eCommerce sales increased 14.6% in 2015 to a total of $341.7 billion. It’s the sixth year that eCommerce sales have grown near or above 15%. And, they’re expecting it to keep climbing.
This is leading manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to invest more into their online sales channels. They’re upgrading the technology powering their web stores and expanding to marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
Retailers have to be wherever their customers are. A multichannel strategy helps you reach them.
But, simply reaching them isn’t enough. You also have to provide the best shopping experience possible.
To do just that, retailers must choose the right eCommerce technology, integrate with their backend system like Microsoft Dynamics GP. This article will help you better understand the best solution for Dynamics GP eCommerce integration.
Customer Experience Should Be Your Top Priority
More and more customers are spending more time shopping online. The stat above is all the evidence you need.
This is changing the retail landscape. Shoppers buying habits and expectations are shifting.
Customers are researching products, finding store locations, comparing prices, making purchases, comparing brands, and much more all online. And, they’re doing it across multiple devices such as their phones, tablets, and computers, while also stopping in-store.
It’s easy to see why retailers are making the jump to sell online. It’s where their customers are, so they should be, too.
But, retailers aren’t always thinking through the entire plan before deploying a multichannel selling strategy.
Online buyers are fickle. Retailers have to give customers more than just the visibility of their products online. Customers demand an overall, excellent customer experience.
89% of companies now expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago, according to Gartner.
Why do companies expect that? Because customers are telling them it’s important.
Surveys have shown that 86% of consumers would pay more for a better experience.
The catch is that the same survey says that only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.
As a merchant, how do you fix this problem plaguing your customers’ experiences?
Why Integrate Dynamics GP and eCommerce Channels
Integrating your backend system such as Dynamics GP with your eCommerce channels allows you to deliver the customer experience your customers are demanding.
Integration allows items to be consistent and available in all eCommerce sales channels. Inventory level can be updated in near real-time to avoid stock-outs or back orders. Orders can be processed intelligently and in a timely fashion. And, customers receive great service.
It takes integration to put these types of processes in place. Your GP and eCommerce systems cannot be in silos, operating on their own.
If they are, you’ll be left with manual data entry that is slow, cumbersome, and can result in human error. This can lead to high internal costs and revenue can be jeopardized.
Your customers will pay the ultimate price of a poor experience with your brand.
GP and eCommerce integration leads to streamlined processes that put your customers’ interests back as the top priority.
Dynamics and GP Integration Options
GP and eCommerce integration is easier said than done, though. Not all integration options are created equal. Each type will have different impacts on both your business and your customers.
Your first option is always to build the integration in-house. Using basic APIs, a developer can integrate your systems.
In-house integration, however, requires that you have the IT staff with the knowledge, time, and resources to build the integration. You’ll also need them to commit to maintaining and supporting the custom code written.
Depending on your business, you might not have the staff, time, or money to support this type of project. If you don’t, then you’ll want to search for integration provided by a 3rd party.
Some integration solutions are point-to-point. This means that your GP ERP is “pointed” at your eCommerce system; there’s no operational platform in the middle of them. You’ll have to choose which system to manage your sales data in.
These types of solutions are usually affordable (like $100-$200 a month), which can be great for smaller retailers just starting out.
On the other hand, a point-to-point solution can lack flexibility and functionality for a growing merchant.
They sometimes can’t support integration with brick-and-mortar stores, fulfillment via drop ship suppliers, and 3rd-party warehouses. Inventory may not be updated in real-time.
This architecture also doesn’t allow for easy restructuring. You’ll have to re-configure your integration every time you add a new channels. This can be costly both in resources and time.
Multichannel Management Platform
The final integration solution is a multichannel management platform. This technology differs from point-to-point as the multichannel management platform sits as an operational hub between GP and your eCommerce channels. Your data is then synchronized between your system through the platform.
Ideally, a multichannel management platform does this by using pre-built connectors for GP and eCommerce channels like Shopify, Magento, Amazon, and eBay. Connectors make configuration easy and flexible both at set-up and in the case of system changes.
This solution is more expensive than a one-off point-to-point solution, but still cheaper than a custom integration.
You’ll pay more for more robust capabilities like splitting orders, using multiple warehouses, and real-time inventory updates across all your sales channels. Companies also should monitor your data for you 24/7 so you always know your data is moving to where it should be.
This type of platform is usually best for an SMB or Enterprise merchant looking to integrate, but doesn’t want to build a custom solution in-house.
(Full disclosure, this is what nChannel is. We are a cloud-based multichannel management platform. It’s why we know so much about integration between GP and eCommerce channels.)
How Integration Will Affect Your Business
Choosing the right integration option can turn your solution into a competitive advantage for your business. With automated sales processes, even a small business can compete against large retailers and provide the shopping experience demanded today by customers.
You’ll be able to provide customers with consistent, detailed product data, real-time inventory updates, and quick order processing. You’ll be able to expand your business to new sales channels, while still maintaining operational efficiency.
Your customers will thank you with repeat sales.
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