Nine signs you need an ecommerce ERP integration

An ecommerce ERP integration coordinates the flow of information between your ecommerce website and ERP system bidirectionally, ensuring data only needs to be entered into your system once.

By consolidating and streamlining business information in this way, you’ll minimize human error and save precious time, which can be invested in better merchandising, branding, improving the customer experience, driving conversion rates, launching your products on more channels, and ultimately, growing your ecommerce business.

But how do you know when your business needs - and is ready - for an ecommerce ERP integration? Justine Jenkins, Content Marketing Manager for Brightpearl, discusses the nine signs that show your business needs one right now.

1. You’re selling on multiple sales channels

Growing an online business is tough enough in today’s competitive climate. But throw additional channels into the mix and everything gets that much more complex. Do you really want to be logging into two, three, four, ten, different systems? Without an ecommerce ERP integration in place to consolidate all orders, inventory, customer and financial data, that could be your future.

2. You’re logging into multiple systems to update orders and customer communications

Even if you’re only selling on one channel, you may still find that you’re logging into multiple systems. Think about it. You need to fulfill and ship orders (probably within your ecommerce back-end), update your accounts (probably within a bookkeeping or other third party accounts package), update customer details if they’ve changed (probably within a CRM system) and send marketing communications to update customers on the status of their orders and future promotions (probably within a specialist email marketing platform). That’s a lot of clicks - and a lot of time wasted. Instead, make life easier by consolidating all of this within one ERP system that sits at the heart of your ecommerce business.

3. Your customers are seeing inventory errors

Regardless of whether you sell on one, two or ten channels, if your customers are seeing inventory errors, you need to get it sorted. Recent Brightpearl research has found that a whopping 77% of 1-3 star reviews left by customers online are directly related to issues they’ve had after they click “buy”, resulting in an average 33% loss in revenue for retailers. By implementing an ecommerce ERP that enables you to track inventory across different locations, quickly scan barcodes during the pick, pack, ship process and automate the flow of orders from customer to warehouse, you’ll drastically improve the experience your customers have throughout their buying journey.

4. Your customers are chasing their orders

If you struggle to update your customers in a timely manner then they will chase you. Although your ecommerce back-end can handle routine communications for you, such as order confirmations and dispatch notes, the value of an ecommerce ERP integration is in its ability to help you keep track of orders that don’t follow your normal routine. Was an order flagged as fraudulent? Have you oversold on inventory you actually don’t have after all? Is there going to be a delay in shipping because your cut-off times haven’t been met? Your customers need to know. Ecommerce ERP helps you keep track of situations just like this and provides you with the functionality you need to quickly send order status updates to customers - and in bulk if you need to.

5. You can’t update customers on the status of their orders when they do chase

What’s worse than a customer chasing an order? Not being able to find their order or customer details when they do! This is a real issue for multichannel merchants. Your customers don’t want to be asked twenty questions before you can find their order; and what if they’ve lost their order number? Your customer service team need adequate systems in place to be able to find purchase history information quickly using a variety of search terms like customer name, order number and delivery address.

6. Your processing costs are skyrocketing 

One of the core retail KPIs you should be tracking is your Processing Cost Per Order, which establishes how much it’s costing you to get each order out of the door. But if it’s costing you far more to ship an order than the revenue it’s generating then that’s a surefire way to go out of business. A fast and efficient fulfillment process and a clever warehouse setup will enable you to bring your processing costs down - but you need the right systems in place to be able to facilitate both of those things.

7. Your perfect order rate has hit rock bottom

Another core retail KPI is your Perfect Order Rate, which indicates how often incorrect items are shipped out to customers, whether orders are shipped on time and how often goods are returned back to you. Without the right systems in place to easily keep track of sales and inventory, you’ll likely see your perfect order rate drop further and further below a perfect 100%.  

8. You’ve had to hire a team of people to manage your sales channels

Although you’ll need a team of people in the warehouse picking, packing and shipping, you shouldn’t have to hire a team of people to update inventory, order statuses and accounts journals just to keep on top of everything. That’s what technology, particularly ecommerce ERP, is for, so that your staff can focus their time and energy on actually growing and marketing the business.

9. You’re fearful of the holiday season every year

At Brightpearl, we hear from businesses regularly who are genuinely fearful of the holiday season because they don’t have adequate processes or systems in place to handle a large surge of orders. This results in overselling, stressed out staff and disappointed customers. Instead, with an ecommerce ERP, you’ll be able to update inventory and accounting in real time across tens of thousands of orders per hour, so that you and your team can focus on physically getting orders out of the door in time for Christmas.

Next steps

Did any of the above situations resonate with you? Then you agree you need to take the next steps towards implementing an ecommerce ERP integration. 

1. Decide on what type of ecommerce ERP integration you need. 

Different businesses need different things. 

Do you need an ERP that can facilitate sales across multiple channels? What about EDI connections for large suppliers and wholesalers? Do you have different warehouses for each channel? Do you sell in store as well as online? Do you offer Buy Online Pick Up In Store?

These are all things you need to consider and speak to ERP vendors about before deciding on a system. Create an RFP document and list all of your must-have ERP features, alongside any features that would be a bonus to have.

2. Search the ERP Focus database to find suitable solutions.

Now the fun can begin; evaluating providers to see how they do against your RFP. ERP Focus have made it easy for you with their ERP vendor directory, or you can check out these reports for the top ERP systems andthe best ERPs specifically for retail businesses.

3. Make a shortlist of chosen vendors and pick the one that’s right for you.

For most merchants, choosing an ERP is a task undertaken perhaps once every five years. It may even be the first time you’re doing it. So it’s okay if you’re not totally familiar with everything yet. The first thing to remember is that you need to ask the right questions to ensure the vendor you choose is a risk-free, future-proof and scalable solution. Check out this ERP selection survival guide or request Brightpearl’s selection criteria checklist; both of which are designed to help you with your decision.

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Justine Jenkins

About the author…

Justine Jenkins is the Content Marketing Manager at Brightpearl - a retail operations platform for retailers and wholesalers. Our mission is clear: automate the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing the business. Our complete back office solution includes financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfillment, warehouse management and logistics. In addition, the solution has high-performing connectors to the major ecommerce platforms, including Magento, BigCommerce and Shopify. Over 1,200 businesses in 26 countries use our platform and we manage over 10m transactions and $3bn of business a year.

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Justine Jenkins

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