Council Post: Elevate And Future-Proof Your ERP System Through Embedded Commerce
Forward-thinking B2B and service businesses like distributors, manufacturers, wholesalers and even construction suppliers are finding new ways to connect with buyers by turning their ERP solutions into a competitive asset via embedded commerce. Not all ERPs are created equal, and some cloud solutions may be easier to navigate, but even legacy ERP systems that rely on plug-ins and middleware can expand commerce functionality. Today any seller or business, regardless of the solution, can meet their buyers and suppliers through new mediums to sell more, create a more efficient commerce ecosystem and maximize cash flow.
Embedded commerce across receivables and payables is a challenge in the B2B world due to a massive installed base of legacy solutions and outdated business processes. Many companies still use iterations of “on-premise” or “stand-alone” ERP accounting modules and manual processes that were designed for a time when business customers shopped via catalogs and submitted orders that generated paper invoices, to which the buyers responded by mailing checks. And while mailing invoices and waiting for checks still play a big part in the B2B ecosystem, they are massively inefficient and hamper sales.
Sellers now have online web stores for distributors, leverage call centers using CRM software and send digital invoices with online portals. Businesses receive payment via card, wire transfers, automated clearing house (ACH) and even financing or crypto options. If the ERP system doesn’t easily integrate with commerce endpoints, the need to manually process and enter data creates critical bottlenecks. This is a challenge as companies want unimpeded cash flow. An integrated system allows companies to reap the benefits of payments weaved into all mediums, connected back to the ERP solution itself.
Similarly, the automation of vendors and payables can help streamline back-office processes and even help in the procurement of new suppliers. As markets tighten, businesses of all sizes are evaluating processes, looking for efficiency and optimizing cash flow. Embedding end-to-end commerce expansion technology can help drive both outcomes.
Top Three Reasons To Integrate Payments Into Your ERP System
Companies already using a cloud-based ERP system may find it easier to integrate a modern payments system into their workstreams, while businesses using legacy systems may have to upgrade or add additional functionality to gain all the front- and back-office capabilities. Whether you currently use a cloud-based or on-premise ERP, here are three reasons to integrate payments with your ecosystem.
• Sell across multiple channels: Businesses that integrate advanced payment solutions with an ERP and other solutions supporting a business (CRM, website, POS, etc.) can manage payments across multiple locations and channels, including in-person, online and via phone. As direct-to-buyer options proliferate, B2B companies are expanding the channels they serve, and integrated commerce can not only simplify management and reporting but create a seamless and improved customer experience. Adding mobile or online invoice management, a simple embedded recurring or financing option or expanding direct to buyer channels with a new web presence driving sales can all help drive growth.
• Improve internal efficiency: When payments aren’t integrated with all of the customer engagement endpoints and not reconciled back to the ERP, employees have to enter data and even payment information manually, which can increase the possibility of errors like double entries and consume valuable staff time that could be better spent on more strategic tasks. In addition, these bespoke inefficient processes open the business to real security and privacy issues. Integration automates manual tasks, eliminates errors, reduces exposure and saves time. Driving these efficiencies and integrations is critically important, so align with a great VAR and commerce partner to help bring it all to fruition.
• Accelerate cash flow: With advanced payments solutions integrated into workflows, businesses can get paid immediately via digital payments instead of sending paper invoices and awaiting checks. Credentials stored on file and buyer engagement tools can make receivables management much more efficient. Many integrated commerce experiences embedded in B2B workflows, such as payments with ERP integration, can allow you to generate quotes, create invoices, get paid immediately and even reconcile—all in one place.
For businesses that have been using legacy ERP solutions, it’s a heavier lift. Moving from on-premise to the cloud is by no means a trivial project. But I’ve also seen the results, and in my experience, it’s worth it, not just from a payments perspective but from a broader business process standpoint as you look to expand your product offerings.
The pandemic accelerated digital transformation. Customers have new expectations and demands of their vendors. Now is the time to upgrade or enhance your ERP system and integrate a modern payments platform. It’s the natural next step to increasing sales and enhancing cash flow while meeting customer expectations.
How ERP-Payments Integration Can Help You Compete
The primary reasons to integrate payments fully into your B2B world and your ERP system are to facilitate sales across multiple channels, drive internal efficiency and speed cash flow. Integration can also help companies compete more effectively. Implementing an omnichannel commerce solution that provides a friction-free buyer experience makes your business seem larger.
If you’re ready to improve your competitive footing while also expanding your marketplace, improving efficiency and accelerating cash flow, now is a good time to evaluate your options. There are value-added resellers (VARS) and commerce experts who can help you explore what’s available and determine whether the design and options match up with your company’s unique needs.
Whether you need to upgrade your ERP first or find a way to integrate your existing modern ERP with a payments platform, create a strategy that can future-proof your business. Embedded commerce is making significant inroads in the B2C world already, and since your B2B buyers are people with lives outside of work, their expectations are shifting too. When you can accommodate their evolving preferences, that will improve your competitive position and help your business thrive.
By Forbes Business Council | Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/08/08/elevate-and-future-proof-your-erp-system-through-embedded-commerce/