Integrating Zoho with External eCommerce Solutions

Maximize Business Potential while Keeping Costs Down

Zoho integration to an eCommerce platform allows small to large businesses to personalize the interaction between customers and the core business operations. Zoho offers extensive features, including CRM, financial, and inventory data management. It exposes this data securely while catering to your business model. It can fulfill the needs of your customers, which is critical to compete, grow your business, and increase margins.

Finding the right integration partner is key to a successful project. Make sure that they have previous experience working with Zoho, REST-based APIs, as well as the web API framework. However, they should know not only the technical aspects of these integrations but also the business aspects. It will ensure they are aware of what tends to work best for end-users from a customer experience perspective. Also, the entities your business needs to function initially and what it might need in the future as it grows.

How to Determine What Makes Sense for Your Business?

Finding the Right Integration Platform

Another critical aspect of a Zoho integration is finding the right integration platform. It must be secure, scalable, and adaptable so that it can dynamically adjust according to the needs of your business and customers over time. Mostly, it should be able to handle the continually growing demand for more and more transactions.

You should also be able to take off the shelf integration capabilities and extend them. So, there are core integration capabilities between eCommerce platforms and Zoho. You can utilize these entities. However, the real challenge is overriding or extending those core capabilities. So, you can take advantage of these core off the shelf capabilities, but also cater them to your business without excessive overhead.

Moreover, most companies have specific business rules. So, they may require custom entities and fields. The integration platform should incorporate custom fields with data transformations following the business logic. So, each task within those entities will be scheduled according to it. This will ensure that the execution of the integration platform matches the expectations for both the business and end-users.

Adapting the Integrations to Business Logic

Core Integrations

Another essential thing to do is evaluate the off the shelf integrations offered by the platform for your eCommerce platform and Zoho. For example, customers and accounts are a crucial integration. These integrations can either be bi-directional or unidirectional. It depends on what your business needs. Over time, you might go from unidirectional to a bi-directional.

Customers and Accounts

Customers and accounts typically include:

  • Addresses: both shipping and billing information
  • Contacts: This can include a hierarchy of contacts that possibly tie back into an eCommerce platform user records
  • Pricing levels, customer-specific pricing, quantity-specific pricing, price rules
  • Tax information, like tax exemptions, tax levels
  • Credit limits or the ability to purchase on account
  • Past order history data
  • Invoices and quotes generated within Zoho and then directed into an eCommerce platform. Customers can then pay for them via the front-facing system, after which the transaction and order data will be pushed back into Zoho.

Order Information

It also makes sense to incorporate the overall order information. It typically includes:

  • Line items
  • Tax classes of the products within the line items
  • Shipping and fees
  • Customs and duties
  • Any discounts on the items
  • The shipping level
  • Payments and transactions
  • Transaction ID
  • Split payments or split shipping

All this information can make it easier to manage customer support requests such as replacements or refunds for items or a missing shipment, etc. So, whenever an order is placed, the information needs to be pushed into Zoho. It will make it easier to process the fulfillment side of things. Whether Zoho manages fulfillment or another system, the integration platform should allow integration between multiple systems. Zoho will then update your eCommerce platform with the status of the shipment in real-time. So, the users are informed about the whereabouts of the shipment.

Categories and Products

It is also very common to bring in core product information from Zoho. It typically includes categories, product attributes, and associations, manufacturer part numbers, dimensional weights, descriptions, media, metadata, price, etc. It may also include inventory, distribution center or warehouse location information, store locations, etc.

Omnichannel Ordering

You can enable location data within most eCommerce platforms to handle the omnichannel ordering. It would allow the system to conduct a location and proximity search and manage any transfer items. So, if an end-user wants to transfer an item from one store to another for pickup or wants to order something only available in a warehouse that is far, you can charge an additional shipping fee, etc. Essentially, the integration should be able to conduct intelligence and reasonable data transformations.

How Can Clarity Help

Zoho eCommerce Integration Specialists

To conclude, setting up robust core integrations between Zoho and an eCommerce platform will allow you to adjust the system as your business grows. So, you can continue to improve your offering to end-users, reduce costs, and increase your profitability as a business.

Therefore, we strongly recommend working with a partner who offers all the capabilities mentioned above. It would be ideal if you find someone who knows how to cater to your specific business model. So, your customers and your internal team members get the integration outputs that they are expecting.

