One of the most common questions we get asked from customers when building them an integration solution between their ERP system and their eCommerce sites is, “How are you going to be able to match data between our platforms?” When matching data between the two platforms, there is no golden rule or single solution. The answer to this question usually varies from integration to integration because it often depends on which ERP system you are using and which eCommerce site you are running. When eBridge Connections deploys an integration, they have to decipher between customer and product information before deciding which data matching approach is the most appropriate.
Since this question of matching data has come up so often, eBridge connections decided to run a webinar which was hosted by our Technical Sales Engineer, Mike Catalfamo. The webinar Best Practices For Matching Data Between Your eCommerce And ERP Systems was presented on December 12th 2012 and it talked about the best practices and considerations customers need to contemplate when matching data between their systems. Mike explained different product (item) and customer complexities that potential customers have to overcome before an integration project starts. He also went through a few examples on how eBridge Connections rectifies these data matching issues.
Here are some approaches Mike discussed during the webinar and some potential caveats eBridge encounters when using these approaches:
|Use cross-reference tables within the ERP
||Many ERP systems don’t have this functionality
|Change the customer numbers in the ERP to match the web store
||Usually can’t (or don’t want to) change this value
|Orphan all customers in the ERP system and create them new in the ERP the first time they order on the web store
||Need to maintain customer history in the ERP
|Use an external cross-reference table to explicitly link the customers
||Can be time consuming to set up
If you follow this link ->Best Practices For Matching Data Between Your eCommerce And ERP Systems you will be able to view the full 20 minute presentation plus a 10 minute question and answer period at the end. If you have any questions about data matching or if you have any other questions regarding an integration project please feel free to email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to discuss these questions with you.
Education, Integration, Press Releases, Support, Technology Corner, Webstore Integration, eBRIDGE Blog, eCommerce
If your EDI trading partner has asked you to transmit ASN documents, it is likely that the UCC/EAN-128 barcode label is also required. The label, usually attached to each carton or the entire pallet, allows the shipping receiver to quickly determine the contents of the carton/pallet in conjunction with the ASN paperwork. This is done by scanning the SSCC-18 bar code at the bottom of the label.
While it seems reasonable to the trading partner that these labels are used since they speed up shipment verification at the receiving dock, they can be a pain for the supplier to generate, particularly since they contain bar codes that need to match the corresponding ASN document.
The labels are typically 4″x6″ in portrait mode and usually need to be printed on thermal paper. Let’s look at specifications for two different trading partners, Lowe’s and The Sports Authority.
As you can see, both labels contain the same basic information, the exact layout will vary by trading partner. Additionally, some trading partners are more strict than others about tolerances regarding font size, spacing, paper type, barcode density and so on. Read more…
General EDI, Technology Corner
Software-based consulting services are tricky. Being involved in the industry for 10+ years, I have made a few observations about the perception most people have regarding the value of time spent by software consulting professionals.
It is well known that lawyers and psychiatrists bill their time by the minute, which no one seems to dispute. For whatever reason though, many other consultants are not afforded the same understanding. Perhaps it gets muddy when the company you are working with is selling a product and professional services, in which case the line is blurred in terms of what exactly you are paying for. Maybe it is because the value of software itself is diminished; after all, I’m sure you have all met someone that has illegitimate (illegal) copy of some popular software package.
Either way, consulting services are about paying for the time of someone with the experience and expertise to help you solve a problem that should have a positive net result for you or your business. I have delivered literally hundreds of projects and I would have to say that the most important thing is managing expectations.
Like any relationship, a business initiative requires co-operation and effort from both Read more…
Technology Corner, eBRIDGE Blog
Recently, we looked at some questions you should be asking to help you narrow your choices when seeking a software solutions provider. Now I want to turn the tables and provide some insight as to what is happening on the other side.
Ultimately, the salesperson is trying to determine the following:
- Fit: Can I offer a solution that solves the major problem(s) expressed by the prospective customer?
- Budget: Does the prospective customer have an actual budget allocated to pay for the solution?
- Probability to Close (PTC): How soon can I close the deal?
You are likely to hear some form of the following questions that attempts to get to the root of the three questions above.
Technology Corner, eBRIDGE Blog
A few articles ago, I wrote about effective communication in business and examined the value of asking the right questions. Today I would like to provide a list of some questions that should help you narrow the field of providers when procuring a software project.
I have been in the software services industry for over 10 years and have worked on hundreds of projects, from clarifying the scope of work, through implementation and project wrap-up. I have also been on the receiving end of deliverables and have just about seen it all in terms of what could go wrong during the delivery.
