Your Sage ERP is the lifeline of your business. The quality of data in it affects almost all departments – sales, marketing, finance, operations, and more. It’s crucial then that your team has control over how, when, and what data moves in and out of Sage especially when it comes to your online orders and customers from Shopify. One way to control that flow of data is through integration and automation.
Whether you’re an established online seller or launching your first online site with Shopify, it’s important to consider integrating these two systems sooner than later. It’s how you control your systems, people, and reporting to ensure you continue to progress your online business.
Why You Should Integrate Shopify and Sage
Integration between Shopify and Sage payoffs for both your operations and customers.
First, what do we mean by integration? Software integration maps data movement between Shopify and Sage. Through data mapping, you can automate core processes like order fulfillment, inventory count updates, pricing updates, financial reporting, and more. Automation eliminates the need for manual data entry between your two systems, which reduces data processing time and ensures data consistency like always transferring the right shipping address.
Take it from Shopify Plus user Q-See and what their experience was like before integration to Sage.
When we decided to change ecommerce vendors, we realized that we also needed a provider that could automate order processing and inventory management between our new vendor [Shopify Plus] and current ERP [Sage 100]. Up until that point, we were performing all the functions manually. Not only was it time-consuming, but we were paying excessive overtime, and many critical business functions were getting pushed back. Our process was simply draining human resources and negatively affecting our progress.
For Q-See, some of those manual processes included:
- Hand-keying online orders in Sage to pick, pack, and ship and then entering that shipping/tracking info back into Shopify Plus
- Updating inventory counts to avoid overselling
- Keeping product listings fresh and consistent across various channels like Shopify and marketplaces.
(Read the full case study here on Q-See’s Shopify to Sage integration project.)
With integration in place, your business becomes more efficient. Staff members aren’t dedicated to manual data entry, but can work on meaningful tasks. Data is also consistent. You can guarantee those 2-day shipping deadlines. Avoid overselling (or underselling!) and show real-time stock levels. You can always ship the right product to the right address. In short, when your operations are consistent, your customers can expect a consistent experience with your brand too.
Here are some tell-tale signs that you’re ready for integration between Shopify and Sage:
- Keep overselling
- Spending hours on manual data entry
- Making costly mistakes like shipping the wrong item
- Shipping orders late and routinely miss delivery times
- Losing web orders because of system crashes or order errors
- Product content or pricing doesn’t update online fast enough
- Inventory updates lag
- Want to add more competitive capabilities like 2-day shipping, drop shipping, or another sales channel like a marketplace
Do any of these issues sound familiar? If they do, you’re ready to consider an integration solution.
How to Choose a Shopify to Sage Integration Approach
Merchants should do their due diligence when choosing a solution. Software integration for two sophisticated systems like Shopify and Sage is challenging work, especially for processes like order fulfillment. These two systems weren’t built to natively “talk” with each other. How Sage as an ERP uses product data is fundamentally different then how Shopify uses it.
The goal of integration is to understand how each system receives and sends data in their various fields, and then mapping your data accordingly. On top of that, your data flows also must reflect your unique business requirements. Most merchants want to sync inventory updates. Your business however might want to run an inventory update only at 12:00 PM every Thursday. This logic must be accounted for.
If your systems or requirements aren’t understood correctly from the beginning, then integration projects can become very frustrating and never result into quite the solution you need. As always, it’s easier to pick the right solution the first time around. That’s why it’s important to understand your options and how to choose between them.
There are two main approaches to eCommerce and ERP integration:
Pre-built Integration for Shopify and Sage
The modern way to connect your Sage ERP with your eCommerce platform is to use a pre-built solution from an iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) vendor. iPaaS vendors offer cloud-based applications that feature out-of-the-box and “codeless” functionality to connect your systems.
Even though they’re “out-of-the-box”, you won’t necessarily lose customization either. Pre-built integration solutions are often “configurable.” This means that merchants can change or customize the pre-built settings to accommodate your business needs. For instance, through configuration, you can choose to sync your inventory updates every Thursday at 12:00 PM.
As a cloud-based application, these integration solutions give you many of the same benefits as a SaaS eCommerce platform like Shopify. Pre-built integration solutions are generally more affordable and faster to implement because they’re out-of-the-box. You don’t have to worry about maintaining or upgrading the integration application itself. In most cases, you don’t deep technical resources or an IT team to manage the connection. For access to the software, merchants should expect to pay a monthly subscription and a one-time implementation fee to cover the costs of configuring the integration to your needs. Based on data volume or complexity (like B2B), monthly subscriptions can run between $300 and $1,500 dollars.
Lastly, don’t overlook that an iPaaS provider’s core business competency is integration. They’ll have deep expertise in software integration and your systems. They should always use best practices to ensure data runs smoothly between your systems.
Custom-built Shopify to Sage Integration
In rare cases, merchants or their partners (like an ERP consultant or web agency) opt to build a custom integration between Sage and your eCommerce platform. We define “custom” here as a developer writing one-off custom code that maps your systems directly together. The code only works for your systems and your requirements.
Custom integration takes serious technical knowledge of both Sage and Shopify to understand how each system sends and reads data. It’s not something you want an in-house resource or partner learning on the job. If they overlook best practices or don’t account for common data errors, your integration can routinely break, still interrupting your operations.
Sometimes custom integration projects are the best option. For example, ERPs can be customized beyond belief for one reason or another. You could have added obscure or proprietary (unique to you) changes to Sage to help with SKU management or order fulfillment logic. Depending on the change, it could require custom code to access these data fields or processes.
However, most sellers don’t have truly unique requirements to justify the cost and maintenance of custom integration projects.
Instead, custom integration solutions can introduce more risk to your project.
For example, a single person is usually responsible for building and maintaining the code for your integration. What happens when that person goes on vacation and you have no idea why your online orders aren’t syncing correctly to your ERP? How accountable is that single person to stay up to date on any system updates that could break your integration?
Custom integration projects can also vary in price tags. On one hand, the solution could be affordable because the solution only covers the basics. On the other hand, a vendor could quote you $20,000 to $30,000 because they’re building everything from scratch.
Be sure to vet your entire requirements with all solution providers before deciding on custom integration. What you consider to be custom or unique requirements to your business might not be considered complex to a pre-built integration provider. Configuration-based integration is robust and can overcome most cases.
What Sage to Shopify Integration Approach We Recommend
What solution is best for your business? It comes down to your requirements and desired experience for your team and, ultimately, customers. Unless you have proprietary requirements, then an iPaaS vendor should be a sensible way to connect Sage and Shopify, saving you time and money in the long run. To get an idea of what an out-of-the-box solution looks like, check out our codeless and configurable Shopify and Sage integration.