What is ecommerce integration?
Ecommerce integration refers to the connection of your ecommerce platform with your other core apps – whether that’s your ERP, CRM, warehouse system, marketplace, marketing app, POS system or a 3PL. By automating the flow of information between your systems, ecommerce integration means you only need to enter data once – eliminating the need for duplicate entry.
Without this integration, businesses have to rely on manually moving data between their various different systems. Aside from being inefficient, manual data entry is incredibly error-prone – which can lead to problems with overselling and missed orders. For fast-growing companies, it’s also unsustainable, taking up huge amounts of resources and limiting the potential for further growth.
By using a number of disconnected systems, companies also accrue data silos. Not only does this siloed data lead to massive fulfilment issues, but it also makes it difficult for businesses to get a holistic view of their operations, limiting their capacity for reporting and data-led decision making.
The benefits of ecommerce integration
Up-to-date inventory levels
One of the key benefits of ecommerce integration is the ability to automate your company’s data. Rather than waiting until the end of the day to input things like orders and stock levels, your systems are automatically kept up to date through scheduled data syncs. So no matter how busy your store gets, your ecommerce store and back-end systems will always have accurate inventory levels – reducing the risk of overselling.
Improved order fulfilment
With automated data syncs, your online orders are sent straight from your ecommerce platform to your warehouse – no manual inputting necessary. Which means that, even during your store’s peak shopping periods, your warehouse team will have the information they need to pick, pack and dispatch orders faster than ever before. And with less risk of human error, there’ll be fewer mistakes in the fulfilment process.
By removing data silos and automating the flow of data across your business, ecommerce integration gives you complete visibility over your operations. With all data automatically fed back to your ERP, you can create better reports, predict trends, identify areas for improvement and make data-led decisions.
Save time and resources
One of the other main advantages of an integration platform is that it eliminates the need for manual data entry, which saves your business a huge amount of time and resources. Even better, you can reinvest those extra resources back into the areas of the business that need it most – such as marketing and sales.
An integration platform also works to free up your technical resources. With an integration partner on hand to investigate technical issues, your IT team can spend more time focusing on general maintenance and improvements.
The challenges of ecommerce integration
Outdated legacy systems
Like an industrious squirrel preparing for winter, you’ve been gathering data for years and diligently storing it away. That data can pile up, get lost, become irrelevant, and just get in the way if not feeding into the right kind of eCommerce integration.
Historical data can be incredibly useful for future planning – those who don’t learn from the past and all that – but if it’s buried under piles of poorly managed, useless information, it might as well not be there. Trying to find the good data in an endless pile of bad data is just going to waste your time and money.
This is even more of an issue if you’ve been collecting information from lots of channels without a proper data management strategy. Without proper data management and legacy systems in place, the sheer amount of data being passively collected snowballs to become more and more unmanageable. You’re making it harder to even use all this lovely data you’ve been collecting for years.
Disparate data formats
Data floods into businesses from all angles; from CRM to email sign ups, lead generation tools to customer service, information about your business and customers comes in many formats.
It can seem even more daunting to make sense of if the data is being managed by different people and teams, each with their own way of inputting or managing data, leading to potential duplication or mismanagement. One person may be inputting data that was already added by someone else across the business months ago slightly differently, such as starting a mobile number with +44 instead of 0. Little issues like this can throw a whopping great spanner into the works later down the line!
Low-quality or outdated data
Not all data is created equal – some just takes up space and muddies the waters with misinformation, even more so with manual input. Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes you end up with inaccurate or duplicated information.
The problem gets worse the longer you leave it without organising or integrating databases effectively. Over time, different people and departments input records into different systems and issues can turn into big problems, especially in a post GDPR world.
You need to be able to trust that your data is accurate, up to date, consistent, and compliant across your entire business.
Not understanding the requirements
You might have your systems integrated and talking to each other smoothly, but with the wrong software managing different parts of your business, it won’t mean much in the long run. You wouldn’t call up someone to a football team because they’re good at basketball and your systems are no different.
For instance, if you want separate databases to be fully synchronised while inputting their own data, you’re going to need a two-way integration. Otherwise, historical data doesn’t sync and you’ll keep getting inconsistencies – nightmare!
