Challenges of e-commerce integration with SAP

– three pillars of cooperation
Challenges of e-commerce integration with SAP
Published
25th May 2022
In the past two years e-commerce services and online sales, both B2B and B2C, have grown rapidly. Businesses of almost every specialty learned to move their operations into the virtual world. However, in order to use the full analytical potential of the tools implemented in the company and accelerate internal processes, it is necessary to combine them into one coherent ecosystem.

Our experience allowed us to identify three areas that may prove particularly challenging in integrating e-commerce engines with SAP systems.

1. Choosing an engine

A range of opportunities are opening up to entrepreneurs beginning to sell online using e-commerce platforms. They have to choose the one they will launch in their company from a whole bunch of solutions meeting the basic assumptions.

It is important that the decision is preceded by a thorough, multidimensional analysis, both from the technical and business point of view. It is necessary to define strategic goals, precisely establish the service areas within the platform, and outline the points of contact between e-commerce and other departments of the company.

Already at this stage, when building the solution concept, i.e. the Business Requirement Definition, it is worth making sure that the people who will be integrating the ERP system in the future, e.g. SAP with the e-commerce engine, participate in the discussions. Their previous experience in this area will be an invaluable asset. This will help collaboratively define the technical requirements of the potential platform that will best meet the business expectations of the company, while being the least labor intensive to implement and integrate. In addition, the skills of consultants in both areas, combined with the client’s knowledge of the industry, may result in a synergy effect – creation of completely new, unique solutions for the recipient, or even optimization or automation of business processes.

As the modules offered by e-commerce do not always reflect the features of organization management systems, in-depth analysis and delineation of integration paths are also necessary when integrating the SAP system with an already functioning platform. Here, the prior experience of the consultants working on the project will also be particularly important. Knowledge of SAP and the shopping platform will help them create optimal connections between the tools. The broader perspective will also make it possible create a connector application between the engine of the e-commerce platform and SAP, which will facilitate integration in the case of very complex processes.

2. Communication

The second priority to focus on, after selecting partners to execute the integration and delivery of the e-commerce platform, is consistent communication. You have to find a common language and take care of it down to the smallest detail.

The basis for further work will be the verification of key nomenclature. As each party operates in a slightly different environment, misunderstandings can arise. For example, the term “business partner” can have different meanings depending on the specifics of a business. For one party it can mean the supplier, and for another – the end recipient. It should not be assumed that everyone will understand the message the same way.

When coordinating cooperation, the element bringing the team together will be the people responsible for integration. They are the ones who know the specifics of SAP environment, they have already worked with e-commerce platforms, and their experience in business allows them to understand the flows occurring in the enterprise.

Implementing a complex e-commerce platform at the enterprise level, where integration with an ERP system is required, is much more complex than implementing a small online store. Even the tools used to properly design the service are different. E-commerce focuses on the customer journey, user flows, target group characteristics, or internet marketing strategy, while ERP systems are primarily business processes. Proper modeling of processes in the pre-implementation analysis phase, e.g. using BPMN, is not only the basis for the specification of integration, but most of all it presents the actual and/or target course of business processes in a unified way, which benefits all parties involved in the implementation of the platform.
Alicja Słoma
Business Solutions Lead

3. Security

The very implementation of an e-commerce platform and a management support system allows for significant process automation. Still, many tasks have to be done manually, which may result in errors or not seeing the complete financial picture. Combining an e-commerce platform with ERP software means saving even more time and resources, but it should be done according to the highest security standards.

When integrating an ERP system with an e-commerce platform for a client from the automotive industry, we paid great attention to the design stage. Understanding the internal relationships by all parties produced tangible results on many levels. It enabled efficient process execution, but also helped locate areas where some business flows could be improved.
Szymon Nowak
SAP consultant

By integrating an ERP system with an online store, we create a connection between the data processed in the ERP system and the outside world (Internet). Customer data, personalized price lists, and much more, which may be of strategic importance, is processed between e-commerce and SAP.

This is why, in the case of environments such as Magento and SAP, communication between both systems is prepared and tested even before the implementation of individual interfaces begins.

It is key to identify the security requirements that will be met by all suppliers.

Summary

  • The experience of the integration team is crucial for efficient implementation, information exchange, and may result in additional benefits. It is worth using it as early as at the concept stage.
  • Before you start working together, find a common language and make sure all parties understand the basic concepts.
  • Integrating SAP with e-commerce platforms requires adequate data security. Make sure suppliers have the required competences.

If you are considering integrating your SAP system with one of the leading e-commerce platforms such as Magento 2 (Adobe Commerce), Sitecore, or Salesforse, contact our consultants who will be happy to answer your questions and provide an offer supported by years of experience!

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