How to Get More Bang for Your Buck When Integrating Magento and Microsoft Dynamics GP

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There are a lot of good reasons to integrate Magento eCommerce storefront with Dynamics GP, the most compelling of which is to avoid manual key entry which is time-consuming and error-prone. In the retail business, order errors are costly and often painful. Incorrect prices, quantities, products and shipping addresses make for very unhappy customers.

Although that perspective on integration is accurate, I think it is a bit narrow. There is so much more you can achieve with a good integration plan. For instance, you can also:

  • Standardize your order-to-cash process across all of your sales channels
  • Centralize and synchronize your item catalog information
  • Provide near real-time inventory updates to all of your channels
  • Consolidate order information in one location to better service customers

Attaining this level of integration leads to happier customers who are willing to spend more in your store. So how can you accomplish this in your business?

First, choose the right type of integration platform

Not all Dynamics GP to Magento integration options are created equal:

Custom development – You can create the integration yourself using basic APIs. But most companies don’t have the staff or time to take on the commitment of supporting and maintaining custom code, especially as Microsoft and Magento release new versions of their solutions. Custom solutions also don’t assist with common eCommerce needs such as images for the websites, SEO wording, or extra fields for item information that may not be in your baseline inventory control system.

Dynamics GP to Magento connector – There are a few one-to-one integration solutions available, but their scope is limited. They don’t account for brick-and-mortar stores, online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon, other sales channels (existing or future), or fulfillment via drop ship suppliers and 3rd party warehouses. As your business evolves, you run the risk of buying and maintaining multiple point solutions, increasing your IT costs and complexity.

Multi-channel management (MCM) solution – A multi-channel management platform supports many-to-many integrations, manages business processes and provides order visibility throughout its lifecycle. MCM solutions are designed to meet your needs now as well as in the future.

Second, get the right features

Before you select an MCM solution do some homework. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses inherent in Dynamics GP and Magento, and also your business needs – now and in the future – with both a tactical and strategic eye. With that knowledge, choose an MCM solution that offers features that will help you overcome your existing systems’ weaknesses, leverage their strengths, and will grow with your business in the long-term.

Operational Features

Order processing – Orders should be able to be processed in the integration solution as well as in Dynamics GP. This enables remote sales and the ability to edit orders as needed.

Item catalog management and merchandising – Not all item information is stored in Dynamics GP (i.e. long descriptions and images) but you need them online. Your integration platform should upload item information from GP (or other location), enable customization and allow you to choose which items to include in each sales channel. Item updates in Magento should be automatic when changes are made in GP.

Full order-to-cash cycle – The integration platform should support bi-directional data flow for the entire set of transactions in the order-to-cash cycle including order, invoice, payment, purchase order, and shipping notice.

Inventory updates – Inventory may come from Dynamics GP – or it could come from third-party suppliers, warehouses, etc. The integration platform should be able to accept inventory information from multiple sources and push it to all affected sales channels in near real-time.

Business intelligence – You should be able to view all customer and order activity in one location so you can provide immediate and reliable customer support.

Support Features

Audits and alerts – If something goes awry, not only do you need to know immediately but the source of the error should be identified to speed its resolution.

Customer support – Online stores are available 24 hours a day; your customer support should be too. If you experience a problem on a Saturday, your integration provider should be there to help you troubleshoot and resolve any issues.

Version upgrades – Magento is extremely full-featured and robust, yet new functionality is constantly being added. Some updates are simple technical changes, while others – such as search-based product suggestions and consumer behavior monitoring – identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities and can directly impact sales. To take advantage of such opportunities, upgrades should leverage previous integration efforts so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.

Flexibility and scalability – Be sure your system can adapt to fit your business. You shouldn’t have to change your business to work within the confines of your management platform. For example, if you want to add/delete sales channels or choose to drop ship a specific item you shouldn’t have to buy a whole new solution to do so.

By taking the time to assess your needs and researching integration solutions, you can take simple integration and turn it into a competitive advantage.  With MCM and the functionality described here, even a small business can compete against large retailers and be successful. You’ve made a great choice in selecting Dynamics GP, and Magento is an extremely powerful eCommerce platform. But the advantages of both are squandered if you are losing money and efficiency in your back-end processing. Connect the dots with a full-featured MCM platform. The synergy between your systems will provide customers with a consistent and enjoyable shopping experience – creating satisfied, loyal and repeat buyers.

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