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Many businesses today utilise various critical business systems that are vital to managing its day-to-day operations, such as accounting, purchasing, inventory, quality control, supply chain, sales, and even human resources. Think of these business systems as the glue that holds a company together. One of the most common of them is Enterprise Resource Planning software (better known as ERP).
Note: For the purposes of this article, we are using the term ERP to reference all types of Enterprises Resource Planning software, including accounting solutions.
ERPs act as a centralised data source for a company. Ecommerce ERP integration is the connection between a B2B eCommerce portal and a backend ERP solution. When an eCommerce platform and ERP are connected, it enables the real-time flow of data and information, back and forth, between them.
There are many considerations when it comes to choosing a B2B eCommerce platform for your online B2B store. One of them is the ability of the eCommerce platform to integrate with ERP solutions, so that all customer-facing experiences and data that take place through your online store are connected in real-time to your daily backend business processes.
B2B eCommerce ERP integration is one of the most important integrations today because it allows virtually every aspect of a business to operate more efficiently.
Top Benefits of Integrating Your B2B eCommerce Portal with Your ERP
1. Minimise data errors
With eCommerce ERP integration, all data related to orders placed in your online B2B store is automatically transferred in real-time to your ERP solution. This reduces the potential for human errors, such as misentered information or duplication, that can happen when employees are manually entering data into your ERP. The whole process is fast, consistent and error-free, every single time.
2. Save time and increase productivity
When you integrate your eCommerce portal with your ERP solution, sales orders from your online B2B store are automatically transferred to the ERP, eliminating the need for employees having to manually enter order data like product info, quantity and shipping details from one platform to the other. This helps speed up your turnaround time, making order fulfillment faster. You’ll also save time because the automated process frees up your employees’ time, allowing them to be productive elsewhere.
3. Reduce inventory costs
Since all B2B sales orders placed in your online eCommerce store are automatically and instantly updated in your ERP solution, so too are your inventory levels. When you always know — in real-time — exactly what products you are selling and how much of them are being sold, you are able to more effectively forecast your future inventory needs and therefore plan your purchasing more accurately. This helps minimise the opportunity for backorders or out of stock situations, thereby reducing your administrative costs and potential loss of revenue.
4. Increase customer satisfaction
When a B2B customer places an order with you only to find out later that the product they wanted is not in stock, or when he/she gets one price from your sales rep and a different price from your online eCommerce store, the result is frustration and mistrust. But when you integrate your B2B eCommerce store with your ERP, your customers will always have real-time product information, inventory status and order tracking at their fingertips. When customers are confident the information in your online store is 100% accurate, it will build trust and credibility with them, making them much more likely to do business with you, now and in the future.
Common Workflows When Integrating an eCommerce Solution with an ERP
• Convert an order to an invoice
Scenario: A customer places an order through your B2B eCommerce portal and they only receive an order confirmation email.
The order details also need to reflect in your ERP. Re-typing the order details to create an invoice in your ERP solution is not an option.
Proper invoicing is the lifeblood of the financial health of your business. When your B2B eCommerce portal and your ERP are not integrated, invoices generated have to be manually entered — a risky, error-prone process that can cost your business time and money. B2B eCommerce ERP integrations help preserve consistency in your accounting function as well as reduce your company’s operating cycle by automatically passing-on all information from one system to another.
• Sync inventory, stock availability and product information
Scenario: A customer visits your online B2B store and places an order for a product that shows as available and in stock. A few days later, he/she receives an email that the order has been cancelled as the product was out of stock.
The problem? Your inventory status was not synced with your ERP system.
Without accurate, real-time inventory and product information, your online B2B store cannot work effectively. When you integrate your eCommerce solution with your ERP, you not only avoid these types of potentially damaging situations, but also minimise backorders, and build trust and confidence with your B2B customers.
• Sync customer information
Scenario: A customer who places orders regularly through your B2B eCommerce store needs to change their shipping address.
When your eCommerce portal and your ERP are connected, any changes made to customer information in either system are automatically reflected in the other. Syncing customer information not only saves time, but also improves the customer experience.
Are you reaping the full benefits of online B2B selling?
eCommerce has revolutionised not only the way companies do business, but also the way customers do business. Today, in a few clicks, your B2B customers around the world can engage with you and make a purchase. But unless your eCommerce store is integrated with your ERP, those stacks of online orders can actually negatively impact your business due to the amount of time and effort required to manually transfer those B2B sales orders from your online eCommerce store to your backend ERP solution.
If you want to fully reap the benefits of online B2B selling, eCommerce ERP integration is essential. It makes everything more efficient from your daily business operations to your sales team to the customer ordering process.