The digital economy is here to stay and promises a better future ahead for businesses that are ready to align with emerging trends. Leading research institutions have remarkable predictions about the future of eCommerce integrated solutions. Gartner notes that the costs on integration capabilities will become strategic investments for nearly 65% of organizations by 2024.
Furthermore, 50% of organizations, including midsize, large, and multinational ventures, will leverage a self-service integration solution through empowerment teams by the end of 2022.
From these statistics, you can tell that migrating from manual applications to modernized ERP integrations is inevitable for many online businesses. But what’s the essence? Why is it so crucial to integrate your ERP with your B2B eCommerce platforms? This move will safeguard your business’ reputation and success in many ways, as highlighted below.
What is an ERP?
Enterprise Resource Planning, popularly known as ERP is a type of software that links your B2B venture’s entire IT infrastructure to streamline accounting, project/materials management, manufacturing schedules, supply chain operations (ordering and shipping), risk management, and compliance.
A business that doesn’t leverage an eCommerce ERP solution can make costly mistakes, such as conflicting product information, outdated pricing, unclear stock levels, missing orders, and shipping products to invalid addresses among many other drawbacks.
The Importance of ERP Integration With Your B2B eCommerce Platform
Automate Manual Processes
Do you know that intelligent automation of business processes can translate up to 75% cost savings with the payback spinning for several years? Although every business has varying policies and frameworks, all owners want to save time and money.
A simple ERP-eCommerce platform integration could be just one way of realizing this overarching goal. This integration automates various manual processes in B2B business practices, such as entering data on the eCommerce system, invoicing purchases, updating inventory, and generating sales reports.
By automating these processes, your staff gets more free time to perform productive yet hard-to-automate tasks such as strengthening business relationships, resolving consumer issues, and providing personalized customer care services. Moreover, it minimizes errors and productivity loss. All these translate to more money saved and streamlined business processes.
Increase the Visibility of Your Inventory
41.2% of online shoppers will leave an eCommerce site due to basic search capabilities. Invisible products buried behind too much branding will turn away 29.8% of online customers. These two reasons sum up to one thing; poor inventory visibility. Customers can really get frustrated if they can’t find a product on your site, or worse still, they don’t know if it’s there in the first place.
Embracing ERP-eCommerce platform integration can help you solve this problem permanently. By sharing the data on real-time inventory across your ERP and eCommerce platform, product invisibility will be nigh impossible. Making this move will ensure that your customers stay updated with the stock levels before and as they place their orders.
Accurate and Consistent Product Pricing
The pricing structures for many B2B ventures are pretty complex because they have to factor in many considerations. For instance, you may need to update your pricing based on the dynamic inventory data. There are also pre-negotiated prices with your bulk customers. On top of that, you have to deal with tiered prices for new products, as well as special discounts.
Most managers fail to realize that their ERP system centralizes all this pricing information, including invoicing and negotiated contracts. It only makes sense to share this data with your B2B eCommerce platform by integrating it with the ERP if you’re going to achieve accurate product pricing in all circumstances.
Minimize Ordering Errors
Do you still rely on manual order placement processes? A simple ordering mistake can cost you up to 125% of the product’s cost. If this is rampant, your venture could be out of business sooner than you realize it, not to mention having unhappy customers.
There are multiple ways of mitigating ordering errors—the most viable one is integrating your ERP system with your eCommerce solution. When customers place their orders digitally, and the same data gets transmitted simultaneously to the sales representatives, you won’t have to update the supply catalog manually. This translates to zero typos and increased efficiency when fulfilling these orders.
Moreover, digital ordering means customers can enjoy self-service by entering and submitting the orders themselves. That way, you transfer the risks of accuracy to the customer. Also, ERP-eCommerce platform integration ensures that everyone with access to the systems reads from updated product and pricing data to minimize errors.
Build Your Business Around an Omnichannel Experience
Creating an omnichannel experience in your venture entails meeting consumers where they expect to make purchases. It can be on social media, eCommerce sites, telephone, or even inside a physical store.
However, consumers prefer a different omnichannel experience besides the normal straight home delivery or curbside pickup—buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). This buying experience shaped the retail landscape of major brands in the US during the pandemic. A good example is Walgreens pharmacies that launched its BOPIS system in May 2020.
So, why is the BOPIS system good for the customer? It’s cheaper because it doesn’t attract any delivery costs. It reduces online operation risks for businesses because customers will unlikely abandon their carts after opting for BOPIS.
Also, your business gets to experience customer visibility, which helps you enhance their overall shopping experience. What’s more, 85% of these consumers will likely make additional impulse in-store purchases when they come to pick the order they placed online. This makes BOPIS more profitable than conventional omnichannel experiences.
ERP-eCommerce platform integration can help you deliver this kind of omnichannel experience to your online customers. Through the data shared across the two solutions, you can streamline order placement processes regardless of where they originate (purchasing channels). The same applies to fulfilling the orders.
Leverage Big Data
A well-customized ERP solution integrated with your eCommerce platform can furnish the business with real-time data for better insights into sales and marketing efforts. However, you choose the type of data in the ERP that requires synchronization and integration with your eCommerce platform.
For instance, you can include data from customer and product information, shipping logistics, and credit memos. Integrating your ERP to the eCommerce platform enables your team to access this data at centralized storage.
Having this data at your fingertips translates to well-informed and calculated decision-making processes. Moreover, you can customize reports generation from other integrated solutions in that eCommerce platform. A recent study by Accenture suggests that 79% of startups that don’t leverage big data in their operations will likely lose their competitive edge or even become extinct.
Easy and Secure Scalability
Integrating your ERP into your eCommerce solutions unlocks many benefits that lead to a flexible and secure scaling when the demand for your product grows. Cloud-based ERP solutions give you a secure and abundant space to expand your operations without incurring significant expenses.
The service provider will give you technical assistance, meaning you don’t have to hire an in-house IT team to help you expand. Even better, you can start with the integration when still operating on a small scale and later tweak advanced functionalities when your business needs change.
This scaling agility enhances efficiency and prepares you to act swiftly on emerging opportunities.
A recent study by the Ponemon Institute revealed that non-compliance costs businesses an average of $14.8 million per year. Conversely, the cost of compliance is about $5.5 million. That means non-compliance costs are more than the costs of meeting compliance requirements by up to 2.71 times. If you do the math, your business is better off complying.
It’s easier to comply with external regulations if you integrate your ERP with the eCommerce platform. For instance, the ERP will share all transactions, including interstate and international, with your eCommerce platform.
All these transactions attract varying tax rules and rates. Accessing this information ensures that you tie every customer purchase to the right taxation laws of their state or region. This reduces your compliance risks when it comes to domestic and international taxes.
On top of that, integrating ERP with your eCommerce solution gives you a central reference point for tracking contracts and negotiated prices with customers. This ensures that you align your operations within the agreed terms with your vendors to prevent any legal dispute.
Integrating Your ERP With Your B2B eCommerce Platform Gives You a Competitive Edge
The B2B industry is highly competitive, and the competition will get stiffer in the years ahead. Businesses need agile solutions that guarantee speed, convenience, and personalization to remain relevant and aggressive. Most importantly, your focus should be on enhancing customer experience and satisfaction.
These are just some of the benefits that you realize by integrating your ERP with your B2B eCommerce platform. It’s unwise to stick with clunky systems tied with outdated technology.