How do I integrate my ecommerce platform?
There are several different ways to integrate your ecommerce platform with your other systems – including point-to-point connectors, building your own integration, and investing in an ecommerce iPaaS.
One of the cheapest, quickest options is to use point-to-point connectors, which refers to a connector that ‘points’ one app at another, allowing them to synchronise data. Each app pairing requires its own connector, with no central hub to manage the different integrations – which means that, if there’s an issue (such as a failed sync or an outage), it can be difficult to find out where the problem originated.
Although point-to-point connectors can be a quick fix for smaller businesses, they’re not a sustainable long-term solution. To get the most out of your ecommerce integration, you need a centralised platform to manage your integrations.
That’s where an iPaaS like Patchworks comes in.
What is an iPaaS?
An integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a cloud-based platform that allows you to automate the flow of data across your company’s different systems. By providing a single platform to create and manage data flows, an iPaaS gives businesses an easy, cost-efficient way to streamline and scale their operations.
An iPaaS acts as the centralised hub for your data. Rather than running different point-to-point connectors, you can manage your integrations, trigger syncs, troubleshoot issues and view historical data – all from a single platform.
Getting started with an eCommerce iPaaS
It can seem daunting at first, looking at all your competing systems and wondering where to start getting them working as a team – but that absolutely doesn’t have to be the case. One of the main reasons you’d want your systems integrated in the first place is to make your life easier and the Patchworks platform does just that.
Integration can be done quickly and easily, with no need for retroactive coding or tearing up of existing structures, our Integration Platform does all that heavy lifting for you. The platform is bespoke and tailor made to your business, giving you the integrations, platforms and dashboards that suit exactly what you need to help your organisation scale. The more your integrated systems automate data flows and reduce manual input, the more time you have to grow your business strategically using data that you know is accurate, complete, and easy to understand.
Some examples of ecommerce integrations
ERP / NetSuite: Smooth, hands-off operations
Have your front and back ends constantly talking and keeping numbers up to date by integrating Shopify with an ERP system like NetSuite. Keep the sales and fulfilment process smooth, effective, and faster than it’s ever been while resting assured that stock numbers and customer data are up to date for the easiest purchasing process possible.
Finance / QuickBooks: Futureproof your growing business by the books
Money makes the world go round and you need your books dynamic, up to date, and accurate to help you strategise and grow your business. By integrating Shopify with a finance system like QuickBooks, you’re constantly on top of your latest sales data, as well as income and outgoings. Help plan for the future and minimise risk while thriving by understanding the trends in your finances. Just follow the money!
Marketplace / Amazon: All your sales data collated, accurate, and looking great
Check you out, selling your wares all over the place – someone’s been busy! Your business is expanding and you’re getting customers from other Marketplaces apart from your Shopify online store, so let’s keep that data collated, updated, and ready to use. By integrating Shopify with Marketplaces such as Amazon, all your sales information is constantly synced and presented in a way that’s easy for you to understand and use. Stock numbers are reflected across your online presence and customer data is consistent, regardless of where they came from.
Marketing / Emarsys: Keep those sales coming with intelligent, data driven advertising
If you get your eCommerce and Marketing systems integrated, you’re not just helping to draw in new business, you’re increasing your chances of getting your existing ones spending with you again and again.
As your Marketing system helps target the right user with the right message, Magento is busy making sense of their consumer data and creating bespoke profiles. These can be fed back to the marketing, improving the right message and helping retain customers. The more they work together, the stronger the relationship!
POS / Sitoo: Make sales count for data AND money
Cha-ching! That’s the sound of exponential growth and a healthy business. By integrating Magento with a POS system like Sitoo, your payment, refund, and sales data is fed right to your shopfront to keep numbers flowing. This beautiful friendship helps you track customer sales behaviours and grow custom profiles to feed into your wider business strategy – help your business grow with every sale.
