Heavy Order Volumes during the Holidays – No Problem!

December 16th, 2014

We at eBridge Connections are pleased to update you with a holiday success story of our own that may be of interest. Since Thanksgiving (Nov. 27), our ePortal integration application has processed over 2.5 million documents – over 1,750,000 inbound and 750,000 outbound! Of greater importance, ePortal handled its largest volume of transactions ever over the Thanksgiving shopping weekend without experiencing any major outages – a great performance milestone!

Why is this important you might be wondering? It’s a simple answer. When businesses need integration in order to keep growing they need an integration solution that is scalable and reliable. No matter the volume of the amount of orders that need to be processed, they need a solution that can handle it. eBridge customers don’t have to worry about their documents not being processed in time or having to deal with major technical issues during the busiest times of the year. We know the headaches of having to deal with mishaps during peak times. That’s why we provide our customers with integration solutions that provide consistent, optimal performance.

We’d like to congratulate our Dev and IT teams for a job well done and to our customers who have placed their trust in us! If you’d like to know more about eBridge and the integration services we offer, please visit our main site or give us a call at 1-800-755-6921.

Anum General EDI, Integration, Uncategorized, eCommerce Integration , , , , ,

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Will shopping from mobile devices be the new trend?

December 5th, 2014

With hopes of setting new holiday sales records, Black Friday is the most anticipated day of the year for retailers. However, this year’s Black Friday turned out to be a bust in terms of in-store shopping. Instead, the real shopping happened online, where, according to NPR News, there was a 9.5% increase on Black Friday and a 14.3% increase in sales on Thanksgiving Day compared to the same time last year. Similarly, sales rose on Cyber Monday, although, as reported by NorthJersey.com, at a slower rate of only 8.1% compared to last year’s 20.6% rise in sales. However, as Practical Ecommerce stated, Cyber Monday still outperformed Black Friday, as web sales were 30.5% higher than those of Black Friday.

As just about everyone has access to mobile devices, online shopping for both of the year’s marquee shopping events was specifically driven by consumers utilizing their mobile devices. Forbes reported that mobile devices accounted for a third of online shopping, with 30.3% of online sales done on tablets and mobile devices, up from only 22.5% on Black Friday 2013. For Cyber Monday, Internet Retailer reported that mobile sales accounted for 22% of the sales and 41.2% of online traffic. Mobile shopping proved to be the real game changer during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness. Due to the mobile shopping frenzy, Best Buy’s website received a vast amount of traffic on Black Friday, causing its site to crash and forcing the large retail chain to shut down its website in order to restore it.

Several big box retailers achieved great results from the Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday sales. Target and Wal-Mart reported strong online sales throughout the Thanksgiving weekend. According to Supermarket News, By 9 a.m. on Friday morning, Target reported that its online sales had exceeded its total sales from last year’s Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Similarly, Wal-Mart reported its online sales were record breaking for Black Friday and came second to its Cyber Monday sales from 2013. Additionally, Wal-Mart claimed they received a record number of web orders for their Cyber Monday discounts.

Although online shopping sales for the Thanksgiving weekend proved to be successful, overall shopping traffic was down 5.2% compared to last year, reported Supermarket News. This may be a result of retailers continuing their sales and discounts past Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As a result, consumers don’t feel the urgency to spend money on deep holiday discounts, which are still available well past these holiday shopping days. As well, many retailers started promoting and offering holiday discounts a week before the busy shopping weekend. This allowed shoppers to shop around for the perfect deal before committing to purchasing a product and provided them the option to shop earlier.

To see ongoing success in the coming years for online shopping, retailers should pick up on the trend of mobile shopping and ensure their websites are optimized for mobile users, and even tablet users, as the majority of shopping traffic will be encountered through these devices. Since most big box retailers started offering discounts before the Thanksgiving weekend, other retailers will have to start promoting and offering discounts before the popular shopping weekend in order to compete with the big box stores.

As consumers shift their shopping habits to the online realm and use their mobile devices to conduct purchases, it will be interesting to see how retailers continue to shift their attention online for popular holiday shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

Anum eCommerce , , , ,

Feature Overview: Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14.1

November 19th, 2014

Released on November 13th, Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14.1 provides merchants with new and updated features that can help create a more appealing online shopping experience.

