Having a robust integration strategy is critical to remain competitive in the astronomically growing e-commerce space.
Essential information is maintained and serviced in different applications, both in the cloud and on premise. In order to grab every opportunity and make it count, the trading entity needs to be able to interface with the ecosystem of resources that make the transaction work. These ‘resources’ are:
- Different systems, such as the e-commerce platform (e.g. Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify to name a few), CRM, WMS, CMS, ERP etc.
- Payment gateways such as stripe, PayPal, visa etc.
- Trading partner community that includes: distributors, suppliers, vendors et al.
Here is a primer on the two major forms of integration required to make e-commerce function in this complex application/resource landscape
B2B e-commerce is mainstreamed by Alibaba and has the potential of reaching $6.7 trillion dollars by 2020 in gross merchandize and outgrow the B2C market twofold.
As the name implies, B2B commerce is the trade conducted between business entities such as customers, suppliers, logistics, resellers, retailers, banks etc. It has to be noted that the consumers are not featured in this type of business activity.
Following are some of the challenges associated with this type of business that make the implementation of B2B commerce complex:
- Prices are variable
- Volumes are higher and diverse
- Logistics need to remain flexible
- Tax and regulatory compliance is critical
- Inventory needs to be managed optimally
The solution that addresses such challenges is extremely valuable as these issues are quite difficult and costly to manage at the desired rate by employing conventional means.
Here are some of the ways of enabling trading entities to exchange business messages with each other:
- Legacy EDI, which is still very much in use and has a dominant footprint in big and already established players.
- Adoption of modern e-commerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify etc. These platforms expose their functionality out as APIs also that can be consumed by the transacting trading partner’s system to make the real-time system-to-system integration possible
- Hybrid of the above two. In some scenarios the trading partner having greater influence can dictate the usage of either of the above two methods, depending upon which methodology is already in place at the key partner’s end. This will force the other trading partner adhere to the given requirement. The solution to such situations demands the integration between legacy and the modern systems (in cases where both trading partners have their systems designed differently and more importantly at different times)
Application integration here is referred to as integration between the e-commerce platform and other business applications such as the ERP system.
In order to establish the customers’ trust and keep them coming back, its is imperative to keep the information consistent between the backend apps and the e-commerce platform. In order to achieve this objective efficiently is to have the featured apps integrated electronically. The solution should enable the apps to talk to each other on real-time basis and the exchange should also be done securely. This helps in scaling the combined functionality of the featured apps as and when the demand increases.
Following are some of the salient use cases that help in acknowledging the importance of employing application integration solutions:
- Synching information between the ERP system and the e-commerce platform. The information related to key objects such as customers, products, orders, coupons, tax rates etc. that is maintained in the ERP system needs to be synchronized with the e-commerce systems that is fronting the business activity (sales). In the absence of a secure and robust application integration solution, this activity will have to be done manually that cannot scale at the desired levels and is error prone at the same time. Application integration helps in automating this activity and considerably reduces, if not completely removes, the need of human interaction
- CRM integration with the e-commerce platform: CRM systems enable the retailer to access the market data and profile the customer based on the preferences and email/social media marketing, in a nutshell it provides a 360-degree view of the customer. This information is then analyzed accordingly and eventually helps in serving the customer in a better way which eventually helps in improving the customer loyalty. Having CRM integrated directly with e-commerce platform helps in:
- Cutting down the administrative overhead of transporting information manually into different systems designed for different purposes. This duplicates the data also within the enterprise. The ideal solution is to have different systems (CRM and ecommerce in this case) work in concert. Application integration achieves that
- Different data feeds are needed between these systems to keep the disparate relevant info properly contextualized and relevant. Ex: the marketing data is centrally managed (referrals, queries and the response to the customers’ queries are how your customer service is judged). Another example is analyzing the payment information, having different payment channels in the ecommerce system makes it difficult to analyze the payment information in a holistic manner. In order to have better visibility, application integration can enable disparate payment feeds into CRM where this information can be analyzed at a more meaningful level
- Forecasting. Having all the relevant information processed inside CRM can help in better budget planning as CRM provides a set of reporting options that can show the overall performance of the business/sales. The data on top of which the reports can be rendered can be synched directly from the e-commerce platform
How RouteNode can help:
We provide consulting and implementation services that enable the systems and the resources to integrated with each other seamlessly and therefore get the e-commerce automation up and running. We specialize in building solutions around both legacy (read EDI) and modern e-commerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce.
For a quote, please reach out to us on: email@example.com