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E-Commerce Platform Shipping vs POS/ERP System Shipping

Question

I have a question about your integrations.  I see that many of your integrations have us do the shipping within the e-commerce platform (Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce).  However, I instead would like to do the shipping in my ERP system.  Is this possible?  Does it matter if I use Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce?  Please advise.  Thank you.

Answer

This is a brilliant question, and yes, it does matter.  Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward, so please hang with me until I can explain everything.

Shipping from Your E-Commerce Platform

Modern Retail has been integrating with POS systems since 2005. As a result, we have accumulated a lot of knowledge and developed substantial technology around these integrations.  We've added many systems over the years with the majority being point of sale systems.  Every POS system we have integrated with at the time preferred web orders to be shipped within the e-commerce platform instead of their POS system.

As you can see, products flow into the e-commerce platform from the POS system and synchronize important product data such as price and quantity on hand between the two systems.  Additionally, Order and Customer information is sent to the POS system after they've been shipped in Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce.

The following are benefits to shipping products from your e-commerce platform:

  1. Very often, the people running your website will be online working with web-based tools like MailChimp, ConstantContact, GoDataFeed, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, etc. As your website grows, you may have many people performing various operational and marketing functions which are probably all entirely online.  Given product data flows from the POS or ERP system to the website and orders automatically flow down, these people have very little need to work with the POS or ERP system.  Oftentimes, they don't even need access to the POS or ERP system.
  2. As the number of your online orders grows, you may find that it is no longer efficient to ship your goods in Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce.  Instead, many of our clients prefer to use a 3rd party service like ShipStation, ShipWorks, OrderCup, ShipEasy, etc.  Getting these 3rd party shipping providers integrated with your website is simply a matter of installing an extension or enabling an app.  What's nice is that nothing changes with the integration with your POS or ERP system when one of these shipping tools is used because they talk directly to Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce.  Shipping the order in these tools sends the order back down to the e-commerce platform where it is then sent to your POS or ERP system.
  3. Similar to third party shipping tools, many online retailers want to connect their catalog to marketplaces like Amazon, Google, Bing, etc. It is very easy to send your catalog and receive orders from these marketplaces by connecting them directly to Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce.  This makes the data entry of the products a lot easier and can automate the flow of orders from the marketplace to your e-commerce platform to your website.  Again, nothing special needs to be done with the POS/ERP integration, it will just work.

Shipping from Your POS or ERP System

In 2012, we started to integrate with ERP systems and noticed a decidedly different trend; customers wanted to ship their goods from within their ERP system instead of their website.  Admittedly, at first this caught us a bit off-guard.  However, as we became more familiar with these ERP systems, and especially the businesses behind these systems, we understood the need to ship web orders inside these system.

The workflow for this type of integration is a bit more involved because you need to send the order down to the ERP system when it is "placed" by the consumer online.  The order is then shipped out of the ERP system where both the tracking number and shipped order status need to be sent to the e-commerce platform.  While on the surface, I'm sure this doesn't look all that much more complicated, it actually is a lot more complicated when you take into consideration partial orders, returns, exchanges, substitutions and other changes to the order - all taking place in the ERP system.  Keeping order information and credit card charges straight is a much bigger development effort. 

Thankfully, Modern Retail has solved this problem for customers using ERP systems; however, the solution varies depending which e-commerce platform you are using.

  • Bigcommerce
    Working with Bigcommerce's development team, we've come up with an ingenious way of handling orders in Bigcommerce when the ERP system is used to ship orders received from the website.  Basically, everything can be done in the ERP system except for the following two scenarios:
    1. Exchanges that are MORE than the original purchase price.  In these cases, the customer service rep will need to create a new order in Bigcommerce.
    2. Issuing credits/refunds to the consumer’s credit card.
    In both cases, we’ll rely heavily on the "Verification Required" status (A) in Bigcommerce and will communicate what's going on with the order through the use of internal comments and comments to the consumer.  We can even create a "Custom View" (B) so users working in the Bigcommerce back-end can easily review these orders.
  • Shopify
    Currently, our Shopify integration does not support the shipping of items from the POS or ERP system.  However, as explained above, you can ship these items directly within Shopify, or a 3rd party service, and the orders will be integrated with your POS or ERP system.
  • Magento
    Modern Retail has enhanced the Magento back-end so no further steps are needed when fulfilling orders from your POS or ERP system.  Everything is accounted for including sending notifications and credit card debits and credits.
  • WooCommerce
    Currently our WooCommerce integration does not support the shipping of products from the POS or ERP system. However, adding this capability is on our road map, so please Contact Us if this is something you need for your project.

The following are benefits to shipping products from your POS or ERP system:

  1. The biggest benefit is probably around your employees.  They have been trained on your internal ERP system and probably have been using it for years.  They undoubtedly have honed the pick, pack and shipping process down to a science and fulfill orders at lightning speeds.
  2. If you have multiple locations or distribution centers, getting these orders into your ERP system is essential because they tell your employees the most efficient way of shipping out your goods.
  3. Do you give customers special pricing? Are those pricing rules in your ERP system?  Sending online orders to your ERP system may be the only way to account for these special customer discounts.
  4. Finally, let's not forget about the integration with marketplaces such as Amazon and Google Shopping.  While there are things to be considered, you can typically get your website integrated with these marketplaces to automatically send products up and receive orders coming down.

Hopefully you've followed along and kept reading all the way to the end, and hopefully it all made sense.  Please Contact Us if you have any questions about our integrations between Bigcommerce, Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce and your POS or ERP system.  Thank you.

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