Deciding to go with ERP integration to oversee your e-commerce store is an important decision, and should be given some thought. Retailers are most often discouraged from ERP integration when they consider the cost of reorganizing their current processes. However, ERP can offer many advantages to retailers who distribute products via e-commerce.
To start, we should specify that the term “e-commerce,” which will be used throughout the article, encompasses all systems and/or product or service sales processes, using platforms such as Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce (to name just a few). In addition, the term “ERP” refers to a business management software package, referring to all types of systems that handle a company’s data or administrative operations and connects them all together: ordering, inventory, items, shipping, etc.
Of course, an online store can run without an ERP for support. In this case, however, some tasks require much more time and effort, and errors are more likely to occur. Just think about updating the inventory (price, available quantity, etc.) of your online store. If you have ERP integration, all of this information will be automatically updated, with no action required on your part. Without ERP integration, you will need to make numerous recurring changes manually to make sure you are sharing precise, up-to-date information with your potential customers. Working manually with critical data can seriously impact operations and have direct consequences on the customer experience, as seen below:
- Price disparities;
- Missing or incorrect information about products for sale;
- Inconsistencies between digital and physical inventory.
To run a successful online store and meet demand, it is important to recognize ERP’s potential in managing your operations:
- Maintain greater control over interaction between inventory and incoming/outgoing orders;
- Synchronize information about the product’s sale.
Your time should be spent on growth opportunities, so ERP integration with your online store could be extremely beneficial to your company.
In summary, integrated e-commerce and ERP allows you to:
- Save time and reduce your margin of error related to data entry of orders, products and customers;
- Synchronize inventory data in real time, as orders and returns are processed;
- Simplify the process of modifying prices and products.
Choosing between a custom or point-to-point ERP solution
Now that you understand the benefits that ERP can bring to your e-commerce management, there are two main types of solutions on the market: point-to-point ERP and custom ERP.
Point-to-point ERP (standard solution)
This type of ERP – the standard solution – is primarily suitable for companies that are not expecting their sales to grow significantly in the short or medium term. Its main function is to receive and synchronize data from your online store in a generic way, meaning that this type of solution may not keep up perfectly with your growth, and may lead to new needs on your end.
Some elements that discourage retailers from acquiring a point-to-point ERP
- Limitations to adding new sales channels;
- Recurring management fees;
- Significant risk of incompatibility with your existing systems.
If you are expecting significant growth, whether your activities are atypical or your processes are complex or require interaction between several other programs or platforms, a custom solution will probably be your best bet. Custom ERP fills in the holes where point-to-point ERP is lacking. To better understand this statement, custom ERP is developed around the business structure of your online store, and in this way, it is perfectly compatible and optimized for your personal situation.
ERP for your e-commerce: an essential solution to optimize your online sales
In e-commerce, the effort you put toward product positioning and new customer acquisition are what make your company stand out. However, if your time and assets are spent on everyday operation management, it is hard to seize growth opportunities when they come along. Focus on what counts, and make the switch to ERP and e-commerce integration as soon as possible.