B2B eCommerce ERP Integration: Know Your Options

Mandy Movahhed
March 11, 2019

If you’re like most manufacturing and distribution businesses, your ERP is at the core of your operation. For smaller businesses, ERPs often take shape as sophisticated accounting software packages like QuickBooks and Xero. For others, it’s a complex system like SAP.

No matter what type of ERP software you are using for your company, the fundamentals are the same: it houses the critical financial and inventory data for your business.

Along with the the rapid growth of B2B eCommerce over the past decade has come the need for B2B eCommerce ERP integrations. It’s the case that in order for your business to fully reap the benefits of digitally selling in B2B, it is essential that these two systems are fully connected.

B2B eCommerce ERP Integration: Know Your Options

When you decide on a B2B eCommerce vendor, you’ll also need to go through the important exercise of choosing your B2B eCommerce ERP integration method. How you’ll want to handle this integration typically depends on a few factors—your access to IT resources (whether that’s a third party or internal team), your current tech stack, and how important it is for your B2B eCommerce portal and backend systems to be updated in real-time.

Here are some of the most common ways to achieve your B2B eCommerce ERP integration.

The Manual Spreadsheet Import/Export B2B eCommerce ERP Integration

This is the simplest, and (as the name indicates) most manual option. It allow you to export a spreadsheet of your customer order data from your B2B eCommerce solution and upload it directly into your ERP.

This method is commonly used by smaller manufacturers or distributors, or companies that can get by without disclosing up-to-date inventory data to their customers or sales reps.

The Scheduled Spreadsheet Import/Export B2B eCommerce ERP Integration

A bit more automated than the manual spreadsheet import/export option, this will allow you to schedule recurring data imports and exports.

You simply determine a time (or times) of the day that you’d like the process to happen, and schedule accordingly in your B2B eCommerce software.

The API B2B eCommerce ERP Integration

B2B eCommerce API integrations are superior to more simple approaches because they allow you to write a more flexible and reactive integration, giving you much more control.

It’s a collection of programs, written by programmers, that allows you to trigger exceptions when bad data comes in, route different orders to different places, and translate between formats in different systems (e.g. maybe “Fedex” in your B2B eCommerce system is “Shipping Method #2” in your ERP system).

A truly real-time and modern integration, API B2B eCommerce ERP integrations are critical for businesses who want to ship an order out moments after it’s received or who must have accurate inventory levels in their ordering portal.

API B2B eCommerce ERP integrations usually come in one of two flavors:

  • Turn-key - Many B2B eCommerce providers have developed turnkey API integrations for common ERPs and accounting software, that are relatively quick to set up. It is ideal if your vendor has a turnkey solution for your particular ERP; this can often be a determining factor when committing to a particular vendor.

  • Custom - If you run your business on a very old, niche, or complex ERP, you or your B2B eCommerce vendor might need to build you a custom integration. Often times custom integrations are actually not built from scratch, as your vendor should be able to leverage integrations done from the same ERP system to give the project a head start. A technical discovery conversation between your team and the B2B eCommerce vendor should produce a timeline and cost associated with any custom work.

Pro tip: If you are considering an API integration, ask to see your vendor’s API documentation. This will give your IT team a better idea of how easy your vendor will be to work with.

B2B eCommerce ERP Integration Options: Your Next Steps

If you’re unsure about your best step forward with respect to integrating your B2B eCommerce software to your ERP, we can help. Learn more about Handshake’s integration options (including specific ERPs we work with) here.

And if you’d like to talk this out with one of our specialists, sign up for a 10-minute call to get the ball rolling today.