Online Marketplaces and Microsoft Dynamics NAV: What to Consider
Online Marketplaces and ERPs
Congratulations, you’ve just signed a Deal with Amazon…now what?
Over that past few years, Amazon and other online marketplaces have exploded in revenue, product offerings, and market presence. Amazon alone saw the number of items it offers grow from 232 Million in 2013 to over 488 million in 2015. Amazon Prime membership more than doubled in 18 months and now targets over 63 million households in the United States alone, with an average Prime member spending approximately $1200 per year.
Are you ready?
Investing in online marketplaces is a very exciting opportunity. Investing in an ERP system that is able to help you succeed with this opportunity is crucial. When deciding what ERP will work best for you, there are a few items to consider regarding online marketplaces and ERP Systems.
Questions to ask yourself when choosing an ERP for an online marketplace.
- How am I going to enter all of the orders into my ERP?
- How do I manage customer maintenance and how do I track my customers? For example, if I have a customer who orders on my website and also is ordering on Amazon, would I want to know that this is the same person? (So as to be able to take advantage of marketing, offers, and recommendations based on purchase history.)
- How can I track inventory and manage warehouses that are offsite? What about the replenishment process? How will you handle Amazon’s replenishment process specifics such as item labels, which warehouse to send to, shipping rules, etc.?
- How do I keep my NAV Item information in sync with Amazon requirements (e.g., Pricing, Availability, Descriptions, Categories, Pictures, etc.)?
- How can I track the different channels that I will be analyzing from my new found profits?
- Can I keep track of sales taxes, invoicing, cash receipts, and all of the fees that Amazon shares? What about customer service, order returns, and order changes? How will I handle these?
- Is my ERP System ready for the growth that I am expecting out of my investment in Online Marketplaces?
This blog will explore these concerns, and show how Microsoft Dynamics NAV can help put you at ease with using online marketplaces and ERP.
Dynamics NAV and Order Entry
You decided that online marketplaces are a great way to get your product available to the consumer. Hopefully they will be placing lots of orders and will help make your brand well known. Online marketplaces typically offer different methods to download and keep track of your orders. This can be in the form of Reports, XML Files, Excel or CSV Files, and other formats.
Regardless of form, there are a variety of ways to enter your orders into your system. The simplest is hand-entering. However, this is also quite time consuming (and prone to error). Dynamics NAV has a great Interface that users can use to enter these orders. But if the volume of orders is more than a few a day, you might want to consider an electronic interface. Dynamics NAV also offers the ability to use RapidStart technology, creating XML Ports, or using Web Services to integrate your orders from your marketer to your ERP. Using XML ports can also be automated using NAV Job Scheduler to seamlessly integrate your orders.
Dynamics NAV and Customer Maintenance
When examining how to maintain all of your customers that a Marketer will provide, ask do I want to know and track who my true customers are, or is an “Amazon Customer” good enough of a distinction? How much information, buying history, etc. do I want? Maybe you only need to track your customers by the Marketer. In many cases having just a single customer (say Amazon) will make it easier to process all of the payments, as they will primarily be those sending you the funds for your transactions. Your ERP should be flexible enough to create customers easily, track sales by who will be paying you, who you sold to, and where you shipped your product.
Dynamics NAV offers such flexibility. You can establish sell-to customers, Bill-to customers, and Multiple Ship-to addresses per sell-to customer. Alternatively, you can, record the shipping address per Order, without the need to maintain all of the data in the system. (In case you do not need to track Mary in IA as a customer.) Either way a professional consultant can meet with you and determine the best course of action that meets your needs.
Dynamics NAV and Tracking Inventory – Multiple Warehouses
When establishing your Online Marketplace presence, you will be establishing a new fulfillment process and potentially a segregated warehouse. ERP systems should have the flexibility to manage different warehouses with different business rules and processes.
If your online marketplace acts as a third party processor, they will fulfill the sales orders, and charge a handling fee for this. You may only need to record the transactions. The key to success is to identify what inventory you have and where it is available to sell it from.
Dynamics NAV offers this flexibility. You can establish multiple warehouses. In each warehouse you can establish business rules such as Picking, Packing, and Bin Management. You can use transfer Orders to manage the movement of Inventory from your existing warehouse to the warehouses that Amazon or your other online marketers fulfill from. You can also use Item Ledger entries to review and report the activity in all your warehouses. This will help you greatly in understanding your inventory and managing it to reduce shrinkage.
Dynamics NAV and Sales Channels Analysis
Use of Dynamics NAV and dimensions can provide you with better understanding of your sales trends. Dimensions are basically tags that get applied to your transactions. You can setup these to track channels, geography, product line, and whatever else you can think of. Additionally, products Like JET Enterprise or Power BI can allow you to analyze the trends of your Online Market presence and prepare for your future needs.
Dynamics NAV in a Nutshell
Dynamics NAV was originally written as a financial package. Built into the package is the ability to invoice your customers, manage receivables, record payments, and manage sales tax. It is designed to provide you the information that you need to manage your business. The flexibility of NAV to work in Order Fulfillment, Online Marketplaces, Manufacturing, and Professional Services industries, makes it one of the best-selling ERP Systems worldwide. Contact ArcherPoint to learn how we can help in your venture into the world of online marketplaces.