We often get asked if it is possible to integrate a retailer's existing products in their e-commerce platforms with their POS or ERP system. Many times these products were entered manually into Shopify, Bigcommerce, WooCommerce or Magento with no distinguishing or unique identifying information. As we'll show below, this can make it hard, if not impossible, to integrate existing products that have been entered into these platforms with your POS or ERP system.
Let's face it, the world runs on unique identifiers. You encounter these unique numbers all the time and probably don't even think about it anymore. The UPC code on your box of cereal allows the cashier to easily wand the code to figure out the price. Your mobile phone also has a code that identifies you with your carrier and allows you to place and receive calls. These codes are everywhere and help make the world go around.
The products in your POS or ERP system work in a similar manner and have an identifier that uniquely recognizes it in the system. These identifiers come in all shapes and sizes, from a simple 5-digit number to a long globally unique identifier (GUID) that looks something like 21EC2020-3AEA-4069-A2DD-08002B30309D. If these identifiers don't exactly match from your POS or ERP system to your website, the products will not be integrated. Think of these numbers as the glue that binds the product in your POS or ERP system with the product in Shopify, Bigcommerce, WooCommerce or Magento.
Danger, Will Robinson
Most of the retailers asking us to integrate their e-commerce website with their POS or ERP system have been running their website for a year or more. These retailers often grow to a point and realize that managing two separate inventories, one for their physical store and one for online, is overwhelming and there must be a better way. Unfortunately, many times the products were entered into the website without this unique identifier. While every e-commerce platform is slightly different, you'll most likely have issues when you see a blank SKU field on your website.
However, having a value in the SKU field on your website doesn't always ensure success. Many times these numbers are made up by the retailer to help them fulfill their orders and may not relate to their POS or ERP system at all. Additionally, many of our integrations use a long 32 hexadecimal number, and there's not a retailer in the world who's going to manually enter those numbers into their website.
This unique identifier in Shopify, Bigcommerce, WooCommerce or Magento must exactly match what's in your POS or ERP system or your products won't be "integrated" or "connected."
There's Got To Be A Way!
We get this response from retailers all the time, saying there must be a way to integrate the products they've manually entered into their website with their POS or ERP system. The answer to this question goes back to the following:
- Did you enter a unique number when you entered your products on your website, and does this number uniquely identify the same product in your POS or ERP system?
If the answer to this question is no, then it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to associate the products in your website with your POS or ERP system. However, if you did enter such a number, or more likely performed some sort of import from your POS or ERP, then integration may be possible.
All Is Not Lost
If we've come to the conclusion there's no way to integrate the existing products on your website to your POS or ERP system, don't worry, all is not lost. Our integrations, of course, properly connect your products for all new items you add. This means if you have a seasonal business, it won't be too long before all of your "non-integrated products" are replaced with "integrated products."
Additionally, we've worked hard over the years to make POS and ERP systems more forgiving of these "non-integrated products." For most of our integrations, this means:
- We can still send orders with "non-integrated products" down to the POS or ERP system where they will be entered as invoice, shipment or whatever they use as a completed order. Additionally, we also send the consumer's information such as billing address, shipping address, etc. Of course inventory will not be decremented automatically because it is "non-integrated," but at least the order and customer information will be entered into your POS or ERP system.
- Some POS and ERP systems won't accept "non-integrated products" on orders at all. Meaning, if we try to send the POS or ERP system an order with a product that's been manually entered into your website, they won't accept the order at all when we try to enter it into their system. For these integrations, we check for these "non-integrated products" before we send them to POS or ERP system. Stripping out the "non-integrated products" allows the "integrated products and orders" to be successfully added to the system.
I'm sorry I know this is a lot to digest. Please let us know if you have any questions. Thank you.