How Shipping for Magento can be Improved with ERP Integration

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With Amazon Prime and other retail giants stepping up their delivery fulfillment game, fast delivery in e-commerce is no longer an option. In fact, it's a non-negotiable requirement. This is further confirmed by a 2018 report by Walker and Sands, which states that 44% of people surveyed opted-for one-day delivery in the past year.

Essentially, as consumers, we're getting used to fast-paced e-commerce businesses and we love it when our products are delivered on or before time. However, for a seller, this kind of priority shipping is not an easy demand to fulfill.

Now, shipping and order fulfillment isn't the most alluring and glamorous part of running an online store. However, if you don't stay competitive or innovative in these areas, this will definitely dent the bottom line of your business.

Fortunately, there is ample scope for synergy between your e-commerce store and your ERP system when it comes to orders.

And why not? While orders are received on your online Magento store, they are fulfilled in your ERP system.

Read on to find out how Magento shipping and ERP integration can improve customer experience and strengthen the bottom line of your business.

Systems in the e-commerce shipping process

Not all systems in the e-commerce ecosystem are involved in the Magento shipping process completion. So, if you're trying to integrate ERP and e-commerce shipping, you need to know what type of your data you need to sync between your Magento store and your ERP system. Besides, there are a number of moving pieces that make up the entire shipping for Magento process - from managing inventory to choosing the right type of packaging, keeping in mind the lowest and most practical package weight.

Here's what you need to consider.

1. Receiving and storing inventory

Before you can ship your orders, you need to receive your inventory and store them properly. If you do have a warehousing system, you need to enter data into your ERP system to help you understand which products are available to ship to customers. In this case, integration will sync data from your ERP system to your Magento store to avoid over-selling on your store as well as other sales channels.

But how about when you have a warehousing and fulfillment provider? Does this make you feel like you're losing control over your inventory?

The good news is, with e-commerce shipping and ERP integration you can keep tabs on your inventory centrally and still leverage the benefits of multi-channel sales.

2. Processing orders and packaging

Once an order is received on your Magento store, it moves on to the processing stage. This step involves the following:

  • picking or retrieving items from where they are stored in your warehouse
  • packing or getting the orders ready for shipping

The processing stage also involves creating a packing slip that details the following:

  • the quantity of the products
  • the storage location of the ordered products
  • recipient address

This slip also includes which packing materials should be used (for example, bubble wrap, boxes or air fill, etc.) or any inserts that need to go with the product to create a unique unboxing experience for the consumer.

3. Shipping

Once a product is packaged appropriately, you must ship it and obtain tracking data to share with your customers and keep them informed. Sharing up to date tracking data is an important part of building trust and loyalty in your customers. Lastly, this goes a long way to ensure customer satisfaction.

4. Processing Returns

Another important part of fulfilling in order is seamless return processing. If a customer returns an item, you must have a system for processing it. Essentially, depending on the reason for return, you can either restock it or dispose it and update your ERP system with this data.

In an un-integrated ecosystem, all this data is manually generated and updated on various systems, leaving a lot of room for human error (and consequently dissatisfied customers).

Better shipping workflow customizations with e-commerce shipping and ERP integration

Not all businesses are made equal or have the same growth objectives. As a result, not all e-commerce retailers have the same shipping workflow. Nevertheless, it's imperative to have an iron-clad shipping workflow.

Why is this important?

Well, according to Remarkety and Statista,

  • 64% of customers abandon items in their cart because of expensive shipping
  • 44% abandon items if the e-commerce merchant does not offer free shipping
  • 35% percent abandon items if shipping costs are not clear

The goal of every e-commerce store is to improve their conversion rate and decrease cart abandonment rate. According to the above data, shipping information, specifically shipping costs, plays a significant part in this.

So, will you offer free or flat-rate shipping to absorb some or all of the cost or pass on the shipping cost to your customers?

Depending on your growth objectives and the products you sell, your shipping workflow can be customized easily with an effective ERP integration, keeping the following data points in mind:

1. Packaging

Packaging is an important factor that determines shipping rates. You can order free packaging items from UPS, USPS, or DHL or even invest in custom branded packaging. Typically, the former (free packaging from your carriers like UPS or USPS) will cost you less and help you keep shipping costs low.

In an integrated system, you can upload this data once and it is updated on the packing slip every time a customer checks out.

2. Product weight

The weight of a product is also a determining factor for shipping rates. With Magento shipping and ERP integration, you can sync product weight data from your ERP system to your Magento store after updating it only once. This will help to calculate shipping rates from different carriers and display the right information to your customers during check out.

3. Order value

Customers are generally ready to buy more products if it means they can avail free shipping. E-commerce marketing can help you craft lucrative upsell deals while with e-commerce and ERP integration you can encourage customers to increase their cart value to avail free shipping during check out.

4. Tariffs, taxes, and duties

If there are any customs fees that your customer needs to bear when your product reaches them, it's important to display this information clearly during checkout. If your customer faces unexpected costs when receiving the product, this will have a negative impact on your brand image.

Bottom line? It's important to keep your unique business needs in mind as this will help you choose the right integration product to make your ERP system effectively communicate with your Magento store.

Automating custom requirements in shipping

With integration, there is ample scope for automating manual and redundant processes that are seminal to shipping for Magento:

1. Provide better shipping recommendation to customers

If you sell on multiple channels, e-commerce shipping and ERP integration can offer automated shipping recommendations such as shipping carrier, package weight, package dimension, etc. based on a customer's shipping history.

2. Promote efficiency at no extra cost

When your business scales, it will be time-consuming to transfer order data from your Magento store to your ERP system manually. Plus, manual processes can seriously affect how much data can be updated at once. As a result, many orders sit in the system without being processed, leading to delays in shipping.

Efficient automation due to integration will help you process more orders with less backlog and errors at little to no incremental cost. Essentially, automation will reduce the number of steps in the order processing stage and pave way for efficiency and cost reduction.

3. Better delivery information synchronization

Sharing live tracking details with your customers goes a long way to build trust and improve customer experience on your store. Effective automation as a result of integration can bridge the gap between your online store and your ERP system by automatically syncing the order status (from your store to the ERP system) and shipping information (from your ERP system to your customer dashboard). In the special cases of shipping like drop shipping, this information can save valuable dollars and increases the revenue.

Benefits of leveraging e-commerce shipping and ERP integration

It's no secret that shipping requires pulling data from multiple sources. And, any glitch at a particular stage can lead to a disastrous end result - customer dissatisfaction.

Here's how ERP integration for Magento shipping can be beneficial for your e-commerce business:

1. Turns your Magento store into a self-service platform

ERP integration promotes bidirectional synchronization of data such as new customer accounts, offline customer creation, guest customer accounts, inventory data, additional billing and shipping addresses created, order tracking data and more between your Magento store and your ERP system.

As a result, with shipping process and ERP integration, customers can handle many support tasks themselves. Essentially, they can check out whether or not a product is in stock and the status of their shipment without having to reach out to your customer service representatives. This makes your online business more transparent to your customers and makes them feel empowered and in control on your platform.

This is vital for improving customer experience on your platform.

2. Reduced inventory cost with better inventory management

When your ERP is part of an integrated ecosystem, your inventory information is immediately updated the moment a customer checks out on your Magento store. It's a no-brainer that such fast and accurate information sync will lead to better inventory management and consequently lower costs for your business.

3. Minimize errors and order aging

Manual data update always leaves a margin of error no matter how robust your QA processes are.  ERP integration for Magento shipping goes a long way to do away with such errors for good by pulling relevant data from multiple sources and syncing them between your store and ERP system automatically.

Lastly, integration ensures the bi-directional flow of the following data:

  • sales orders for web and guest customers
  • back orders
  • offline orders
  • order status updates
  • invoice details
  • shipping details
  • and shipping tracking number

This type of automated order transfer helps to minimize order aging and improves customer experience on your platform.

Bottom line

Like most e-commerce store owners, you may be relying on a number of disconnected systems and programs to keep everything chugging along nicely. Maybe you're using a separate ERP and shipping system as well. While this setup does work technically, it involves many repetitive steps. Perhaps you think this is all part of part of the hard work entrepreneurship demands.

But here's the thing: when your business scales, you need to work smarter rather than harder.

Essentially, ERP integration for Magento shipping will cut down the steps involved in each process and help you manage data centrally. The result?

  • better business decisions
  • faster shipping
  • happier customers

Now, who wouldn't want that?

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