Companies vying for a bigger piece of that ecommerce pie need robust, unified technology systems that effectively streamline their operations and scale up as needed. Without a central ecommerce strategy, for example, companies can quickly fall behind the curve in a world where speed-to-market, fast delivery times, and good customer service are table stakes.

By integrating ERP with their ecommerce platforms, companies can automate their customer-facing operations on the front end while more efficiently managing their back-end processes. Going a step further, a direct alignment between ERP and ecommerce—versus a third-party add-on for an existing ERP—more completely closes that loop and helps companies avoid digital disconnect.

In this Q&A, SuiteCentric’s Owner and Founder Adam Baruh explains the top challenges facing today’s multi-channel operations and shows how an integrated ERP and commerce platform can solve those pain points (and more).

Q: As you look around at the ecommerce environment, where are companies running into the biggest challenges?

A: A large percentage of companies are still running on disjointed, patch-worked technologies and systems. That continues to be one of the biggest challenges for today’s businesses and is the catch 22 of technology evolving so quickly. This siloed approach creates major operational inefficiencies. It forces people to duplicate work, introduces a high number of errors, and leaves customer requests and concerns hanging while employees scramble to find the answers.

Q: How do changing customer demands come into play here?

A: They’re a huge factor. The new norm in retail, omnichannel, ensures that customers can find and get the products they want—when, where, and how they want that to happen—and also have an overall satisfactory experience regardless of what platform they’re using. In this new era of digital relationships, companies can’t afford to run their operations on disparate systems that don’t “talk” to one another.

Couple online shopping, pick & pack, delivery process, erp and commerce

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Q: How do third-party apps like Shopify and Magento add to the problem?

A: Third-party applications require middleware. Shopify and Magento both need customized manipulations in order to “hook into” a company’s ERP platform, which we can do. But, NetSuite ERP eliminates the need for these third-party ecommerce apps and middleware while also providing a robust customer relationship management (CRM) platform and SuiteCommerce Advanced—all of which are neatly folded into one software package. The multi-channel company winds up with one single, true source of information.

Another part of the problem with third-party applications that require middleware is that they create another layer for the IT department to manage. Moreover, companies with rapidly changing marketing and other requirements will have an easier time going to market with a platform like SuiteCommerce Advanced. It doesn’t require any middleware development versus a third-party ecommerce platform, where implementing a new feature requires ecommerce development, and ERP configuration, in addition to middleware development.

Q: Which companies are most impacted by these issues?

A: Whether it’s a small startup that’s setting up its first online presence, a midsized B2B firm that’s in rapid growth mode or a mature B2C e-tailer that’s been running on disparate systems, all of these companies share the same need: an ecommerce platform that integrates directly with their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

The time and resource allocation requirements for managing and developing middleware can create unexpected challenges for any company. Companies with sophisticated go-to-market strategies or others that need to be able to react quickly to changes in the market are at a disadvantage compared to their competition, particularly if they have fully integrated systems.

Q: What are the top reasons that a company should integrate its ERP and commerce platform?

A: No middleware is required when using NetSuite’s fully integrated ecommerce platform. Since there’s no middleware, there’s no additional cost to manage the integration and no cost for the software. With IT resources unencumbered with middleware management, companies can focus on other strategic business initiatives and supporting sales goals.

Q: What are the other benefits of integrating ERP and commerce solutions?

A: They will have zero points of failure between their ERP and ecommerce website, CRM, and business management suite because they’ll be using a core extension of NetSuite’s database, which doesn’t require authentication. Also, all back-office and front-end (i.e., ecommerce) data become available in real-time, including all reports, transactions, inventory, key performance indicators (KPIs), 360-degree views of customers, and more. Companies that integrate their platforms can fully leverage automated workflows and customizations.

Combined, these benefits really help streamline the operational process, support omni-channel, and improve customer service levels.

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