Systems integration is often considered the unglamorous cousin in the world of eCommerce project delivery. When starting a new eCommerce project, it is easy for buyers to become so excited about front end-functionalities (the bells and whistles) and look and feel, that the importance of seamless integration between the front-end and back-end / ERP systems can be somewhat neglected.
Of course it is important to ensure that the user experience is as slick and intuitive as possible and that one’s customers are equipped with the functionalities that help them find products and keep them coming back for more. However, too often in eCommerce projects, this translates into a disproportionate amount of time being spent focusing on front-end design.
When embarking on a new eCommerce project, far greater focus should be given to the data integration with ERP / fulfillment systems. Implicit in this is a need for businesses to question themselves in some fine detail about what the overall customer experience needs to be, what information / data they have available to deliver on these aims and how their current operational processes are setup to deliver against this.
By focusing on these fundamentals, businesses will quickly be able to identify gaps between their current state and their future eCommerce objectives. Typically this will show that there is a significant amount of work on behalf of the business covering the following areas:
- Product data enrichment / product data integration
- Creation of additional data integration touch-points such as stock integration, order update integration and customer integration files
- Standardisation of data within core ERP systems to deliver requirements of the frontend experience
This effort should be applied early in the project process to ensure that requirements, workloads and project timings are understood. Failure to do so invariably means that the full scope of workload will be misunderstood and ultimately the eCommerce solution will not deliver the desired customer experience.