05 Oct How To Future-Proof An eCommerce Business Integrated Into ERP?
Arcus Universe has extensive experience in working with eCommerce business. We discuss below the importance of being able to exert control over change and the advantage that is gained from deploying a Modern ERP solution. Acumatica Cloud ERP has award-winning, in-built flexibility based on technology unique within its market space and it’s this essential ingredient that we explore here.
Preparing for the future is very important to those operating in the eCommerce world as they often find themselves facing a potentially unbalancing number of unforeseen challenges. Covid-19 is an unfortunate but fitting example of this. Being able to pivot quickly in situations of such significant change is the key to survival and maintaining control of the market position. By being able to rapidly re-engineer processes to respond to the ‘new business environment’ and necessary ‘shutdown solutions’ points a spotlight on the importance of business agility.
In attempting to overcome future hurdles, business owners have come to accept the absence of a crystal ball and turn to more reliable sources to help react to business altering events. But understanding that the web and flow of an eCommerce business is inevitable points towards the need for a business platform that is easy to evolve.
eCommerce businesses naturally consider Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) because it supports the key aim of future-proofing operations. Under the right technical circumstances, ERP can integrate with the many different sales processes required to run a successful eCommerce business and from this impressive levels of efficiency and productivity can be derived.
Five ways how ERP can future-proof an eCommerce business
Complex pricing. Pricing is a major component of a customer’s online shopping experience and includes product pricing, discounts, shipping and delivery, sales tax, bulk or tier pricing, and customer loyalty rewards. Preparing this price structure for goods or services becomes more difficult as an eCommerce business starts to re-scale, and manual processes or semi-integrated digital processes can make this task extremely time-consuming. A modern cloud ERP can store all pricing data and integrate it with third-party apps as well as an eCommerce platform to increase efficiency and accuracy.
Minimises human error in processing. eCommerce order processing often leaves space for human error on the part of both a customer and a provider. The ability for the customer to check the status of the order and to make changes even after making a purchase eliminates some of these issues.
Adapt to change. ERP can be integrated with other systems and processes, and it can support the ability to quickly adapt to change. Thus, an eCommerce platform must plan data on stocks, prices, inventory, delivery and return policies to respond to various market changes. This is possible through a robust cloud ERP that encourages scalability and growth, as well as taking into account the unique requirements of a company through customisation and personalisation.
Simplifies a system. ERP systems solve complex, enterprise-wide problems, but they do so in simple, easy-to-use ways that fit the day-to-day. As an eCommerce business starts to scale, business processes become more complex, and this goes beyond pricing and product listing. ERP systems keep things simple regardless of the size of the business.
Keeps a store secure. The purpose of ERP solutions is to help to protect and use all the resources appropriately. Because they store sensitive information about the eCommerce store and its customers, developers ensure the priority of security, while adhering to industry standards. The protection provided by ERP software is extremely useful, especially in the future, with the threat of cyberattacks faced by eCommerce platforms. Therefore, it is recommended that an eCommerce business use a cloud ERP system to secure itself in the future.
Building a future-proof ERP strategy for an eCommerce business
A future-proof ERP strategy reflects long-term goals, and recognise the future growth of eCommerce as the future of customer interaction in the coming days. This doesn’t have to mean that traditional markets and sales channels will disappear, although they might exist in some markets, eCommerce will continue to grow and become important in all markets.
A forward-looking ERP strategy must be flexible and tailored to support the continued implementation of eCommerce. It should recognise current needs and include a plan to meet those needs through the necessary systems, processes and people. Each of those three elements must be formulated in terms of growth and expansion. It is also very important to set out the general parameters and approach used to move forward after the initial opportunities that were established, and to allocate the resources needed to continue eCommerce efforts. One of the most important elements of such a promising strategy, which is often overlooked or missed completely, is the need for education and training for users, managers and developers of eCommerce processes. This includes formal training courses from system vendors, consultants and other third-party sources, as well as an in-depth understanding of market trends and developments gathered through industry publications, conferences and user groups. As the strategy develops and unfolds, the team will remain involved in all eCommerce activities and achievements. Plan an integrated approach that includes everything from the website and its technical issues to execution, return, financial management, analysis and feedback to sales, marketing, product design, customer relations and logistics processes. Choose the right ERP platform to provide customer capabilities (and flexibility) along with the integration with supporting functions.
Integrated ERP as a strategy
Successful integration of ERP and eCommerce is not just a simple data exchange, but also a seamless integration of all business processes. It enables items, inventory, orders, customer and other relevant sales data between independent systems for interaction. An online store can operate without a connection to accounting and financial systems, but the cost of manually managing and administrating sales data often costs companies much more. Without existing retail business systems that share data retailers may experience sales losses, delivery delays, poor customer satisfaction, and most importantly, reduced cash flow.
Some ERP and eCommerce integrations allow necessary data to be automatically exchanged in both directions. If an order created in an online store is immediately sent to the system used to fulfill the order. This not only saves time, but also eliminates human error and gets the product, inventory, item billing and sales information into a common information system. In order to succeed online and keep up with increased demand, an eCommerce strategy must include integration with ERP, accounting and inventory software (or other systems you use in your multichannel environment). This integration ensures that the goods displayed in the online store are actually in stock. The integration of web stores with ERP allows seeing all new orders and customers in one business system. Production and pricing can be managed from one place, which greatly simplifies the whole process. The integration provides much more accurate data exchange, which scales as a company grows.
Final thoughts. An integrated ERP solution helps to future-proof an e-Commerce business by creating a reliable, fast foundation that helps to protect assets while effecting a necessary change. Although today there are many ERP and eCommerce software solutions available, Acumatica’s cloud-based ERP solution and Acumatica Commerce Edition, which seamlessly integrates with BigCommerce through the Acumatica – BigCommerce Connector, can ensure business continuity no matter what the future holds.