In the last blog post, I promised an interview with Christoph Batik from Keynet, our partner and an eCommerce agency offering all-round services for online shops on the basis of Shopware and Commercetools. I wanted to find out how much difference it really makes – using an iPaaS for an eCommerce agency’s integration issues.
Keynet plans, designs and builds various eCommerce web projects and offers consulting services. Keynet became our partner last year and they’ve been using our Sphere.io and SAP ByDesign connectors for integration needs for quite a while already. So, I was curious about use cases he’s had to deal with, and what difference using our integration platform together with the connectors brought in general.
Ok, Christoph, so, what are the most standard use cases you’ve experienced with eCommerce integration in general and with Sphere.io and SAP ByDesign in particular?
Some use cases concern only the data flow from an ERP system to an online shop, some vice versa. When it comes to the first direction, I mean from ERP to online shop, the most standard requirements are the import of products and warehouse stock levels as well as their ongoing synchronization, the synchronization of pictures and order status updates. Not every client requires the latter, though; some do not want this feature at all, some just don’t send a tracking links in general. But if this feature is activated, then it notifies the end customers automatically as soon as the status of their order has changed, e.g. if their package is already on its way.
As for the data flow going from the online shop to the ERP system, then we’re talking about the import and synchronization of orders and customer data.
By the way, speaking of synchronization. Depending on the use case, the required synchronization frequency can be very different. With customer data and orders it should be every 3-5 minutes; product synchronization can be run once a day, preferably at the night’s time. As for the the stock level synchronization, it really depends on the customer’s needs: generally, every 30-60 minutes is enough, but some customers need it only once a day.
Is it the same for any online shop + ERP integration, or is some of the mentioned above specific to the Sphere.io eCommerce solution and SAP ByDesign?
Basically, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Sphere.io or Shopware, or Magento, or any other eCommerce solution. The same is for an ERP system. It’s always about products, warehouse stock levels, customer data and so on. Sure, there are some technical differences, but the standard requirements are always the same.
The marketing message for an iPaaS is that it saves time, costs and development efforts, no matter what iPaaS provider you take. Is it really so from your perspective?
It’s definitely true that the pre-defined connectors that your iPaaS provides save our time and money immensely. For example, currently, we have a project where we need to connect an online shop to the SAP ByDesign, which the customer has already been using. And we don’t have to programme anything ourselves; we only need to integrate the interface and see how it’s working.
Of course, if a customer needs something specific, for example, add extra custom fields like order shipping type or one telling if customer agreed to get newsletters, that would require extra time and efforts.
But all in all, it can’t be compared with doing everything on your own. See, depending on it’s complexity, it takes from 10 to 30 days to programme an average interface. With elastic.io, it’s… well, sure, initially it took us a bit longer than it does now – learning the platform, learning the connectors and all that. Now we need about 10-15 hours for an integration. Even if you include time for testing and the general time buffer, it’ll still take us 30-40 hours – and not 30 days.
So, instead of dealing with one and the same project for 30 days, my team delivers the services in one day and can concentrate on other projects immediately after that. Ok, maybe this sound a bit pretentious, but in the end it’s what it is – you save time on one end and get can devote more time on the other end – covering more projects, improving your own product/services and eventually making more money. Also, thanks to saved time and efforts, you have the budget for other, new shop features, which probably wouldn’t have been implemented otherwise.
Finally, it’s certainly easier to win a project if the costs for the ERP integration are considerably lower.
Keynet is an Austrian digital agency specializing in the implementation of customized and user-friendly eCommerce solutions. Since 2003 Keynet has worked on numerous web projects, successfully applying its core competencies in Usability & Design, Technology and Marketing. Keynet’s customers include B2C as well as B2B companies in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.