(This post was last updated on October 11, 2017. We’ve updated it for accuracy and completeness.)
Sellers operating Magento and NetSuite separately aren’t getting the most value out of their platforms. Instead, sellers spend most of their time manually moving critical data like online orders and fulfillment between these platforms, which easily leads to data errors. Teams then aren’t confident in the accuracy of their data and spend too much time fixing their own mistakes for customers.
To overcome these challenges, sellers need to integrate their Magento webstore with their NetSuite ERP. Integration automates your business processes so you can get back to growing your business and stop wasting time policing your data.
Why Integrate Magento and NetSuite
Integrating these vital retail systems has significant payoffs for both your customers and business. When you improve the efficiency of your processes, the result is a better customer experience.
So, what is integration anyway? System integration maps data flows between your systems like Magento and NetSuite to automate the movement of data between them. Sellers can automate processes like online order fulfillment in your ERP, inventory count updates online, pricing updates, financial reporting, and much more. Through automation, sellers no longer need to rely on manual data entry between systems, which reduces data processing times and costly mistakes like entering a shipping address incorrectly.
In short, integration between your eCommerce and ERP platforms makes your operations more efficient. It also gives sellers the ability to perform more advanced capabilities like intelligent inventory procurement and shipment. You can then provide more competitive shipping times. Customers will trust you to deliver on-time and accurately every time they place an order.
When your backend processes are running smoothly, you have more time and energy to focus on your top priority – your customers.
Integration allows you to sync inventory levels in real-time, process orders more quickly, and provide consistent product information on your Magento store. This translates to a better customer experience in many ways. Sellers can display accurate inventory levels to avoid overselling online, meet their promised delivery dates, always ship the right products, and more. All these efforts are important in winning the trust of your customers so they’re confident to buy from you again and again.
How to Choose an Integration Approach for Magento to NetSuite
System integration between Magento and NetSuite is challenging work, especially if you’re a B2B seller with more complex operations and high-volume data. While integration allows you to continue using your best-of-breed platforms, it’s difficult to automate data flows between two systems that weren’t built to “talk” to each other. For example, how Magento structures and uses product data is fundamentally different than how NetSuite uses it as an ERP.
The purpose of integration though is to wire up a connection that overcomes the differences between systems – according to your business requirements.
While the cost and length of integration projects can seem overwhelming, don’t let the fear of integration stop you from improving your business! It’s just a matter of understanding your business and choosing an integration approach that best meets your requirements.
Consider the following when choosing an integration approach for your software (along with looking at specific solution features):
- Customizations: How complex are your business processes? Do you have proprietary (unique to you) requirements that will require custom solutions?
- Data Volume: What’s your business’s growth forecast? Will you need a solution that scales with your growing volume of orders, customers, products, etc?
- Customers: Do you sell B2C, B2B, B2G (business to government) or all three?
- Supplier Integration: Do you work with a network of suppliers that require order splitting and complex order fulfillment workflows?
- Technical Resources: Do you have internal or external technical resources to help with the project like an IT person or a NetSuite implementer? Are you on your own?
- Budget: What can you afford relative to what your investment will return?
No two businesses are the same. Take the time to determine upfront all your needs. It’s always easier to invest the time to buy the right solution now than it is to fix the wrong one later.
How to Integrate Magento and NetSuite
There are three options for integrating Magento and NetSuite. We’ll explore all three in depth below.
Some vendors (like some of those found in the Magento Extension Marketplace) offer point-to-point integration. For this type of solution, Magento and NetSuite are “pointed” at each other to synchronize data like inventory counts, orders, customers, and items.
There’s no operational platform in the middle of your systems. So, you must choose which system to “master” or manage your data in. Data is sent “as is” between systems. You’ll get a true “out of the box” solution that limits functionality to the basics like only sending orders back and forth between your systems. Beware these solutions are usually syncing data in batches, meaning every hour or even once or twice a day.
Point-to-point integration is often more affordable and a better fit for smaller retailers without plans for significant growth. If you want to only budget about $100 or so a month for a simpler integration between just NetSuite and Magento, this could be right for you.
On the other hand, this solution has major disadvantages for growing retailers. Point-to-point integration isn’t flexible when adding sales channels or other management systems as your business evolves. Each system adds multiple new connections for your integration because point-to-point integration only allows for a 1:1 relationship between each system.
For example, integrating three systems only requires three connections. However, adding a fourth system bumps you up to twelve connections! A big concern is that if one of these connections fail, the whole system can fail.
In this type of integration set up, growing means completely rebuilding your operations. It’s messy and you’ll end up spending even more of your resources.
Custom Magento to NetSuite Integration
Some sellers go the route of building their own custom integration. They work with the application programming interfaces (APIs) available for both Magento and NetSuite to write custom code that ties your systems directly together. Custom integration projects are usually done either in-house or by a third-party vendor like your eCommerce agency or ERP consultant.
Integration relying on custom code writing takes serious knowledge of both Magento and NetSuite to understand how each system accepts and sends data then reconciling those differences. It’s not something you want someone learning on the job
There are a few instances when custom integration projects are necessary for an organization. For example, some businesses require custom or proprietary changes to NetSuite or Magento to help with things like complex SKU management or order fulfillment logic. Sometimes the only option to overcome this is to write a custom solution.
However, most sellers, including B2B, don’t have truly unique requirements to justify the cost or maintenance of custom integration. Many find that another approach is easier and more cost-effective over the long run.
SaaS-based Integration Platform
The third way to integrate Magento and NetSuite is to use a SaaS-based (Software as a Service) integration platform. In this case, a cloud-based integration platform facilitates the movement of data between Magento and NetSuite.
Ideally, the platform uses pre-built connectors for Magento and NetSuite, and for any other platform you might want to integrate later. Pre-built integration leverages out-of-the-box functionality for faster implementations. However, unlike point-to-point, these connectors are often configurable, meaning they can be customized or changed to accommodate your business needs. Sellers can define business rules for how their data moves between systems, which gives merchants much more control over the flow of their data.
For example, 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.
These solutions are more expensive than point-to-point solutions because of richer functionality, but far less expensive than custom integration projects. Sellers can expect to pay both a monthly subscription rate for access to the software and an implementation fee that covers the configuration of the connectors to your needs. The monthly subscription also covers maintenance of your integration and connectors over time.
What Integration Approach We Recommend
Magento to NetSuite integration is nChannel’s bread and butter. That’s why we know and care so much about companies choosing the right integration approach. Magento and NetSuite are two costly platforms and you deserve to get the most value out of both systems.
That being said, we recognize that every business is different and has its own needs. Choosing the best solution depends on your budget, complexity of operations, and plans for growth.
Here at nChannel, we offer a SaaS-based integration for Magento and NetSuite, which we find to be the best fit for most B2C and B2B merchants. If you’re looking for out-of-the-box functionality, but the ability to customize, then check out our solution below.