What is the relationship between ERP, CRM and e-commerce?

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This blog was originally posted by UXC Eclipse. Since then, UXC Eclipse has become part of DXC Eclipse, a practice within DXC Technology.

Retailers know that to be successful, they need an omni-channel strategy. Doing business across multiple channels is imperative, but even today, many e-commerce systems are often separate from the retailer’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications.

To truly become data-driven organizations, retailers need to break down system-based silos and aggregate all pertinent data in one readily available data source. Most of all, they need to have the tools and systems in place to analyze this information, mine valuable information and respond quickly and efficiently to these insights. Combining e-commerce, ERP and CRM systems with in store applications is possible with the right retail business solution.

Why integrate retail ERP, CRM and e-commerce systems?

Without integration, manual practices will still exist. When employees manually enter orders into any retail system, it’s easy to make mistakes. An order may not arrive at its destination when shipping addresses are incorrect. Even worse, inaccurate inventory levels can lead to overselling or carrying too much inventory. As a result, a compromised customer experience can have an even greater impact on long-term profitability.

When e-commerce and ERP systems are integrated, it doesn’t matter whether the sale is made online, in a store, or online for in-store pickup, it’s easy to track new orders and fulfill them. In addition, products and prices can be managed centrally.

Research shows that retailers are planning to devote the most time and investment in e-commerce. This is mainly due to the growth of the global e-commerce market. In fact, estimates are that retail e-commerce sales worldwide will reach $2.5 trillion by the end of 2018. Customers are getting more sophisticated and expect the same level of service across all channels. Integrating ERP, CRM and e-commerce systems is the only way to meet that expectation.

Retailers should not forget the volume of customer-centric data held within their business. Without integrating customer data with their financial data, retailers will only see half of their business picture.

What are the benefits of integrating ERP, CRM and e-commerce?

Any systems integration project requires an investment of time and money. In the case of ERP and e-commerce integration, however, the benefits far outweigh any other consideration. Benefits include the following:

  1. Eliminate manual data entry

With integration, the ERP system automatically tracks e-commerce orders and customer details, eliminating the need for redundant data entry. In addition, item descriptions and inventory levels are uploaded to the e-commerce interface. The result is a reduction of redundant data and the errors that result from human involvement.

  1. Reduce operational costs

The more automated the e-commerce process is, the less requirement there is for human interaction. Employees can be reassigned to more productive tasks due to the streamlined order fulfillment process.

  1. Improve the accuracy of inventory levels

E-commerce sales update your ERP inventory system immediately. The purchasing department can accurately track and reorder inventory, avoiding overstock situations. In addition, the inventory levels can be accessed by the customer without the need for additional staff.

  1. Reduce back orders

With accurate inventory management, there is less likelihood that stock items will be oversold, which reduce the number of back orders.

  1. Streamline price and product changes

When one location controls all inventory information, changing item prices and adding or eliminating products can be done once, eliminating redundant data entry.

  1. Increase self-service levels

Improved customer satisfaction results from access to real-time information from the ERP system to the e-commerce interface. Clients can review available inventory, order status and track shipments.

  1. Notify customers when orders ship

It’s not necessary for the customer to check on the status of orders. The system can send a notification when the order is shipped and provide tracking information for the customer’s convenience.

  1. Generate consolidated financial reports

When e-commerce and ERP systems are separate, financial reports are not consolidated. Intervention is necessary to consolidate these separate reports into one. With an integrated system, the reports don’t need to be consolidated, and management receives very clear and definitive financial information.

  1. Improve the overall customer experience

Customers expect an easy and personalized experience while keeping their personal information secure. Integration of ERP, CRM and e-commerce systems offers retailers the ability to fulfill those expectations. Customers can get the same type of information online as they would in a store. Retailers are making their shopping experience convenient by reducing errors and providing as much self-service information and functionality online as possible.

When should retailers address ERP, CRM and e-commerce Integration?

The time is now. Retailers who put off integration are doing themselves a disservice. Integration will position today’s retailers to keep up with the trends that are driving retail and establish a competitive advantage by positioning themselves to grow across a wide range of channels.


Randy-Davidson-headshotRandy Davidson is the Senior Solutions Architect for Microsoft Dynamics at DXC Eclipse.

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