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Essentials of e-commerce integrations

Written by
Saad Merchant
Published on
February 9, 2024

In the highly competitive and rapidly evolving e-commerce landscape, one of the most effective ways for businesses to rapidly adopt market trends, automate processes, and streamline operations is through e-commerce integrations. This is why some of the biggest e-commerce platforms, like Shopify or BigCommerce, provide connectivity for a plethora of third-party application integrations, which can include CRM solutions, Payment Gateways, Shipping & Logistics integrations, and much more. This blog delves into the essentials of how businesses can enable e-commerce integrations to improve sales, marketing, and operational efficiency. It also explores what kind of e-commerce platforms businesses can implement and some key solutions that businesses can integrate to improve their e-commerce experience. Lastly, we will also touch upon the future-proof benefits of implementing an e-commerce integration platform.

Understanding E-commerce Integration

What is e-commerce integration? It involves seamlessly connecting online stores with various e-commerce tools, SaaS, or cloud apps to expand e-commerce features and capabilities. Effective integrations involve synchronization and real-time exchange of data and services between integrated applications within the e-commerce ecosystem. E-commerce integrations can include integrating e-commerce platforms with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems like Salesforce, marketing platforms like Marketo, payment gateways like Stripe, PIM (Product Information Management) systems like Pimcore, and many other apps.

The benefits of e-commerce integrations

E-commerce integrations empower businesses to streamline their operations, providing a unified ecosystem that fosters digital growth. Some of the many benefits of implementing e-commerce integrations with several cloud apps and third-party tools include:

  1. Enhancing e-commerce user experiences
    Help customers find products effortlessly, get better product information, receive better customer support, personalized offers, and much more.
  2. Enhanced payment processes:
    Integrating popular payment gateways like PayPal and Adyen provides popular and secure payment options that help improve checkout experiences and reduce cart abandonment rates.
  3. Improved customer relationships:
    Businesses can consolidate customer data across brand touchpoints through CRM integration, acquiring valuable data that can be used to build personalized interactions, offers, and promotions.
  4. Streamlined inventory management:
    E-commerce integrations can help automate stock updates, real-time tracking, and synchronization of inventory levels across multiple channels, preventing overselling or stockouts.
  5. Efficient shipping and logistics:
    E-commerce business can also improve their shipping process by integrating shipping solutions like ShipStation, providing real-time tracking for customers and streamlining order management.
  6. Effective email marketing:
    By integrating effective marketing tools like HubSpot, businesses can build and nurture customer relationships through automated email campaigns triggered by customer behavior.
  7. Marketplace integrations:
    E-commerce businesses can also expand their product reach by listing their products on popular online marketplaces like Amazon, BOL, and eBay, by using channel marketplace software like ChannelEngine.

However, it is important to note that e-commerce integrations are only an essential second step to improving customer experiences and the capabilities of online stores. Thus, before businesses can implement e-commerce integrations, they have to choose the right e-commerce platform to build their online store.

Read more about the benefits of building e-commerce integrations with ShipStation →

Choosing an e-commerce platform with integration capabilities

For businesses building their e-commerce store from scratch, e-commerce platforms like Shopify offer a beginner-friendly, scalable solution to build an online store. While Shopify can scale up to enable large e-commerce stores to accommodate major multi-national enterprises, it is also designed for entrepreneurs with limited technical expertise looking to build their online store by themselves. Some great Shopify alternatives that enterprises also build their e-commerce stores on include BigCommerce, Adobe Commerce (Magento), and WooCommerce. These e-commerce platforms aren’t just integration-friendly, but they also come in-built with a plethora of third-party application integrations (or app stores) providing payment gateways, drop-shipping solutions, social media integrations, and more.

To understand how businesses may choose an e-commerce platform to build their online store on, let’s explore the alternative advantages and differences of the popular e-commerce solutions, Shopify and BigCommerce.

Building an integration-friendly e-commerce store on Shopify vs Bigcommerce

Both Shopify and BigCommerce are subscription-based e-commerce platforms that enable businesses of all sizes to build and manage online stores, which include listing, selling, promoting, and shipping products while enabling customer support. Each platform comes with its own set of advantages that may benefit some businesses better than others, and yet both platforms are e-commerce integration-friendly.

The e-commerce integration benefits of Shopify

One of the biggest advantages of Shopify is that it provides a rich app store with more than 8,000 paid and free third-party apps. Businesses can swiftly integrate these apps to expand their e-commerce features and capabilities. From marketing and inventory management to customer service and analytics, Shopify's App Store offers a solution for almost every business need. The simplicity of integration ensures that even those with limited technical expertise can tailor their e-commerce operations effectively. Whether it's incorporating a social media sales channel, implementing a loyalty program, or integrating with popular payment gateways, Shopify empowers businesses to create a tailored and efficient online presence.

The e-commerce integration benefits of BigCommerce

While BigCommerce is also an e-commerce integration platform for businesses of all sizes, it positions itself as an enterprise-level platform. It offers a larger variety of built-in essential e-commerce features that may reduce the reliance on plugins and minimize the number of external integrations businesses may need to create. The platform’s native functionalities include advanced SEO capabilities, multi-channel selling, and robust product management. At the same time, the BigCommerce architecture is designed for scalability, enabling enterprises to expand their operations without compromising performance, making it an excellent fit for growing businesses. However, it also offers an app store and is an integration-friendly platform.

When to choose Shopify vs BigCommerce or vice versa

To summarize, Shopify is ideal for businesses looking to create small online stores that they can scale up as they grow, along with the modularity of integrating multiple third-party apps to fulfill custom feature requirements. However, for enterprises looking to create large stores with a vast array of essential e-commerce features, Shopify alternatives like BigCommerce or Adobe Commerce are ideal as well. For those who prefer Shopify and wish to scale up to enterprise-level e-commerce in the future, it is important to note that the brand also provides a native Shopify alternative called ShopifyPlus.

Read more about the benefits of building e-commerce integrations with WooCommerce →

The need for an e-commerce integration platform (iPaaS)

If choosing the ideal e-commerce platform to build an online store is the first step, and adding third-party application integrations to enhance e-commerce features is the second step, then a crucial third step for digitally growing businesses is to implement an “integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).”  

What is an e-commerce integration platform?

The iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) is a cloud-based, API-driven middleware solution that provides a user-friendly web interface to connect two or multiple business systems or applications. While the iPaaS helps integrate e-commerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce with a vast array of solutions like CRM, PIM, WMS, OMS, Marketing Automation systems, and more, it mainly helps centralize all integrated systems and data on one secure cloud platform.

The iPaaS solutions like Alumio facilitate synchronous and asynchronous data exchange while providing mappers and transformers that help flexibly transform data exchange as per evolving business needs. It also helps orchestrate workflows between integrated e-commerce systems to automate thousands of processes. Most importantly, it eliminates data silos and ensures data security and compliance with privacy legislation like GDPR.

Why e-commerce integrations are essential

In conclusion, implementing e-commerce integrations is a strategic move that can help exponentially grow and streamline online businesses. Apart from helping enhance user experiences and optimizing e-commerce operational efficiency, e-commerce integrations also prevent businesses that already have an established store on platforms like Shopify from having to seek Shopify alternatives, every time they need new essential features to fulfill evolving use cases. Rather, e-commerce integrations offer businesses the ability to swiftly customize and add new features to their e-commerce platform and adopt new trends. Furthermore, by implementing an e-commerce integration platform (iPaaS), businesses can develop, govern, and orchestrate an entire ecosystem of e-commerce integrations that can grow limitlessly with complete data control.

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