Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software helps integrate your e-commerce operations with the rest of your business processes, including inventory management, accounting and sales. The right ERP solution can enhance your e-commerce business by improving your business’ efficiency, customer experience, compliance with shipping regulations and your growth trajectory.
1. Superior Business Efficiency.
The right ERP solution can bring together separate business functions, such as orders placed, inventory, customer data and shipping/tracking. With all this data brought in, you won’t have to manually enter or import (and fix) sales orders, or update inventory counts in your store – and all of the information will be automatically updated.
If you have multiple e-commerce channels, an ERP software integration will make it much easier to oversee each channel, while also reducing the manual work required to manage sales across each one. Multi-channel e-commerce integration capabilities can additionally present the opportunity to easily expand your business to new channels that previously were not feasible.
With less manual work, you can better control your hiring needs, especially as your business grows. Expanding to new channels also will require an increase in personnel needs, helping you maintain healthier margins.
An integrated ERP solution eliminates the need to manually compare the differing carrier shipping costs. An ERP can offer you near-instant shipping estimates comparisons, helping you quickly make the right decision for your customer and business. Integrating your ERP with your e-commerce store will also enable you to batch orders together, improving efficiency and saving your business money. You’ll never overpay, too; ERP software will display accurate shipping rates based on product information – size and weight, for example – and shipping location.
An ERP that integrates your accounting and e-commerce store data will provide you with superior information and reports for improved decision making about your business. Upgrading to an ERP that integrates with your online store makes it easy to generate up-to-date balance sheets, inventory levels, open balances, cash flow status, and profit and loss statements as they relate to your online sales and current financials.
2. Improved Customer Experience.
Today’s customer expects rapid delivery, so if you want to compete with brand-name providers, you’ll need to offer comparable turnaround times. An integrated ERP will ensure your recent online orders are instantly available in your system for you to ship out to customers as soon as possible.
An ERP can also improve the fulfillment customer experience by enabling customers to view available inventory, order fulfillment status and tracking information for shipments. Your customers expect this information to be readily available to them; providing this data on a self-service basis will reduce the workload of your customer service department.
You’ll never have to worry about overselling once you integrate your inventory to your e-commerce store. This is especially important for businesses who see sudden peaks in demand, holiday shopping rushes or other sudden, seasonal increases in demand. Updated inventory levels that show low remaining inventory can even increase customer conversions! Preventing overselling not only reduces the number of unhappy customers, but it also simplifies your business’ accounting by eliminating the need to go in and remove or delete orders placed in error.
Other benfits include the ability to automatically take customer shipping details and turn them into labels. This reduces the number of human-made errors in entering shipping addresses or product information on shipping labels. And, you can leverage historical product data stored in your sales records or CRM system. This will allow you to display your customer’s desired items alongside other population or related web store items. This type of customized, guided selling delights customers and increases sales.
An Integrated ERP can also leverage CRM data to provide a more customized shopping experience for your customers, including smart reordering with replacement or replenish suggestions. Finally, if you can alert customers that you are unable to ship to them right away – thanks to your ERP integration – you’ll prevent miscommunication and disappointed, unhappy consumers.
3. Avoid Compliance Issues.
An ERP can help your e-commerce business better manage the government’s shipping requirements, product tracing and documentation requirements, especially if your business sells cosmetics, food, supplements or alcohol. The Food and Drug Administration even has specific perishable-shipment regulations.
Depending on what your businesses sells, you may also face state-by-state or country-by-country regulation of your products. Regional regulation includes labeling, shipping container requirements and tax compliance. An integrated ERP can help your business ensure they are always compliant, regardless of the product being shipped or the location of the customer. If your business fails to meet nationwide or international shipping requirements, your goods could end up being rejected and your shipment would be delayed.
The right ERP solution for your e-commerce business should also help you automatically collect the appropriate taxes, based on the products and location of the customer. This will improve the accuracy of your fiscal reporting and ensure you avoid costly fines or interest payments on back tax.
In additon, small businesses should integrate their e-commerce store with an ERP that ensures all of the business’ financial documents comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and International Financial Reporting Standards. Doing so reduces the likelihood and time/effort of an audit.
4. Unlocking Business Growth.
Integrating an ERP solution with your e-commerce store can help you quickly scale your business by providing you with better data to make additional inventory decisions: both restocking and expansion.
ERP software also supports the growth of your business by being able to handle a greater volume of orders and sales, thanks to operational efficiency and improved visibility into your cash flow and other financials. You’ll be in control of growing your order volume and the appropriate rate for your business.
Less manual work requires less employee headcount, enabling you to grow fast without also outgrowing your office or personnel budget.
Bonus: Connecting E-Commerce to Brick and Mortar with an ERP
Want more? Businesses can also opt for an ERP solution that integrates with their e-commerce store, as well as point-of-sale, marketplaces and inventory. Such omnichannel integration can help you manage inventory across all your sales channels and offer additional order fulfillment options, including picking up or returning an online order in-store.
Consider Looking Into ERP
An ERP solution can offer a tremendous boost to your e-commerce business and allow for true growth. Ask yourself these questions to help you determine what ERP system could work best for you.