8 Essential Tips for Choosing an ERP for Your eCommerce Store

8 Essential Tips for Choosing an ERP for Your eCommerce Store

Congratulations! Your business has grown to the point where it is out growing many of the systems and processes that have contributed to its success.

You need to do something fast, or the quality experiences your customers have come to expect will begin to suffer.

That realization has brought you to considering Enterprise Resource Planning software for your business which has led you here today, searching for help. And here we are, offering it up in this guide.

Here’s what’s on tap for you in this guide:

A Brief Overview of ERP Software and Its Uses
Questions About Your Business You Need to Ask
Questions About Your ERP You Need to Ask
Five Possible ERP Solutions for Your eComm Biz

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

A Brief Overview of ERP Software and Its Uses

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning software. It’s a SaaS, or software as a service, product. Its purpose is to take various business processes and put them all in one place.

Some of the more common business processes ERP systems are developed to help you manage and streamline are:

  • Supply Chain Management
  • Inventory Management
  • Human Resources
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Project Management
  • Order Processing

ERP systems include some combination of these processes grouped in ERP modules. Industry-specific needs vary vastly from a manufacturing business to your eCommerce store, for example.

Imagine tracking sales and customer service, supply chain management, and human resources issues like onboarding new employees and getting rid of inventory management headaches all with one simple ERP solution.

Business management and business growth can both be easily monitored with one software solution.

Now that we’ve covered what Enterprise Resource Planning system can do for you, let’s examine what you need to do before choosing one.

Questions to Ask About Your Business

Just as every business is unique, so is nearly every ERP software on the market. You need to make sure that your ERP system best meets your needs.

No paying for more than you can use, and no leaving some area or function out in the cold.

Essential Tip #1: What do you need in ERP software?

Most ERP systems are highly customizable, but you have to start with the right “bare bones” before you can flesh them out to fit your eComm business.

So what business process needs do you need to be met?

Sit down and determine just which business functions your eComm store is using and which ones you need help with.

You may want to ask our more experienced forum members which processes they’ve integrated with their ERPs. They can also help you pinpoint future processes and functions that your business isn’t ready for yet, but soon will be.

That way, your present and future business needs are as completely covered by your ERP choice as possible.

Essential Tip #2:  What do you already have?

You’ve probably already got some form of inventory tracking system in place. Maybe a CRM, too. And definitely, ordering and accounting are covered. Supply chain and human resources may not be as big a deal yet, but maybe they are.

All of these existing systems and processes you’ve already got up and running either have to be replaced by your ERP system OR they have to integrate with it.

Take a look at what you’re already using. Make a list and compare it to the various ERP systems available. There are hundreds of ERP systems to choose from, so finding one with your specific needs should be possible.

Here’s a video from ERP company Blue Link about integrating their ERP with Shopify.

Essential Tip #3: What’s your budget?

Just as there are hundreds of types of ERP software to choose from, they range widely in what you get for the price.

The average price of an ERP implementation, according to a 2020 report, is between $150,000 and $750,000 for a mid-sized business. A small business can expect to pay a bit less, $75,000 to $500,000.

Essential Tip #4: Who’s in your business?

While the ERP system you choose has to fit your business and budget, it should also fit your people.

Does your “tech guy” have any previous experience with ERPs? What’s the learning curve vs. the potential of your people to go up against it?

Many ERP vendors offer training and customer support to walk you and your people through using their product. What type of training is offered? Is it free or at an added cost? Is it feasible, accessible, appropriate for your folks?

Who’ll be using your ERP choice is almost as important as the choice itself. A poorly used ERP is no better than the struggles you’re having now.

Essential Tip #5: Do you have a server?

Where are you going to host your ERP software? You have three choices:

  • Locally, with an on-premise server
  • Cloud-based hosting
  • A hybrid system using both hosting methods

Locally hosting an on-premise ERP with your own server carries a huge upfront cost and means you have to maintain that server down the road.

A cloud-based ERP carries less expense but opens you to security risks, as well as integration and migration of data issues. A cloud ERP system also requires compatibility testing to ensure everything works as it should.

A hybrid ERP combines the best of both systems. You can get more customization without some of the hassles, making them a more practical solution for many.

Questions to Ask About Your Enterprise Resource Planning Choice

There are certain things your ERP should be able to do besides streamline some of your business systems and processes.

Essential Tip #6: Is it mobile-friendly?

An ERP leashed to a desktop will quickly become the loneliest software system in existence.

Your business uses mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, sometimes simultaneously from multiple locations. A mobile-use ERP is a must in today’s business world.

Essential Tip #7: How easy is it to implement?

All the benefits of ERP software for your business get lost if the ERP is too difficult to implement and deploy.

A highly-complex ERP in the wrong hands is pretty much useless.

There are professional services that can help you implement and deploy your ERP. Are you capable of a DIY, or do you need additional help?

Essential Tip #8: How Easy Is It to Update?

There’s nothing more dangerous to optimal functioning than outdated or obsolete software, especially an outdated ERP that has so much of your business on its plate.

If your ERP choice, however, requires an expert consultant every time it needs an update, there’s more to add to the cost of running it.

5 ERPs Right for eCommerce

This table compares five top-rated eCommerce ERP software systems across 13 popular eCommerce ERP modules. Check them out. Maybe one is the right fit for you.

Then, head over to the forum and ask around. You just might find other ECF members who can give you some real-world advice.

Saleswarp Blue Link eCommerce ERP ERP5 eCommerce Priam ERP Epicor for Retail
Business Size Small to Enterprise Small to Mid Small to Mid Mid to Enterprise Mid to Enterprise
Hosting Cloud, On-Premises Cloud, On-Premises Cloud, On-Premises On-Premise Web, On-Premise, Saas, Mobile
Customization No No Must know Linux No Easily done
Storefront Management Yes Yes Available through separate purchase Yes Yes
Order Fulfillment Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Pricing and Merchandising Yes No No Yes Yes
Payment and Credit Card Processing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Customer Management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Inventory Management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Product Management Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Shipping Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Supply Chain Management Yes No No Yes Yes
Reporting and Analytics Yes Yes Yes No Yes

Businesses and organizations of all sorts use ERPs from these 5 companies. Here’s what the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (that’s soccer team for you Yanks) had to say about their experience with Priam’s ERP.

And here’s what a happy customer had to say about their experience with Saleswarp’s ERP:

Photo by Freepik

Katrina McKinnon
Post by Katrina McKinnon
Katrina is a Charter Member of eCommerceFuel and leads an eCommerce content creation agency. Need content? Blog posts, product descriptions, category content, buyers guides, product reviews and more. Get in touch - www.copysmiths.com

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