In their 2020 report, Digital Commerce 360 estimated last year, online sales on B2B eCommerce sites have increased by 18.2% to $1.3 trillion.
This growth in sales spans across manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and B2B businesses of all sizes operating in various industries. As B2Bs embrace digital transformation initiatives and move to eCommerce, a seamless ERP integration must be on top of their list.
Gartner predicts that B2B businesses that consider their integration capabilities as strategic investments will grow from 40% in 2019 to 65% in 2024. The main driver of growth is expected to be in online systems integration between tools like ERP, CRM, and eCommerce.
But what are some actual benefits of an ERP integration for B2B eCommerce businesses?
1. Automate manual processes
An ERP integration for B2B eCommerce automates various processes that would have to be performed manually. Some of the most obvious things include manual order entry into the eCommerce system, updating inventory or invoicing data, generating reports, and so on.
ERP integration frees up your staff to perform more productive tasks that cannot be automated: building relationships, solving customer issues, and offering personalized support.
It also greatly lessens the chances of productivity losses and errors, which can add up to substantial savings over time.
2. Provide accurate pricing
It’s not unusual for B2Bs to rely on complex pricing structures. Some sellers generate pricing dynamically based on changing inventory data.
Others might want discounts applied according to customer or order value. Then there are tiered prices, new products, and pre-negotiated prices to deal with. As B2Bs grow, their product catalogues, product types, factors affecting prices grow, too.
Since B2Bs rely on their ERP system to centralize contracts, pricing and invoicing, it makes sense to pass on that information to the B2B eCommerce system via integration.
3.Increase inventory visibility
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone from hospitals, institutions, businesses, and individuals sought out hand sanitizer and face masks.
While many B2B sellers met out-of-stocks, customers faced frustration since product availability on eCommerce websites wasn’t accurate – or not there at all.
Without an ERP integration with your eCommerce software, keeping accurate, real-time inventory information on your eCommerce website becomes near impossible. Since the ERP software keeps an accurate inventory record, customers can stay updated on stock levels as they place their order.
4. Eliminate errors during ordering
Most B2Bs utilize intricate ordering workflows based on quotes, contracts, and approval processes. Some customers may only have access to certain products, others may require order limits or specific shipping options.
Since order data is kept within the ERP, an eCommerce platform with an ERP integration streamlines and personalizes the ordering process according to every customer. Most importantly, all of this is done automatically, without the need for manual data transfer.
5. Offer omnichannel experiences
Omnichannel is defined as meeting shoppers at channels where they expect to purchase, whether it’s a physical store, website, social media, or even telephone. Many customers are taking it a step further, expecting to buy online and pick up in person.
An ERP integration is central in delivering these customers order, and fulfilment related data into the eCommerce system. Integrating with the ERP and CRM allows eCommerce brands to create everyday customer journeys regardless of their communication or purchasing channel.
6. Make better use of data
Most B2Bs keep the bulk of their data in the ERP, so integrating it with the eCommerce system can create better reports for sales and marketing teams. Data visibility and streamlined operations due to connecting disparate systems aren’t the only benefits.
With the right data at their fingertips, brands can make calculated and informed decisions to grow their business. ERP integration leads to customizable reporting that generates data from other solutions, delivering everything from better demand, inventory, and supplier projections.
7. Scalability and security
Most B2Bs have client, product, transactions, or user data centred in the ERP, and their volume grows over time. Thus, eCommerce brands require an efficient ERP integration that’s secure, scalable, and can accommodate their growth.
With a cloud-based ERP system, brands get a robust platform without substantial investment. That’s a crucial benefit since brands get since scalability and security afforded by the ERP without the expense and burden of hiring employees and setting up an IT department.
8. Future-proof your business
Aside from being easy to scale, an ERP-eCommerce integration unlocks many benefits associated with flexibility and customization. For example, you can streamline workflows as your business model changes or expand to new markets.
For B2B eCommerce businesses starting out with ERP integration, they have the freedom to integrate basic functionality, then tweak and build their ideal ERP system over time as their needs change.
This agile process is efficient, prepares you for unexpected situations, and allows you to act on opportunities faster.
9. Improve compliance
A connected ERP and B2B eCommerce system streamlines compliance by delivering customers their negotiated pricing and contracts. Integrations help tie tax or region-specific rules directly to purchases made by customers.
ERPs also keep accounting and tax data that are associated with inventory. Since invoicing and taxation activities are performed automatically, ERP integration gives you a central place to track and manage your contracts, invoices, tax, and other compliance requirements.
10. Boost the customer experience
It’s no secret that happy customers mean more sales. With better customer account tracking and personalization offered by an ERP integration, brands can create memorable service experiences for customers.
An eCommerce system integrated with the ERP can offer customers information about their products, fulfilment and shipping preferences, or order history. By enabling omnichannel self-service experiences, brands eliminate the need for customer calls about order confirmation and updates.
For B2B eCommerce, ERP Integration Is a Competitive Advantage
To meet increased B2B customer expectations, businesses are looking to add convenience, speed, and personalization when shopping and purchasing. Yet better customer experiences are just the start of a long list of benefits of an ERP integration.
With the wealth of data offered by the ERP system, businesses can optimize integrated systems for increased productivity. Team members must dedicate resources towards growth strategies and exploring new markets, rather than managing endless B2B eCommerce data.
Don’t stick with inefficient processes and clunky ERP systems that are constrained by outdated technology. Take control and learn how to master your B2B eCommerce and ERP integration today.