You work hard to grow your retail business. You increase your presence online, open new retail locations, and add wholesale customers. As you expand though, you continue to add layers of complexity to your operations. You rely on moving data between multiple systems such as your eCommerce platform, POS and ERP to continue to process orders and keep finances in check.
Without automation, passing data between your systems becomes a laborious and time-consuming process that ultimately puts customer service levels at risk.
When your company starts to feel these pressures internally, it’s time to consider integrating Shopify and Shopify Plus to Microsoft Dynamics NAV, which is now Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central to transform your operations into the efficient and smoothing running business you know you can be.
Operating with Disconnected Retail Software
It’s a real pain to operate with disconnected systems. (We probably didn’t even need to write that). When processes aren’t automated among them, it can affect all different areas of your business.
For example, let’s say you’re an outdoor sports company that sells across an eCommerce site, a dozen brick-and-mortar stores, and a wholesale channel.
Without integration, your manual processes might look like this:
- A full-time staff member solely responsible for manually posting transactions and completing bank reconciliations from sales history reports from each retail location
- Taking multiple days to set up new accounts for wholesale customers
- For every wholesale order, manually calling HQ for credit look ups in your ERP and then manually creating and sending accounts receivable transactions
- Faxing web orders to retail locations which leads to bottlenecks and delayed fulfillment
- Customers unsure which store to call about order status and employees struggling to find order history
With disconnected systems, merchants often have team members dedicated to manual data entry while juggling phone, fax and emails to transfer data from one system to the next. It’s no wonder your processes are slow and error-prone. In the end, it’s your customer who feels your failings as they wait for order processing and lack transparency into their order status.
Operating with Integrated Retail Software
Luckily, merchants can fix many of these operational issues, and ultimately, improve their customer experience by integrating their eCommerce and ERP systems such as Shopify and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. By doing so, you can improve processes such as:
- Keep item management in one location then syndicating across all locations
- Automate the reconciliation process
- Instantly create new wholesale accounts so customers can immediately buy online or in-store
- Manage pricing by region or customer
- Keep customers informed of order status, at all order processing stages
- Automate transaction posting and reconciliation
- Central place to manage all orders to make on-the-fly decisions about fulfillment locations to avoid stockouts and fulfillment bottlenecks at different store locations
Sounds great, right? Now all you have to do is integrate your systems.
Choosing an Integration Approach for Shopify and Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Unfortunately, integrating a robust ERP like Dynamics NAV with an eCommerce platform isn’t a quick project. Integration projects like those mentioned above take thoughtful planning. Otherwise, they won’t result in a working solution.
When done hastily, merchants end up with an integration solution that routinely breaks (like losing web orders) or just doesn’t save you all that much time. Doing the right thing takes time but will save you more time in the long-run.
We recommend doing your due diligence when choosing an integration approach. To get you started, we’ll compare two common integration approaches at a high-level.
Most merchants turn to custom integration as their first option. These solutions are usually built in-house or by a vendor like your web agency or software consultant. We consider custom integrations as hardcoded, one-off solutions that tie Shopify or Shopify Plus directly to Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
Custom integrations are appealing because they’re built solely with the intention to only work for your business. If you have truly unique, complex needs, this approach might make the most sense to meet your unconventional requirements.
Before you go down this path though, beware these pitfalls of custom integrations.
First, these solutions usually have a single person who builds, maintains, and supports it. What happens when they go on vacation or leave the company? It’s difficult to sustain an integration solution long-term like this.
When relying on outside vendors, they might know either Shopify or M
icrosoft NAV well, but not both. It’s a serious learning curve to understand the requirements of how both these systems read and accept data. How an item is structured in Shopify is totally different than in Dynamics NAV. Each system uses product data fundamentally different.
Lastly, a hardcoded, custom solution can be hard to scale or evolve over time. If you want to add or change systems in the future, it usually requires starting your integration project over from scratch. Some of these projects come with price tags of $20,000 – $30,000 to implement. Further down the road, merchants feel handcuffed to their old systems and processes because of the high costs to change.
All in all, custom integrations tend to work best for companies with truly complex requirements. Or, you need integration into a legacy or uncommon system where there aren’t many options to begin with.
Most of the time though, integration for popular systems Shopify and Microsoft NAV don’t fall under either of those circumstances.
SaaS Retail Integration Platforms
Another integration approach is to use a SaaS middleware integration solution. These integration tools connect your systems using pre-built connectors to sync data and automate processes between Shopify and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. They are often referred to as hub-spoke models or middleware since a platform sits between your endpoint systems.
These companies have built a practice around integration. They’re familiar connecting multiple eCommerce and ERP systems by leveraging pre-built integrations as the foundation of their solutions. Pre-built solutions usually have both out-of-the-box functionality and are configurable, meaning that can be tweaked to your business requirements. Because data is synced through a hub in the middle, sellers can define business rules for their data as it moves between systems.
For examples, merchants can define rules of how to fulfill a single order using different fulfillment locations for each line item on the order based on cost or warehouse location. Processes like these happen automatically as you process orders.
This integration approach is also more flexible. When you want to change or add another system like a POS or marketplace, you don’t need to start from scratch. You just connect and configure the new system to the platform. This allows these solutions to evolve with your business.
If it’s a SaaS platform, you’ll pay a subscription rate that can range from a $100 – $1,000+ a month, depending on functionality, for integration. SaaS companies update, maintain and support their platform and connectors for you on an ongoing basis, so that’s what you’re paying for. In most cases, you’ll also pay a one-time, upfront fee for them to set up and configure your integration.
Today, merchants have many companies to choose from for middleware integration between Shopify and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Picking the best solution requires you to vet offerings based on budget, complexity of operations, plans of future growth, and customer references.
To start your research, check out nChannel’s solution for Shopify and Shopify Plus to Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It’s one of our more popular integration requests.
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