Integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM with External eCommerce Solutions

Maximize Business Potential while Keeping Costs Down

Dynamics CRM integration to external eCommerce software enables small to enterprise-level organizations to deliver personalized and individualized experiences for end users that can dramatically reduce overhead while enabling scalability and improving customer satisfaction. In practice though, the Dynamics CRM integration to additional systems can be intricately complicated and there are many pitfalls along the way that aren't just technical in nature. A number of issues are related to how the project itself is planned and mapped out upfront, where the experience level of the selected integration partner or provider is an influential factor for success. The other vital ingredient is the underlying technology and capability of the integration platform your chosen partner delivers and uses.

The integration itself is comprised of various components that need to work together efficiently. One of the biggest challenges with a Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration to other eCommerce platforms is how it presents lots of different options and possible capabilities. The Dynamics CRM uses, in most scenarios, the REST-based web services or a SOAP set of endpoints. That’s where the partner’s expertise comes into play, to not only advise on the appropriate steps but also be able to implement the desired functionality. An ideal provider should have successfully delivered projects of similar capacity to what you're planning to accomplish. During evaluation, consider whether your potential partner has leveraged a CRM system, or specifically Microsoft Dynamics CRM, with its particular associated workflows, APIs, and business logic.

What follows is the deployment of Dynamics CRM contents within the external eCommerce platform, taking into account the specific business logic and the external web API framework with its REST endpoints. The business logic is usually extensive, therefore it’s not just dumb data being transferred between the systems. Having a fundamental understanding of how these systems work is critical so that there's more context with the full picture of how the integration would optimally go. When working with a strong partner like Clarity, who possesses a robust depth of general and specialized knowledge, they’re able to bring to bear on the project of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to an additional eCommerce integration.

In the scenario of choosing a highly skilled partner, your business ends up saving a lot of time in the long run, compared to otherwise running into major challenges or issues that are avoidable with adequate experience and past successes. Another key area is the actual technology that you're using and specifically the implementation of that technology. In many cases there are a lot of viable solutions but it's typically best to look for an integration platform that's scalable and adaptive. It should be able to meet the requirements of an organization as it adapts and grows over time, so that it's highly capable of scaling up or scaling out to provide a reliable and redundant integration. To elaborate, the platform should be using a queue-based model or some other form of persistence, along with enabling extremely catered business logic where needed.

Exploring the Available Entities for a Superb Integration

Achieving a Unique Rules and Logic Implementation

An advanced integrator uses standard off-the-shelf integration capabilities with core concepts of architecture, where some of the components can be overridden and extended as needed. The concept essentially boils down to getting the best combination of possible scenarios; out of the box functionality that is totally customizable to the very finest level of detail, in alignment with your business needs. This allows your organizational workflows, processes, and customer demands to be perfectly matched. Within the actual integration between Dynamics CRM and another eCommerce solution, some of the common entities include the product catalog system, which can be a one-way or two-way integration. Most of the time it's a one-way integration from Dynamics CRM to the external platform and includes:

  • Categories
  • Products
  • Attributes
  • Associations
  • Relationships
  • Variants and kits
  • Meta information
  • Imagery data
  • Consistent updates to pricing and inventory
  • Custom fields and entities that are related to core entities

An intelligent integration involves the ability to carefully drill down and reach the aforementioned data. Moreover, special care must be exercised to preserve data that's unique to another eCommerce software. Whenever the marketing or product information management team extends and enriches the content, with media files like imagery, documents, video, HTML, or SEO information, everything should remain unaltered. In spite of pricing and inventory data being constantly updated from the Dynamics CRM platform, the enriched content is preserved during the integration. It is also possible to incorporate multiple sets of data, by connecting another ERP system with its own inputs which Dynamics CRM will manage, such as customer and account information. In many cases, the customer and account data is a bi-directional, or two-way, integration and it's going to include:

