In researching business software, you may have come across the acronym ERP. ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, and it’s an increasingly vital part of businesses both large and small. ERP software helps a business manage the core processes most important to the function of the organization. Because businesses, and industries for that matter, have wildly different needs and processes, ERP software provides numerous functions and takes a wide range of forms depending on the business, and industry, using it.
ERP systems are often tied to the world of e-commerce, though this isn’t necessarily the case in all instances. E-commerce is the sale of goods or services using the internet or other electronic means. Any business selling through eCommerce can benefit greatly by implementing and using an ERP system.
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The Advantage of Implementing ERP Software into an E-commerce Business
By using ERP software, a business can automate all facets of their workflow – from order to managing inventory, to tracking customer data, to managing the shipping and tracking of products. An ERP system allows companies to streamline all these processes.
Once implemented, the ERP system can deliver tremendous benefits to a business engaged in e-commerce. Specifically, ERP software allows a business to function far more efficiently, cutting down on the need for manual data entry and repetitive tasks previously done by people.
Beyond simply saving time, ERP systems reduce human error significantly, as each instance where a person enters data is an opportunity for a mistake. By streamlining and automating processes, ERP systems cut out those errors and increase the overall accuracy of an organization’s data flow.
ERP systems also help streamline the management of inventory, from tracking items to delivering on-demand “in-stock” or “not-in-stock” info to both customers and employees, to monitoring and making changes to product pricing or to the products themselves.
With an ERP system, it’s possible for a business to manage multiple webstores or online marketplaces alongside any offline sales channels – at once in real time. This results in a higher volume of business with little or no loss in the overall operational efficiency.
ERP systems also are tremendously beneficial in making sure a business is compliant with their tax obligations. ERP systems carefully track expenses and incomes, compiling that data into a form, from where it can be easily used, by either accounting software or an accountant, to make sure the business is paying exactly what it owes in taxes.
An ERP system with e-commerce capabilities pays dividends on the customer side as well, facilitating a better customer service experience. With such an ERP system, customers receive automatic notifications with tracking numbers to allow them to track shipments – from when they place their order all the way to delivery. ERP software allows customers to have more visibility and control in the buying process, leaving them happier, more engaged with the e-commerce business, and more likely to return for further buys in the future.
The Scope of ERP Implementation in E-commerce Businesses
There are various ways in which an ERP system can integrate within an e-commerce–based business organization.
Your ERP system will connect in various ways with the various facets of your business, allowing you to store, manage, and analyze data along numerous fronts. Certain parts of an ERP solution may focus more on customer data and customer management, while others specialize in other domains such as product data or tracking orders. ERP solutions can integrate with multichannel management platforms to streamline multiple marketplace channels and sales channels.
Connecting an e-commerce business with an ERP system requires the integration of interconnected data streams. It’s important to understand where that data comes from and how to integrate it with your ERP System.
An ERP system manages data from multiple sources within an e-commerce business. The ERP system will link to customer-facing websites on which customers can place orders. It will also link to internal resources that allow employees to track and manage product data and to make edits to orders customers have placed. Your ERP system also connects to management tools that span multiple warehouses and facilitates and works with software dealing with tax data and shipping costs related to the business.
When implementing an ERP system, you typically need to migrate data from one site to another. For this, you may need to link one e-commerce site to another or e-commerce users to ERP accounts.
Product data is another data stream that you need to load into the system – the price of the product, along with various attributes, such as color and size.
When implementing an ERP system, it’s prudent to be ready for potential failures. What’s the plan if an ERP system is temporarily out of commission? And how does the system smoothly get updated once it’s functioning again? And you’ll need to have a plan for working with combined systems to cut down on missing data and potential errors.
One vital part of implementing an ERP system within an eCmmerce–based business is testing the system. A robust testing process covers all access points and intersections between your software systems and users to make sure the system is functioning as intended and is always current. This includes managing orders, making sure customer data is accurate and updated at all times; managing and updating inventory, and maintaining accurate product information.
All in all, implementing an ERP system to aid an e-commerce business can be complicated, and successful implementation requires planning and best practices. There are firms out there that assist businesses through the implementation phase, such as Technology Evaluation Centers. Once the ERP system is implemented, the gains and efficiencies an e-commerce business can realize makes the entire process of implementation more than worth the time, money, and effort.