How does ERP fit with e-commerce?

How does ERP fit with e-commerce?
by Nilesh Mandani

ERP vendors were not prepared for the onslaught of e-commerce.

ERP is complex and not intended for public consumption. It assumes that the only people handling order information will be your employees, who are highly trained and comfortable with the tech jargon embedded in the software. But now customers and suppliers are demanding access to the same information your employees get through the ERP system—things like order status, inventory levels and invoice reconciliation—except they want to get all this information simply, without all the ERP software jargon, through your website. E-commerce means IT departments need to build two new channels of access in to ERP systems—one for customers (otherwise known as business-to-consumer) and one for suppliers and partners (business-to-business).

These two audiences want two different types of information from your ERP system. Consumers want order status and billing information, and suppliers and partners want just about everything else. Traditional ERP vendors are having a hard time building the links between the Web and their software, though they certainly all realize that they must do it and have been hard at work at it for years.

The bottom line, however, is that companies with e-commerce ambitions face a lot of hard integration work to make their ERP systems available over the Web. For those companies that were smart—or lucky—enough to have bought their ERP systems from a vendor experienced in developing ecommerce wares, adding easily integrated applications from that same vendor can be a money-saving option. For those companies whose ERP systems came from vendors that are less experienced with ecommerce development, the best—and possibly only—option might be to have a combination of internal staff and consultants hack through a custom integration.

But no matter what the details are, solving the difficult problem of integrating ERP and e-commerce requires careful planning, which is key to getting integration off on the right track. One of the most difficult aspects of ERP and e-commerce integration is that the Internet never stops. ERP applications are big and complex and require maintenance. The choice is stark if ERP is linked directly to the Web—take down your ERP system for maintenance and you take down your website.

Most e-commerce veterans will build flexibility into the ERP and e-commerce links so that they can keep the new e-commerce applications running on the Web while they shut down ERP for upgrades and fixes. The difficulty of getting ERP and e-commerce applications to work together—not to mention the other applications that demand ERP information such as supply chain and CRM software—has led companies to consider software known alternately as middleware and EAI software. These applications act as software translators that take information from ERP and convert it into a format that e-commerce and other applications can understand.

Middleware has improved dramatically in recent years, and though it is difficult to sell and prove ROI on the software with business leaders—it is invisible to computer users—it can help solve many of the biggest integration woes that plague IT these days. 

Look for us instance, we have developed an ecommerce connector for Microsoft Dynamics. Connect360 connects your systems, departments, and people to eradicate data bottlenecks and free up resources while advanced business alerts and automated workflows convert slow, error-prone manual tasks into quick and responsive automated processes.

  • Automatically transfer orders from an online shopping cart into your ERP system.
  • Synchronize stock levels from your online store (and) to your ERP.
  • Track shipping information in your ERP from UPS, Fedex etc.
  • Multiple Language and currency support.
  • Connect 360 supports multiple stores – B2C, B2B & B2X
  • It utilizes the complete Magento API to integrate every available part of Magento with Microsoft Dynamics.

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