eCommerce is not the way of the future; it’s the way of the present. Consumers are now fully comfortable researching products and making purchases online. Even from their phones. Not only are people buying online, they are involving themselves in the entire shopping experience on the Internet.
This is a pretty straight-forward process for typical consumers. Let’s imagine that you want to buy a new pair of hiking boots. You start by searching Google, reading articles, perusing reviews, comparing prices, looking for the best deal, and then you make your purchase. The online shopping experience is different than the buying experience of a decade ago, but overall it isn’t that complex.
But, what if you are a construction company that needs to buy supplies for a big job that begins in 2 months? Or what if you are a school district buying food for each of your school cafeterias for the next quarter? These are not “hiking boots”-like purchases. They are much more complex business transactions.
If you were to build an eCommerce system to handle these kinds of transactions, there are so many layers of interaction that need to be considered.
Currently, at xTuple, the Web Services Group is deploying a Business-to-Business eCommerce solution that integrates with xTuple ERP. This system is built to handle large-scale B2B relationships and transactions.
In the past, if a manufacturer or distributor wanted to sell their products online, they would typically have to build an eCommerce system that was not connected to their ERP system.
This causes all kinds of headaches. Suddenly you have to do a lot of double entry to make sure product info and prices are the same on the eCommerce website as they are in the ERP. When an order comes in through the site, you have to manually process that sales order in the ERP. If a customer changes their shipping address on the website, you need to ensure that their customer record in the ERP matches, too. Then there's the myriad of warehouse issues.
Due to all these headaches and complexities, most businesses have not made the migration to eCommerce. It’s not common…yet.
We are working to solve these problems with our xTupleCommerce system. We’ve built an eCommerce solution on top of Drupal (a popular and robust Content Management System) that connects directly to xTuple ERP via our REST API. This means that when product information is updated in the ERP, it immediately updates on the eCommerce site. If a customer saves a new address to their profile, that update is immediately reflected in their customer record. When an order comes in through the eCommerce site, it immediately creates a sales order in the ERP. All real-time.
This is a game-changer. Imagine how many problems this solves for small- to mid-sized businesses as well as large enterprises. Suddenly your customers can make purchases online rather than over the phone. Entire catalogs of products can be searched and browsed online. No more wasting time on double-entry and belaboring sales staff with phone order-taking. Suddenly your team has more time for things like customer service, scaling your business, and fulfilling orders.
Over the next few weeks, I will roll out several blog posts that slowly introduce you to our xTupleCommerce system. It’s much too big for one article.
Look out for upcoming information, and by all means, don’t hesitate to contact me and the xTuple WSG team with questions.