Ecommerce websites deal with all kinds of information, including information about products, shipping rates, taxes, inventory, orders, customers, etc. Many ecommerce sites handle large sets of data – often thousands of products – and it needs to be moved so quickly – orders must be passed on immediately for shipping.
This is why integrating ecommerce websites with other systems saves time and costs. For many ecommerce web design projects, Orbit connects the website with other systems and platforms.
Integration work ranges from API integration (real-time) with large ERP platforms to simpler integration (batch) with common systems. Here are some of the types of integration common to many Orbit ecommerce projects:
- Payment Gateways: transaction processing
- Shipping: show visitors shipping costs in real time
- Order fulfillment
- Product Inventory
- Customer Information and Communication
Obviously, ecommerce websites need to process credit card orders. Sending transaction data to a payment gateway, securely and in real-time, is typical for almost any ecommerce project. Orbit has worked with Authorize.net and Paypal since 2003. Other gateways include FirstData, SkipJack and Google Checkout.
Ecommerce payment gateway integration is how your website makes money - it’s probably the reason you wanted ecommerce in the first place.
Just like you and me, shoppers on your ecommerce site want to know how much shipping will cost before they buy. When your site integrates with sites like FedEx, UPS and USPS, you can give this information to visitors instantly and manage your margins on shipping costs.
Shipping costs are provided through API integration.
Ecommerce sites should connect to the people and systems that are doing the shipping. Integrating with fulfillment systems provides two important benefits:
- Reduces the data entry time (and errors) of manually keying in orders
- Speeds up communication with the warehouse or fulfillment center for faster shipping
Orbit typically connects directly to internal shipping and fulfillment systems or third party fulfillment vendors to reduce administration time, reduce errors and shorten shipping times.
You would think an established widely-used accounting system like QuickBooks would be an easy system with which to integrate. Well…it is, but not on its own. Orbit typically handles integration with QuickBooks by simply providing a file export of orders to be imported into software called T-Hub (provided by atandra.com).
Some companies have thousands of products. It’s important that product information isn’t entered or managed manually. It’s also important that the website reflect changes in product inventory immediately. This typically requires custom POS (point-of-sale) or ERP (enterprise resource planning) integration. It allows for all product and inventory data to automatically sync with the website.
This integration saves time and money by:
- Reducing administration time by automatically synchronizing the databases
- Ensuring accuracy when updating website product data
- Setting expectations with the customer for price and availability
- Reducing time spent by customer service discussing price and out-of-stock issues
Orbit has significant experience programming custom functionality for B2B ecommerce websites. A custom requirement for B2B ecommerce involves an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system which pushes customer data to the website. This data would typically include a company name, an unique account number, email addresses for client contacts, price discounts, and shipping address information.
Time is saved for both the end customer and the fulfillment center with this automated process.
- The customer can quickly login with their email address without needing to create an account, put items into their cart, and checkout. The only information needed is the billing information, like the credit card and address.
- The fulfillment center then receives the order details with the account number and automatically updates all ERP data and sends the order to packing and shipping.
- Order and shipping status can be sent back to the website followed by email notifications sent to the customer. Or, the customer can lookup the order status in their account.
This is a pretty sophisticated level of integration, and the feature is critical to daily operations of the company.
Saving time (decreasing costs) and making money (increasing revenue) are two main factors in determining the Return on Investment. Although websites that integrate with other systems typically have some ongoing maintenance costs, the majority of the expense is in the initial project. Time and money saved is typically far greater than this investment.
Orbit Media can help you to explore the integration options for your website and your budget. Contact a Web Strategist to start the conversation.