In a future post, I will look at some specific reasons projects go over time and budget, but today I would like to share some key questions you should be asking to help get your project off on the right foot.
Keep in mind that these assume you will have some type of ongoing business relationship with that company, including technical support, upgrades, future product purchases and additional professional services.
Two Guys in a Basement?
Depending on what exactly you are trying to achieve, a freelance consultant may be a great fit for your project, but if you are implementing a project that affects mission-critical data, be wary of a fly-by-night solutions. You may or Read more…
Technology Corner, eBRIDGE Blog
eBridgeConnections can, has and will do some pretty creative implementations, so please ask if you cannot find your eCommerce cart in the eBridge Blueprint builder, or are otherwise unsure about what services eBridge can provide. The information below is to help you understand some options we have available if you do not see your desired eCommerce cart/web store.
Option #1: eBridge Builds a Connector
For carts that eBridge has NOT built a connector for (using the web store’s API – Application Programming Interface), eBridge can build a connector, provided:
- A Web Store API actually exists
- The API is robust enough to facilitate the functionality required by the end-user. This could mean how frequently we are allowed to exchange data with the web store, or it could mean the contents of the data for any given touchpoint.
Be aware that not all API’s are created equally. The data contents of each touchpoint (orders, inventory, prod/price, shipment) varies between carts and needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, eBridge is at the mercy of the web store, as would any other integration solution provider you may be examining.
Option #2: eBridge Provides API access to ePortal Integration Platform
eBridge has an API for ePortal (online integration platform) which allows people to exchange data using the ePortal-specific formats and methods. The final integration with the web store (or any other external system for that matter) is the sole responsibility of the end user. In other words, eBridge has nothing to do with the data once it leaves ePortal.
Option #3: File integration
Most carts have some type of file export/import functionality using either a delimited (CSV for example) or XML file format.
- Inbound from Web Store to ERP: If the end user exports orders from the web store and puts them somewhere, eBridge can pick them up (FTP or a folder on your network, for example), eBridge can integrate them into the accounting/ERP system.
- Outbound from ERP to Web Store: Opposite of inbound. eBridge can export from the accounting/ERP system and create a delimited or XML file in web store-specific format. It would be up to the end user to import that file into the web store which is usually a manual process.
eBridge can also repackage data from any structured format to any other structured format (delimited files and XML most commonly), as well as with custom databases. What are your data transformation and integration needs?
Integration, Technology Corner, Webstore Integration, eBRIDGE Blog, eCommerce
Have you ever analyzed your personal finances to figure out where your money goes, just to find out that you spend $500 a year on take-out coffee when you are depriving yourself of that new outfit or gadget you’ve had your eye on? It’s a sobering realization that has certainly affected some of the choices I make on a daily basis.
In the same light, let’s consider what it costs you to manually key data into your back-office systems. It starts out innocently enough; the volumes are manageable and you get some personal satisfaction from ‘touching’ every new order that comes in.
Before you know it, sales ramp up and your online business is actually generating so many orders that you can’t keep up with the demand of processing and shipping.
You start loosing sleep and late one night you sit down to key in the orders. By the 10th one, you accidentally Read more…
If you have kids, I’m sure you’re thinking about getting them back to school. New clothes, new supplies, haircuts and gadgets, whatever it is that’s on your list, that’s probably all you have on your mind at the moment.
If you happen to run an online business, you should realize that it’s not too early to start thinking about the holiday shopping season with Christmas being a mere 120 days away. This is especially true if you were planning on finally integrating your web store with your accounting system; after all, you will have enough on your plate collecting payments and shipping orders. Doing just about anything else would be better than manually keying even a few dozen orders, let alone a few hundred or thousand!
The great part about integrating your orders, besides all the time you save, Read more…
It used to be that integration was difficult and expensive, and in many cases it still is, but as Integration-as-a-Service continues to mature, hopefully there will be a day in the not too distant future, when not only will all your internal system be integrated but you will have visibility across your supply chain. Access to valuable business data for your customers and vendors, both upstream and downstream from you will help you and your partners make better decisions more quickly, allowing everyone to be more agile and profitable. Read more…
Integration, Technology Corner
As the Technical Sales Engineer at eBridge, one of my duties, along with the Account Rep, is to conduct a needs analysis with prospective clients to determine if the eBridge solution is a good fit.
This is done by:
1) Determining what systems we are to integrate
2) Clarifying what business documents / data / touchpoints need to flow between the systems and in which direction
3) Discussing the business process
4) Addressing a specific pain points and explaining how eBridge can handle it using expertise and technology
5) Putting together an integration solution that involves no or minimal changes to the business process
Integration, Technology Corner