Integration between marketplaces
Integration with marketplaces such as Amazon, Aliexpress or eBay is an increasingly topical activity given the commercial relevance they have today and will play in the future. Typically the integration concerns the exchange of data between an eCommerce site and marketplaces (for example, I want to publish all the items I have on my site on Amazon) or marketplaces and a management system (for example, I want to see Amazon orders arrive. on my management system).
From a conceptual point of view, integration is a simple operation but for each case there may be pitfalls that are peculiar and the reason for the condition from which you start. Which eCommerce platform do you use? and which version? and then again which processes do you want to automate? only the publishing part of the products? and if so, in which countries? do you also integrate logistics? and VAT services, such as those that Amazon makes available?
Our suggestion is to take seriously a step that if badly coordinated can be frustrating and time-consuming (if not cheap due to a stop on online activities). We put at your disposal all the experience gained by our "solution architects", reporting the elements you need to take into account, the critical issues, some case studies and finally a checklist to take into account before activating the integration.
The first consideration that I invite you to make, when you are thinking about integration with marketplaces, is what are the opportunities that justify taking this path. It may seem like an unpopular approach but when working on elements that can represent the "nervous system" of a company's commercial activities then experience suggests caution..
Conducting this common sense reflection is a duty both for the customer and for the supplier. From direct experience we can say that over the years we have substantially detected two different scenarios:
- professional sellers who manage significant sales volumes. Usually these are sellers who have accounts on the marketplaces already active, which make at least hundreds of thousands of euros every year. The mantra here is "automate".
- structured companies with specialized teams. They are companies, often multinationals, which cannot help but automate, have resources (human and economic) to be able to manage complex projects and a vision oriented in a particular way to the objectives. Here the mantra is "we can't do without it".
State of the art of "As Is" processes
When we talk about integrations, we are referring to the exchange of data between software. However, we must remember that data interchange is made possible by human activity: people are always at the center. When an integration becomes impossible to complete it is because the people have failed, not the software.
In the case of the automation of business processes, for example the publication of many articles on Amazon or on eBay, it is essential first of all:
- that there is great knowledge of the state of the art about the software used, the versions, the architectures adopted, the systems infrastructure, etc.
- that the processes are clear to the entrepreneur and to all members of the organization who are involved. Furthermore, it is essential that the same processes are formalized.
The temptation into which we risk falling when we talk about integration is to review all the processes from the beginning, when instead automation should face the streamlining of a repetitive activity that is well known. An analysis of how the organization behaves, who are the subjects involved and what are the expected benefits is what we must start from to succeed in integration.
If you've never had the opportunity to do this, try a simple pattern using a notebook and a ballpoint pen, as in the example below:
- "when an order arrives from Amazon, the secretary Marta receives an email notification and reaches the Seller Central to fulfill the order"
- "Marta copies the buyer's data to an excel file to notify the courier of the taking and make the shipment"
- "the same file is then sent via email to the warehouse worker - Luca - who prints it to prepare the orders"
An analysis conducted in a professional way - then - must necessarily go down to an in-depth technical level so that, beyond the processes, the different systems can dialogue according to a common language.
What often happens, for example, is that the coding of the products that the seller has adopted is different on the various sales platforms: this starting state makes any integration impossible and must be noted in the analysis phase.
Types of data exchange
There is a form of standardization in the exchange of data between systems thanks to the diffusion of sets of procedures called API (Application Programming Interface).
The fact that many software companies make their APIs available to third-party developers means that they are available to "talk" with the whole world.
A metaphor to explain what bees consist of, if you do not have technical skills, is that of the house and the fridge. Imagine the house is the software, like Amazon's Seller Central. You want to get a bottle of water in the fridge but Amazon doesn't want to give you the keys to the house, because they would actually hand over the property to you. With the API it succeeds: it makes the house available but reserving you access to a limited use (take a bottle of water from the fridge) and without necessarily handing you the keys.
The spread of bees represents a Copernican revolution for the whole world of development and made possible what would have been impracticable before their advent. The exchange of data through the API takes place with xml or json files but these are technicalities that we do not want to go into here.
In many cases, company management systems that perform accounting and warehouse functions, which often struggle to keep up with technological progress, do not have this technology. Therefore, you need to equip yourself with less advanced exchange systems - however effective - such as .csv or .txt files
The integrations that are based on the exchange of data in this way generally preclude high performance (for example, updating the quantities available in the warehouse only once a day) but it is certainly simpler and faster to implement.
Missteps to avoid
In our experience, it makes sense to approach an integration project with the right caution.
Conceptually, an integration is something very simple which consists in exchanging data between software. According to a functional perspective, however, every integration presents pitfalls that those who are familiar and experienced know well.
In the document that you can retrieve for free by filling out the form, you will find some valuable information that can help you spend your time in the most effective way and with an objective orientation.
The skills that are required on the marketplace or eCommerce front have a meaning for you related to the Architecture of integration.
The certification process, which remains free, passes from joining the eCommerce Manager training platform, which you can do whenever you want. We will take care to verify that the technical skills are appropriate for the activity that is required and, if necessary, to support a resource to give you the right support.
If you work for a company that wants to make use of our services, you will have the opportunity to take the certification in the path that we will face together. However, registering at the eCommerce-manager.org is the first mandatory step to be taken.
eDock: discover all the advantages
Real-time updating on all platforms
eDock has a powerful notification engine that sends every single change relating to the quantities available in stock and prices in real time, to give you the opportunity to synchronize the stock of your products in stock with eBay, Amazon and other available marketplaces, in Italy and in the world. Thanks to this automation, eDock allows you to avoid negative feedback for those orders that you are forced to cancel if the purchased goods are no longer available.
API for integration with your management system
The set of REST APIs that we provide you with allows you to make technical integrations with any software, using the eDock engine as if you directly own its technology. Many companies have already integrated their company management with Amazon or eBay, through eDock. In this scenario of use, eDock allows you to receive orders from Amazon or eBay directly on your management system or on your ERP and to keep the stock of your products in stock in the "online shopping centers" synchronized.
Differentiated price lists by market to sell at different prices on the platforms
With eDock you have the maximum commercial flexibility and the possibility to differentiate the selling price by market. You will thus be able to sell the same product on eBay Italy at a price, different from the one at which you sell it on eBay Germany, different from the one you sell it on Amazon. The flexibility of eDock, in this sense, allows you to be present with a commercial formula of appeal even when you "drown" the shipping costs in the price of the product.
Communication flows to facilitate your team in order management
eDock provides flexible and efficient order management. You can decide, in a completely personalized way, which "path" to take your order once it has been received. For each change to what is defined as "progress" of the order, then, you can trigger automated email communications that are directed to the customer or to the members of your organization.
Order tracking id on all markets
If you sell on marketplaces, you know the importance of keeping the "online shopping center" informed about the status of the shipment. With eDock you have the possibility to enter your "tracking number" so that eDock is concerned about communicating it to the reference platform.
Export to courier software
Exporting orders to your trusted courier is a useful feature to save you a lot of time. The function allows you to export all data relating to the recipient and to the destination to send the goods to the applications of the carrier called to perform the shipment.