I will introduce the various features that the new Magento Enterprise version has to offer below, along with the benefit of each feature for businesses in hopes of increasing their overall performance.

Product Presentation

A new “swatch” feature is present in Magento Enterprise Edition 1.14.1 that helps merchants make their products appear more appealing. It allows quick access to product information – such as colour, size, fabric, and much more. The swatch feature has the capability of updating the product image instantly once clicked, providing the shopper with the opportunity to view what the colour or fabric looks like on the product before proceeding with the purchase.

Benefit

Through the swatch feature, merchants are able to better display their products by showcasing different attributes to the shoppers. As shoppers are able to visually see what the product would look like with a certain colour or fabric, they are likely going to be more confident in making a purchase, hence increasing conversion rates.Magento Enterprise Edition Update

Responsive Design

Magento’s updated responsive design theme includes mobile-friendly features that are accessible through any device. Core Magento features included are gift registries, downloadable products, multiple wish lists, add-to-cart by SKU, and private sales. As well, the design caters default email templates, allowing customers to read email order confirmations and newsletters on various devices.

Benefit

The previous version of Magento Enterprise already featured a mobile-friendly responsive design theme that functioned flawlessly. While there were not any drastic changes to the responsive design theme in 1.14.1, some of the added features, such as gift registries and wish lists, will allow merchants to further leverage special events to increase sales. Consistent with the previous version, merchants can get a responsive site in about half the time, allowing them to market products quickly and freeing up resources that can be used for other projects.

Visual Merchandising Tool

The new visual merchandising tool – available only in the Magento Enterprise Edition – lets merchants see exactly what the category page will look like to consumers through the drag-and-drop attribute the tool offers. It allows merchants to adjust their product positioning to their satisfaction and feature popular products at the top of a category. Additionally, the tool provides the freedom of setting up rules to automatically assign products to distinct categories and allowing sellers to create their own categories based on product characteristics – such as “on sale items,” “new products,” and so forth.

Benefit

The visual merchandising tool provides a quicker and easier way to organize products on a webstore, reducing the amount of time merchants spend on categorizing their products. As well, as the products are more organized into their respected categories, it makes it easier for shoppers to navigate around the store interface and find products that they were wishing to purchase easily, ultimately increasing sales.

Improved Performance and Security

The new Magento Enterprise Edition version enhances performance and security by supporting MySQL 5.6 and PHP 5.5. Through MySQL 5.6, sellers experience improved site speed and scalability, reduced memory usage on the database server, and better debugging tools. Similarly, PHP 5.5 provides merchants with security improvements and continued access to code updates.

Benefit

These upgrades will enhance the overall store building experience for merchants and site performance for visitors. The previous Magento Enterprise version supported PHP 5.4, which had already provided better performance and efficient memory usage. However, by supporting PHP 5.5 and MySQL 5.6, shoppers will benefit from heightened security and will be able to browse webstores at quicker speeds.

Quick resolution to Technical Issues

Merchants are able to produce comprehensive reports about their installation that help support teams to quickly analyze and repair any technical issues that arise. The reports consist of detailed system information – such as the Apache version, MySQL settings, extensions, database corruption status, etc. – providing support teams with the necessary information required to diagnose the problem, without the nuisance of multiple back-and-forth communication.

Benefit

With quick resolving of technical issues, merchants don’t have to worry about their site being under maintenance for a long period of time, reducing the negative shopping experience for consumers, losing out on potential customers, all together.

Improvements in Quality and SEO Support

This feature is perhaps the most important that applies to many eCommerce stores out there. To improve product quality, the Enterprise update includes many improvements to promotions, product import/export capabilities, security, etc. In addition, this Magento update now allows merchants to use full-page caching when running on HTTPS, which Google has stated it will consider as a ranking signal.

Benefit

The improvements in SEO support will help merchants further optimize their sites for search engine rankings. Additionally, as the update allows the usage of full-page caching when running HTTPS, this allows merchants to follow Google’s guidelines while maintaining peak performance of their site.