If you have any more questions related to this topic, we encourage you to reach out to our experienced team. The Clarity team has an amiable and knowledgeable sales and business development staff. They can provide a complimentary analysis. We certainly look forward to answering your questions and talking with you about your upcoming Zoho integration project.

We also encourage you to go through the resources below. They have helpful information that covers other topics related to Zoho and external integrations, some of which can be helpful for your project. If there are topics that you do not see below, you are welcome to click on the ask the expert link. Our team will be happy to provide a technical response to any questions that you may have regarding those topics.

Averitt Express + Zoho Integration

Clarity Connect is a middleware platform that facilitates the integration of Averitt Express to Zoho, including the automation of business processes and the sharing of data. Why would you do this? Every company, as well as every need to integrate is different. The most common is to marry the front-office web property with a back-office application, such as an online storefront connected to and ERP to pass orders automatically when the order is placed online.

There are many considerations when designing the connection between Averitt Express and Zoho. There can be security and performance criteria, as well as the physical access available to the applications. The two common connection types of applications that are typically connected are SaaS and On Premises.

Pricing
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Connecting with Clarity Connect:

  • Averitt Express

    Averitt Express

  • Zoho

    Zoho

Clarity Connect is a middleware platform that facilitates the integration of Averitt Express to Zoho, including the automation of business processes and the sharing of data. Why would you do this? Every company, as well as every need to integrate is different. The most common is to marry the front-office web property with a back-office application, such as an online storefront connected to and ERP to pass orders automatically when the order is placed online.

There are many considerations when designing the connection between Averitt Express and Zoho. There can be security and performance criteria, as well as the physical access available to the applications. The two common connection types of applications that are typically connected are SaaS and On Premises.

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Be Nimble, Be Quick

SaaS or In-the-Cloud Applications

SaaS-based integrations are very common. These are exclusively online and used to integrate applications like Salesforce, Office365, USPS, UPS, 3PL, Avalara (Clarity is a certified Sage, Microsoft and Avalara partner) and any other application that is served up in the cloud.

In any of these scenarios, the eCommerce storefront is hosted on a cloud-based server (usually at a provider like Amazon, Azure, Rack Space, Liquid Web, Managed.com, etc.), and Clarity Connect is installed on the same server, with the connector or adapter communicating to the other online application across a secured Internet connection.

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Working from Within

On-Premises Applications

Another common implementation is when a client has their ERP or CRM installed on premises, behind their corporate firewall. In this scenario, Clarity Connect is then installed on a server on premises, along with the connector at the client’s facility and configured to communicate securely within their network to the back-office application(s).

Then an IP exception, with specific port and public / private key combo is used so that Connect can securely communicate with the other application’s connector / adapter in the cloud, improving security and ensuring that the client’s ERP / CRM are not exposed outside of their network.

Averitt Express
Innovative & Robust

How Middleware Integration Works for B2B Platforms

Integrated Averitt Express & Zoho applications can foster greater customer loyalty with business process automation that delivers consistently outstanding customer service. Order processing speeds up, customers can access a range of information about their accounts such as order history and shipping options, so that it’s easy to place complex orders. Examples of how integrating ERP software works in practical terms include the following automated processes:

  • Customers and prospects visit an eCommerce website.
  • A record of the visit is generated and converted into a format that works in Averitt Express & Zoho software (Contact record -> Activity log).
  • If a sale is made, a Customer Record and Sales Order are automatically generated.
  • Visitor behavior is tracked and recorded to build user profiles for custom displays, marketing messages, recommendations and content curation.
  • Sales Orders and Quotes are sent to the appropriate staff for review, fulfillment and shipping.
  • Shipping details are converted into readable formats and forwarded to the eCommerce store.
  • Inventory figures update in real-time.
Zoho
A Better Experience

Customer Service Takes its Place at the Top of the Queue with ERP Integration

The usefulness of both CRM and ERP software depends on how efficiently business process automation works, and that depends on how fully the software is integrated into operations. If customers must contact sales or customer service staff frequently to troubleshoot problems with orders, get answers to simple questions or manage other issues with their accounts, the hidden and labor costs can be tremendous.

