Changing habits is hard. But the global pandemic has forced all of us to shift buying patterns. In a recently updated chart by McKinsey, e-commerce growth continues to skyrocket during the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been 10 years worth of growth in three months as consumers turn to online avenues for their retail purchases. Hence, the imminent need for e-commerce integration to facilitate bi-directional connectivity between a company’s e-commerce platform and back-end accounting and inventory (ERP) systems.
It is against this backdrop that Jitterbit hosted a webinar titled “The State of E-Commerce Integration – Building a Connected Customer 360 Experience,” an enlightening view on how companies can create an integrated set of digital experiences that span the end-to-end customer experience from customer acquisition, purchase, and delivery of goods, to retention.
As buying habits shift, the systems needed to deliver the best experience possible for customers become increasingly complex. According to Gartner, by 2022, a digital commerce experience will be assembled from more than 30 integrated applications. Through 2023, more than 50% of the effort and cost in a building and maintaining a digital commerce platform will be spent on e-commerce integration with internal and external systems.
The State of E-Commerce Integration
To uncover the latest trends in e-commerce integration, Jitterbit conducted a survey that looks at the top drivers of investments in e-commerce and how e-commerce success often has to do with integrating the growing number and complexity of systems.
The survey also offers insights into the areas of focus for companies such as integrating new technologies into existing production and supply systems, and leveraging API-based e-commerce integration to connect all digital channels to provide consistent cross-channel Customer 360 experiences.
Here’s what leading companies are doing:
- 48% need to connect 10+ applications
- 42% are using API-based commerce for scalability
- 64% use multiple e-commerce platforms – for instance, Amazon, BigCommerce, Magento, and Shopify integrated with apps such as NetSuite, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and more
E-Commerce API Integration: A Primer
On the webinar, Jitterbit Senior Vice President of Global Alliances and Channels, Ron Wastal, discussed the basics of API integration for e-commerce to help businesses create the intuitive and easy-to-use experience that today’s customers expect. At a high level, Jitterbit’s e-commerce integration involves three basic components:
Application Connector: This is an out-of-the-box Jitterbit capability that provides pre-built and reusable connectivity to a specific endpoint, such as Salesforce or NetSuite. Connectors provide a flattened interface to reduce the complexity of interacting directly with an endpoints’ API or data exchange protocols. They are used to take the guesswork out of vendor APIs for faster and easier mapping and integration design.
Integration Recipe: This is a single pre-built integration project that moves data in one direction between like objects across two applications or systems. For example, this could be account or product data sent from a CRM system to an ERP system.
Process Template: This is a group of pre-built integration use cases that accelerates the execution of a specific business process using numerous objects across multiple applications or systems. It is designed to reduce time to deploy by 50-80% and can be self-implemented, delivered by Jitterbit Professional Services or by an implementation partner.
E-Commerce Process Templates
Jitterbit makes digital commerce easier with a deep roster of pre-built integration use cases. For example, businesses that use NetSuite ERP for financials can benefit from an invoice-to-fulfillment process template for NetSuite-Magento integration or NetSuite-BigCommerce integration.
These process templates synchronize customer, inventory items, shipment, and fulfillment status between systems, and automatically creates a sales order in NetSuite when an order is created in Magento or BigCommerce. These pre-built workflows eliminate manual data entry, data exports, and costly delays, helping to meet customer expectations and drive greater efficiencies. Additional process templates are available for other financial and manufacturing systems, including Epicor-Magento integration and Epicor-BigCommerce integration for order-to-fulfillment.
Snack Brand Modernizes E-Commerce Logistics
During the webinar, Wastal shared an example involving the snack bar brand RXBAR, which needed to make the shipping process more efficient and automated in order to keep up with demand. To move to a new transportation management system, the company needed to connect all of its siloed data from multiple systems, using NetSuite as a central hub. In the end, the brand created a 360-degree view of products, sales and customers across all of its systems while streamlining processes to reduce errors and cost.
E-Commerce Pro Tips From a Global Digital Agency
Derek Cwik, Director of Integrations at the global digital agency Americaneagle.com, also joined the webinar to share five tips on e-commerce integration that support the agency’s mantra: “your website is your hardest-working employee.”
Indeed, a merchant’s website listens, answers questions, educates, solves problems, influences, sells, recruits and builds brand loyalty every second of every day. That means selecting the right platform for a digital storefront is a critical decision for any merchant.
Pro Tip #1: Don’t pick a platform just because someone you know did. Merchants need to do their research and ask the appropriate questions that will help them align with a vendor to execute their e-commerce goals.
Pro Tip #2: Data is a merchant’s true currency. Integrating across systems to improve data flow and visibility creates an experience that the modern customer expects. Cwik advises his clients to think of it not as a cost, but as a form of compounding interest — the more you invest in integrating your systems today, the better position you’ll be in to succeed tomorrow.
Pro Tip #3: Set a realistic integration roadmap. Every organization is in a different phase of its e-commerce journey, but the most successful are those that take a crawl-walk-run approach. It also pays to know your industry. For example, Shopify has become a haven for non-Amazon merchants, so for many, a Shopify integration with shipping, payments, analytics etc. makes good business sense.
Pro Tip #4: Identify your audience. Listen to the buyers’ voice and learn their varying tendencies. For example, Gen Z shoppers tend to seek and repeat purchases with merchants that satisfy their needs, while Millennials are deal-seekers and less concerned with brand loyalty. Knowing your different segments of customers helps inform your integration strategy to create experiences tailored to each group.
Pro Tip #5: The time is now — adapt or fade. Merchants often fall back on excuses such as “we don’t have the budget,” or, “I don’t want to upset the sales team.” But when they consider that their website is their hardest-working employee, an e-commerce integration strategy goes from being an extra expense to an investment in your long-term growth.
There is no “if” or “when” e-commerce becomes a vital component for businesses. The time is now. Let’s get started.