As brick-and-mortar retailers become less prominent and online businesses flourish, the importance of enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions grows.
There are many reasons why you should integrate your ecommerce platform with an ERP system, ranging from boosting your revenue to improving the quality of your customer relationships and increasing your productivity.
We’ll discuss these and the other benefits of using an ERP with your web store in detail below.
We will also outline some of the most common features of ERP systems.
Most Notable Benefits of ERP Integration
Successful online stores usually operate at a high volume. Using a dedicated system equipped with financial management capabilities and automation functions can make a world of difference.
Here are some of the most significant benefits that online store owners should consider when integrating their platforms with an ERP solution.
Keeping Sales Information Centralized
The centralization of sales information is one of the key advantages of ERP integration for online stores. This is especially true if you own several stores and conduct sales on multiple websites. If that’s the case, you’ll want to focus on using an ERP with a highly-developed omnichannel functionality.
Keeping your sales information organized can be a challenge, particularly if you run several platforms. An ERP will help you consolidate the data and will ensure that everything runs smoothly. This will create more relevant data and, in turn, will increase the accuracy of any automated system you might have in place.
Let’s suppose that you do not get an accurate demand estimation for one of your online stores. In that case, you may fail to meet customer demand. That will most likely cause you a drop in revenue, and it’s potentially damaging to your reputation.
Increasing Operational Productivity
ERP software can automate the exchange of information by connecting several workflows. This enables you to increase your overall productivity. Some ERP solutions can even automate functions like shipping notifications and bank reconciliation.
Boosting your productivity will enable you to conduct more operations within the same timeframe, thus increasing your output. You’ll waste less time spot-checking for human errors, and your workflow will be optimized through the automation capabilities of a high-quality ERP.
Generating More Revenue
Tying in with our previous point, ERPs can generate more revenue for your company through automation and increased productivity. There isn’t a business in the world that doesn’t have “more revenue” high on its list of priorities, so this benefit must be worth considering.
Automating specific tasks through your ERP allows your employees’ time to be spent more creatively. According to a Nucleus study, every dollar a business spends on an ERP system results in $7.23 in revenue.
With numbers such as these, it is clear that the benefits of successfully integrating your ERP into your online store far outweigh the costs.
Improving Customer Relationships
Customer relationship management (CRM) is included in many ERP systems, either as an add-on feature or out-of-the-box. This functionality allows ecommerce companies to have a centralized database of customer information.
Such a repository allows you and your customer representatives to segment your sales leads based on various factors, including demographics, past sales, etc. The information will also be useful should you decide to hire an agency that provides brand identity services.
Some ERP solutions can also send notifications when a shipped product reaches its intended destination and provide shipment tracking along the way. Streamlining these processes allows you to build trust with your customers and increases your customer retention rates.
Aiding Project Management
If you’re in the market for an ERP, project and process visualization are a couple of features you should focus on.
These systems often provide customizable dashboards containing labor allocations, project status notifications, and finance-related information.
Having your insights in an easy-to-digest graphical format will allow you to identify bottlenecks more quickly and will help facilitate your operations.
Key Features of ERPs
Different ERP systems offer different features. For ecommerce businesses, some functions are more important than others. Here are a few key ERP features for ecommerce businesses:
Customer Relationship Management
The importance of customer relationship management (CRM) is hardly unique to ecommerce companies. In fact, it is essential for any business. That said, good CRM software can put you ahead of the competition in the ecommerce world.
According to a Forrester study, finding new customers costs five times more than keeping existing ones. CRM software can keep users coming back to your online store by utilizing efficient shipping notifications, tailored ads, and an online help desk, among other things.
Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Would you rather do business with a company that puts your needs first or one that doesn’t seem to care about you?
Work to meet your own standards and expectations as a customer, and you should see consumers flocking to your store in no time.
Financial Management and Accounting
It isn’t easy to run a business without efficient, real-time financial data. This is why the accounting and financial management tools are vital components of any ERP solution worth its salt. Financial data is key to being able to plan for the future.
This ERP feature allows you to create efficient forecasting models, anticipate delivery lead times, plan for reorders, and centralize your processes overall. Ultimately, financial management will enable you to keep your profit margins tight, and the more you can do that, the more likely you are to keep making a profit.
In case you already use accounting software for your online store, you should think about integrating it with an ERP system. This way, you can benefit from more specialized information and share insights across departments more quickly.
Inventory management is one of the critical ERP features for an ecommerce platform. As we mentioned earlier, successful ecommerce businesses tend to operate at a high volume, making it easier to make mistakes related to inventory management.
Arguably, this is the most important area where ERPs can be used to help an ecommerce company. When a customer places an order, you want to be able to fulfill their demands as quickly as possible. This means you need to have your inventory levels in check.
Distribution and Shipping
Dropshipping is a common business model for many online stores. This practice involves ordering products from a third-party vendor and having them shipped directly to the customer. This model’s main advantage is the ability to offer a vast range of items without needing a large warehouse or lots of inventory space.
In any business that involves delivering items, you want to be able to look at the entire fulfillment workflow. ERP solutions often partner with shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, allowing you to track shipments and include them in the system you use to notify your customers.