If done correctly, integrating your ERP and Ecommerce platforms can make your business run much more efficiently. It gives you greater visibility into stock levels, it reduces the need for your employees to enter data more than once and it enables more automation within your business.
However, taking the plunge to integrate your ERP and Ecommerce platforms can be a daunting task. There are many moving parts that need to line up just right in order for it to go off without a hitch. Assuming you don’t want to take a step back and slow your business down too much, there are steps that you can take to make sure you start feeling the benefits right away. It will require some work, but it will pay off. Here are the five essential steps you need to take to successfully integrate your ERP and Ecommerce systems.
Plan, Plan, Plan
While this seems elementary, many businesses surprisingly skip formulating a solid plan. Going in with a plan will greatly increase your chances for success. Before you begin to take a look at integrating your two platforms, you should have something very solid that your team will agree upon. Plan for any obstacles that might come into play. Can you foresee any issues with your current processes that may hinder the success of the integration? Does your business effectively utilize your ERP system as is? Planning upfront will save time(and plenty of headaches) down the road. Work with your team to detail each step of the integration.
Designate an Ecommerce Champion to Spearhead the Project
In order for your integration to go as planned, you need a ‘champion’ to take up the project. Typically, the main reason for an integration is to increase efficiencies for both the backend operations and for your online storefront. Having someone heading up the project that really understands the processes you have in place and the processes you’d like to improve is going to make the project go much smoother. It will also ensure your getting the greatest return on your investment. Ideally, this will be someone that has a deep knowledge of your Ecommerce platform because they will most likely feel the pain of not having the two systems communicating back and forth.
Define the Needs From Store to ERP
It’s important to define what your store will need to see from your ERP system. What information will you need from the system to make your sales process more efficient? What’s the reason you want your store to integrate with your ERP system? Defining those needs specifically will paint a clearer picture of how the relationship will affect your sales and overall processes.
Define the Needs From ERP to Store
Likewise, you need to define what information you’ll need from your store in order to make your ERP more effective. Will you need to ask for additional customer information when they’re checking out on your website? Is there information that isn’t being captured currently that would help move contacts from being a lead through to procurement? Marrying the data that is moving between the two systems will vastly improve overall efficiencies.
Ensure Inventory Data Is Reliable
Last, but certainly not least, you need to ensure your inventory data is accurate. While this might take some ‘cleaning up’ on your part, doing this before you initiate your integration is vital. For some businesses, this might be a larger undertaking. They may have thousands and thousands of different SKUs that are made up of different materials that they also have to track—it can get messy. Identifying where the gaps are in your inventory data before integrating will give you a stronger foundation for the newly integrated programs. Take the time, do the work up front and your integration will be much more valuable long-term.