As a retail outlet, you may already sell online to increase the distribution of your products and services to a wider network of customers and to keep ahead of competitors. But does it work effectively with your internal systems. Is it integrated with your ERP system?
Setting up an effective order processing and distribution system in-house that can then integrate with your web store is the most necessary first step before setting up business online or, if you are looking to reimplement your systems. This ensures your ERP system is the foundation for your online store.
This integrated link between the two systems ensures the pricing structure and order calculations modelled specifically to your business can be automatically transferred to your web store environment. Likewise, all relevant ERP integration means that your web store software uses your ERP data as the foundation for your web store information. Likewise, all relevant data entered within your web store environment will automatically appear in you ERP system.
By setting up your web store in this manner it uses your ERP system to execute the required calculations, pricing and orders — all from one source.
The result is streamlined sales processes, an optimised customer experience and a wider access to a global client base.
So before you set up your retail web store, read our ten reasons why you should establish your ERP system first!
1. Get your data from a single source
Operating with a single source of data ensures all areas of your business uses the same information. This ensures accuracy across your entire organisation, as fewer errors can be made in mapping and interpreting information.
Not only does integrated e-commerce use your ERP’s master database, it also actively ensures that newly created records, such as orders, are instantly available at the source. What’s more, it does so without replicating, synchronising or mapping any data. This validation is performed by the same system, which ensures data accuracy.
You can create your web store to sell online with classifications and categorisations defined in your ERP system. This gives you a much more efficient way to build the navigation structure for your online store.
2. Accurate online order processing and improved efficiency
An integrated e-commerce platform minimises mistakes by only processing orders from within the ERP system. Because information from your ERP is available to share online with clients — including their past and recurring orders — you can also expect more repeat sales and increased efficiency.
3. A better customer experience
One of the biggest advantages of deploying the right integrated e-commerce is that your ERP processes the online orders immediately. This is opposed to the delay that would come with scheduled synchronisation in an interfaced system.
Using this synchronisation, your employees will always see what is actually available when they take orders by phone or email. Your customers benefit too: they see real-time inventory availability in the web store and can access the information around the clock without having to call or email.
This is because all your inventory information is stored in your ERP system. This data contains a lot of important business logic that relies on current inventory availability, inventory location, and projection of future inventory levels based on planned production and/or purchase orders.
4. Quickly launch multiple web stores
In our global society, many businesses are keen to sell internationally. An integrated e-commerce and ERP solution makes it possible to roll out multiple web stores based on multiple companies.
For businesses with multiple web stores, whether it’s for localisation purposes or to divide product offerings among multiple storefronts it’s important to be able to easily assign your products to the correct store(s). And, you only need to define your product assignments once, in your ERP system!
5. Add faceted search functionality for even more details filtering
An integrated e-commerce solution makes it possible to retrieve details related to faceted searches and browsing directly from your ERP system.
By setting up your ERP system first, you can select the attributes of the item you’d like to use in your web store, and your clients can search, filter and refine their product results in detail.
6. Tracking and recording Bill of Materials (BOM) / kitting and assembly
Industrial and technical wholesale and manufacturing companies know all about the complexity of composite product structures. These are products that are built from a Bill of Materials (BOM), or through kitting and assembly. These complex products can then be easily broken down into their respective parts in the web store. This lets your clients order individual parts and have them listed as separate line items on their invoice. Make sure your e-commerce software and ERP system can do this TOGETHER!
7. Share product images and information from your ERP in your web store
The biggest advantage of setting up your ERP system first is the ability to fully leverage the data already present in your ERP system and then integrate it into your web store, rather than the other way round.
By setting up your system this way, and then choosing the right web store system, you can display the product images already stored in your ERP in your online catalogue. There’s no need to upload photos to multiple systems, and your web store will always feature the most recent versions of your product images as they appear in your ERP.
Many distribution businesses and wholesalers are starting to look at not just promoting their business online but actually selling their products online too. With an ERP back end system already in place, many e-commerce systems are designed to bolt onto the ERP system and integrate directly into existing processes to quickly provide a front end online store ready to go. Read our blog: Six Benefits of Setting up a B2B e-commerce Store
8. Always display inventory availability in real time
It’s essential that you can sell the products offered in your web store as promised. However, keeping your inventory availability current across systems can be complex. With an integrated e-commerce platform, mistakes such as selling out-of-stock items just don’t happen. Inventory levels can then be checked directly from your ERP system during the order process, and inventory levels are updated instantly in your ERP when a client submits an order online.
9. Product export to marketplaces (add-on)
Another benefit of integration is the option to export detailed product information to marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Google. By deploying the right web store solution this will allow product sets to be defined and exported using extensive ERP filtering. Combining product master data from your ERP system with semantic enrichment for improved web descriptions and images results in a powerful combination that helps you publish professional catalogues in large marketplaces.
So set up your ERP system first, and make it easier to sell online, in more than one place!
10. Display product customisations directly in the web store
ERP systems are designed to suit a wide range of businesses and industries. Sometimes, however, it is still necessary to create custom product attributes or user-defined fields to store and process the catalogues for a specific business or industry. Integrated web stores can easily process these custom product characteristics because they share the same product database as your ERP system.
Choosing Dynamics NAV as your ERP system “The Microsoft functionality makes it more straight forward for our website developers working behind the scenes between the website and NAV. It’s like we are all singing from the same hymn sheet!” Mike Hendon, Leisuretec Distribution. Read the full case study
Working with Dynamics NAV ERP system
ERP systems are designed to suit a wide range of business and industries. Dynamics NAV has been specifically designed to support client specific enhancements that work alongside its standard functionality and can be tailored by developers to suit a wide range of requirements and is ideal as the ERP system behind your web store. Development work can cover integration between Dynamics NAV and third party add-ons or modules including e-commerce, and creating sophisticated reporting systems that combines data from several systems linked to Dynamics NAV.
Your Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP system lets you bring together all your product information and business logic. This is an invaluable resource for your sales department – so why not use Dynamics NAV as the driving force behind your online store? Synergy Technology is an accredited Microsoft partner with specialist Dynamics NAV consultants that can develop your ERP system, and advise you of the most suitable e-Commerce solution for your business.
Coupled with Sana e-commerce you will be ready to sell online.
Getting started and sell online
There are many more reasons why you should consider setting up your ERP system first. For further information on Dynamics NAV and Sana e-commerce systems or to receive a detailed whitepaper on e-commerce please contact Synergy Technology
Information provided to help compile this article is kindly supported by our partners Sana Commerce specialists in e-Commerce systems.