8 Benefits of Integrating Your Ecommerce with CRM and ERP
There are many ecommerce solutions designed for various organization sizes and industry verticals. As a result, there are a variety of backend systems used to support manufacturing, distribution and fulfillment systems, creating challenges for online merchants looking to provide accurate information to customers.
In this post, we will discuss the important business benefits of integrating your ecommerce solution with your backend systems: ERP and CRM.
Why Integrate Ecommerce, ERP and CRM?
Most ERP implementations include integrations with third-party add-ons to allow for such things as payment processing and tax compliance. Merchants in manufacturing or distribution often utilize WMS systems to allow for efficient shipping and fulfillment. EDI, is another common integration that your ecommerce store may utilize.
Using these integrations (and others like them) with your ERP system lets you avoid data duplication and/or manual data entry — allowing you to keep multiple systems in sync while ensuring you have a single version of truth. Integrating your ecommerce solution with your ERP extends the same business benefits to inventory and pricing. An integrated ecommerce solution will help you increase online revenue and improve customer self-service. Integrations are synchronized so that your ERP can become the true master of relevant data items such as product availability and pricing.
Ecommerce can certainly be deployed as a standalone solution, but manually entering or exporting/importing data from the ecommerce store into backend systems is time intensive; which means, as a merchant, you are not able to provide an accurate view of product data, available inventory or latest pricing and promotions in real-time. And if shipping and tracking details are not sent on time, it can cause significant disruptions in merchandise procurement and delivery, leading to customer dissatisfaction, returns/refunds and eventually loss of revenue.
Ultimately, your customer experience takes a hit – so why not integrate?
Business Benefits of Ecommerce Integration
- Reduce manual entry to save time and improve accuracy of catalog data, including item descriptions, images, SEO content and product attributes.
Product merchandising is essential for attracting consumers and converting them to buyers. In the age of technology, information is plentiful, which is why it’s so important to provide as much product detail as possible by including robust product descriptions, imagery, videos and even how-tos.
Accurate and intuitive product classification is also extremely important in ensuring that consumers find what they are looking for fast. Product attributes that are relevant to product categories make it faster for your customer to find the product they are looking for in a large catalog.
To ensure that your products are found amongst the sea of options available online, you need to prioritize search. Implementing an SEO optimization strategy, which should include in-depth, unique product descriptions and content, is the first step in getting found online.
Once consumers find your web store, having a robust search engine within your web store itself is also key to helping consumers locate the products they want. Using keywords, or phrases, and offering the ability to search by category, brand or attribute will help consumers navigate your site with ease.
As a merchant, you want to have a single source of truth and in most cases, it is the ERP system which may feed data, not just to ecommerce but to other sales channels as well. To achieve this, product related data like categories, product attributes, and digital assets are saved in the ERP system.
Having a robust integration that reads data feeds in real-time for new or updated products is extremely important in ensuring that all your channels have the same version of truth.
- Reduce refunds and returns by allowing the ecommerce store to reflect ERP inventory, pricing and promotions.
Most merchants today have multiple sales and procurement channels. Sales channels can include the web store, third-party marketplaces and even social media stores. With the ability to provide accurate inventory and pricing per channel, and per location, you ensure a true omni-channel experience — an experience that is both device- and channel-agnostic.
The ability to provide channel-specific pricing, including promotions and special offers, helps to promote specific channels, and enables you to cut costs and increase speed to market.
Inaccurate inventory can cause back orders, missed fulfillment SLAs resulting in cancellations, refunds and loss of revenue. It can also cause reputational issues, as customers utilize social media to share their negative experience.
- Provide up-to-date order information, including shipping and tracking data
Both B2C and B2B customers want up-to-date information on the status of their orders.
B2C customers want to get their tracking details, not just on the entire order but on individual items as well. They also want the ability to have in-transit details aggregated from multiple shipping carrier and email notifications once an item is shipped.
