising.
Our customer, Wexon, has already felt this benefit from their B2B clients. With an ERP e commerce integration that we have built, they can give customers a full overview and status of their order, even if it was taken via phone.
It is true that assembling an ERP will demand some investment on your side. Still, ERP integration will reduce operational costs by 23% and administration costs by 22% in the long run. You won’t have to hire more staff to take care of your operations and/or integrate extra software to manage every detail of your business.
There are some indirect cost reductions as well: you won’t lose your customers to out-of-stock items or delayed shipping and will make more informed decisions based on real-time data.
Unlimited Scalability & Flexibility
It does not matter how much your business grows – ERP and eCommerce go side-by-side when it comes to scaling. Frankly speaking, mid-sized to large businesses can’t rely on spreadsheets and manual data transfer forever.
With an adequate ERP, you will never run into management issues: the solution grows as much as you want.
eCommerce and ERP Integration Steps
Just a little planning on your side will go a long way in ecommerce and ERP integration.
Step #1: Map Out Your eCommerce Processes and Business Data Flows
To understand how to streamline and automate your business operations, you need to determine what operations need to be automated in the first place.
Write out all the details of your processes, the stakeholders, and tasks to find an ERP solution for your needs. It’s a good practice to prepare a flowchart or a diagram to ensure no process slips out.
Step #2: Identify the Type of Data That Should Be Synchronized Between an ERP and Your eCommerce Store
Based on the list of business processes, you will be able to figure out all the data points that you will need, like product info, customer info, pricing, shipping, order/invoice info, taxes, etc.
Step #3: Choose Your Integration Pattern & Method
There are different ways to integrate all your business processes within one system, for example:
- Migration: at some point in time, data is transferred from one system to another
- Broadcast: there is a single source that sends data to all the other systems
- Aggregation: a single system gathers all the data from other channels and processes them
- Bi-directional: all systems work as one and exchange information with one another
Step #4: Calculate Your ROI Before and After ERP Integration
It is essential to track your return on investment to understand whether your ERP is actually benefiting your business instead of slowing everyone down.
ERP is an ultimate solution for businesses that grow and need to manage all the processes in one place:
- Automate your operations
- Avoid mistakes and losses during manual data entry
- Get a full overview of your business
- Reduce operational costs.
If you want to integrate an ERP into your business already we are willing to help with our eCommerce consulting services and development. Since we have already created ERPs for clients before, we know how to approach unique business needs and deliver the perfect solution in no time.