Why ERP Integrations Are Better than Embedded eCommerce Solutions


Better planning for increase customer experience

Developing a B2B eCommerce strategy works most effectively when decision-makers choose technologies that offer farsighted advantages for understanding customers, interacting with them, managing staff efficiently and integrating with core business processes. Embedded solutions -- no matter how advanced -- just can't keep up with evolving technology, business trends, explosive growth in data, multiple third-party connections and customer preferences for B2C-type conveniences and B2B-type special features. Many companies still operate much the same way they did 10 years ago without incorporating BI tools, content personalization and onsite connections to vendors, distributors, shipping carriers and back-office information. That's why investing in ERP and other integrations offers B2B companies better long-term enterprise value than an embedded solution that -- even at its best -- usually forces business adjustments, occasional manual re-entries of information, information bottlenecks, built-in obsolescence and expensive mistakes due to human processing errors or slow updates that don't happen automatically in real-time.

Benefits of integrated ERP for B2B eCommerce

Integrated systems offer many benefits over embedded ERP solutions. Today's eCommerce platforms provide a host of customer services, self-service options, automatic adjustments in user interfaces based on customer profiles, external product research, shipping connections, easier customer and channel management and complete control over data. Unlike embedded solutions, fully configured ERP integrations connect directly with multiple systems in the middleware layer to generate real-time updates without being subject to data bottlenecks, slow updates or the need for entering data multiple times, which provide these distinct benefits:

  • Eliminating manual errors and reducing staff costs to speed fulfillment and reduce missed shipments, cancellations, returns and incorrect deliveries
  • Eliminating manual errors and reducing staff costs to speed fulfillment and reduce missed shipments, cancellations, returns and incorrect deliveries
  • Data that flows bidirectionally so that customers can confirm their orders, make quick changes and request further information
  • Synchronizing data in milliseconds
  • Empowering faster business decisions with up-to-date reports and analytics
  • Speeding split shipping, drop shipping, currency conversions and calculations of taxes and duties
  • Providing automatic invoicing reviews and customer account histories to clients and authorized stakeholders
  • Managing up 99 percent of current and future database and software integrations without needing upgrades or new eCommerce software
  • Automatically gathering comprehensive business intelligence from internal and external sources
  • Automating features and connections for customised customer, vendor and staff dashboards
  • Guaranteeing consistency across multiple marketing and business channels
  • Avoiding staff needs to enter information that's already somewhere in the operating system
  • Preventing mismatches in information across business channels
  • Triggering automatic shipping updates and order tracking for customer orders

Syncing external data silos

ERP integrations in the API layer with the right architectural configurations ensure that external information is always accurate, complete and valid. Although this information comes from outside sources, customers hold the B2B companies that provide these connections responsible for delays and incorrect information that compromise their business processes, order fulfillment and ordering decisions. Embedded systems might receive occasional updates and limited information from these third-party connections but nothing as comprehensive as what's available in real-time with fully integrated systems.

Generating real-time updates

Real-time updates are critical when customer decision-makers and buying committees are assessing products and services, delivery dates, inventory availability and shipping integrations. Embedded solutions tend to be prone to errors and take longer for inventory information to update from multiple sales channels. Real-time updates not only generate greater operating efficiencies but also reduce the staff costs of manual processing data that are almost always necessary with embedded software. These manual tasks, such as rekeying entries, confirming inventory availability and generating prices based on tier systems or custom quotations, increase costs and the possibilities of making entry errors, mapping errors, data duplications and incorrect shipping entries when multiple addresses are involved.

Real-time updates deliver a better customer experience by increasing self-service options, preventing the need to consult staff to answer simple factual questions and incorporating the latest inventory figures from multiple sales channels, sales staff, consumer sales and scheduled repeat orders. Customers who've called a company -- regardless of whether it's B2B or B2C -- have probably experienced answering the same questions four or five times as they're transferred to successive departments. Real-time updates eliminate these inconveniences, reduce staff work, cut operational costs and generate seamless user experiences.

Statistics favor integration

About 80 Percent of B2B companies believe that it's increasingly critical to implement B2C best practices such as providing personalized user experiences and greater interaction capabilities across multiple channels.[1] B2B companies operate in an average of seven languages and provide services to multiple cultures while handling multiple currencies and shipping integrations. Real-time ERP updates -- according to 85 percent of B2B companies responding to the same survey -- are the single most important factor in delivering a superb customer experience. No single embedded solution can seriously aspire to manage all the necessary connections, integrations, third-party resources, back-office integrations and analytics necessary to deliver consumerlike experiences given the vast range of B2B processes and operations that need to be "consumerized."

The B2B eCommerce market is twice as large as the B2C market in the United States and worldwide, so B2B eCommerce platforms have extraordinary business opportunities to capture a share of this expanding market.[2]

Practical examples of the limitations of embedded systems

Embedded systems just can't match the features and benefits that modern ERP integrations deliver. Embedded ERP software can only deliver what it's predesigned to do, so it's difficult to adjust for growth, increased data, new products, company changes, new government regulations and additional customer resources that are added to the platform. Another big issue is adapting to mobile marketing. Integrated systems work flawlessly regardless of the devices that customers use, and employees can use their own phones to connect with management and customers while on the go. These benefits of integrating systems for better mobile processes reduce paper use, transcription errors and customers who change their minds while enhancing employee productivity, access to customers and staff ability to work from multiple locations.

Building an integration team

If you want to move your eCommerce platform to the next level, you need to accomplish three important objectives: making you staff more efficient, cutting operational costs and engineering a great experience for each customer. You can't begin to do all these things with a static, embedded ERP software solution. No matter how intuitive or packed full of features the software is, the best policy is a hybrid approach of getting a powerful eCommerce platform, excellent-quality ERP and CRM software and a development team to integrate the systems. Choosing the right internal staff and collaborative outside developer offers long-term advantages that include scalability, easy integration of new features and modular business capabilities. A development consultant that takes a partnership approach speeds up development, trains your IT staff during the process and provides thorough testing, implementation and troubleshooting services.