Tuesday, September 29, 2015Global Administrator Whether your company is already selling online or preparing to get started, you might be familiar with the term “eCommerce integration”.  It’s a term that can mean many things, but for the most part it is meant to describe the process of exchanging and synching data between an eCommerce system (shopping cart platform) and another business application. A well-designed integration enables data to flow bi-directionally between the two systems and for data to only be inputted once. For the purposes of this article we will focus on eCommerce integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP.

The best practice for integrating an eCommerce storefront with an ERP system such as Dynamics GP is to utilize a middleware solution that can automate the processing of customer, order and item data. There are many reasons why you should employ this best practice (which we’ll discuss more below), with the elimination of manual data entry, or “re-keying”, being #1.

Picture your company’s eCommerce sales volume increasing to 500 orders per month. Without an integration solution in place, the first step in processing a new order would be a data entry resource retrieving the customer and order details from your eCommerce platform and manually re-keying it into Microsoft Dynamics GP.  Then add in the time it would take to adjust and sync your inventory for the items fulfilled and update the customer order on your storefront with a tracking number. Add all of these steps together and your data entry resource is probably spending 5-10 minutes per order, and a total of 40-80 hours on manual data processing per month.

With an automated, bi-directional integration solution, order processing is faster and less labour-intensive. To illustrate this in more detail, let’s look at an example data flow for integrating eCommerce orders with Dynamics GP:
  1. A buyer places an order on your eCommerce store.
  2. The order data is picked up by your middleware integration solution and converted to a format that can be imported into Dynamics GP.
  3. A Customer record (if necessary) and Sales Order are automatically created in Dynamics GP.
  4. The Sales Order is reviewed by your back office staff and made available for fulfillment where it is picked, packed and shipped.
  5. After the items purchased have been shipped, your back office staff updates the Sales Order with details such as the shipment date, tracking number and quantities fulfilled and converts the order to another document type such as a Posted Invoice.
  6. The shipment details are retrieved from Dynamics GP by the integration solution, are converted into a readable format, and exported to the eCommerce storefront where the order status is changed and tracking information is provided to the buyer.
eCommerce Integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP

The benefits of saving time and money when employing an integration solution are obvious, but what else can accomplished? Here are 5 additional perks:

Error Identification: A quality integration solution should provide your company with the ability to control error levels for key pieces of data such as mismatched pricing (store vs. ERP) and deliver alerts.

Validation Checks: There are many of these that can be automated, including checking for duplicate order numbers or existing customer accounts.

Additional Data Integration: Another data touch point that can be integrated is inventory. This ensures that inventory quantities are only changed in one application only (the master) and pushed to the second application.

Greater Customer Satisfaction: An eCommerce – Dynamics GP integration can translate into a number of customer experience improvements including accurate inventory counts on your storefront, an expedited order-delivery process, and up-to-the minute order updates including shipment tracking.

Reallocating Resources: When most of your order processing tasks are automated it will free up members of your workforce to work in other areas of your business. Whether they are tasked to help improve your marketing, boost sales, or improve operations, they’ll be more empowered to help grow your bottom line.

In summary, it’s easy to understand that manual data processing in an eCommerce operation can be extremely time-consuming, and lead to unnecessary costs and limited opportunities for growth. Deploying a middleware integration solution can remedy these issues and keep customers coming back for more. If you are a B2C or B2B company selling online and are looking to escape the pains of manual data entry, contact the integration experts at eBridge Connections to learn about a solution for your specific needs.

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