  • Addresses
  • Shipping and billing addresses
  • Contacts and a hierarchy of contacts
  • Sets of users, associations, and roles that tie back to external eCommerce systems to indicate permissions
  • Customer-specific pricing dataTax information, tax rules, tax logic, and tax exemptions
  • Credit limits, location-specific credit limits, and pricing data.
  • Purchased Products
Supplementary Options and Directions for your Integration

Utilizing More Data to Optimize Business Workflows

Further possibilities allow for taking the Dynamics CRM data on invoices and quotes and making them available within the external eCommerce platforms, so that an end user can complete a purchase in another eCommerce solution from an invoice or quote that originated in Dynamics CRM. Whenever a user is completing an order within another solution, the order information is usually a one-way, or unidirectional, sync from an external eCommerce system to Dynamics but it may also be bi-directional. At a minimum, that order information from the external eCommerce software into Dynamics CRM is going to cover:

  • Line item details
  • Product tax classes and tax data
  • Shipping data
  • Fees
  • Customs and duties
  • Discounts at the item order or shipping level
  • Detailed payment and transaction data
  • Split shipping or split payment information

In some instances, there may be a support request that goes out and needs to be tied back into Dynamics CRM. That can include replacements, refunds, and any other kind of support or request for assistance. For those occasions, the shipping and fulfillment status may be used once the order is placed. So, the fulfillment might begin in the warehouse as the order is being picked, packed, and processed for shipment. Whenever a shipment goes out, the tracking information becomes unavailable and is updated during the course of the shipment. In the end, all of that information is really pertinent for providing self-service and support for users by enabling them to see where their items are. Customers can get an understanding of expectations and potentially reach out if they need any kind of support or assistance during the process.

Location data presents an additional set of information that could prove valuable for business operations. The actual location data can often be quite useful to integrate between eCommerce platforms and Dynamics CRM because an omnichannel capability might be necessary. This would allow for inventory transfer between a set of warehouses, distribution centers, storefronts, and possible events or seminars. Through the use of proximity search, you could identify inventory that might not be available in the closest location but is transferable or available for immediate pickup from another location.

Finally, the integration allows for a general improvement around fulfillment from different warehouses in various locations, so that shipment costs and overall business overhead are optimized. It’s attainable to customize and integrate essentially any entity and field within these systems. The underlying goal behind the Clarity Connect platform is to offer the baseline capability and then collaborate with your team to identify the needs and best practices to support the execution process. We prefer a multipronged approach which is based on our extensive experience with eCommerce solutions and Microsoft Dynamics CRM platforms.

How Can Clarity Help

Dynamics CRM to external eCommerce Integration Specialists

We look forward to providing you and your team with a complimentary needs analysis, along with a proposal for your upcoming project to integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM with an additional eCommerce solution. We also welcome you to click on any of the links you see on the site and discover more helpful information. If you have a topic or question that you don't see covered on our website, feel free to click on the Ask the Experts link. One of our tech specialists will promptly respond in detail to your inquiry. We're always happy to offer you a free and extensive response regarding our technical and overall process areas for your upcoming integration project of Dynamics CRM to your existing eCommerce system.

NopCommerce + Dynamics CRM Integration

Clarity Connect is a middleware platform that facilitates the integration of NopCommerce to Dynamics CRM, 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 NopCommerce and Dynamics CRM. 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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Connecting with Clarity Connect:

  • NopCommerce

    NopCommerce

  • Dynamics CRM

    Dynamics CRM

Clarity Connect is a middleware platform that facilitates the integration of NopCommerce to Dynamics CRM, 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 NopCommerce and Dynamics CRM. 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.

NopCommerce
Innovative & Robust

How Middleware Integration Works for B2B Platforms

Integrated NopCommerce & Dynamics CRM 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 NopCommerce & Dynamics CRM 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.
Dynamics CRM
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 NopCommerce

NopCommerce 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 Dynamics CRM

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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 Dynamics CRM

Workflows and Benefits Supported by Dynamics CRM

Dynamics CRM 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 Dynamics CRM into the NopCommerce storefront

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Inventory & Stock Quantites

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

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Invoicing & Payments

Pulling invoices from Dynamics CRM into NopCommerce 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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