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One of the most complex challenges with E-commerce businesses is managing the integration of E-commerce stores to other systems and here we are talking about Magento ERP. Proper implementation of three things is important first the online store, second ERP software and the third the connection between them to make a concrete base for the online business and this can benefit to your overall success of a company.
The most critical points of such ERP systems are:
Why do you need to integrate your online store and ERP system?
If you are a big company or a small Estore with limited products then you will be happy to optimize and automate repetitive tasks. It will save your time and money and also it will reduce the risk of errors and multiply your capabilities. Therefore you should integrate. To get the best of everything you need different systems to optimize with different tasks such as ERP for resourcing management, E-commerce marketing software for online sale, CRMs for managing the connection.
Integration is the only solution for all your ERP related problems. Another benefit of integration is that you have to perform a certain task only once in one system and rest the system will perform automatically. Once the integration is done it will be seamless and automatic. There is no point if your integration gives you more trouble than actual work.
ERP is the tool where you can handle all your data in one place. It is a dedicated system to get all your special tasks done at central places no matter where orders are created, online or offline. Further, if you want to manage to import, set prices and configure products in your ERP then you do not wish to do the same thing again in your online store. You can make compromises in ERP like creating products via batch imports from ERP as well as from Magento and then only sync with inventory.
In order to come to the conclusion we have simplified and concentrate on the theoretically and practically, ideal flow keeping apart the implementation efforts, technical difficulties, and potential costs.
Role of Company size and E-commerce in it:
With bigger business comes bigger E-commerce and more things you want to do centrally in your ERP and sync it all to your Magento.
A new venture might have few virtual products for which you want to integrate an invoicing system. The system will sync orders from the Estore and manage everything else directly in Magento.
A merchant has to create, manage products inventory, pricing, invoicing and shipping in an ERP system if they have several warehouses and physical shops or a drop shipping company operating globally then they need an accurate E-commerce solution to integrate seamlessly to the ERP which will work without even having to log in to the store admin area except when you adjust some UI or marketing stuff.
What about other integrated systems?
It is less practical to integrate CRM, BI, E-commerce, 3PL to integrate into the E-commerce platform directly and it will be beneficial to sync to the Enterprise Resource Management solution where everything is actually managed.
Remember, the golden rule for E-commerce integration and integration, in general, is that
You need to do kind of operation in one system and use that system as the source point of integration in rest of other systems.
But the question is why you need integrated Magento?
Below are important benefits of Integrated Magento:
Magento is designed in such a way that it is a full-featured E-commerce platform from the start. It’s an open source approach with multi-site design, different product types, flexible product attributes, customer groups, layered navigation, price rules, payment and shipping integration, import and export capabilities. These all features make it a unique player in the global market.
Advanced API is one of the most important benefits of Magento. Speaking of technologies, Magento has SOAP API v1, v2, XML-RPC, REST and XMLConnect for mobile. They are all well-documented APIs. It is extendable in a modular way which is another valuable feature of Magento API from the integration point of view.
Magento is already integrated with dozens of out-of-the-box integration on the market for all the major ERPs such as SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, NetSuite, etc.
The ERP side of Integration
ERPs basic work is to connect all the processes such as finance, budgeting, payment management, accounting, manufacturing, invoicing, human resource management, workflow management, quality control, procurement, supply chain management, warehousing, inventory management, customer relationship management and so on.
ERPs help in the number of things like improve quality, efficiency, collaboration, monitoring and facilitate decision making in a company.
The limitation of Flexibility
As per the need of an actual company ERPs are tailored and configured as a result flexibility is built in the genes of every good ERP. If your ERP is more flexible and customized then it will eventually be difficult to connect to another system. In case of the complex system like Magento where potentially different ERP modules handle different connection points in both connected parties.
Cloud-based or on Premise – ERP?
Today, cloud-based services are everywhere and it is also segmented in the ERP world too. The main advantage is that it takes less time for setup which helps in reducing overall operational costs, a reliability of service, transparent updates and enhanced API connectivity. Thus all these features make cloud-based ERPs an extremely competitive choice for mid-sized companies. By nature, cloud based service has to take special care to a flexible API. It’s a good position for anyone who wants to have E-commerce integration.
On-Premise, middle-sized and big merchants have self-hosted ERPs. Moreover, it gives more freedom to merchants when it comes to control, data security and the ability of deeper customizations.
For a small company, a compact ERP with dedicated support on the office computers or in a nearby data center will work fine as well. E-commerce integration in general needs deep customized solution.
ERP connectivity – System-wide APIs work great
After the rapid growth of cloud-based services, vendors have realized the importance of full connectivity. It will give you well documented, extendable, feature-rich, robust and high performance, system-wide APIs.
APIs have two major aspects which serve as an advantage
Many of the legacy ERP systems only offer database or file/document based access. Some ERPs have already integrated online stores as a module. If the integration is made via API on the ERP or the E-commerce side then it is generally possible to replace the Estore with reasonable to a better one leveraging the same interfaces as the original.
How to connect Magento with your ERP?
You can connect your E-commerce platform with ERP if it meets all our requirements.
