Companies leverage an enterprise resource planning system, or ERP, as a unified solution for managing their day-to-day business processes, from accounting to delivery status tracking.
Being an essential unified data control system in the manufacturing industry, today an ERP integrates operations from different departments into a single center of data collection, management, and analysis and is used by finance, IT, logistics, and retail industries, primarily by enterprises and SMBs.
Given such ecommerce business processes as order fulfillment, payments and returns handling, inventory management, financial reporting, and customer support, ERP system implementation is widely adopted among digital retailers as well, connecting departments and centralizing operational data access.
Moreover, the pandemic-induced lightning-fast ecommerce development forced digital retailers to look for solutions to better streamline workflows, cater to discerning customers, and grip leading market positions. Therefore, ERP ecommerce integration can be a reasonable step to support business growth.
Key Features of Ecommerce ERP
Earlier, retailers customized a general-use solution for their needs, which was quite time- and budget-ineffective. Today, however, powerful ERP vendors have addressed online retailers’ needs and versatile business models to finally deliver flexible ERP suites.
Despite vendor-related variations, each ERP system enables the following core processes:
- Inventory and warehouse management
- Order and returns processing
- Finance management
- Customer data management
Furthermore, an ERP solution can be smoothly integrated with additional add-ons already in use within the ecommerce environment, such as analytics, CRM, PIM systems, and databases, to work hand-in-hand. The integration is accomplished via various connecting techniques, for example, API, middleware, or point-to-point integration. The choice of integration method depends on many factors, the main of which are business requirements and the scale of the system used.
ERP Deployment Models
With the shift toward remote work and more mobile workforce, remote access to a unified corporate management system is more demanded.
Because of its seamless implementation, scalable infrastructure, simplified data storage, and accessibility from anywhere anytime, the cloud deployment model is becoming a top priority among companies.
However, limited customization and data leakage risks incline some organizations, primarily in the finance industry, to opt for the on-premise ERP deployment model. This deployment model gained its supporters for complete ERP system control and solid security assurance. Still, you will have to put up with significant costs, both at the initial stage of deployment and in the process of further system updating and maintenance.
For those who want something in between, it is better to consider the hybrid deployment option. The advantage of this model is its optionality: some of the operations, most often related to data, is managed from the company’s server, which nullifies the risk of cyberattacks, and part of operations on the cloud, which simplifies the workflows.
Therefore, the choice of the model depends on the main factors:
- Maintenance and support
- Customization flexibility
How an Ecommerce ERP System Can Enhance Workflows
Online retailers have different goals when implementing an ERP system with their ecommerce platform. However, most companies are looking to achieve increased efficiency, support their business growth, and make their teams more productive.
These are the three key benefits an ERP system can provide your ecommerce business with:
1. Workflow automation
The practice of manual back-office operations is still alive and well within ecommerce organizations. The main impediment towards automation is companies’ misconception about expensive and challenging ERP solution deployment. But vendors can provide you with various time- and budget-effective options regarding your company’s needs. Moreover, automating stock management, order processing, delivery tracking, and other associated operations can improve supply chain visibility.
2. Data management
Due to poor-quality and siloed data, companies waste money and time making informed decisions, undermining their competitiveness. As per the Data Distrust Report by Snaplogic, revenue growth possibilities are missed due to a lack of data insights.
In addition, the unified access to a data repository and automation of daily processes necessary for your company can strengthen your team collaboration, which will positively impact the growth of the company and its further development.
3. Multichannel commerce evolvement
With a rapid expansion of multichannel customer interactions, it is better to use a reliable unified system to connect multiple touchpoints. This way, the omnichannel approach you provide doesn’t play against you by alienating customers and making it difficult to control the entire ecosystem.
An integrated ERP solution designed to control a real-time customer data flow is sure to provide a seamless customer experience and impact your business revenue.
The ERP system is not a silver bullet. On the contrary, it is a complex system that, in any case, requires money and time investment. But starting with automating the simplest operations and gradually introducing more and more innovative add-ons will ensure the smooth growth of your company and its competitive advantage in the fast-developing market.
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