What Is B2B eCommerce Integration
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about B2B ecommerce integration, including its benefits and limitations, reasons to integrate with other systems, and methods you can undertake to successfully integrate your B2B ecommerce platform with internal and third-party applications.
Definition of B2B eCommerce Integration
Types of eCommerce Integration
Scheduled (SFTP or API)
Manual (CSV file upload)
How to Prepare for eCommerce Integration
- Familiarize yourself with your data and how it's set up: doing so will help you understand what exactly needs improvement, how you can accomplish the task, and what integration approach you'd like to pursue.
- Identify manual, slow, weak processes and convoluted steps you wish to eliminate or minimize. Review customer journey and areas to eliminate friction. Examine information flows: for instance, understand how your ERP routes data, how the accounting system handles payments, or how CRM manages customer information.
- Determine what exactly needs to be integrated (such as inventory, pricing, or product data), then map out the sync and integration procedures.
- Clean up the data you already have: for example, fix inconsistencies, eliminate duplicate entries, double-check for system updates, and so on.
- Consider the budget or other constraints, and if there are any, limit integration procedures accordingly or to only vital data and systems.
- Choose your tools and approaches carefully to avoid any bumps on the road to integration.
Benefits of eCommerce Integration
- Mitigation of human-error
Eliminating manual procedures, such as the input of data from one system to another, dramatically reduces the possibility of mistakes. eCommerce integration allows continuous, uninterrupted flow of information between different systems without the need for manual intervention.
- Real-time data availability
Since all data in integrated systems are in sync, the data across channels get automatically updated on a real-time or near real-time basis ensuring their consistency. The insights on such timely availability are extremely important not only for decision making or forecasting but also for seizing opportunities, reducing chances of lost sales, and improving customer experience overall.
- Greater data control
The data availability makes it easier for data assessment, analysis, and forecasting. By leveraging real-time data insights, you can better understand demand/supply fluctuations, and react on the fly accordingly.
- Improvement in customer experience
Nobody wants to order something that is no longer in stock and find out about it with a call back from a distraught salesman who just lost a sale and perhaps, a potentially loyal customer. Real-time data availability helps to eliminate such situations. Integration ensures customers always have instantaneous access to order status, inventory, pricing, and so on.
- Reduction in operational costs
Good systems integration significantly reduces operational costs: there's no need to hire additional staff to manage data and update fulfillment information since such menial tasks are performed automatically.
Pitfalls of eCommerce Integration
Integration challenges in B2B are all mainly associated with either complexity of the IT ecosystem or the ecommerce platforms’ varying degrees of integration ability. Speaking from experience, it’s quite common to find B2B still using monolithic solutions or obsolete communication channels between trade partners, such as emails for order processing or Excel spreadsheets for keeping track of data. Since some of those tools in use are entirely unsuitable for integration, it takes time to process, convert, or transfer data from those obsolete tools into something much more manageable and identify the underlying interactions and boundaries between different applications.
Then there are master data and catalog enrichment challenges that require the processing of additional data, or pricing challenges and identification of the underlying logic of price regulation, and so on.
The main challenges, therefore, are related primarily to the understanding of data flows and getting those flows in order rather than the integration process by itself, which becomes easier the more developers familiarize themselves with data and business logic.
Examples of B2B eCommerce Integration
As Bosch wanted to manage its own front-end development, Virto Commerce developed a solution around the company’s front-end technology stack. The result has been the development of the Bosch Thermotechnik Sales Digital Unit, a loyalty portal where customers register Bosch Thermotechnik products in return for exchangeable points that they can use to purchase marketing materials, professional tools, or clothing from Bosch partners. In a loyalty portal, every brand/country has its own fulfillment providers that upload goods and marketing materials to the store. Thanks to Virto Commerce, Bosch has been able to connect with more than 60 fulfillment providers with 3,000 SKUs available per brand or country and roll out its loyalty program in 26 countries.
How Virto Commerce Helps with Integration
Virto Commerce can be a perfect interaction point for data consolidation that's needed to build a seamlessly functioning digital catalog so that customers browse through it, switch to various personalized offers, complete an order, while Virto processes and aggregates data from different systems according to order status.
Think of Virto Commerce ecommerce platform as an architectural basis for the integration of different systems and the meeting point of all business logic, API or SDK, that effectively links all software modules into a single interface.
Furthermore, Virto Commerce can serve as a gateway for integration with other services that need a different integration architecture and algorithmic solutions, such as non-real-time services. Virto Commerce ensures that users interact with those systems in real-time and that this interaction does not depend on the stability of external systems.
You can read more on integration, its associated challenges and solutions, in a series of articles we did on the subject by following the links below:
E-commerce integration, Part 1. The need for integration in enterprise e-commerce
E-commerce Integration, Part 2. The Real Challenges of eCommerce Integration
E-commerce integration, Part 3. Growing number of dependencies between apps as an integration challenge
E-commerce integration, Part 4. How Virto Commerce can help with e-commerce integration
ERP and e-commerce integration scenarios, Part 5. Overview and point-to-point integrations
ERP and e-commerce integration scenarios, Part 6. Using integration middleware