For a small to midsize company, there are advantages and disadvantages to integrating an online store with back-end accounting and product-availability systems — otherwise known as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
The benefit of easy, real-time access to inventory, product pricing and the customer database is a no-brainer, especially for understaffed businesses struggling to offer multichannel sales environments to grow to the next tier of their industries.
For most, though, building and maintaining integration software can be a lot of work.
However, as a business expands, the need to sync live inventories and current pricing with product offerings online becomes a necessity.
“For multichannel businesses, cross-channel store visibility — from the online store into the physical store inventory and vice versa, from the physical store inventory to the online store offering — needs some integration,” said Michael Brinker, a partner with Deloitte Consulting and leader of its national Web channel solutions practice.
Stores that sell their wares in cyberspace must always be on and might experience consistent traffic and transaction volume at all hours, especially if they serve a global market.
But according to Brinker, most ERP systems are not designed with availability in mind. Rather, they need to wind down every once in a while for batch-mode data transfers. This presents challenges for sellers that know no geographic borders.
“An event in which the site goes down for [data] backup is not an option,” he said.
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