SHOULD WE INTEGRATE LOGISTICS SYSTEMS WITH OUR ECOMMERCE PLATFORM?Karolina Obszynska Sep 01. 2022
Those companies which know how to effectively utilize the possibilities of modern technologies and solutions are recording rapid growth. After all, that is why companies spend a lot of money on implementing logistics systems – to be faster, for efficient, automatic, and better than the competition. So, is it worth integrating logistics systems with our eCommerce platform? How should such an integration be designed?
Logistics systems – what should be integrated with what?
Firstly, the process of placing orders on your online store should be looked at more closely. Presented below is a simplified outline:
- The customer has set up an account with your online store
- The customer looks through offers – seeing current product/ service prices, and current inventory in specific pick-up locations
- The customer adds a product/ service to the cart and places an order
- A new order has come into the online store
- The store issues an invoice
- The order is collected in the stockroom
- After the goods are collected, generated are a waybill for the courier and a stockroom release document
- The customer sees the order status update and additional documents on their online store account
- The goods are sent out to the customer
There is no clear answer to the question about what should be integrated with what. There are many logistics systems which can facilitate the sales process and their choice lies solely in the hands of the creators of the store and the store owner. The most frequently chosen systems include:
- eCommerce platform,
- External courier system,
- Pricing engine.
We have written about some of these in: Logistics in eCommerce – 4 basic solutions which will help you.
Integration of logistics systems with an eCommerce platform - 3 main rules
Integration of logistics systems in eCommerce is an individual decision of every online store. It is greatly dependent on the business situation and the solutions used in the given store. In the case of large eCommerce businesses, the best location for integrating with couriers is the WMS or ERP system, while the eCommerce platform is only the visual aspect which deals with the integration of, e.g., pick-up points (InPost, DPD, pick up, etc.). However, processing of the order takes place in the WMS or ERP systems. On the other hand, in the case of smaller online stores, logistics are often integrated already at the level of the eCommerce platform.
- Analyze what you need, and where
If you do not require certain information in the given system, transferring it will not bring you any benefits, only complicating the integration and increasing costs.
- Do not move employees between different systems
Let’s assume that you manage all the orders using an ERP system. Integration should be conducted in such a manner so that online store orders are not assembled by the store, but by the ERP system.
- Take other options into consideration
In the event of using many systems, the number of different integrations may be overwhelming.
In such case, think about implementing a data bus.
How can data be exchanged between logistics systems?
In order to avoid any problems and errors, it is worth checking whether individual systems have the possibility of integration and exchange of data.
- The system does not offer the possibility of exchanging data
If you are using older solutions, integration with new systems and a smooth flow of data between them – unfortunately – may not be possible. In such a case, worth considering is a plan B – the implementation of a new system.
- Data exchange using files
The export and import of data with the use of CSV/XML files. Of course, this operation can be automated, thereby, without the involvement of a team of people, one of the systems can export such a file, translating it into the appropriate format so that the other system can upload it without any problems.
- Connection with the data base of another system
Direct connection with the data base of a second system and exchange of the necessary data between the systems. By having access to such information, the possibilities of exchanging data are practically unlimited.
API is one of the best methods for the exchange of data between systems. This solution is based on one of the systems providing instructions and a method how they are able to reply to a possible command. The other system uses this to integrate data or to inquire about specific information.
What should be taken note of during integration?
Do not require just one thing from the integration – data exchange. Undoubtedly, this is the main objective of combining two systems. It is good if integration also fulfils additional conditions:
- Multithreading– this mechanism will prove useful in the event of an exchange of a vast amount of information (e.g., during Black Friday, when traffic on the site and the number of sales increases rapidly).
- Queueing mechanisms– a system cannot wait for data to be sent because it will block, and that will have a negative influence on sales. Use asynchronous queues thanks to which a placed order will enter a queue but will be processed at an appropriate moment, not hindering or blocking the system.
- Sending small portions of data– try to send a small amount of data at one time. Thanks to this, there will be no problem at a time when one of 200 changes will be incorrect. This change will be stopped and will wait to be renewed.
- Reporting – not necessary in every case, but the possibility of reporting and notification often simplifies supervision over the integration.
Should logistic systems be integrated with each other and with the eCommerce platform? Firstly – calculate whether the integrations you wish to implement will bring a return on the investment and whether they will facilitate the flow of information. Secondly – analyze whether the logistics systems you use can be integrated. Thirdly – choose the integration which opens more possibilities than just the data exchange process.
The speed of the order process and quality of the delivery have a major influence on how the customer will rate their shopping experience in your store. Well organized and fine-tuned logistics will definitely have a positive influence on customer satisfaction, which will lead to the customer returning to your store.
Logistics in eCommerce is not a simple matter, particularly in the case of large, developed online businesses. If you are wondering which integrations to choose in order to enhance the processes in your online store - contact us. We will discuss the solutions which suit you best! email@example.com