The new merchandising features found in this version of Enterprise Edition are indeed valuable in creating in overall optimized performance for merchants and shoppers alike! If you are interested in reading more about the updated release, please visit Magento’s Blog.

Anum eCommerce , ,

5 Useful Blog Posts about What’s Happening in eCommerce Today

October 27th, 2014

The dynamic world of eCommerce is constantly changing and evolving, making it difficult to keep up! There are countless blog postings and articles on the web that highlight the latest trends and news related to eCommerce.

eCommerce Trends

In an effort to save you the time it would take to sift through what is worth reading or not, I have hand-picked 5 of the most useful blog posts published in the last few months. Enjoy!

1. KISSmetrics
“Three Risky Ecommerce Techniques That Could Actually Increase Your Conversions”

What it’s about: Who would have thought using a popup, giving away free things and creating a long landing page – all the techniques that we have been told to avoid – would now translate into increasing conversions! KISSmetrics discusses how these techniques can be implemented strategically so they aren’t considered “annoying.”

Why it’s useful: The post provides valuable ways as to how the “risky” techniques can be applied in order to increase customer conversions. By providing examples of businesses that implemented the techniques and what steps they have taken to make them work, it makes you want to step out of the safe zone– like they say, there’s always an element of risk involved when conducting business!

2. Bigcommerce
“Does Twitter’s ‘Buy’ button signal a new era for eCommerce?”

What it’s about: Twitter announced the addition of a new eCommerce feature – the ‘Buy’ button – that will allow customers to view offers and merchandise that they can’t get anywhere else and act on them straight from the social media platform.

Why it’s useful: If you sell or are looking to sell your products through social media outlets, such as Twitter, this post is for you! It provides comprehensive insights as to how the process works and what advantages it has for its users.

3. Shopify
“The Ultimate Guide to Pop-Up Shops”

What it’s about: A new trend of pop-up shops is emerging as the divide between the online and offline world of business is rapidly disintegrating. Businesses that once solely sold online are now expected to take advantage of this trend to engage with the consumer on a face-to-face basis.

Why it’s useful: Pop-up shops are the new “cool” thing on the block. It’s a way to engage the consumer with your brand through a physical appearance rather than just a digital presence. If you have only sold online and aren’t aware of the steps to take in starting a pop-up shop, don’t worry, a complete step by step process is provided from beginning to end.

4. Practical Ecommerce
“5 Way to Jumpstart Mobile Ecommerce”

What it’s about: With nearly everyone owning a smartphone today, it was only a matter of time that mobile eCommerce would become mainstream. The article highlights five key ways that you can optimize your eCommerce website to capture sales from mobile devices.

Why it’s useful: A lot more people are starting to purchase items from their smartphones as it becomes more convenient. The post outlines comprehensive steps that an eCommerce retailer can take in order to generate sales and be successful in the mobile environment.

5. Econsultancy
“Seasonal Pages and SEO Strategy: What Works Best?”

What it’s about: Holidays are a great time to attract people to visit your eCommerce store to purchase products. However, how do you attract people to visit your site versus competitors? By comparing tactics of well-known retailers who have an online presence, this post provides a rundown of what SEO strategies work for seasonal pages and which strategies you should skip.

Why it’s useful: As the busiest holiday season is just around the corner, online retailers can benefit from this post by utilizing the advice provided to develop or modify their seasonal pages for SEO optimization.

If you are looking for new techniques that are emerging in the eCommerce world, check out these blog posts for more insights!

Do you know of any other unique blog posts discussing the latest trends evolving in eCommerce? If so, feel free to share them in the comments!

Anum eCommerce , , , ,

The Advancement of Amazon & Its Impact on eCommerce Retailers

October 14th, 2014

Amazon, an innovative powerhouse whose brand is recognized globally, has become the largest online eCommerce retailer, accounting for approximately 23% of all online purchases made by consumers. The eCommerce icon has experienced continued growth and has opened doors for several other online retailers to follow in its footsteps. On September 30th, ChannelAdvisor held a webinar, in which their Amazon experts, Rachel Miller and Gina DeFrank, discussed the recent advancements of Amazon and their effect on online eCommerce retailers. Below are the highlights from the webinar.

