Overcoming common technical challenges during an eCommerce and ERP integration project
When integrating an e-Commerce system with an existing ERP, there are many points that must be considered. In addition to scenarios that will be unique to your integration process, there will also be instances of common challenges, including catalog data, pricing, customer data and catalog navigation. Addressing these points early, and often, is essential to any successful e-Commerce project.
Typically, catalog data is stored within an ERP system. The issue most often found here is that the ERP is not properly equipped to store the types of data necessary to create a robust product page within an e-Commerce catalog. As a result, you’ll experience problems with elements like extended item descriptions, product images and category assignment. Determining where catalog data should reside and how it should be maintained requires careful consideration. A proper amount of time and attention should be designated to solve this challenge.
Ordinarily, both the e-Commerce site and a large ERP system will include a pricing function intended for order entry within each of the two systems. The topic to consider is whether to utilize the pricing function of the e-Commerce site, the ERP, or to create an interface. Pricing promotions must also be taken into account regarding whether they should be duplicated in the ERP and e-Commerce site, or if your website should feature its own distinct promotional campaigns.
In developing a B2B e-Commerce site, linking your customer data in the ERP system to that of your e-Commerce site is a critical requirement which will likely demand an interface. The challenge is that most ERP systems do not store the data elements required for the e-Commerce system. Some of the challenging data elements include, “User Name” and “Password” or other customer demographic information. Failing to recognize the importance of interfacing the e-Commerce site with the ERP may actually hinder the overall success of your project. Creating a solution that allows your e-Commerce site to speak with and compliment your ERP will guarantee the proper use of both systems.
More often, you’ll find a challenge with ERP systems in that they don’t assign a function dedicated to catalog navigation. While there will be a hierarchy for items, these are only really beneficial to sales reporting as it relates to product lines and company divisions. You may need to consider creating a custom table or using generic fields within the ERP to better organize the product line within your e-Commerce site.
With careful consideration and proper planning, these challenges can be easily solved. While you may think these items should be solely the IT department’s concern, it’s actually much more beneficial to your integration’s success if the entire organization is involved in the planning process. Each department will be able to provide a different insight on its specific concerns, which will promote a more unified approach to each solution.
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