(This post was originally published on May 16th, 2012. We’ve updated it for accuracy and completeness.)
To sell through multichannel channels, merchants use a number of different systems to manage their business. On the frontend, you might sell through an eCommerce store or marketplaces. On the backend, sellers often use an ERP, CRM, or POS system to manage different aspects of their selling operations.
For most sellers though, their ERP system becomes the heart of their business. It’s the central location where you manage all selling processes. However, not all sellers integrate their ERP to their other systems. Find out what multichannel ERP integration is and how it can help your business.
What is an ERP?
If you’re not currently using an ERP and are considering one, first check out what these systems are capable of.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software manages sales and purchase orders, financials, inventory, customers, suppliers and other areas that help you manage your business. This software has been around since the 1990s and automates most back office functions.
If you’re currently evaluating different ERP systems, check out this useful ERP evaluation guide to help you make the right choice among numerous available systems.
How Multichannel Sellers Use ERPs
In a multichannel scenario, many merchants use an ERP system as the “foundation system” to run their business. This is the system where you are creating and managing items that you sell, determining customer-specific pricing, managing inventory availability in addition to sales order processing.
Typically, we find that ERP systems run as the backbone for distributor and manufacturer companies that also have retail or multichannel operations. We also often see brick-and-mortar retailers running Point Of Sale (POS) systems instead of ERP systems. POS systems manage many of the same functions, but primarily streamline operations at the store.
Challenges of Multichannel Selling Without ERP Integration
When selling across multiple channels, you must share the same data across different systems. For example, eCommerce orders are processed in your ERP. Inventory from your ERP is reflected on your online channels. Product information is syndicated from your ERP to all your storefronts.
Without integration of your systems though, much of your ERP data is shared by re-keying it into numerous other systems. This requires multiple hands to do so depending on the volume of your sales and product catalog. The manual movement of data is prone to human error like entering shipping address incorrectly. Most of all, doing these processes by hand takes a lot of time. It can take employees hours each day to move this data from system to system.
Not integrating your systems can also limit your visibility of your operations. You’ll need to access each of your multichannel systems to gather sales orders, update inventory, add new item information, and gather customer information. You won’t get a holistic view of your processes from one system. It can be easy to miss important information when moving back and forth between systems regularly.
Challenges like these often lead merchants to integrating their ERP with their other retail systems, especially integration with their eCommerce system. See some of the major benefits of ERP integration.
Why Integrate your ERP System to your Multichannel Systems?
Connecting your ERP system to your multichannel sales systems can help you streamline the redundant processes you may be executing to help you streamline, improve visibility, and better manage your multichannel business.
- Faster Item Syndication – Connecting the ERP system to your web channel will reduce the data entry required for merchandising on the web. It will also help you better manage pricing if you sell to consumer and wholesale customers.
- Better Inventory Management and Visibility – If sales orders from your web sites can flow to your ERP system, you’ll be able to use your ERP system to automatically update inventory available that customers can see on your web site.
- Reduce manual imports/exports – Integrating your ERP systems to your channel systems will enable item, inventory, sales and customer information to flow into your ERP system.
- Improved Customer Visibility – By collecting customer sales data from your other channels, you’ll be able to see which customers purchased which products from your channels and have this information available in one system.
ERP integration to other sales channels (marketplaces, your web store, etc.) allows you to manage multichannel operations better because you can sync item, customer, inventory, and sales transaction data automatically.
How nChannel Can Help with ERP Integration
Here at nChannel we provide a multichannel management platform that integrates your retail systems (that’s why we know so much about ERP integration). Our configurable integration connectors help integrate your ERP system with a number of multichannel systems including:
- Point-of-Sale Solutions – Microsoft Dynamics RMS, LightSpeed, Revel
- Accounting – Netsuite, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, QuickBooks
- eCommerce – Magento, Magento 2, Shopify, eBay, Amazon
We know that multichannel selling is complex. It relies on choosing the right technologies to run your business. To help you make better decisions of what software to use, take a look at our Multichannel Implementer’s Guide. This guide will help you understand what capabilities systems need to handle multichannel operations – and which ERP, POS, and eCommerce systems do it best.