Programs Offered by Amazon

Amazon offers two main programs that have proven to be a great success in helping eCommerce businesses grow. They include:

1. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime was launched in 2005, offering customers free two-day shipping on millions of items, unlimited instant streaming of over 41,000 movie & TV episodes and over 350,000 Kindle Titles to borrow for free. Over the years, members of Amazon Prime have grown significantly from 30 to 40 million in the U.S. and 40 to 50 million globally. On average, Amazon Prime members have been spending 2.3 times more on Amazon purchases each year, compared to non-members. For users who are attracted to special incentives, Amazon has been encouraging a slower shipping method (FREE no-rush shipping) to its Prime members by offering them incentives. Recently, they changed the incentive to include a $1 credit that can be applied to buy books or eBooks.

2. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

FBA is a highly recognized program offered by Amazon, helping businesses worldwide. How does the program work you ask? It’s actually quite simple! Businesses store their products in one of Amazon’s fulfillment centres and Amazon takes care of packing, shipping and providing customer service for these products. It’s a fast and easy process!

Mobile & Social Aspect of Amazon

On July 2014, Amazon launched its Amazon Fire smartphone. It has a distinctive recognition feature, known as the Firefly, that helps users scan and identify products such as books, songs, movies, etc. Users can then find the product on Amazon for a lesser price and purchase the item directly from the phone.

An effective strategy that Amazon has implemented is the usage of hashtags on Twitter. They created two hashtags – #AmazonCart and #AmazonWishList. They both work in the same way by allowing users to tweet or retweet a mention of an Amazon product, including either of those hashtags. These items are then dropped into your Amazon shopping cart for purchase. Retailers, whose products are found on Amazon, are using these hashtags to promote their products on Twitter. It’s a pretty neat concept!

Advertising Products using Amazon

As mentioned in the webinar, retailers can choose from three opportunities to promote their products on Amazon:

1. Product Ads

This option allows you to upload product information onto Amazon. Once shoppers click on the ad, they are redirected to the landing page on your website, where they may purchase the product. All you have to pay is a cost-per-click (CPC) fee every time a shopper clicks on the ad. By using Product Ads, businesses benefit from increased web traffic to their website and highly targeted placements.

2. Sponsored Products

This is similar to creating website content for search engine optimization. You upload product info and enter keywords. Once the targeted keyword is searched, the ad is displayed and shoppers are taken to the detailed page where the offer is listed. Similar to the Product Ads, you pay a CPC fee.

3. Sponsored Links

By using this advertising opportunity, ads for external sites that relate to the product or content being searched are placed on the page.

What does this mean for eCommerce Retailers?

You may be wondering how these programs assist eCommerce retailers in progressing their business. As mentioned previously, the Amazon Prime members are growing at a substantial rate and they consist of loyal and active shoppers who are accustomed to fast, free shipping, not only from Amazon, but even when purchasing from other sites. Consequently, you may want to think about offering free shipping and/or low or no cost, fast shipping, if you don’t do so already in order to attract the Prime members and appeal to new customers. Additionally, FBA is a great way to access Prime members and you may want to identify products that you can sell using FBA – the Amazon Selling Coach is a great place to start for suggestions.

We all know that the usage of mobile devices and social media is on the rise. Retailers who aren’t using these outlets are losing out significantly. It is becoming increasingly more important that your products are seen by on-the-go shoppers. As well, if your target market for your products is the millennial age group, it’s a great way to reach this market as they are highly tech-savvy! If you don’t already have a presence on Twitter, now is the time to create an account and develop a strategy. For those who do have an account, continue to promote yourself and gain followers. As well, promote your products that are on Amazon and incorporate the hashtags!

Lastly, by promoting on Amazon, new opportunities are available to be visible to more shoppers and to participate in the daily deals that take place. As well, it allows more traffic to be directed to your own webstore.

The recent and preceding advancements have taken Amazon to new heights. It will be interesting to see how Amazon continues to innovate within the eCommerce market and create new opportunities for everyone!

We would like to thank our industry partner, ChannelAdvisor, for putting together such a great webinar. For additional insights on Amazon view the on-demand recording here.