Shipment and delivery can be especially important for B2B customers who may have downstream impacts if a product(s) is delayed. For instance, if a B2B customer is expecting a shipment of raw materials for their production line, a delay in shipment could completely disrupt their fulfillment commitments.
- B2B customers can increase customer self-service by giving customers the ability to complete payment online and view invoice details.
B2B customers want to be able to do business 24/7, according to their schedules, from any device. A customer dashboard that contains all the information a B2B customer needs – such as purchase history, previously placed orders, quotes, saved carts, order lists, and more, is extremely important in helping them more efficiently do business with you.
B2B customers want a full financial view of invoices, with the ability to print these invoices if needed and pay multiple invoices online using a single form of payment. Viewing their aging balance and credit balance also helps them better manage their cash flow.
- Add multiple web stores (from different product categories or branding perspectives) to an ecommerce instance. You can even widen your sales outreach with multi-currency and multi-lingual support.
An ecommerce store allows you to expand your customer base to different countries and regions. ERPs allow you to set-up pricing per currency, allowing your customers to view and compare prices in their local currency.
You may have multiple brands or product lines that you manage and market separately. From a profit and loss perspective perhaps you want to keep the separate stores in ERP as different legal entities/product lines. With multiple web stores and channels, ecommerce integration allows you to isolate your product lines with different branding and different stores, while staying integrated with their respective companies in the ERP system.
- Provide competitive shipping rates and services by integrating with third-party shipping APIs.
As a merchant, you may have negotiated rates with shipping carriers, or may support only specific shipping methods – which means that these shipping methods are all configured in your ERP system.
With an integrated web store, you can have shipping rates and services pulled directly from shipping carriers, and the shipping rates you support in your ERP system. The integration between the ERP and the ecommerce store enables the store to seamlessly display the supported rates and services that are in the ERP.
- Eliminate tax compliance complexities with tax jurisdictions based on location, products or both.
Your accounting team is tasked with keeping your company tax compliant, and ensure that you are collecting taxes where needed, based on the current codes and rates.
An integrated ecommerce system ensures that the appropriate tax codes and rates (pulled either from a third-party tax provider or from the built-in ERP tax engine) are applied to the sales order. This is important because if there were to be any changes to the sales order in your ERP system, the system will recalculate the taxes with the same tax codes and rates that you have either setup in your ERP or with your third-party tax engine.
- Use a PCI certified solution to ensure security with credit card processing.
As a merchant, you do not want to take on the liability of saving credit card data even though you want to offer credit card as a payment method. Ecommerce systems use tokenization and/or CIM service, meaning the payment gateway does the authorization and then returns a token, which is saved instead of credit card details.
These tokens are integrated into your ERP system, so that even if you change the order in your ERP and the order value changes, you can still process payments without having the credit card details. This way the transaction can start in ecommerce and you can complete it in the ERP system without having to store any credit card data in either of the systems.
How Hitachi Solutions Ecommerce Can Help
Are you facing the above challenges with an existing web store that is not integrated with Dynamics 365? Or do you not yet have an ecommerce store? Hitachi Solutions Ecommerce can help!
For instance, Hitachi Solutions Ecommerce offers the following capabilities:
- Ecommerce web store (whether B2C or B2B) that seamlessly integrates with Dynamics 365, and provides insight into your product catalog, inventory level and different pricing levels when applicable.
- Streamlines integrations running in an automated mode for various data entities like customers, items, sales orders, inventory, pricing, invoices and payments.
- Integrates with third-party shipping and taxation providers ensures consistency between the ecommerce store and Dynamics 365, irrespective of what channel the sales order comes through.
- Responsive designs and social integration allow you to reach out to customers on the platforms and devices they use daily.
Hitachi Solutions can help you understand how best to equip your online store for a Dynamics 365 integration, how to reduce manual and time-consuming integration work and how to get the most out of your integration so that you can focus more on customers and sales. Contact us today to start a conversation