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How an ERP ecommerce integration can help your business

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An ERP ecommerce integration connects your ERP and ecommerce website. It usually includes three components: an ERP, a website, and middleware that connects them. In this article, we’ll cover how an ERP integration works, the different types of integrations, the benefits of an ERP ecommerce integration, and how to choose the right integration for your business.

Choosing the right ERP eCommerce integration can help you provide a better customer experience and grow your business.

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How Does an ERP ecommerce integration work?

Each different type of ERP ecommerce integration will offer slightly different functionality. Broadly speaking, the integration sends data back-and-forth between your Sage ERP and your website. The direction of the data transfer and the types of data transferred depend on what ERP and ecommerce integration you use.

Types of Syncing

  • One-direction or one-way syncing – This type of integration forms a one-way connection between your ERP and website. This means data will sync from your ERP to your website, or from your website to your ERP, but data will not sync in the other direction.
  • Bi-directional or two-way syncing – This integration works both ways, meaning data will flow from your ERP to your website and from your website to your ERP.

Both types of ecommerce integrations can be useful, depending on your needs. If your company wants to create online portals where customers can view their sales orders, invoices, and payments, a one-way sync may be just what you need. If you’re looking for an ERP integration that makes it easier for customers to place orders online, you probably need a two-way integration.

Schedule of data synchronization 

This is another area where ecommerce integrations may differ. Basically, it’s when data syncs between your systems and what triggers it. Some integrations offer real-time or near real-time syncing, meaning new orders and customer information submitted through your website will flow into your Sage environment almost immediately.

Some integrations provide data synchronization on a pre-set schedule, perhaps once or twice a day, meaning the transfer of data will not be instantaneous.

Data connection points

Ecommerce integrations offer different functionality in terms of data connection points. A data connection point is the point of data transfer between your ERP and website. The more data connection points, the more types of data will flow between your systems. Your integration partner will customize the data connection points and make sure that your ERP ecommerce integration offers the functionality you need.

Examples of data connection points include:

  • Customer Information
  • Addresses
  • Product Details
  • Product Pricing
  • Inventory Levels
  • Customer Pricing Levels
  • Order & Order Status
  • Shipping & Tracking
  • Quick Order Entry
  • Invoices
  • Online Payments
  • Returns/RMAs

Here’s an example of how it might work. A returning customer logs into your website and places a new order. Their customer details stored in your ERP will auto-populate so the customer doesn’t have to re-enter their address information. The new order will automatically sync into your ERP for quick processing and fulfillment.

Customization

Some integrations are compatible with many ecommerce platforms but offer shallow functionality. This is because they’re not designed to take advantage of the full functionality of any given ecommerce platform. It’s kind of like the difference between a mobile app that can use your phone’s camera and geolocation features, and an app that can’t. Both types of apps work on your phone, but one allows you to interact with your phone in ways the other doesn’t.

Similarly, some ERP and ecommerce integrations may not provide all the functionality you need or may not be scalable with your business. It’s important to consider whether the integration is a plug-and-play solution that offers broad compatibility but shallow functionality, or whether it offers a deeper integration and be customized to provide additional functionality. Both types of ecommerce integrations are useful. The type that will work best for you depends on the needs of your business.

Benefits of an ERP ecommerce integration 

An ERP ecommerce integration offers many benefits to your business. They save you time and money by streamlining the online ordering process and reducing calls to your customer service department. For a B2B company that relies on email or phone orders due to negotiations and custom pricing, integrations can allow you to create self-service portals where customers can place orders on their own. This would be a huge savings in both time and labor. It replaces the largely manual process of creating orders from phone calls or emails with a more automated solution.

The benefits of ERP integration include a reduced need for manual data entry, which also reduces common data entry errors. When companies are small, they often rely on manual processes. These manual processes are fine when you start out, but they don’t work so well as your order and transaction volume grows. Eventually, an overreliance on manual processes will limit growth.

When it comes to ecommerce, customers have high expectations. They expect a smooth, convenient ordering process from start to finish. This applies to both B2C and B2B customers, who are often the same people. As they grow, companies can struggle to provide the type of customer service that was easy when they were small. This is why companies often need more automation as they grow. Without it, they risk providing a poor customer experience and hitting roadblocks that hinder growth.

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From supply chain to sales with Sage Business Cloud X3. Software for established businesses looking for greater efficiency, flexibility, and insight.

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How to choose the right integration and integration partner for your business

When you choose an ERP ecommerce integration, you’re not just choosing software, you’re also choosing your implementation partner. It’s important to make sure that you’re picking the right solution—and the right integration partner—to fit your needs.

Most integrations require customization. Your implementation partner will also provide ongoing support and software updates. You’ll want to choose an implementation partner that is responsive to your needs. Pay attention to their support policies and how well they understand both your ERP installation and your ecommerce platform.

Answering these questions will help you choose the right integration for your business.

  • What Sage ERP does my company use?
  • What ecommerce platform does my company use?
  • Is the ERP ecommerce integration compatible with my Sage ERP and ecommerce platform?
  • Are we happy with our current ecommerce platform? Does it meet our needs? If not, in what areas is the website falling short?
  • What functionality does my ecommerce integration need to have, including the types of syncing and data connection points?
  • How often should data sync between the platforms? What should trigger the syncing process?
  • What are the current pain points or bottlenecks in the ordering process?
  • In what areas would I see the greatest benefit in terms of manpower or cost savings by automating repetitive tasks?

You should consider what other services your integration partner offers that could benefit your business. As an example, some integration partners also have web developers and could help customize your website. Some may also offer additional enhancements like mobile phone apps that will integrate with your Sage ERP application and provide another channel for connecting with customers.

Choosing the right ERP ecommerce integration and the right implementation partner is a critical part of scaling your business and providing a great customer experience.

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