Are you sure where your business will be coming from in the next 12 months? With a second lockdown in England now underway, and tough restrictions already in place in other parts of the UK, now might be the right time to reconsider your sales channels.
Maybe you’re not seeing sufficient footfall in your stores at the moment, or perhaps restrictions have meant you needed to completely close. Or are you a business without bricks and mortar shops or a distribution company supplying the retail or hospitality sectors?
To ensure you continue to achieve the sales you need to keep your business successful, you’ll most likely be thinking about getting your business online. Selling to existing customers online, or newly supplying the general public, or offering delivery or click and collect – these are the options that could see your company through the next few months and years.
If you’re thinking about implementing a new ecommerce system, there are some important issues to consider so that you can make sure what you do is right.
Already Selling Online?
Perhaps you already sell your goods online – but don’t have your web shop linked to your ERP system, or you’re using eBay or Amazon. In this case, when you take an order, you’ll be aware that you have some manual checks to make so that you can process that order. You need to determine if they are already a customer, whether any special pricing is applicable, if they want delivery to a different address from usual, whether they require an invoice, and so on.
To integrate just your ecommerce website with your ERP and other systems, you’ll quickly discover that all of this information creates many points of integration. And that’s before adding a warehouse management system or delivery tracking for your customers, returns functionality and more.
A satisfactory system will need to integrate all these points:
- Website to ERP – to import information added to the website into the ERP, including: orders, products, pricing, quantities, promotions, new customer details, address, delivery address, special instructions, payments details
- ERP to 3PL – to send the order details to the third-party logistics provider, including information on product, quantity, price, delivery address, special instructions, plus serial or batch numbers if it’s for traceable stock
- 3PL to ERP – adding to the ERP the delivery confirmation details and tracking details
- ERP to website – sending the delivery confirmation and tracking details to the customer’s web account
That’s quite a lot of bespoke programming to be done. And this is all without integrations to the CRM, so that purchase history can inform future marketing emails and customer support provision, integration of returns information to update all systems, updating stock levels for warehouse systems and the website, and more. Sometimes a company will update this information manually, rekeying the data, risking mistakes that might be costly or damaging to customer loyalty.
Getting this integration right is paramount. If something goes wrong with the order – sending the wrong item to wrong location, for example – it will cost you to rectify the issue. It might even cost you more that profit in the goods you originally sold. And poor customer service like this could mean you receive a negative review, impacting the potential business from other customers.
With a fully integrated system – like SuiteCommerce Advanced from NetSuite – that combines an ERP and an ecommerce website, you don’t have any of this headache and you don’t get those errors. And, if one aspect of the database changes, then you don’t have to reintegrate – at greater cost – so that all parts of the system can remain reliably updated to reflect that one change.
Selling Through Traditional Channels
And if you don’t already have a website? If you’re selling goods through traditional channels – telephone, post, email (or even fax) – you are probably keen to get online but haven’t been able to find out whether the costs make it feasible or not.
There are plenty of businesses in the UK that are successfully bringing in revenues of £5m or more but which don’t have a website. And in the current climate, where local restrictions might hamper sales efforts, more and more operations are learning how critical it is to be able to sell online.
Not only is there additional revenue to be had, from those that prefer to purchase online, but ecommerce trade is also is faster and more convenient, and gives customer additional benefits, like being able to track orders, manage their own account details, download invoices, and so on.
How Much Will It Cost for an ERP SYSTEM with Integrated Ecommerce Website?
We’ve recently completed a project for a UK only, single entity customer that got them online quickly and cost them:
- £80k for the one-off consultancy and setup of a standardly configured package
- £70k per year for annual licence fees
For this, based on 25 users, we provided them with:
- A cloud ERP system
- Warehouse functionality to manage their own logistics
- In-built customer relationship management (CRM)
- A fully-functional ecommerce website
Get Online in Just Four Months
If you’re concerned about how the current situation is economically impacting your business, or if you want to integrate your systems properly so that you can sell via your own ecommerce website, we can implement this for you – at the ballpark costs outlined above – and all within four months.
In the early part of next year, you could have a COVID-busting set-up that ensures great customer service via a successful online shop. Whether you sell B2B or B2C, you can see that you could get a brand new ecommerce website, integrated with an ERP system that has sales, accounting and CRM functionality, plus an integrated warehouse management system – for around £80k upfront, plus about £70k a year (based on 25 users).