Behind every high performing online fashion retailer is an ERP powered web store.
Why? Because getting your component systems to talk to one another and exchange data in real time, via one centralised and fully integrated system is a game changer for you and your customers.
First, let's get the definition in. An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is a business process management software that manages and integrates a company’s financials, supply chain, warehouse and operations, online sales, sales order processing, CRM, reporting and even HR activities.
To put it another way, Magento Commerce is a market leading enterprise grade ecommerce platform fine-tuned to enable retailers to sell online. An ERP is expert at business logic and data management. Bring the two together and you have the ultimate combination of systems designed to streamline the best possible experience for your shoppers and your staff.
There are a plethora of ERP systems available on the market today and it can be a minefield for companies who are embarking upon adopting a new ERP system.
Top tips and questions
A few key questions to ask as suggested by our very own Head of Integration, Simon Hartley, who knows a thing or two about Integration...
- What are your business ambitions now and in the next 5 years? Will the ERP system you choose now be fit for purpose for your intended growth plans?
- What are the current pain points in your business operations?
- What can you afford? (Can you afford not to have an ERP?)
- What resource do you have to collaborate on the integration project?
- How skilled and technical are they?
- What resource do you have in the business post go live to administer the ERP?
- How scaleable it is to meet the growing needs of the business
- Can it cope with the multichannel nature of fashion ecommerce
- How flexible is it to integrate into multiple channels, web, social, mobile,how readily does it support integration with PIM for catalogue management and product enrichment.
- Make sure the ERP systems you are considering have suitable modern APIs for accessing data and integration.
- Demo the heck out of your system integration, insist on seeing it operational with your business data and flows.
- Ensure the software fits with your business, not the other way around; avoid having to adapt your business and processes to fit the software.
- Speak to other business owners where-ever possible to get an independent take on their experience with their chosen ERP.
- Ensure your shortlisted ERP software partners are able to clearly articulate the anticipated benefits this will bring and calculate the reduced cost to serve your customers from an ERP installation. Finding your break-even point for pay back on your investment is a good incentive for many businesses to green light the project.
Why trust your Magento Commerce integration project to us?
Explore the Our Story section of this article to learn about how we have evolved into one of the UK’s most technically experienced and trusted Integration ecommerce specialists.
Having built over 250+ websites with many of them powered by a wide range of ERP solutions, there are a few ERP systems we come across often, particularly in fashion ecommerce.
Prima Solutions, the fashion industries choice for multichannel ERP software. Prima have over 28 years of industry experience supporting the apparel market place including footwear, clothing, and accessories. Prima can offer a company a ‘single point of truth’ for order management, stock control, product and customer data. And Prima’s integration with the Magento ecommerce system is certainly a favoured combination amongst fashion retailers.
We’ve undertaken a number of Prima Integration projects over the past 8 years, integrating Prima with Magento Enterprise and Magento Commerce Cloud for the likes of John Smedley, Shires Equestrian, Price and Butland and Graham Gardener.
But of course Prima Solutions Software integrates with other ecommerce platforms.
Beyond Prima, Well known global ERP systems for growing businesses who have future plans to scale up significantly include SAP, Netsuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365.
SAP, one of the best known ERP software providers offer a strong range of ERP packages across different customer industries and sizes. SAP Business One is the SME solution, large corporations run SAP S/4HANA or previous versions such as SAP ECC.
SAP provides solid offerings for wholesale distribution businesses, with the realistically priced SAP B1 and strong partner network, we rarely hear of unhappy SAP B1 customers. SAP modules and open API mean strong integration options exist.
Now part of Oracle, since 1995 NetSuite has offered a true SaaS cloud ERP solution designed for rapidly growing businesses. Built API first integration is at the heart of NetSuite. NetSuite offers an ecommerce portal Suitecommerce which has received mixed reviews, with a weak partner network, expensive and strong competition from established ecommerce platforms such as Magento, BigCommerce, Shopify, Suitecommerce is rarely a good option. NetSuite is particularly strong in the service industry, and relies on plugins to build out wholesale distribution capabilities to match SAP and Dynamics.
