When you’ve determined that you’d like to start experiencing the benefits of ERP eCommerce automation, the next step is to identify which workflow processes to automate through the use of integration.
eCommerce Orders and Order Tracking
A customer placing an order on an eCommerce website is the heart of the matter (and a key opportunity for impacting customer satisfaction with automation), so many businesses start their eCommerce automation journey with a focus on integrating the order processing workflow.
Order automation is typically a two-way, or bi-directional, integration:
“Offline” Orders & Invoices
In addition to the automation of web orders, some businesses want orders originating in the ERP system (either from telephone sales, email sales, or in-person sales) to be available to customers on the website. For this reason, integration from the ERP to the eCommerce storefront may be used to display all of a customer’s historical offline orders and invoices on the website, so customers can browse through them and potentially initiate re-orders.
Customer information generally includes the customer’s name and contact data, shipping address, and billing address. The nature of your business will define the direction of customer data flow and how it is handled between your eCommerce and ERP systems. B2C businesses may want to have the ability for guest users to place orders that integrate into a single Accounts Receivable customer in the ERP system. B2B businesses may need to have a 1:1 match, with customer information flowing in the other direction so that the correct ERP customer account is identified on the eCommerce website before the order is placed.
The next place to look for big payoffs is the automation of inventory status information between the ERP system and eCommerce website. Real-time synchronization of inventory levels from the ERP system to the eCommerce website is essential for avoiding customer frustration due to lack of visibility of inventory levels or errors and delays associated with inaccurate inventory counts being presented on the website.
Inventory automation may require the ability to see inventory levels across multiple warehouses and 3PLs. Having an accurate picture of inventory availability and fulfillment statuses is critical for preventing stock-outs and procurement delays that result in lost revenue for your business.
The details contained in your ERP system about the inventory items you offer eCommerce shoppers may not change with great frequency, but having the ability to automatically push those details from the ERP system to the eCommerce system can save significant resources and help you ensure you’re providing accurate, up-to-date item information.
Pricing integration can be tricky, because many businesses have negotiated pricing with specific customers. Pricing tiers, unique rules about pricing, or other factors can impact the pricing to be displayed in the eCommerce store for particular customers. The integration of pricing is usually more challenging in a B2B environment than it is for a B2C scenario, but with the right planning and proper preparation, you can make sure every site visitor sees the pricing you want them to see. Getting your customer-based pricing integration right has a lot to do with understanding how your customers will use the site and the process for registering customers on the site. This process, along with a clear understanding of the pricing rules in effect in your ERP system, will help you make sure your customers’ experience is positive.