Any industry will have its own set of acronyms, industry-specific jargon, slang and terminology that can be difficult for the general public to understand. What's more, some industry players use the terminology differently which can add to the confusion when trying to make sense of a specific topic. One such area where this happens is in the software industry, and specifically when it comes to trying to understand about eCommerce integration. While most people understand what eCommerce is, to fully explain eCommerce integration, we first have to take a closer look at defining eCommerce.
eCommerce, an abbreviation of electronic commerce, is used to describe an industry in which buying and selling products and services is conducted over electronic systems – most commonly via the internet. It also refers to the exchange of information necessary to complete these online transactions such as inventory volumes, pricing data, shipping information and customer data. eCommerce includes transactions made online with mobile and tablet devices and can apply to both the B2C (business-to-consumer) industry and B2B (business-to-business) industry.
Although eCommerce dates back to the 1980s, it continues to evolve as features such as mobile commerce, group buying, private sales and social commerce are developed. It is features like these that have made eCommerce a realistic option for businesses of all sizes, and the convenience of purchasing products over the internet in a secure way, 24/7 is very attractive.
What is eCommerce Integration?
eCommerce integration is the coordination between a company’s front-end eCommerce site and back-end accounting and inventory (ERP) system. Proper integration enables the automatic flow of information bi-directionally between the two systems meaning data only needs to be entered into one system once (typically your ERP software). Inventory quantities, prices, descriptions and images are managed in your ERP software, and then automatically reflected online. This results in various efficiencies such as inventory levels automatically updating across all channels and systems once product is sold on the eCommerce site, and as product gets received into a warehouse and added to inventory. However, it's important to note that there are varying degrees of integration. The most basic level of integration being one way integration or batch updates (which involves some manual processes) or true eCommerce integration with two-way, real-time or near real-time data flow.
Many businesses choose to fully integrate both systems as it means inventory and pricing information is available to customers and staff in real-time and as demand increases the need for additional staff to handle transactions is minimized.