Opting for external eCommerce solutions when running SAP can be a risky business deal, with mounting time, personnel and financial costs. Read on to find out the main challenges you must face when choosing external eCommerce solutions rather than native.
You're going about this in the wrong way. You know you’re looking to expand your business with the addition of an SAP eCommerce platform, but all you can find are external solutions that provide nothing but a pain in the platform... but there is another way. If any of the below problems sound familiar, invest your resources wisely in an SAP-native solution, and you will save yourself a lot of time and money.
Duplication is a major issue in this field for three main reasons: multiple technologies, duplicated data and replicated internal/external support. First off, we have all experienced, witnessed and heard the problems that occur when attempting to integrate platforms of one sort or another, but what about when it's a critical system like your eCommerce platform and your back office systems? To cut the jargon, too much tech spoils the broth! If you could deliver a unified native system where all your platforms spoke the same language, why wouldn’t you? It doesn't really make sense to do it any other way.
Secondly, with external third party solutions, there is a need to replicate data between SAP ERP and the third party eCommerce solution. This can be problematic, costly and severely risky, ultimately meaning that you’re not using real-time data from your SAP platform, or worse, you lose data in between. It can become the bane of your life, but with a native solution, you use the same Master Data as your SAP platform, which provides information on stock levels, pricing information, delivery scheduling and so forth, enhancing your eCommerce solution.
Finally, why would you have a team of people supporting your SAP platform and a separate team of people to support your eCommerce solution, who both require completely different skillsets? This may invoke a costly support contract and most of the time it means both duplicated people and duplicated contracts. One team can manage both! An eCommerce solution which is native to your SAP platform can be supported by your internal team’s SAP skillset.
Combine and Conquer
Integration is another area where your external third party solutions are hugely expensive, complicated and often hidden at blueprint stage, leading to: integration black-holes, complex security and unstable integration. Firstly, it is frequently the case that you have to consider the security of your platform – is this area as secure as the rest of your business? A native solution removes these concerns, with an enterprise level of capability, which comes automatically with your SAP platform and protects it to the same level.
Secondly, integration black-holes are those points of integration between your SAP platform and your eCommerce solution – these weak areas are an opportunity for data to disappear. This links to our third point about unstable integration; external components need to be "knitted" together with your SAP platform to prevent black holes, but this is extremely complicated given their diverse nature. Even when this "knitting" process has taken place, this will remain a point of risk where your eCommerce solution could easily fall down, resulting in errors or even more worryingly, in complete down time.
Toiling Over Technology
We've all sat at a computer before now cursing the inventor, so why make things harder for yourself? This area of technology is difficult to get your head around, but we’ve broken it down into the three most common problems you will encounter when employing an external third party solution: system performance and analysis, specialist developers and changing strategies.
Let's start with system performance and analysis. After all those problems you had with duplication, ask yourself if the overall performance of your system suffers as a result of creating an unwieldy mess of middleware and duplicated data to deal with your eCommerce strategy. The answer is yes, and it makes data analysis and reporting more complicated if it is stored in multiple locations.
When it comes to trying to take your business to the next level, any development will require individuals or teams with a different skillset to what is in SAP. However, with a native solution, you can utilise the skills of your existing team who already understand your SAP platform intrinsically, to make ongoing changes as the eCommerce solution follows an SAP standard structure… but wait! You need to change your marketing or product information at the last minute, so how quick and easy is it to alter your direction? With the native option, everything is simplified, as it is simply standard Master Data, allowing you to make changes quickly and without concern over how those alterations will interact with your SAP platform. A simplified, native solution will always allow for quicker innovation.
If you'd like to find out how you can eliminate duplication and go native, why not take a few minutes to view our Omnia eCommerce solution page.