An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software system works to integrate the internal systems that make up all businesses. These components – referred to as modules – include departmental systems such HR, production, and customer service. Many large-scale ERP systems work on the basis that there are fundamental similarities between all businesses. This is not a terrible assumption to make, considering that – yes, for the most part, most businesses do have a similar skeleton. However, In the same way that a human skeleton might share certain structures with an aardvark skeleton – I think we can safely assume there are some considerable differences. We’re not sure we would trust an aardvark specialist to help with any health issues we might have (no offence).
As all eCommerce business owners know, the systems of an eCommerce business serve their business in a specific way.
An eCommerce ERP system includes features that are specifically tailored to encompass the necessary modules of an online commerce business. The best ERP systems for eCommerce brands incorporate the relevant capabilities of a traditional ERP system and streamline them to optimise for online sales.
eCommerce ERP solutions place primary focus on areas that are likely to have a direct impact on online sales. We will focus on two key areas of difference:
Selling across multiple channels – the right channels for your business – is a key lever in eCommerce growth. Relying on a single revenue stream leaves businesses vulnerable to platform related sales disruptions, as well as limiting their opportunities to scale.
Unfortunately, alongside the benefits of a multichannel sales structure, comes a few challenges. Managing just one sales channel is time consuming – once you begin adding multiple channels to the mix, time efficiency can become a big problem. The issue doesn’t only stem from the initial product listings. eCommerce brands are required to be agile and flexible to market needs and price fluctuations. Specialised eCommerce ERP solutions remove this concern by allowing businesses to update their product data – and so their product listings, in an automated fashion – across all sales channels in one place.
Inventory management is likely to be a key module in all ERP solutions. Shops have stock… insightful, we know. Managing that stock is going to be a consideration regardless of whether you sell in person or online, however. There are specific challenges eCommerce brands need to consider when it comes to their stock management. These considerations consist of centralising inventory management, forecasting stock positioning, and warehouse management.
When your sales data is spread across different platforms, it’s vital that these channels feed into one centralised inventory management system. eCommerce ERPs are designed to track stock levels and monitor purchases to offer a real-time view of your stock position in one single dashboard. This means you can ensure your stock levels are true and properly advertised across all your sales channels – avoiding any awkward customer communications regarding inventory mismanagement and product (un)availability.
As eCommerce ERP systems are built specifically to manage multiple sales channels, the reporting features within the solutions should give an in-depth overview of how your stock is performing across all your channels. Reporting is what we refer to as the super lever for eCommerce efficiency. These insights can be used to forecast stock performance and to influence buying decisions to optimise for future sales.
Again, all ERP systems are likely to incorporate modules relating to warehouse management. Referring back to my previous ground-breaking insight, shops have stock. A key difference between how this module may function in a standard ERP system in comparison to an eCommerce ERP system, is how this module is optimised. When you’re selling across multiple channels, the pick-pack-dispatch systems need to account for sales coming from multiple sales streams. A fulfilment process that was built with this specific scenario in mind is much better equipped to accommodate these warehouse needs.
ERP systems are a great way to align all the different modules of your business. When it comes to choosing a solution that is best suited for your eCommerce business, make sure to consider a system that is optimised for online sales.
Get in touch if you would like to discuss how an eCommerce ERP system could help your business.