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7 min read

E-commerce integration and the integration platform

Written by
Saad Merchant
Published on
February 9, 2024

In the world of digital commerce, there’s a myriad of e-commerce SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions and cloud apps that businesses are implementing to grow their web shops and access new e-commerce features. The average number of SaaS applications used by companies rose from 80 to 120 in 2022. E-commerce integrations involve getting these different e-commerce software to work together and exchange data and services effectively, in order to streamline processes like inventory management and order fulfillment. However, managing these integrations manually becomes increasingly challenging, leads to data silos, and results in errors and inconsistencies. This is why most modern businesses are implementing an integration platform to build and orchestrate all their e-commerce integrations, enable real-time exchange, and automate processes. Let’s explore the significance of e-commerce integrations and integration platforms!

Bridging e-commerce integrations with integration platforms

Seamless connectivity or the ability to integrate e-commerce solutions is the new cornerstone of digital growth. The more an e-commerce business grows, the more software solutions or e-commerce it will need to use. However, in order to maximize the benefits of e-commerce integrations, businesses are now turning to e-commerce integration platforms to manage, orchestrate, and scale up these integrations as they grow.

What is e-commerce integration?

E-commerce integration involves connecting all e-commerce tools, software solutions, and applications that an online retail store uses in order to facilitate the exchange of data and services. This can involve integrating an online store with a CRM system, a PIM system, payment gateways, shipping software, and other e-commerce tools, in order to streamline, enhance, and automate various e-commerce functionalities like order processing, inventory management, customer support, and order fulfillment. Advanced e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce offer their own app stores that help instantly connect essential e-commerce tools into the webshop for free or for a price.

Why are e-commerce businesses implementing the integration platform?

The challenge lies in how modern businesses choose to build e-commerce integrations between disparate software solutions. The traditional integration method involves connecting two applications with custom code, in a point-to-point fashion. However, ever since e-commerce businesses started to grow and expand their processes by implementing a variety of e-commerce software solutions, the need to integrate multiple systems has taken precedence. This is where the challenge arises, wherein the more e-commerce software solutions a business integrates, the more complex it gets to maintain the data exchange. It increasingly leads to an ecosystem of entangled software solutions and data silos, also known as the IT spaghetti phenomenon.

As a result, businesses are turning to integration platforms to create and manage all their e-commerce integrations on one unified platform, which provides them with more holistic data control.

What is an integration platform for e-commerce?

An integration platform is a middleware solution that acts as a bridge to connect two or multiple cloud applications or software solutions to ensure they can communicate effectively. While modern integration platforms are cloud-based solutions, there are also hybrid or on-premises middleware solutions that e-commerce businesses can use to integrate software solutions.

Over the years, businesses have used different kinds of middleware solutions as app integration platforms, such as ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) or SaaS (Software as a Service) integration platforms. However, the advent of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) made it easier for applications, including e-commerce SaaS solutions, to exchange data and services in real-time with each other. Leveraging the power of APIs, a next-gen, cloud-based “integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)” emerged as one of the top integration tools. The iPaaS made it significantly easier to unify disparate e-commerce applications and data sources.

Read a fun analogy on APIs and how they work like delivery services →

How does “integration Platform as a Service” make e-commerce integrations simple?

The iPaaS or “integration Platform as a Service” vendors provide a low-code or no-code app integration platform that allows businesses to connect multiple software from one central cloud space, via APIs. It helps e-commerce retailers to create, monitor, and manage all their integrations and data from one user-friendly, web interface. This cloud-centric approach eliminates the need for on-premise infrastructure, reducing maintenance overheads and enhancing accessibility.

Most importantly, iPaaS solutions enable real-time data synchronization across all integrated e-commerce software solutions, ensuring that crucial information such as inventory levels, order status, product info, and customer data is consistently up-to-date. This prevents data silos and inconsistencies while reducing the cost of operations. At the same time, the iPaaS helps build workflows to automate repetitive e-commerce processes and reduce manual data entry.

To add to this, most “integration Platform as a Service” vendors provide pre-built connectors and integration templates for connecting e-commerce web shops with popular software solutions like ERP systems, PIM, CRM, WMS, Marketing Automation, Channel Marketplace systems, and more.

Read more about the differences between an ESB app integration platform and iiPaaS solution →

How to choose the right integration platform for e-commerce?

When selecting the ideal integration platform for e-commerce integrations, businesses should consider their unique requirements. For instance, if businesses are looking for basic additional e-commerce tools or features, they should opt for simply building their webshop on comprehensive e-commerce platforms like Shopify, which provides an app store with thousands of crucial e-commerce features to integrate.

However, let’s suppose your digital business is looking to connect with larger third-party applications such as PIM systems like Akeneo, large CRMs like Salesforce, or Marketplace Channels like ChannelEngine to list products on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or BOL. In that case, it is better for top integration tools or “integration Platform as a Service” vendors. On the other hand, older enterprise solutions with lots of legacy systems might prefer on-premises integration solutions like ESB solutions. Still, there are also top integration platforms that offer hybrid integration capabilities (cloud and on-prem) that can be useful in this case.

What are the benefits of an integration platform for e-commerce?

Modern e-commerce businesses that implement integration platforms to connect and manage all their data and software solutions experience several crucial benefits, such as:

  1. Streamlined e-commerce operations:
    Integration platforms automate and streamline business processes, reducing manual efforts and minimizing the risk of errors. This leads to more efficient workflows and faster order processing
  2. Enhanced Customer Experience:
    By seamlessly connecting systems like CRM, inventory, and order processing, integration platforms contribute to a cohesive and personalized customer experience. Businesses can provide real-time order tracking, personalized recommendations, and efficient customer support.
  3. Faster Time-to-Market:
    Integration platforms often come equipped with pre-built connectors, templates, and standardized workflows, significantly reducing the time and effort required for integrating various systems. This allows e-commerce businesses to swiftly adopt new e-commerce trends, tools, and software solutions.
  4. Scalability for e-commerce integrations:
    As businesses grow, integration platforms can easily scale to accommodate increasing data volumes and expanding operations. This scalability is crucial for adapting to the changing needs of a growing e-commerce enterprise.
  5. Data Security & privacy compliance:
    Integration platforms prioritize data security, ensuring that sensitive information is protected during the integration process. This is crucial for maintaining customer trust and compliance with data protection regulations, with top integration platforms providing reporting tools to comply with privacy legislation like the GDPR, SOC2, CCPA, etc.

To explore more about how the integration platform has evolved over the years, read our white paper on the top integration platforms →

The strategic benefit of integration platforms for e-commerce

The integration of e-commerce systems through advanced integration platforms is a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to thrive in the digital landscape. The adoption of integration platforms addresses core operational challenges, fostering efficiency, data accuracy, and improved customer experiences.

One of the key advantages that e-commerce businesses have over traditional brick-and-mortar setups is the ability to scale without limit on the cloud. While e-commerce integrations emerged as one of the most effective ways for businesses to scale up online stores and adopt new e-commerce trends, the increasing complexity of data management was a hindrance. As such, integration platforms emerged as a key solution to this hindrance, enabling e-commerce businesses to scale up with limitless e-commerce integrations.

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