With Microsoft’s resurgence in recent years across all areas of software, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a core part of their strategy and revenue. Bringing together aging products such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX into the newly formed modular Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for SMEs, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations for Mid to Large corporates; Microsoft now has a clear strategy, roadmap and vision for their business software division. Whilst the Microsoft Dynamic partners have been slow to skill up on 365 the product is maturing and the take up is now strong. Cost effective and SaaS based, implementation costs are much reduced from the on premise implementations of NAV and AX where unlimited customisation drove high costs in setup and ongoing maintenance. Possibly the strongest of the three for Wholesale Distribution and Retail.
Learn more on Microsoft Dynamics Nav integration with Magento Commerce
The Williams Commerce Story...
So how did we end up becoming integration solution specialists?
The Williams Commerce story originally started out in early 2008, building proprietary Microsoft .net websites for B2Bs. In those days intrepid manufacturers and distributors were the early pioneers, dipping tentative toes in the world of wholesaling online and the possibilities at the time felt huge.
Those earliest websites created by the Williams Commerce dot net developers were built for pure functionality, accessed by trade customers through a single password protected login, offering retailers innovative new ways to access product catalogues digitally and place bulk orders online. It was the entrepreneurial few who pushed forwards with investment in their own tech stack to drive forwards exciting new functionality that included multiple price lists by customer groups, quantity break pricing, ordering on proforma and more.
It wasn’t long before the need arose to address the ability to link up manufacturers legacy ERP and CRM systems to the website in order to show trade customers real time stock availability and share orders and customer data between the two systems. This early integration between systems was a source of huge excitement, as it enabled retailers to decrease their level of manual administration time and reduced their cost to serve customers through efficient automation between systems.
Whilst Integration projects at the start of the last decade would typically be flat file XML and FTP based, as demand for better performance, increased security modern integration is API first. API based integration enables secure, real time data integration allowing stock checks, customer pricing, orders and order status to always be insync between your ERP and Ecommerce platform. Magento and BigCommerce extensive APIs mean that all data can be synchronised.
On the ERP side, Microsoft Dynamics 365, NetSuite and SAP offer open APIs. Smaller regional systems such as Prima offer API integration, but it often requires development costs with Prima. API integration is often referred to as the ' API economy’. Behind the interactive websites we all use everyday, APIs sew together the fabric of disparate systems across the internet bringing users a single view of the data they require. Whether it’s a train booking website connecting to multiple rail operators, your car insurance querying seperate databases through APIs to provide a competitive quote, or B2B ecommerce website querying stock levels across multiple warehouses.
Now in 2020, there is huge demand for just the type of technical integration services we’ve been offering since 2008. Retailers and B2Bs of all sizes realise the substantial benefits of connecting up their systems and are prioritising investment and resources for technical integration more than ever before.
Integration between your Magento Commerce platform and your ERP system will drastically increase efficiency across inventory, stock control, orders, customer data and shipping details, and advanced integration can also include options for integration with EPOS and warehouse management. Tedious tasks like uploading product information or manually entering shipping addresses and tracking codes can be prone to mistakes by humans.
As Magento put it, “Your customer experience is at stake when you don’t integrate”
And in line with the demand for integration services, our Williams Commerce team of experienced Integration practitioners has expanded to keep pace with the high volume of requests coming from businesses and other ecommerce agencies who do not have the experience or technical skill capable of managing sophisticated integration projects.
With an established specialist Integration team, including a Head of Integration, Technical Project Managers and specialist Developers certified across both Magento Enterprise (M1) and Magento Commerce (M2), and familiar with a wide range of ERP software.
We have the depth of experience and scale to handle the most complex of integration projects.
We’re ready to discuss your ERP Software integration with Magento Commerce.