Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are the foundation of many business processes. When inventory falls below a pre-prescribed level, the inventory modules in an ERP can trigger an order from a vendor. When a customer calls your support team, the key takeaways from the interaction can be filed in the ERP as a reference for future conversations. When you want to analyze sales trends relative to specific operational decisions, custom reporting is possible. All of this data visibility and accessibility helps organizations get the job done as efficiently as possible, but value creation hinges on getting information to the right people at the right times.
The importance of aligning data with operations is particularly evident when applying ERP functionality to the ecommerce sector. Businesses have an opportunity to create greater visibility for customers and automate data workflows between the website and the back office. This is possible when organizations integrate their ERP with their ecommerce platforms, allowing the disparate systems to interact with one another with minimal human input.
ERP integration at a glance
A report from ERP Focus pointed out that the challenges in ERP integration are founded in the way that businesses tend to segregate their customer-facing systems from their back office tasks. This creates an operational climate in which businesses run into limitations because their systems can’t communicate. Integrating ERP and web systems, however, resolves this problem and allows for greater commercial flexibility. A couple of key benefits of this data coordination are:
- Getting rid of the redundant data entry processes that come when users must port web data over to the ERP manually. According to ERP Focus, dividing ecommerce and ERP systems forces sellers to complete a few processes to move data between front- and back-end systems, making it difficult to capture buyer information accurately and track sales details.
- Improving revenue tracking through greater visibility into monthly, quarterly and annual revenues relative to costs. Simplified reporting through the ERP combines with the data fed to the system by the ecommerce platform to allow for more accurate and detailed revenue reports.
Putting the effort into ERP integration empowers businesses to align their processes, and the benefits don’t end with reporting and automated data entry. Getting web platforms and ERP systems to communicate effectively can be invaluable in terms of human resource management. Many ecommerce companies find themselves in a situation where they are paying skilled workers to not only enter data, but initiate processes and handle other key tasks that can be automated. This creates operational complexity and makes businesses dependent on individuals who become knowledge centers, limiting flexibility as organizations rely too much on specific workers every time certain procedures come up.
“ERP integration has the potential to offer benefits internally and to customers.”
Streamlining ERP integration
The potential benefits of ERP integration are significant, but it isn’t always easy to do. This is especially true when using complex proprietary platforms that depend on custom coding and unique data architectures. However, businesses that navigate ERP integration effectively can set themselves up for new revenue opportunities. A Practical eCommerce report highlighting ERP integration processes pointed to a few key steps businesses must follow along the way. The top priority here was to identify the data that needs to be integrated during this transition.
According to the news source, this process involves looking at data workflows from the website to the ERP and vice versa, something that creates both internal and customer-facing benefits. We already touched on many of the internal advantages of a move to integrate ERP and ecommerce systems, but it is important to note that these advantages can be passed on to customers. Greater visibility into inventory levels and warehouse capabilities can allow for accurate shipping estimates, for example.
The Practical eCommerce report highlighted online orders, shipping and tracking information, offline orders, product data and customer data as critical considerations when it comes to ERP integration. During integration, companies should also consider building a full data migration plan, having a backup strategy in place in case anything goes wrong and mapping their customer registration processes.
ERP integration has the potential to offer benefits internally and to customers. Don’t let the challenges of the processes intimidate you. Instead, reach out to Pixafy and we can help you with data migration and integration.