Anum eCommerce ,

What is EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)?

September 15th, 2014

You’ve heard the term EDI bandied around and you probably know that it’s a method of sending and receiving documents from other companies. From the 50,000 foot view EDI is a regulated and pre-defined method that enables trading partners who have a business relationship, say a customer and vendor, to exchange their usual business documents. The documents could be anything from Orders and Invoices, Shipping Requests, Advanced Shipping Notices, Credit, Remittances, etc. It sounds very Retail/Manufacturing related, but there are standardized sets of documents that cover all industries, such as Pharma, Healthcare, Manufacturing etc. Hence, there’s very likely an EDI document for any transaction you may encounter within your ERP or accounting system or Warehouse Management System.

Why EDI?

The ability to exchange documents electronically has a wide variety of benefits, which include increased efficiency from automating transactions, reduction of errors from manual entry, validation of content (via EDI standards and receiving software) to confirm transactions contain all they need to enable proper processing, traceability, reduced costs and faster processing. The alternative to the EDI model is the manual exchange of paper based documents, resulting in waste and inefficiency when processing the documents.

What are these standards?

There are a wide variety of industry specific EDI standards that have conventions that are specific to the region. For example, ANSI X12 is the North American standard, EDIFACT is the European standard and there are many others. The transaction sets could be X12 4010 that contain the different documents (PO, Invoice, Ship Notice etc.) The sets granulate even further into subsets for particular industries.

How is it done?

You’ll need to belong to a VAN (Value Added Network) or an agent that will provide the services for you.  There will need to be a bilateral relationship established between your unique account on the VAN and your trading partner’s unique account ID. Don’t worry if your partner’s VAN is not identical to yours. Most VANs can connect to each other, which is known as an interconnect.

Let’s take a simple example of a retailer and vendor setting up EDI. The relationship is now in place and the retailer sends an order that will be received by the EDI software, known as a Translator. It would then be validated and an acknowledgement would be sent back to the sender. The receiver would now have visibility of the PO. After the process is completed, other choices would now be available, such as importing the document into an accounting system or even using the EDI software to turn the order into an invoice to send back to the retailer after the order is fulfilled.

In summary, EDI replaces the paper exchange and maximizes the efficiency of electronic consistency. How you utilize the efficiency is up to you by integrating these documents into your daily processes. To learn more about EDI and EDI integration visit our Frequently Asked Questions.

Thanks for staying with me!

Anthony

Anthony EDI Integration, General EDI , , ,

Understanding eBridge Translations

September 9th, 2014

Do you require Country, State, or Province codes to be translated when being sent from your accounting package or ERP to your eCommerce storefront? Are unwanted characters (@&!*;) appearing in your ERP? Do you need to match the item codes on your eCommerce storefront with the item codes in your ERP?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then you have come to the right place. All of these issues can be resolved through your data integration with the proper set-up and management of eBridge translations.

What are eBridge Translations?

eBridge Translations perform simple substitutions in your data during the data integration process so you don’t have to.

We all know that mistakes during manual data entry can be costly and despite our best efforts, humans make mistakes. Fortunately for you, our integration technology has been developed to ensure that the data in your ERP is translated to exactly match the data in your eCommerce storefront. For example, an eBridge automated inventory report update will effortlessly update the inventory on your eCommerce storefront without you having to worry that your products will be updated with the wrong quantities.

With eBridge Translations, during your data integration you can manage all translations using one accessible interface. Quickly manage your data with a single translation table and make changes to your eCommerce item codes, shipping addresses, item descriptions, or even order statuses.

How Translations Work – The Specifics

(1) Translations must specify the exact data to be translated.

For example, if you want to change your Shipping Carrier from ‘FedEx’ in your accounting package to ‘094’ as a Shipping Carrier code on your eCommerce storefront, you must specify ‘FedEX’ in your translation table; it will not work if you specify ‘FEDEX’ or ‘fedex’.

(2) Translations will be applied to all documents for the specified trading partner or eCommerce storefront.

When you apply a translation for incoming orders, it will be applied to all incoming orders from the specified EDI trading partner or storefront. If you want to translate data on some of the incoming documents but not all of them this can be done with an eBridge Business Rule.

