When you see your eCommerce business growing, be prepared to make some changes. After all, you can’t keep handling your orders and dealing with all those channels in the same manual fashion as before.
Staying in the past will only up to your chances of error and loss, so it’s now time to look at an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for your eCommerce business.
With the right ERP solution for managing your business, you can get by with adding your information only once. Besides, you’ll be able to ensure updates and centralize business information.
That way, it becomes easier to make your daily operations go much more smoothly.
The initial cost of ERP integration might be high, but the benefits will hopefully make your business reach the skies! Plus, think of all you save by avoiding new hires and training them as the business grows.
Amazon leads by example
Amazon is the largest eCommerce platform in the world right now, far surpassing its closest competitors.
This giant gained its success, in part, by professionally managing an ERP solution with their process. While it started out simply selling books, Amazon is still growing by leaps and bounds, increasing its sales revenue every single year.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) was the main reason why their ERP solution helped retain customers for so long.
With this strategy, they’ve managed to customize their services according to what each individual wants. This is illustrated in a statement by Jeff Bezos, the CEO, and founder of Amazon, himself:
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
Amazon’s CRM was developed in-house. It’s specifically designed to capture customers’ data when they purchase anything. This data then becomes useful in customizing that user’s online experience with the company.
What keeps the customers hooked here is that the interface of Amazon offers simplicity and ease of use. You can check out your order history, the total expenditure so far, and even return items without much hassle. A couple of clicks are all you need for ordering, re-ordering, and tracking your items while they’re in transit.
Amazon also uses CRM for tailoring offers and any promotions that they think a user would like. The data collection is not sinister but makes the user experience much easier.
The ‘Recommended Products’ feature is another example of their successful eCommerce integration as you can see what other people are buying and browse any related items accordingly.
Finally, Amazon also utilizes CRM for enhancing its customer support and growing its other services. With this dedication, it has managed to branch out into the Kindle Marketplace, Amazon Prime Video, and several other offerings.
So what type of ERP system could help you improve your business operations?
The 5 integration tips that are worth implementing
It might be challenging to integrate your e-commerce platform with an ERP solution at any point. However, the good news is that there are several parts to line up if you want everything to go smoothly.
Here are some tips for successful and safe integration:
#1 Make your plans
Many e-commerce businesses make the mistake of simply trying to integrate an ERP system without working out a proper plan first.
Don’t be one of them, but work on your plan to increase your future success.
This involves brainstorming any obstacles you might have to overcome, solving current issues with your process, and seeing how your business can utilize and ERP system.
#2 Get an eCommerce expert on board
If you want your integration to go off without a murmur, you’ll need an expert or ‘champion’ in e-commerce to help out. You’re working towards this integration to enhance your efficiency, both at the online storefront end and the backend operations.
With someone in the know at the fore of your integration project, you’ll see a much smoother transition. This will up your chances of getting a decent return out of that initial investment.
Ideally, your e-commerce champion should be someone who already knows about your existing platform quite well. That way, they’ll be able to overcome the obstacle of having two systems with no communication in the beginning.
#3 Defining store-to-ERP and ERP-to-Store Needs
The next step is to define what the store needs from an ERP solution. You also have to see what information is required from your system to streamline the sales process.
Why exactly do you want to integrate, in short? What systems do you find are critical? Some things you want to consider including inventory and pricing information in real-time, customer data, shipping, and tracking.
Once you have the needs laid out in black and white, it’s easier to clarify just what you want. This will help to determine how this integration will affect your process, especially sales.
You have to define what you require for making an effective ERP.
Will it be necessary to ask for more consumer data at the checkout point?
Will you need to get more information to help convert more leads?
To answer these questions and more like them, you’ll have to synchronize the data between your two systems. This will hopefully enhance your overall efficiency.
#4 Make inventory data reliable
Finally, a business owner or manager needs to ensure that their business inventory data is as accurate as possible. This might require some cleaning of the information.
Therefore, you should get this task down pat before initiating integration.
This step might be more difficult for certain businesses if they have a larger database. There might be stock-keeping units (SKUs) in the thousands, all made from various materials.
The tracking can get confusing, so you’ll have to identify the gap in your inventory for a strong foundation. With some hard work at the very beginning, though, you’ll be making your integration more valuable.
#5 Choose the Best Possible Option
With a suitable ERP, you’ll soon be able to see your operations go smoothly and quickly, keeping up with the changing world. If you find that none of the current ERP solutions suit your business needs well, there is always an option to go for a fully custom ERP solution.
ERP integration with your e-commerce platform can be a daunting task, as you need to inspect and optimize your systems even before you start with the integration process.
There is a lot of work to put in beforehand but with the above tips, it’s easier to know what to focus on.
Don’t wait around anymore, but take the plunge as soon as possible and implement a system that will help you get ahead of your competitors!
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters