Larger brands typically have a few brick & mortar retail outlets in big cities but most brands focus their direct-to-consumer efforts primarily on eCommerce. Having a strong web presence is important for various other reasons too. Some of the popular eCommerce platforms for small to medium brands are:
Magento and WooCommerce are open source and may be excellent choices for a brand that needs extensive customizations and can engage a development team. Shopify, BigCommerce and 3dcart are SaaS platforms and hence easy to get started and to maintain. Uphance has integrations with Shopify and WooCommerce and may develop integrations with other platforms based on demand from our brands.
One of the major challenges of managing inventory for an e-commerce business is figuring out the right ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to use.
At a minimum you want the configuration to be simple and quick. You should be able to connect your products across the two platforms and keep the inventories in sync and accurate, available to sell inventory across both your ERP and your eCommerce platform. To reduce effort and to increase efficiency, you may want more functionality in the integration. Let us take a look at some features Uphance users find useful.
This ability is useful only for new users of the ERP and does not have ongoing value. I find it very useful for new users as they are getting started with the ERP. They can get started importing products in a file but it generally takes a little effort organizing your data in the format required by the ERP system and actually importing the file. It may be easier for the new user to click a few buttons and let the system do the rest.
The other benefit of pulling from the eCommerce store is that you do not have to perform the next task of connecting existing products.
This is a cumbersome process but may be unavoidable if you have been using both systems without integration. You do not want to start this way but many find themselves in this situation. If you are there, don’t fret it. You only have to do it for one season. Your ERP and your eCommerce platform both have the same products but they do not have any knowledge of each other’s products. In that case, you will have to manually and painstakingly connect each product.
You may like to organize products in your ERP with each product having multiple color variations. This is easier when working with sales, production, inventory, etc. Your retail customer may like to see each color as a separate product. Your integration should offer that flexibility.
You have been designing, developing your products in your ERP and have been selling to your wholesale customer but now you are ready to get them on to eCommerce store to start selling your new season. Wouldn’t it be great if you can click one button to send all products from your ERP to your eCommerce store? Of course, you want all of the detailed well-formatted HTML descriptions, multiple images for each variation, prices, product weight, customs and other shipping information to be pushed also without having to enter that information again on your eCommerce store.
Just as described in 2. above, you will want the ability to send your product as is or each color as a separate product.
This is essential if you fulfill your retail orders from your ERP. Even in the case where you ship your eCommerce orders on your store platform, you may want the ability to bring customer records and all your retail orders into your ERP. Your ERP should have a clean way to separate your retail orders and customers from your wholesale business. You want your ERP to be able to provide a comprehensive overview of your business – both retail and wholesale.
Inventory management is one of the most critical componets of apparel e-commerce. This is why it’s important to go for an ERP that supports e-commerce integration and can sync inventory levels in real time.
When an eCommerce sale happens, the inventory is reduced on the eCommerce platform and the same reduction needs to reflect in your ERP. Returns and cancellations should similarly affect inventory on both platforms. If eCommerce ATS is reduced on the ERP due to any transaction, the new ATS inventory should immediately reflect in the eCommerce platform.
Multiple stores: This may not be needed by small brands but I do see several brands having separate eCommerce stores for different regions, such as a US store and a Canada store. This may be due to the need to support different languages, currencies, etc.
Multiple warehouses:If you have multiple warehouses, you want your integration to have the ability to accurately affect inventories in the appropriate warehouse.
Uphance is not an ERP. It is a lean, user-friendly, complete management system for managing your brand operations. Find out more about Uphance. Sign up for a free 14-day trial, no credit card needed.
See how Uphance integrates with eCommerce platforms:
What do you think?
Did I miss something important? Let me know in the comments below.