Are CRM, ERP and e-commerce becoming one?

More and more of Cantata’s clients are looking for an overall digital transformation, rather than just the implementation of a new CRM solution. A few years ago, there was a lot of focus on digital marketing, and we have some fantastic case studies where we have developed really high volume solutions for large scale B2C marketing – solving some thorny performance and scalability issues with core CRM solutions along the way.

More recently, organisations are realising that they’re missing a trick with their e-commerce offerings. Here, we’ve had some really exciting projects over the last couple of years implementing transformative technology to both large, global corporates and much smaller, niche providers looking to implement or improve their e-commerce offerings.

E-commerce solutions for very simple organisations, with a simple list of products and basic delivery options, work really well – there are a host of options, such as Shopify, to provide a really quick implementation. Similarly, there are some really heavyweight e-commerce solutions with extensive functionality, but with equally extensive integration requirements into your core CRM.

As we have discussed in other articles, CRM solutions are, meanwhile, providing more and more sales process functionality, and much better integration into web content management solutions.

For a while, e-commerce solutions were trying to provide both a rich, extensible user interface, and the back end transactional capabilities that are required to take, process and fulfil orders. Then, the market focus shifted with a lot of talk of “Headless” e-commerce – basically the back end with a bespoke (generally content managed) web front end. This was important to allow really bespoke design and creative for the shop window – but at the same time was making systems more complex.

We find ourselves in a position where a lot of organisations implement a headless e-commerce solution with a bespoke front end, and also have to do a large amount of integration to back office order processing and fulfillment. In some cases, this integration is tying in to CRM, ERP and additional financial accounting platforms.

Yet, we can see that the core CRM platforms now have more and more advanced sales order functionality, have the ability to tie into extremely powerful web portals with strong underlying content management, and often can re-use tried and trusted integration to ERP solutions for supply chain management and fulfillment. It seems there is a lot of unnecessary duplication of effort going on, and huge opportunity to simplify and improve the overall approach.

Cantata has delivered some really exciting projects in the last couple of years focussing on stripping out complexity and providing a much more efficient (both in terms of cost and technology) technical solution by getting the most out of existing CRM technology, integrated to web portals that themselves are content managed with tight integration to the CRM database. The CRM systems can, themselves, re-use close integration to ERP and/or financial accounting tools, allowing true multi-channel deployment re-using the end-to-end order processing capabilities across e-commerce and other sales channels.

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