(3) Translations will be applied to all instances where the value appears in the document.

If you search for the string ‘1’, the translation will be applied wherever ‘1’ is found in the data whether it is found in the Customer Number, the Item IDs, or the Tax Information. There are techniques for specifying where translations will be applied. However, for complex scenarios we recommend using a Business Rule.

eBridge translations can be used to make a simple substitution to values in your data. It performs a ‘Find and Replace’– it finds the value you are looking for and will replace it with the value you need. Stop spending your time manually entering and translating data between systems, experience the ease of an eBridge integration!

Contact us to learn more or to get detailed instructions on managing translations.

Amanda Uncategorized , ,

Say Hi to Paul our Customer Care Advocate!

September 5th, 2014

It is true what they say: time flies when you’re having fun!

In many cases, of course, that depends on the definition of ‘fun’ being used. In this context, taking advantage of the informality permitted in blogging, fun can, without too much dilution of the original intent, be taken as meaning ‘challenging’. But even challenging can be paired with some compelling synonyms: ’stimulating’, for example – even ‘thought-provoking’. Our friends at Microsoft even go so far as suggesting ‘inspiring’. While this usage might stretch the imagination just a tiny bit, I can’t help but feel a touch of inspiration as I draft this first blog post.

The Journey So Far

This is my first opportunity to really capture what my experience has been so far in my role of Customer Care Advocate at eBridge, and the truth is, in days gone by, I have considered myself to be somewhat of a communication specialist – if you will. In university, writing was without a doubt my strong suit; and I excelled in getting a point across in a such a way that the grader – typically a student herself without much of a choice but to read the piece in question – would feel just enough to get her to the next line without being too biased by my naiveté or her own priorities. In this way, I had some success.

In just under a year in my second position at eBridge, I have similarly shared some successes with my team, and I have also learned a ton! Even with this very blog post I have learned something: the conditions are not always going to be perfect for whatever comes across your desk. The truth is, I have been meaning to write this post for some time now. But in my mind, I wasn’t quite ready. I didn’t know exactly what to write about, I didn’t know exactly what kind of voicing I would use and I certainly didn’t know exactly how it would be perceived!

The lesson learned is that you need to persist any way.  The reality is, now that I’ve begun, I’m on a little bit of a roll.

Perseverance

By coincidence (replace with fate, serendipity where appropriate), the office I moved into when I took on this role has a picture hanging on the wall. The picture is of a lone man rowing a boat at dusk.  It is framed by the words ‘Perseverance: What we hope ever to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence’.

Perserverence

I have learned that this advice is axiomatic to my approach in this role; and I have taken up the mantle. Through diligence, I aim to learn as much as I can and share with you as often as I can in an attempt to convey more about what we do at eBridge. This will be tantamount to an ‘inside track’ or ’scoop’ for our current and future customers.

I am in a unique position here at eBridge and I know that I can share some valuable insight as I grow further into the role and learn more about our customers and our business. I am hoping that some of my insights, gleaned from diligence, will contribute to your ease in understanding some of the complexities (sometimes) associated with data integration. It is a challenging but truly rewarding space and I look forward to reporting in on a regular basis with more lessons learned.

I will also share a little bit about myself and how I approach things and I welcome your feedback in the future!

Yours sincerely,

Paul Tittel

Paul Tittel Education, Support , ,

Top 5 Reasons Why Businesses Select eBridge Connections as their eCommerce – ERP Integration Solution Provider

August 20th, 2014

Businesses worldwide are investing heavily in developing and maintaining eCommerce properties and managing their finances using back-office (accounting / ERP) software systems. Surely before selecting which eCommerce platform and ERP are ideal for their business they are doing their homework and evaluating the different options available.

Selecting an integration solution shouldn’t be any different. A well-chosen solution will enable seamless data integration between systems and be the difference between a surviving eCommerce business and a thriving eCommerce business. And in many cases, success brings pain. This is when it becomes very important to have an integration solution that can evolve with your growing business.

You’re probably wondering what set of features or capabilities make up a great integration solution. It’s difficult to come up with a definitive list, as it largely depends on specific customer’s requirements. Instead, we’ve put together our own list, which has been cultivated from eBridge customer feedback. We think it will give you a good idea of what’s important to look for in an integration solution provider.

