Chances are good that you want your ecommerce site to be more effective than taking in orders via fax or email.
While your email box and your fax machine are both quite good at accepting orders, they don’t do much to process them. Without integration, your ecommerce site winds up looking frighteningly similar to your fax machine. It accepts orders, but requires someone to pull the orders from the system and then manually reenter the order information into your various business systems. Emailed orders must be handled in the same way.
The ultimate goal of any ecommerce site is to increase revenues, cut costs, and make your company more efficient. That requires integration.
Integration is how you make your ecommerce site communicate automatically with your business systems. Integration automates regular processes and removes if not eliminates the chance for human error in processing orders.
There are two main categories of integration: light and heavy.
Light ecommerce integration is a simple connection between your ecommerce site and a smaller, stand-alone business process like your accounting system. Light integration increases efficiency on processes that involve both ecommerce and the other integrated system.
Heavy ecommerce integration is a robust connection between all of your back-end business systems and your ecommerce site. This type of complex integration often incorporates information from your ecommerce site with your enterprise resource planning (ERP), accounting, shipping and customer resource management (CRM) systems. When implemented properly, heavy integration allows data that is entered into one system to automatically be updated in all other related systems, eliminating duplicate data entry and costly mistakes.
While integration makes sense for most organizations, it’s important to keep in mind that not all ecommerce solutions providers are experienced with integration, especially heavy integration. Resist the urge to trust a vendor who assures you that they can “get it done” without seeing examples of live, fully-integrated sites before choosing a partner. Any vendor worth the check you pay them will gladly provide you with a list of reference sites for you to tour.
Want to learn more about ecommerce integration? Download the white paper: Integrated Enterprise Ecommerce – The Key to Online Success for B2B and B2C.
Brian Strojny is CEO at Insite Software. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.