7 Benefits of e-commerce and ERP integration
If your e-commerce business is growing but you haven’t yet implemented ERP integration, you may be putting your business at risk. Every time you manually enter sales orders on your ERP, adjust your inventory or upload updated product data onto your website, you’re spending more time and energy than necessary. You’re also increasing the possibility of errors, which are never good for business.
Just a few of the mistakes that can happen when you’re still working manually are:
- Incorrect product information
- Outdated product prices
- Confusion about stock levels
- Missing orders
- Inaccurate customer details
- Invalid shipping addresses
Any of these can negatively impact your customers’ experience and therefore your business’s reputation and success.
Instead, why not streamline your processes and enhance your business with ERP integration?
The basics of an ERP and e-commerce integration
There are several ways to integrate these two systems. When considering an integration supplier or a plug in, make sure that at least the following flows of information are taken into account:
Actions and processes carried out on the e-commerce site are pulled through to your ERP system, so your orders and inventory are always up to date. These include:
- Details of web orders, for example, products and quantities, so the correct order is dispatched and your inventory is adjusted
- Name and contact details for new customers and updates to information for existing customers
- Payment details, so the money reaches your bank account
- Shipping information, so the order is sent to the correct address
Updates on your ERP are also pulled through to your e-commerce site, including:
- Information about new or discontinued products, so your e-commerce site accurately shows which products are available at any given time
- Product data updates, so your site is always displaying correct product information to both staff and customers
- Inventory updates – due to issues at suppliers or sales made in brick and mortar stores – are automatically pulled through to your e-commerce store. This way you never disappoint your online customer with wrong stock levels.
- Pricing updates, so figures displayed on your website are automatically adjusted when supplier prices or exchange rates change. Additionally sales and promotion prices are managed correctly across your business.
In short, integration helps you get both systems on the same page. Let’s look at why that is so good for business.
7 Benefits of ERP integration
The benefits of integrating your e-commerce site and ERP system can be divided into two distinct categories:
- Customer satisfaction – we all know that satisfied customers come back again and again; and
- Increased control and reduced operational costs for your business – resulting in greater efficiency and higher profitability.
A. Increased customer satisfaction
- Increased trust and credibility: When any customer orders an item, only to be told afterwards that it is out of stock, or a B2B customer gets one price from your rep and another price from the website, the result is frustration all round. If customers know the information on your site is always accurate, it generates trust and they are far more willing to do business with you.
- Access to up-to-date information 24/7: With your ERP system feeding directly into your e-commerce site, your customers potentially always – even over weekends or at midnight – have access to real-time data. They can check live inventory levels and see the exact status of their order and/or shipments any time they choose.
- Self reliant and empowered customers: There’s no need to phone a rep or a call centre when customers have all the information they need at their finger tips. In the case of B2B customers, they have access to tailored data, including their specific prices, account overview and history. This leaves you and your sales team free to deal with customers who really do need assistance, or to explore opportunities for growth.
B. Increased control and reduced costs for your business
- Automating manual processes: When pricing, inventory levels and product data are automatically maintained, human errors like duplication, finger slippage and double data entry are minimised, if not eliminated, saving you time and money.
- Faster and more productive order fulfillment: Sales orders are transferred directly from your e-commerce store to your ERP system. This automation again minimises errors and saves time and effort. The order fulfilment cycle can start immediately, dramatically speeding up your turnaround time.
- Cost effective inventory management: As online sales are instantly updated in the ERP, so are inventory levels. Therefore you can plan your purchasing much better. You will be able to only order products that sell, and you’ll know exactly how much to order to minimise back orders or to avoid out of stock situations, reducing both admin and loss of revenue.
- Accuracy all round leads to greater insight: When the data flow between your two systems is reliable and accurate, your sales personnel can confidently sell what they see on the system. Your financial reporting becomes more accurate too, automatically including your e-commerce sales and ordering data. This improves your overall insight into your business and allows you to manage it much more closely.
The bottom line…
There are many benefits of ERP integration with your e-commerce store. To get the most from it, be sure to select a partner who can guide you through the business process implications you need to consider. Then you’ll never look back.
If you’ve already integrated your e-commerce store, how is that working for you? Let us know in the comments below.