In the new norm, the growing shift towards online shopping has challenged retailers to transform the way they conduct business. As a result, more and more retailers are embracing eCommerce to reach customers where they are. Adopting a virtual platform is just a part of the story. What is vital for success is delivering customers a seamless shopping experience, made possible with an integrated business model between front-end online store and back-end ERP software, linked intricately.
Imagine a scenario in which no integration exists between front-end online store and ERP like SAP Business One at the back end. When an order comes in from eCommerce, usually there is a dedicated staff who has to manually enter orders in the system with a high risk of human error in entering wrong data. The person’s job is to review incoming orders, check stock availability, and release it to the nearest warehouse or fulfillment center and make sure there is no overselling. Downloading each sales order and manually entering into ERP is a laborious job and it is hard to imagine fulfillment and shipment taking place rapidly and accurately and this delay can easily send buyers elsewhere. The bottom line is disintegrated process can hurt your business big time.
Are you willing to take the risk?
On the contrary, in an integrated scenario, customers can place orders online 24/7 with a real-time inventory level available at the front end. The shipping staff can instantly access customer and order information captured in eCommerce and the order processing can be automated to connecting demand with a supply chain that results into cost savings. This reduces order lead time. Data entry can happen once, so data consistency is maintained. From customer’s perspectives, it gives them ease of shopping and their level of satisfaction in their journey from search to purchase increases. To provide a seamless customer experience, the data flow in the integration process needs to occur in either of two ways given below.
The batch integration is responsible for synchronizing data scheduled at set intervals and its occurrence can depend on business need and volume of data to export. The data processing can be set automatically or done manually. This process collects a series of data from software 1 that matches the special criterion on software 2 and export data in batches to software 2. Ex. Daily incoming orders can behold on eCommerce until afternoon and process it to the back-end SAP Business one for fulfillment at 12 Pm. Likewise, when a sales order is created and inventory updated in the back end, customers will be able to see the new stock level on eCommerce until the data is exported from ERP and pushed to the front-end system. The time delay between two events can leave customers placing orders online with inventory discrepancy as well as delayed order processing. This scenario may not be ideal for retailers pressurized with quicker operations with a high volume of online orders transacted every day.
This scenario is automated to transmit each transaction as it occurs. Ex. When a customer places an order, ERP software automatically knows about it as a result of continuous web crawling and pulls that transaction data from the front end into the back end. Subsequently, a sales order is created, and inventory updated which then gets pushed to the front-end eCommerce displaying accurate inventory level. When customers interact with eCommerce, they will see updated products and pricing retrieved from SAP Business One. All this happens in real-time and without any human intervention or loss of time associated with batch processing. The warehouse is instantly updated alike which in turn supports responsiveness and accelerated delivery, crucial to outsmart competitors. This scenario is best suited for high volume transactions or events where real-time inventory is essential like special pricing or discount offer.
Successful integration is not just about two-way data flow. As a retailer, you will need to recognize challenges and strategies to combine the two to complement one another and convert eCommerce into a strategic sales channel. For decades, selling online served as a basic portal not a strategic channel for many retailers and you may also have been thinking to adopt it in course of time. In today’s competitive marketplace, eCommerce integration for retailers has become a key to survive rather than a key to thrive.
As SAP Business One implementation partner, DNG Systems have integrated SAP Business One with eCommerce platforms like Magneto, Shopify for our retail clients and enabled them to expand the marketplace in today’s fragile economy propelled by COVID-19.
Take the next steps to find out what eCommerce integration can do for your retail business.