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Useful tips to integrate ERP to e-commerce

Written by
Carla Hetherington
Published on
December 7, 2020

Are you looking to integrate your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) with e-commerce? Let's get you started with our free checklist. What steps should you follow when planning your integration strategy? What are the difficulties and commonly made mistakes? Which integration strategy should you choose? All of these critical questions are answered in this helpful blog. The goal is to help you carry out a successful integration project and assist you in your decision-making process.

What are the first steps you must take in order to plan a successful integration strategy?

Understand your business requirements:

  • Identify the specific goals and objectives of integrating ERP and e-commerce systems.
  • Define the key functionalities and data that must be synchronized between the systems.

Choose compatible systems:

  • Select an ERP system that supports integration with e-commerce platforms, such as SAP, Microsoft Dynamics 365, NetSuite, Oracle, etc.
  • Ensure the e-commerce platform has APIs or connectors available for ERP integration.

Plan the integration process:

  • Define a clear integration roadmap, including timelines and milestones.
  • Identify the resources and expertise required for successful integration. This could be done with in-house talent or an external integration partner like a digital agency.

Choose an integration strategy:

Before you begin your integration journey, an agency or other external resource can advise you on which type of integration strategy suits your project best. There are three commonly known integration strategies:

a. Point-to-point integration that establishes direct connections between the ERP and e-commerce platforms using APIs or connectors. This type of integration strategy is suitable for smaller-scale integrations but can become complex to maintain as systems grow.

b. Middleware integration with an iPaaS that acts as a central hub, simplifying the integration and empowering the scalability of your IT ecosystem.

c. Hybrid integration that combines point-to-point and middleware approaches for different integration requirements, generally using point-to-point integration for specific data flows and middleware for complex or high-volume integrations.

What is the most popular integration strategy among businesses?

The most commonly used among the three is a middleware integration done via an iPaaS.

An iPaaS is a cloud-based integration platform that enables companies to connect any two or more systems, SaaS solutions, cloud applications, or data sources from one central hub.

As such, if you are looking to scale your integrations and build an IT ecosystem made up of different systems, an iPaaS is the best fit, and the most future-proof option. Some businesses opt for point-to-point integrations done via manual code, but aren’t aware of the inherent obstacles:

  • Time-consuming: Custom code integration can be a time-consuming process, as developers must write code from scratch and test it thoroughly to ensure it works correctly.
  • Maintenance: Custom code integrations require ongoing maintenance and support, which can be extremely costly and time-consuming.
  • Impaired scalability: Custom code integrations can be difficult to scale. They often require significant development resources to add new features or functionality, especially in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving digital landscape.

Are you simply interested in building an A-to-B integration or building a future-proof ecosystem?

More than likely, your primary goal is to integrate software A (ERP) to software B (e-commerce). As this is your business question, your integration will likely be based on an integration built with custom code or using a so-called plugin.

This type of approach works best when you have no more than two applications to integrate. If you are confident in your team’s technical knowledge, this could work for you. However, we always recommend that you agree on the code and have robust discussions regarding how the integration will function.  
Reasons not to use custom code or a plugin when integrating your ERP but an iPaaS solution are:  

  • When you want to re-use the data from your ERP to connect to other software, custom code would not be the way to go.
  • Custom code integrations often take more time to build than using middleware iPaaS tooling.
  • For mission-critical integrations, you would need custom monitoring protocols, which can be expensive. Error handling and logging are often minimal and basic, which leaves you unable to recover data without manually reconstructing the integration.
  • Adding new or changing existing software in your IT landscape requires a big project and a significant process.
  • You’ll need extra data routes at some point to integrate new technologies like marketing automation software, AI, and machine learning tooling. And relying on custom code to sustain those integrations is unsustainable for your IT landscape.

So, what integration strategy should you choose?

The choice between custom code and iPaaS integration relies on various factors, including the complexity of the integration undertaking, the level of customization required, and the overall costs in the long run.

Custom code integration can provide the desired level of customization for smaller projects, but it can be time-consuming, expensive, and challenging to scale and modify. Consequently, what initially seemed like a straightforward project often ends up being more intricate and costly than anticipated.

On the other hand, an iPaaS solution like Alumio offers advantages such as speed, scalability, security, user-friendliness, and exceptional flexibility. However, it may not fully meet the specific requirements of your business and can be costly in the long term for smaller-scale integration projects. Ultimately, the decision will hinge on your business priorities, objectives, and budget.

Want to discover all the advantages and disadvantages of an iPaaS vs Custom Code? Read our comparative study and learn all there is to know about both approaches!

Are you ready to embark on your integration journey? Get in touch with one of our specialists and successfully integrate your ERP to your E-commerce system.

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