If you’re still running your e-commerce business using a bunch of different apps instead of one centralized management system, then you’re not running your e-commerce store efficiently. The e-commerce industry is growing at an exponential rate. While that does mean that running an e-commerce store is a lucrative entrepreneurial path, it also means that the industry is oversaturated with competitors – some of which are using ERP to run their companies more efficiently than you.
In essence, an enterprise resource planning system is the foundational pillar of your entire operation, as it handles all mission-critical processes, including inventory, products, orders, payments, customer relationships, taxes, and more. With a sound ERP system in place, you can take your e-commerce venture to that next level of productivity and success, so let’s take a look at the five tips for integrating ERP seamlessly into your operation. Plus, we’ll be weaving in the reasons why this is one of the best moves for your company.
Analyze your ERP requirements and features
First things first, you need to know what constitutes a comprehensive ERP system and what features you need to be looking for to get the best bang for your buck. After all, ERP solutions come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them specialize in unique niches like manufacturing to bring the right features to their customers. Leaders from different industries will require additional features from their ERP solutions, so it’s imperative that you choose the right one.
You can start by analyzing your current needs and forecasting your long-term requirements. Start searching for popular ERP systems that focus on e-commerce instead of a special niche. Ideally, you would want your ERP system to come fully equipped with sales and CRM tools, inventory management software, supply chain management, API integration, drop-shipping, and more. Check if the system also uses AI and machine learning to make the system smarter over time.
Choose what data to include.
Your ERP system can store and help you manage vast amounts of customer data and other mission-critical data that you can use to run your e-commerce business more efficiently. So, to maximize your investment, you need to analyze your data and your requirements and choose what to integrate into your ERP system. You also need to know how often you will be updating that data – in the case of e-commerce, this would probably mean daily data uploads.
The data that you should integrate into your ERP system include payments, orders, shipment information, inventory changes, customer information, and CRM data, and just about everything else. You can then use your smart ERP system to automatically update information on your websites, such as the products that we’re added to your inventory, out of stock products, discounts and deals, and more.
Leverage a powerful cloud solution
When integrating an ERP solution into your e-commerce operation, it is essential to remember that this is a cloud-based tool, so you need to deploy it on a powerful cloud platform to utilize all of its features effectively. While you can go with a traditional IT cloud infrastructure, opting for a more modern hyper-converged infrastructure solution would be a better long-term decision only because HCI systems are easily scalable and can be deployed within minutes.
That said, the long-term benefits of a powerful HCI infrastructure go far beyond scalability, as HCI also boasts higher data center security, lower operational costs, and higher efficiency, as well as improved overall stability. Complemented with your ERP solution, a hyper-converged IT infrastructure can take your e-commerce business to that next level.
Train and educate your employees
Of course, running a successful e-commerce business is not a one-person show, so you need to invest in proper employee training and onboarding to ensure they know how to use this new software correctly and to its full extent. While modern ERP systems are very intuitive and easy to use, that doesn’t mean that you should expect your employees to inherently know how to use it, so leverage video training and workshops to make the onboarding process efficient and effective.
Test and probe your ERP system
Testing is an essential part of ERP integration because, after all, this can be a complicated process where many things can go wrong. This is why you need to test your ERP system for any errors and problems so that you can fix them quickly and deliver a foolproof ERP solution to your operation. During the testing phase, your main concerns are data security and how well the ERP system is synched with your e-commerce store.
Integrating an ERP system into your e-commerce operation is probably one of the best business decisions you can make. Still, it would be best if you did it methodically to reap the benefits. Use these tips to make this transition as smooth and efficient as possible.