1. Universal Integration

Universal eCommerce - ERP IntegrationBusinesses working with eBridge Connections have access to the largest number of pre-built connectors and data flows (what we call touchpoints) in the integration industry. Our universal integration platform supports 40 accounting packages including products from Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP, NetSuite, and Epicor and connects with many of the leading eCommerce platforms and marketplaces such as Magento, Bigcommerce, Volusion, Shopify, Mozu, Amazon, and eBay. Furthermore, we’re continually building new connections in order to better service the growing community of eCommerce merchants.

2. Lowest TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)

When looking at an integration solution it’s easy for a business to be nearsighted – the issues facing the business today are probably what they are focused on solving the most. While eBridge Connections understands the importance of delivering solutions that will solve existing issues, we have made sure not to overlook what could present challenges down the road.

Traditionally, we built integration solutions with individual maps for each data touchpoint. Unfortunately, this technology was getting very expensive for businesses when they wanted (or needed) to upgrade their ERP or set up new eCommerce properties – as the existing maps were not reusable. Each business platform change required more maps to be built.

On average, businesses are replacing their ERP systems every 7 to 10 years. Realizing that businesses are upgrading or migrating to new business platforms frequently, we developed our integration platform to accommodate those changes while minimizing the financial impact to the customer. Featuring reusable integration components and shared business rules on a cloud-based SaaS platform we’ve been able to bring down the total cost of ownership for our customers because new connections are much easier to set up and maintain.

3. Flexibility & Scalability

The eBridge Connections Integration Platform supports both multi-platform and multi-store integrations, with connections to the same accounting package or ERP. For example, an eCommerce business could have 2 Magento stores, an Amazon store, and an eBay store – all integrated with their Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP. We also offer multiple paths to integration. While customers choose to leverage our pre-built connectors, they can also write to our structured API, or use CSV file drops or SQL to integrate their data. For growing eCommerce businesses that might want to switch platforms or expand into other online channels it helps to be working with an integrator that can implement each of those connections.

As mentioned above, the ERP upgrade process is much simpler (and less expensive) for existing eBridge customers because we don’t have to build them a whole new set of maps. This allows our customers to take advantage of robust ERP functionality at a fraction of the time and cost.

Lastly, our platform can also help businesses scale in other areas, by supporting integration with thousands of EDI trading partners such as Walmart, Target, and Costco, and the leading CRM applications, Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

4. Product Development, Maintenance, and Support in 1 Location

Software developers are notoriously known for outsourcing much of their work – often to the detriment of their customers. At eBridge Connections we build, maintain, and support our own integration solutions – all from within our Burlington, Ontario-based office. We do not rely on any 3rd party software or developers, and all customers have 24/7 access to our in-house technical support team.

5. 20 Years of Integration Expertise

eBridge Connections has been in the integration business since 1993 – over 20 years! In that time we have developed thousands of accounting integrations for our customers, starting with EDI integration and then evolving to the universal integration capabilities (eCommerce, CRM, and EDI) that we offer today.

With our personalized approach to project delivery, we take the time to understand our client’s needs and then deliver the most efficient and cost-effective solution for their business. In each project we leverage our experienced and knowledgeable team of Integration Specialists, Implementation Consultants and Technical Support Agents to provide full-service integration services – not just off-the-shelf software. We understand that accounting integration is not one size fits all, which is why we’ve built a team of experts to handle the complexities inherent in each specific business scenario.

Trust the eCommerce – ERP Integration Experts

There are many factors for an eCommerce business to consider when selecting an accounting / ERP integration solution provider. Most importantly, you’ll need to know if the integration provider can connect with your existing business platforms. However, it’s also key to consider how your business might change over time. Will establishing additional connections and data touchpoints be important? Will you need to upgrade your ERP? Ideally, you’ll want to have a flexible and scalable solution, that is implemented and supported by experts, and allows you to grow your business without growing your costs.

Contact us to learn more about how eBridge Connections can help you streamline your business processes and maximize the return on your eCommerce and ERP investments.

