Over the years we’ve heard some horror stories about companies trying, and catastrophically failing, to integrate an e-commerce website to their back office system.
One such company even called a halt to their attempt after clocking up a bill of €30,000 whilst still no-where near completion. Needless to say they have disengaged with the ERP vendor & e-commerce platform in question.
They are now running Intact Software and have set up our fully integrated ecommerce solution for their webshop.
E-commerce Made Simple
Integrating a B2B or B2C ecommerce website to your ERP system allows for the seamless movement of data between your back office operations and your online shop.
It’s a great way of generating additional revenue 24/7 but it is not something you can turn on at the flick of a switch.
Your investment will reflect the level of complexity required and the overall digital strategy you wish to pursue.
While many businesses choose the path of least resistance and manually duplicate their ERP system data on to a standalone independent e-commerce website, it can often result in huge issues with data duplication, human error, man hours and cost involved.
When implemented correctly, an integrated webshop will see you managing a single database where all stock information, pricing and products are updated in real-time on your ecommerce site as changes are made in your back office system.
If you are seriously thinking of capitalising on the on-going growth of online sales then there are a number of things to consider before you delve into your eCommerce venture.
E-Commerce Integration: Where to start…
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Dive into your eCommerce project without a plan and you’re sure to fall at the first hurdle. Many businesses misunderstand the workload involved in getting online and can incur unnecessary and excessive costs along the way. The more planning you do in advance, the fewer errors you’ll make when you flip the ‘go live’ switch.
Start by allocating a project manager to the job; someone who can manage everything from your stock to liaising with the web developers. Give them the time to focus on what products you’re going to sell and the categories they will be placed in. Get them thinking about your pricing, payment options, delivery & returns policies. And finally, ensure they create customer-friendly product descriptions to help your business to be found on Google.
Choose your website provider wisely
Don’t underestimate the level of expertise required to fully integrate your business software platform to an online web store. It is vital to partner with the right people from the outset – someone with the necessary skills to work with your particular system and related web services.
Don’t assume your current website provider has the knowledge or capabilities to integrate your website to your back office operations.
To do so could lead you down a long and bumpy road of uncertainty and hardship, not to mention a potential drain on funds. Carry out a thorough vendor selection process before you start. Flush out the vendors who have successfully implemented an eCommerce website in your industry and get talking to reference sites. Avoid the vendors who only ‘think’ they can do it.
Allocate appropriate resources
Moving into online sales requires much more than just the cost of getting a website up and running. Once you’ve tackled the domain name, products you’re going to sell, pricing, payment options, shipping, returns etc you need to get traffic to your website. There are numerous ways to do this but each take a significant investment both in terms of time and money e.g. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts, analytics, social media, email campaigns etc.
Too many companies fail to allocate enough resources to managing, measuring and growing their eCommerce store and then wonder why online sales are poor.
Again, it is vital to dedicate a staff member to this side of the project. Not only will they keep the website ticking over but actively help to bring in revenue. When you consider how much effort goes into processing your shop floor/warehouse orders, it’s only reasonable to ask for the same effort to be put into your online orders.
As you can see, going online is a big undertaking and shouldn’t be considered without first realising the effort and commitment needed to succeed. While it is not as complicated as setting up a ‘bricks and mortar’ store it makes sense to take these preparatory steps before opening your virtual doors. It is only then that you can aspire to increasing your online sales revenues, growing your market reach or getting a competitive edge.
Some other considerations to take on-board can be found here