If you have been using Magento for a while and you have a large number of orders coming in you will be well aware of the limitations that the platform has as regards order and inventory management.
You have probably asked some or all of the following questions:
• How can I accurately account for stock on Backorder, and manage orders with backorder items?
• How can I manage procurement efficiently?
• What should I do if I have more than one warehouse?
• What about a ‘Goods In’ process?
• How can I calculate margin across by product set?
• How do I manage inventory across a range of channels?
The answer to all these questions lies in an efficient order management system, something that Magento was never designed to be. Now I hear you say – “But Why Don’t I just extend Magento to offer all these functions” and indeed there are a number of extension on the market that offer a range of additional functionality in these areas, but before you go off on an extension splurge let me offer a note of caution. Extending Magento to be an order management system is like extending a kite to be aircraft – it does some of the same things, but it was designed with a different purpose in mind! At Flint, what we look for in a sensible architecture is not a single platform that does absolutely everything – as in our experience this means that it does everything in a mediocre manner at best (and is often not scale-able), but rather platforms that talk to complimentary platforms well – like an ecommerce cart talking to an order management system.
So given that we put Magento at the center of our ecommerce ‘Ecosystem’, what order management systems talk efficiently to Magento? The true answer to this question is “Unfortunately the devil is in the detail, and it depends on your operational requirements” – and and of course Flint are highly experienced in assessing retail operations and suggesting suitable business management platforms; however there are a few platforms that do the integration basics pretty well, without the need for expensive and risky custom integration builds.
So what platforms do integrate well with Magento?
Linnworks is a great little inventory management platform that has spent some time in ensuring that it talks to as many other platforms as possible – and to that end it has an API type integration with Magento, Shopify and BigCommerce, as well as integrations to marketplace applications like Amazon, ebay and Rakuten. It also has integrations to a number of Carriers such as FedEx and Parcelforce.
If you are looking for a relatively simple and inexpensive solution then Linnworks should be your first port of call. You can set up a test in minutes. The API integration is fine for smallish merchants, but does not stand up to massive volume (as the Magento API is notoriously slow and resource hungry).
2. MNP’s Order Active
MNP’s Order Active is a system that is in use by some pretty massive players such as Isabella Oliver, Kurt Geiger and Lakeland. The key aspect here is that the platform can manage scale and international infrastructures. The main failing of some of the smaller solutions is that they cannot hold multiple base currencies – and as such are not suitable for larger customers.
OrderActive has excellent procurement tools and integrates with Crystal Reports to provide a wealth of management data. The integration to Magento is excellent – and I have to declare a slight bias here, as we built it! We use our interActions platform as the basis for the Integrations, which is designed to help overcome scale shortcomings by managing the exchange of data from Magento.
3. Khaos Control
Khaos Control are out of the Mail order world, and has evolved in to a good all purpose order management platform, with integrations to all the key sale channels – ebay, Amazon and Not on the High Street. I would love to tell you that their in-house Magento integration is great – but fear not I have better news – Flint has an App for that! Our Khaos integration is based on our well tested InterActions framework – so you can be sure that it is rock solid – and customisable if necessary!
Brightpearl is an awesome SAAS ERP system that goes further that most order management systems in that it can address accounting, CRM, Warehouse management as well as the basics of order and inventory management. It integrates with a large range of carriers (and Metapack) and can give you a real view of your true margin on sales – which after all is the Holy Grail for most of us.
It is a fast growing company, that is, crucially, spending a lot of time and effort in addressing the requirements of Magento merchants. For fast growing merchants it is the perfect choice!
NetSuite is perhaps the most full featured SAAS ERP platform available at present. It has modules that cover off the full range of processes, including Manufacturing and bill of materials management, Point Of Sale, Business intelligence, Accounting and anything else you might care to mention.
Integration with Magento is via a service called Celigo, which does add more fees to the equation.
It is not the cheapest option out there though but it allows you to plug in new modules as and when required, and if funding is no object and you want something that can get you to the real scale in one leap then NetSuite is probably the best option.
The other runners and riders
A simple, yet reasonabley effective SAAS inventory management system. The glory of this system is that it can manage stock across a number of channels – most notably the Point of Sale platform, Vend. The platform is evolving fast – and if you are looking for a low cost inventory platform that can allow you to manage inventory for multiple sales channels then Stichlabs is worth a look.
Similar to StitchLabs is many ways, though with a rather more developed procurement and stock management system. Evolving fast too!
What about the big boys?
So what happened to Dynamics, IBM Business One, Sage and the other big fish in the pond? Well they don’t figure on this list for a couple of reasons. Firstly while they do have integrations with Magento they are rarely seamless, and they normally rely on Magento’s API, which means that you are negating most of the value of a premium ERP by trying to stuff it through what can best be described as a piece of S***! Not much use in having a platform that can handle millions of processes in that case is there! Of course there are third party services that can manage this, but this adds yet another layer of fees to the solution, and what we are trying to uncover in this article is value.
This article can’t quite answer all your questions in 1000 words – after all as we said before, the devil is always in the detail – and all these platforms have their sweet and blind spots.
So what are the next steps? Well, you could do worse than getting in touch with us and telling us about your stories and problems – we are always more than happy to point you in the right direction.