Choosing the best ERP system for your ecommerce needs depends on many factors, but the most important to consider is what your business actually needs when it comes to technology. Enterprise Resource Planning software is, as the name implies, a heavy duty solution designed to give companies growing beyond QuickBooks and spreadsheets the visibility they need to keep financial and operational reporting aligned with reality. Naturally, you gain the best ROI if all of your applications integrate seamlessly with your ERP to be able to transfer data with each other and ensure that functionality is maintained from the back end to the storefront.
This blog will take you through the key points for choosing your best ERP system for ecommerce, and SWK’s recommendations for an integrated omnichannel software stack:
Understanding Your Ecommerce Software Needs
SWK previously published guidance on how to navigate your online sales channels with or without selling on Amazon. The key focus of this earlier blog was on adapting to either scenario leveraging technology that would adapt to both. Whether you use your own storefront or rely on a marketplace like Amazon.com (or, realistically, diversify your coverage as much as you can with both), your toolset is going to have to do much of the heavy lifting and needs to do it with as few obstacles as possible.
Inevitably, you will start out with a core ecommerce solution – a system that will help automate all the required processes from getting your products listed online to handling shopping cart functions. You will choose a way and place to deploy your storefront (if your application does not take care of this for you), and then you will need to align your omnichannel activities with the rest of your business operations.
The Importance of Software Integration for Online Retail
Aligning disconnected pieces of technology and processes is where many businesses struggle in managing ecommerce, and not only does it bring unnecessary headaches but it also creates a risk of disrupting customer experience. When data cannot be shared between applications, it creates more work for everyone, for your team as well as for those customers, who will likely leave at any point from the storefront to the shopping cart funnel if features become too complex or unresponsive.
Whether you are using an out-of-the-box CRM or POS application, or a customized workflow to handle a specific activity, integration is key to making everything work together on the front end – and your ERP plays the most vital role for an integrated retail software stack as the central point for your critical data.
Choosing an Ecommerce System
Before you look at an enterprise accounting system, you should consider your ecommerce software carefully and weigh your options against what you need to run your business (including your business technology). The good news is that there is a wide range of solutions available to choose from – the bad news is that the majority of these have big gaps in functionality. While relying on a CMS (content management system) like Weebly or a standalone shopping cart like Shopify may seem like a cost-effective tactical decision, the truth is that whatever functions these siloed tools do not do themselves will inevitably force you to spend money somewhere else to make up for those gaps (e.g., handling orders, setting up multiple storefronts, etc.).
BigCommerce: The Leader in Ecommerce Software
SWK recommends that SMBs and midmarket companies with robust or growing omnichannel sales choose BigCommerce as their core ecommerce software. This market leader is an all-in-one solution with advanced features, flexible integrations and the ability to host its own platform in a SaaS environment. It can connect to various third-party marketplaces like Amazon and Target+, as well as different applications such as ERP, CRM, POS, sales tax solutions, shipping software and more. It also helps you set your website and optimize it for your online sales channels, including for on-page SEO and for setting up multiple storefronts, as well as for connected Amazon.com product listings.
Choosing an ERP System for Ecommerce
There are three pillars you want to focus on when searching for an ecommerce ERP:
- Connects with your retail software
- Connects with other applications that help run your omnichannel
- Scalable for your unique business challenges
Retail Software Integration
You will need an enterprise accounting system that connects seamlessly with your storefront, order and transaction data, otherwise you will have to enter this information manually for every product and purchase. The more you can automate all of the processes on both ends (back office to front end, customer-facing interface), the easier it will be to accelerate your processes and optimize the customer experience from browsing to shipping.
Other Ecommerce Integrations – CRM, Inventory, POS, Shipping, etc.
Your retail ERP needs to also integrate with the other applications critical to facilitating your online sales, especially any tracking inventory and warehouse, customer tracking, sales orders and shipping data. Ideally, your enterprise accounting system should be able to centralize all of these silos between these solutions and your ecommerce software.