You have to consider some major architectural points when it comes to Data flow design
Data flow – source and target
Data flow design is the easiest and highest level of concept. We all want that our data should be created or updated in one system and should be transferred to another system. Our main concern is that you want this in your system. For example, if the product attribute is changed in the ERP then you want the modification to be done in your Ecommerce store as well.
Once you have figured out the data flow schema of transferring data from point A to point B and vice versa then it is also important to make a note that how much time it will take and work is done at a minimum delay, when updates are required and where you can manage your delays.
Stock levels and product availability keeps on changing quickly and you have to keep it up-to-date in the E-commerce system as much as possible.
Sync or Async
Timing comes with synchronicity. Two operations are synchronous in the system one is local and another is remote they have to wait for the results or termination of a call. Say, Data transfer – to be able to perform the next operation.
In case of async I/O instead of idle waiting time, the system can do rest of the useful things and can come back to the original operation when the call is finished. It also happens that blocking dependency between certain calls is inevitable but in case of data flow design, it is a good practice to avoid eliminating these kinds of sequential dependencies whenever needed and then make it an overall design async.
You need to b wise in async processes and scale up the things in a better way. Make sure there is less of “traffic jams” and bottlenecks. If you use async processes, then belittle desirable for feedback on the success of the operation and this all is related to fault tolerance and robustness.
Payment Transactional and order creation data
Sometimes the goal is to make sure that series of operations across two systems take place together or it does not happen at all. Some payment transactions are the most trivial examples
Transfer of Money from one place to another at the same time
The entire process has to be rolled back to the original state on both ends if anything prevents it to happen even in the middle of the process.
Order creation in E-commerce data sync
There are sellers who sell discounted items at a very low stock level from a warehouse which even sells offline too. Here it is important that an order should be created in the store and the ERP together or should not be created at all with an error message sent to the customer in the online shop which showcases that product is no longer available in enough quantity.
Work on implementation of ERP integration
You are ready to think of the actual implementation when your integration, understanding of data sources, timing, sync and sync processes and transactions are all in place.
API between Server and Client
One of the main objects of data engineering is the server-client design where the client starts to communicate, actively pushes or pulls data or sends commands while the server performs what it is asked to do, processes, return data or performs different tasks.
A server/client setup can easily handle parallel connections with multiple clients. Client call servers through some channels and then servers process the call by giving some prompt response as a feedback which enables the synchronous communication between two or more systems. It stands as for handling series of sync processes where feedback is important for the success of the operation.
File transfer and data feeds
It is also called protocol-less data transfer method where one party simply makes new data available for the other party as a simple document. The simplest form is to publish data via a web or FTP server or upload it through FTP to the target machine. As it is simple so this model works best under plain peer to peer circumstances where the receiving party trusts the data source and due to which no substantial authentication, authorization validation, and direct feedback are essential.
It perfectly fits in one way flow of data provider/data consumer or more commonly broadcaster/receiver paradigm. Even nowadays it is very common for product data transfer. When you think about transferred data by nature it is async but for document delivery and processing it can be controlled, queued or sequentialized. This type of communication works both ways in sending and receiving part’s side.
Direct database queries
It’s a powerful approach to use direct database queries to sync data but in most cases, it is very error-prone and dangerous at the same time as everything is built around the database.
One more pattern is a middleman in the communication which is the third system. You will find this between the systems connected to optimize, monitor, log data flow, and translate different formats and cache things. This is not only a bridge between two systems but a junction point of a whole infrastructure of subsystems providing a connection to everything.
These middlewares are also known as Enterprise Service Buses for example Zapier. It gives hundreds of different APIs as a client and then translates input data format coming from the source system to the export data format of the target system and offers all this as a service.
The beauty of this approach is that it’s a data hub which you have to implement the APIs client to an external system only once that you only have to map data correctly between them. These middlewares can be extended with server endpoints, with its own API and it can reach actively from outside. Here different server/client endpoints of the data hub speak the same language and no peer to peer translation is compulsory between them. Data only needs to be routed and spread across the different endpoints. Thus it is a highly idealized model with up-to-date trend of data networks.
Lately, integrators have realized that middleware approach is beneficial in some way or the other. If you are connecting multiple ERPs to multiple E-commerce platforms then you have to create and maintain several peers to peer integration requirements and potential issues and costs.
The main difference between Point to point and middleware
In point to point integration two systems are connected directly. In server-client point of view, the architecture of P2P connection will be diverse. In some cases, ERP connects as a client to the E-commerce platform whereas in some cases it works the other way around plus there are situations where both combinations are used. It is also seen that APIs are built especially for the sake of P2P integration on one or both ends. In P2P integration there is normally more space for planning and customization and this way business meets its growth.
How to choose your Magento ERP integration service provider key?
The right data flow design and features are some of the key factors of integration. On the other hand, there are some aspects which can be crucial being it irrespective of an integrator, technology, and implementation. Your primary focus should be on the reliability and fitness while incorporating specific technology or a mix of technologies and your ERP integration provider. Keep a right balance between costs, performance, scalability, quality of support and other factors.
Before you integrate Magento with an ERP make sure that you analyze and understand the business needs first and then create a high-level architectural design depending on your prioritized list of features, performance requirements and other important factors.
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