WMS / Peoplevox: Instant, proactive stock management
When the shopfront and warehouse stop talking, you’re going to have problems. Integrating Magento with a WMS system like Peoplevox is the best way to keep on top of stock numbers in real time and cut down on embarrassing overselling. By constantly sharing data, you eliminate the risk of human error, inconsistent information, and time spent manually sifting through the numbers to fix problems.
ERP / Cegid: Keep the customer happy
One sure way to turn a customer away for good is to tell them that a product they were excited to buy is actually out of stock – guaranteed grumpiness. Make sure your orders, stock levels, and sales are fully synced by integrating BigCommerce with an ERP system like Cegid to give your customers a smooth, accurate shopping experience without the nasty shock of overselling. Fully automating your order processing and sales transactions also cuts down on operating costs and your own valuable time wasted, if you’re interested in that sort of thing…
POS / Opsuite: A data driven growth strategy
BigCommerce can handle a lot of the heavy lifting in your online shop, but integration to a POS system like Opsuite will give it that extra flow of data to strategically scale your business. Up to date sales data, customer behaviour profiles, and synchronised product categories across all your eCommerce platforms help give everyone on your site the easiest path to conversion possible. Data flows feed back to a single dashboard to give you a clear picture of sales trends to help you plan for the future and have your business reach its full potential.
WMS / SEKO: Fully and transparently automate your logistics
Your warehouse and logistics network are the backbone of your company; without it, your customers don’t get their product – and that’s just bad business! By integrating BigCommerce with a WMS like SEKO, you ensure that there are no more crossed wires when it comes to your relationship with the customers. Fully automated data flows mean accurate stock numbers across your eCommerce ecosystem, returns are handled cleanly, and you spend less time manually entering data across the purchasing process.
Marketplaces / eBay: One united shopfront
WooCommerce’s open source platform means you can easily create a shopfront for your business quickly and easily. If you’re doing this to support your existing online presence, you’ve now got multiple sources of online business. Fantastic, but don’t lose track! If you’re selling stock in other marketplaces like eBay, integrating that with your WooCommerce site will help you manage inventory across the multiple shopfronts, have one manageable dashboard to track sales data, and keep consistent customer profiles across your eCommerce ecosystem.
ERP / Microsoft Dynamics: Study purchasing patterns to never miss a sale
WooCommerce has made it easier than ever to set up an online store, but ease doesn’t equal compromise. Integrating your WooCommerce into your wider systems, specifically an ERP like Microsoft Dynamics, means that your stock numbers, sales data, buying patterns, customer profiles and more are instantly stored with your other data in one place. This means you can use the data from your WooCommerce store to feed back into your wider business strategy, helping you proactively make the right decision for your market.
WMS / SEKO: Cut down on boring and risky data entry
Keeping track of stock, especially when selling across multiple platforms, can be a headache at the best of times – that’s why we prefer to just let the technology get on with it. By integrating WooCommerce with SEKO or other WMS, you keep the data automatically flowing and stock numbers updating across your business in real time. Don’t worry about human error when working through the numbers anymore; now you can focus on growing your business!
ERP / Prima: Let the data do the talking
Take the guesswork and legwork out of the equation by integrating your Commercetools store to an ERP like Prima. By automating workflows across your business, not only can you cut down on time wasted with data entry, you can get a more comprehensive and clear look at your sales data to advise you as you grow your business. Improve profit margins, identify trends, and make decisions based on data you can trust.
Data platform / PowerBI: One dashboard to rule them all
All the sales data in the world won’t be of any use if you can’t make sense of it. PowerBI, being the wonderful hard working data platform it is, takes information from around your business and compiles it into a helpful dashboard for you. Integrating PowerBI with Commercetools means that your customer and sales data can be collated and presented alongside other information from around your organisation, in a way that you can easily use to strategise and report back on.
WMS / Peoplevox: The right to peaceful processing
Take the human limitations and error out of warehouse management and fulfilment of orders by linking Commercetools to Peoplevox. Automatically syncing product and order data to your warehouse system means your team can start processing orders immediately at the point of purchase. It’s not just about speed though – it’s about transparency and accuracy. Now you can send real time updates including tracking data straight to your customer as well as around your business, ensure displayed stock levels are accurate, and streamline your returns process automatically and with confidence.