Even more important than widespread integration is scalability, as your enterprise accounting software needs to be flexible enough to handle sudden or esoteric challenges that are more unique to your business, and that broad-appeal tools will not solve out-of-the-box. Factors like seasonal traffic volume shifts or new regulations could create additional obstacles if your solution is not equipped to handle change and forces you into its rigid silos.
Acumatica: ERP for Ecommerce, Distribution & More
SWK recommends Acumatica as your ERP system for ecommerce – as well as the backbone for your overall retail and distribution operations. That is because this cloud solution is uniquely positioned to help you create a centralized omnichannel ecosystem out of all of your assets via native integration APIs, advanced bidirectional synchronization, intuitive user-friendly features, end-to-end analytics and reporting, and a flexible architecture that is easy to customize for individual processes.
One of the key strengths of Acumatica Cloud ERP is its scalability, which makes it incredibly useful for businesses selling online through multiple channels. It was developed with a customer-centric focus, reinforced by regular upgrades built directly from user feedback gathered from within the Acumatica Community – who also often contribute their own improvements to the integration ecosystem. Other native connectors include those with best of breed third-party apps such as ADP Workforce Now, BigCommerce, Shopify, ShipStation and more, along with additional tools such as Amazon Alexa.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Acumatica as an ERP for ecommerce is the level of visibility it delivers, which when connected to the rest of your software ecosystem will provide one version of truth for all of the operations tied into your value chain. You will be able to glean insight into inventory, multiple warehouses, product details from terminology to pricing, storefront updates, shipping orders and more from one screen instead of jumping between applications.
Acumatica Retail Commerce Edition
Customers have the option to purchase an industry-focused edition of Acumatica Cloud ERP, which will typically include the core Financial Management package along with additional modules and vertically-aligned features. The Acumatica Retail-Commerce Edition combines the ERP’s accounting functionality with these added features:
- Inventory Management
- Order Management
- Business Intelligence & Reporting
- Acumatica POS
- BigCommerce & Shopify Connector
To learn more about the exact technical specifications of this bundled Edition, watch the video:
Other Systems for Ecommerce – Sales Tax
An ecommerce integration category that deserves special mention is sales tax automation, as economic nexus between states and markets affects online retailers first and foremost. Many businesses will opt to handle tax calculation or reporting manually, or outsource it to a service provider, but these are hard methods to scale when you have an evolving omnichannel business and bring several risks. An automated tax solution integrated with your ERP and ecommerce software will help to enforce compliance across every transaction.
Avalara: Simplifying Tax Compliance for Online Sales
Avalara is SWK’s recommendation for sales tax automation software in every business case, but with added emphasis for online sellers. It brings a lot of benefits to the table in an omnichannel setting, including being able to connect robust tax calculation features with a wide range of third-party applications in accounting, retail, POS and more, as well as being capture data from those solutions to be able to remit taxes and apply exemptions, discounts, etc.
Achieving ROI on Your ERP Integration
Implementing and integrating an ERP system for your ecommerce business is a complex process on its own, but the benefits will speak for themselves when everything is aligned effectively. Your integrated omnichannel stack should help you:
- Reduce the time it takes to execute repetitive tasks and workflows
- Consolidate your total cost of ownership (TCO) on your IT stack
- Capture end-to-end insight across operational silos
- Improve customer experience and satisfaction across your value chain
- Scale your processes with your market demand and transaction volume
Let SWK Be Your Guide to Ecommerce and ERP
SWK Technologies will help you cut through the complexity and headaches of choosing the right ERP for your ecommerce needs and optimize your implementation to ensure your ROI on your software. As an award-winning technology partner, consultant and support resource specializing in ERP and business automation, the SWK team will deliver the knowledge and guidance you need to get the most out of your solutions.
Contact SWK here to get in touch with our team and choose the right ERP for your ecommerce business needs.