Matt Train Integration, Webstore Integration, eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , , ,

5 Challenges a Growing eCommerce Business Will Face Without Accounting Integration

July 17th, 2014

eCommerce Growing PainsTo be competitive in today’s eCommerce market it is essential for businesses to be quick, responsive and accurate when a customer makes a transaction. This can be very difficult when your eCommerce store or marketplace is not integrated with your accounting system or ERP.

Think about the steps involved in processing an online order manually and add up the time that goes into each step. It’s likely a bit surprising. Then add up the labor costs to complete each step. Compare it to the time and money spent on handling an order in an integrated environment and you’ll quickly realize that integration is the logical option by a country mile.

Granted, integrations can be complex and time-consuming to have implemented, so hiring a data entry clerk might be an easier and more immediate solution. This approach, however, is usually heavily flawed over the long-term and could leave you drowning in orders and expenses as your online store takes off. To further explain, let me present some of the challenges that an eCommerce merchant will face over time without accounting integration:

1. Scaling Your eCommerce Business

Increasing online order volume is likely one of your primary goals. However, as you drive more traffic to your store and orders are being placed in greater quantities there are generally longer delays in getting them keyed into your accounting system – resulting in longer wait times for your customers. In addition, as you continue to grow your online business you may wish to expand the number of products/SKUs available for sale. Without integration this means entering new product information and inventory into 2 different systems and then trying to keep them synchronized. Say hello to the first of many growing pains!

2. Allocating Resources

When first opening an eCommerce store much of the work involved in processing orders can be handled by one person. Often that person is the business owner. However, as your online business grows all of this work will usually need to be assigned to another resource – or you risk spending too much time on tasks that aren’t enabling you to do what you do best (develop, source, and sell products). When you get to this point you may need to give more work to someone who was not hired to do data entry and is already very busy. Do you want your marketing manager or sales rep spending their time keying in orders? Your other option is to hire a data entry clerk which will come with added costs. We’ll discuss that challenge next.

3. Controlling Costs

Another goal of any eCommerce business is to be effective in controlling costs. Having to manually enter orders, inventory, product and shipping information into multiple systems can eat up many paid employee hours. Unfortunately, this approach is not scalable. The added costs associated with processing more orders and adding/updating more products can easily bite into any additional revenue you’re generating via your store. Furthermore, you have to account for the inevitable mistakes that will happen when keying in data. You could end up having to pay for shipping multiple times, replacing damaged items that you can’t resell, and for all the time correcting the mistake. Sound expensive?

4. Synchronizing Inventory & Pricing

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to keep track of inventory and pricing if it was managed in one system? Handling inventory and pricing updates in separate systems usually results in data inaccuracies, operational inefficiencies, and customer confusion. It could even lead to selling items that you don’t even have in stock. That’s a problem you don’t want to have to explain to your customers.

5. Delivering a High-Quality Customer Experience

In the hyper-competitive eCommerce landscape of today it’s hard for a business to prosper without happy customers. With user experiences improving across the industry, shoppers are now expecting better experiences when they make purchases online. Meeting these growing needs can be very challenging for an emerging eCommerce business. A perfect example of how a non-integrated online business can struggle with delivering a high-quality customer experience is with shipment tracking. The customer expectation is that their order will be updated in their online account with a shipment tracking number within a short timeframe (usually within 24 hours). Unfortunately, items purchased from merchants without automated order processing often are held up by data entry delays caused by high order volumes, absences, competing tasks, etc. Not only do these delays frustrate customers, but they can have other negative impacts, such as a hit to a business’ seller rating in a marketplace like Amazon.

Say Goodbye to Growing Pains

Ultimately, your eCommerce business will have a much greater opportunity for success if it is not faced with these challenges. Automating your business processes via integration software will enable your to reduce your operating costs and improve productivity, efficiency, and accuracy. All of which will lead to growing online sales, maximizing profits, and cultivating many satisfied customers.

Contact the team at eBridge Connections if you want to avoid these growing pains and get the most out of your eCommerce business.

Are there any other challenges that you’re facing because of a lack of integration? Let us know in the comments.

Matt Train Integration, Webstore Integration, eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , ,