eCommerce and ERP Software – Not Islands

Mark Canes

In the chicken and egg post on this subject, we considered practical eCommerce questions like:

  • How can we grow sales rapidly?
  • How can we keep customers happy so they keep buying?
  • How can we fulfill sales quickly and efficiently, allowing for growth, while maximizing profitability?

So if I'm a customer, placing an order on an online consumer web site, here's one way to ensure I never shop with you again: let me place my order, charge my credit card, set my expectations on delivery, and then 3 or 4 days later, call or email me to tell me that you cannot ship what I ordered, but you can ship some of my products, and some substitutes, but the total cost will be different from what was charged to my card. I'll probably tell you to cancel the order and refund me, but even if I don't, I probably won't shop here again.

One way to avoid this is seamless and appropriate eCommerce integration with a back-end Inventory Management ERP software system. That pre-supposes that the ERP software is effective, and has been properly implemented. Then, the appropriate level of integration should prevent you from selling, and charging for, product that is not actually available to that customer. If I get real-time information that the products I want are not currently available, and am given some alternatives before my expectations have been set and my credit card charged, I'll be fine with your customer service and likely will shop at your online store again.

I see many e-commerce solutions that allegedly integrate with various back-end inventory management and accounting systems. I'd estimate that at least 90% of the instances I've seen are not properly or appropriately integrated. And most of those businesses are losing online sales / customers / profits.

For some specifics on appropriate integration, check back next month.