If you are running an eCommerce site or are considering getting started with eCommerce, you likely have heard of Magento. Magento is easily the leading eCommerce platform and it runs some of the most familiar eCommerce sites on the Web today. We’ve helped a number of clients build their eCommerce sites on Magento and the platform has worked very well for them. But one of the common questions we hear on eCommerce projects deals with connecting an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to Magento. Specifically, clients want to know when they should undertake this integration.
When Should You Integrate Your ERP with Magento?
The simple answer to this question is to do it right away! But in reality, the situation is a little more complex. If you are building a new site on Magento, you should really consider integrating the two as a part of your project from the outset. While it is possible to integrate the two platforms after the fact, it is much easier to complete the work up front when building out your eCommerce site.
Do I need an ERP for My eCommerce Site?
In some instances, though, we’ve encountered clients that want to know when they need to purchase an ERP. This situation is a little more complicated. But it is also one made a little easier if you are considering building out an eCommerce site. Here are a few keys to consider that can help you in making the decision:
- Do you have a warehouse (or multiple warehouses)? If you store your products in a warehouse, you have inventory. And inventory needs to be tracked so you know how much of each product you have available to sell. An ERP is essential to helping you manage your inventory, especially if you have multiple warehouses.
- Do you drop ship your products? Drop shipping is a method of order fulfillment that sends the product direct to the customer from the warehouse (or retailer), thereby skipping the brick and mortar store all together. This gets the order to the customer much faster. But it also is heavily dependent on an updated inventory list, which is best kept inside an ERP.
- Do you have a need for “pick lists”? Pick lists are a part of your order fulfillment process that allows you to pull multiple items from your inventory and combine them into one order prior to shipping to the customer. Depending upon your inventory and order fulfillment process, your pick lists can get pretty complicated. If you have a need for pick lists, you will likely want to use an ERP as well. An ERP will help you manage your inventory and reduce the number of shipping errors. And integrating your ERP with your eCommerce site will provide accurate, up-to-date information to the customer to create a better experience at the time of purchase.
- Do you use a CRM (customer relationship management) tool? CRMs are used as part of the overall management of customers and prospective customers to make sure you’re providing the most relevant and helpful information to them at the time they need it. CRMs collect a lot of information about your customer base. Connecting the CRM to an ERP creates a very powerful data set that can help you better serve your customers.
- Are you engaged in B2B sales? Business to business sales is quite a bit different from business to consumer sales. Some of the key differences are group buying, organizational discounts and purchase orders, just to name a few. Also, historically, B2B orders have been collected via phone or through a designated sales person, both of which are traditionally handled outside of the eCommerce website. By integrating your ERP and eCommerce site, you create a powerful resource for your sales and order teams to help them handle B2B orders.
Taking the Next Step in eCommerce
No matter whether you have an existing ERP or are just starting out on your journey to implement one, you will be much better off if you explore ways to integrate the ERP with Magento from the beginning. The integration will provide you with a powerful system that can handle most of your eCommerce and order fulfillment needs.
Our team at Atlantic BT has helped clients build out their Magento eCommerce platform and integrate it with ERPs such as Apprise, Great Plains, M3 and Sage. If you would like to know more about our eCommerce integration services and explore ways we can help you with your needs, call us at (919) 518-0670 x6 or use our contact form and we will get you connected with one of our solutions specialists. And in the process, we’ll show you why we specialize in solving some of your toughest eCommerce website challenges.