Companies routinely lose orders, fail to upsell accounts and frustrate customers when self-service eCommerce applications don’t work seamlessly with back-office data, pricing and automation. The costs of staff intervention also raise human capital costs and prevent staff from pursuing revenue-generating tasks.

  • Generating customized email, marketing promotions and newsletter marketing.
  • Generating customized reports and 360-degree views of each customer’s profile and real-time actions.
  • Automating line of business applications to foster seamless connections with multiple databases and internal management systems.
  • Delivering customer-centric tools for order fulfillment, support requests and ticketing applications.
  • Triggering custom quotes, accelerated workflows and faster management decisions.
  • Triggering custom quotes, accelerated workflows and faster management decisions.
It's All About Endpoints

Business Logic & Endpoint Types

Business logic are workflows that are the real meat and potatoes of the integration. It's where all the business processing happens and is made up of events, triggers, rules, and more. It's what allows all of the real-time or batched communication and automation of the front-end website with data and logic from the back-office applications. This is what extracts and exposes all of the value of your website / marketplace project.

The workflows can be very simple, such as checking a product's in-stock inventory count, to something much more complex. The basic endpoint categories are:

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Contacts

Individual users, typically customers or individuals of partners

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Accounts

Customer accounts, partners, resellers, etc.

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Products

Products or services that your company provides or sells

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Inventory

Stock quantities of products or services

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Pricing Tables

Pricing set on your products or services

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Sales Orders

Orders placed on the web that are pushed to the back office for processing

There can be literally hundreds of endpoints an API can expose to a connector (Clarity's eCommerce API exposes over 10,000) and the list can be very different from the two sides you're integrating. This is important because you may want to push or pull information from an application that can't be easily accessed or loaded to an application that doesn't support that type of data (Accounts and Contacts may both be in your CRM and ERP, but products and inventory may only exist within the ERP).

Possible Complex Workflow Samples

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Login Authentication Workflow

When a user logs into your store, Connect can go to the integrated CRM, look up the user, see what account they belong to. Is the account status on hold? Does the user have permissions to purchase on account? What pricing table does the account get assigned? Which products should be made visible to the user, etc.?

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Viewing a Product Workflow

When a user clicks on a product category, go to ERP in real-time and check to validate their (the account's) pricing, inventory story quantity and whether the product can be back ordered.

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Displaying Multiple Stock Quantities

If you stock products in multiple warehouses, how do you let users know how many are at each location? Connect can pull that information from your ERP(s), and display that on the website, allowing users to order from the closest location that has the number they need in stock.

Workflows and Benefits Supported by Averitt Express

Averitt Express uses REST for its Connector-Adapter (API). This allows for the integration of data in the Product and Orders categories. Here's a brief list of some possible workflows:

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Login & Tiered Pricing

Automated login can validate users & account-based tiered pricing with Zoho

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Lead Capture & Generation

Capture leads to support your marketing activities

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Automate Sales Orders

Automate push Sales Orders for processing into Zoho

Workflows and Benefits Supported by Zoho

Zoho uses EDI File Exchange for its Connector-Adapter (API). This allows for the integration of data in the Pricing and Fulfillment categories. Here's a brief list of some possible workflows:

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Products & Services

Automatically pull products and services from Zoho into the Averitt Express storefront

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Inventory & Stock Quantites

Display accurate stock and inventory counts on your Averitt Express store by pulling real stock quantities

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Invoicing & Payments

Pulling invoices from Zoho into Averitt Express allows customers to save, print and pay their invoices online

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Integration Cost & Timing

Since the endpoints expose what is accessible to each connector, those applications with robust, well-defined APIs allow you to integrate more quickly and at a much lower cost. Simple integrations (i.e. forwarding orders to the back-office, pulling stock and quantities to the front-office) can start around $15k (including the platform's one-time license fee), especially for those that we've already developed robust connectors for. The complex integrations or those with many workflows and dozens of endpoint calls, may run as much as $30k all the way up to $100k for multiple applications.

It all depends on the number of applications being integrated, the ability to easily integrate with the applications, and the numbers and complexity of the business workflows being built. Using Clarity Connect, typical integrations can take from a few weeks to a few months. Over more than a decade, Clarity has done over 3,000 integrations and although 40% of the integrations that come our way are new, we haven't met an integration that we haven't been able to develop. Give us a call today to discuss your integration project.

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