For growing merchants, one of the first areas of operational need comes in the form of order management and processing. Many successful merchants are now finding that the volume of orders they are getting from their Magento Enterprise ecommerce site is exceeding their operational capabilities to pick, pack, ship, price and stock consistently. They need a tool that helps manage the back office and warehouse which they can quickly and easily tie into their Magento Ecommerce solution.
For merchants just venturing into this space, evaluating the different options can be a daunting task. When looking at ERP systems vs. a more narrowly focused set of order management tools, it can be hard to understand the differences between these platforms. Generally, order management tools will be focused on managing your stocking warehouse and the pick, pack and ship processes. They may have some financial tools, but they are going to be restricted. ERP systems generally take into account things like Human Resource Management (Payroll), Manufacturing, Accounting, Asset Management and other more advanced Finance elements, and potentially other related items like Point of Sale and Vendor / Purchasing Management.
We’ve gone back and surveyed many of our mid-sized customers and compiled a couple of options you should consider when venturing into this area. These are all good tools for processing and managing orders and inventory effectively. They are moderately priced and they have some form of prebuilt integration to Magento that minimizes (but does not completely eliminate) costs of integration. It’s important to note that when looking at order management (and ERP) tools with prebuilt integration, you are trading some flexibility for time to market and reduced cost. Each of these may impose some constraints and limitations along the way, but they offer excellent value for the growing merchant.
We’re listing these products in no particular order and this is by no means a definitive list. And while we’re not necessarily endorsing any of these products for your selection, we do suggest that if you are leveraging Magento and you are venturing into the Order Management area, one or all of these products should be part of your evaluation process.
Option 1, Stone Edge (http://www.stoneedge.net/)
Stone Edge has had a Magento integration tool set for several years. Over time, the out of the box integration package has become more functional and required less and less modification to update the integration work to Magento. Expect that this is something that can be done and implemented in a week or less unless you have a very non-traditional product model. However, if you are running a site with a lot of configurable products, or if you are leveraging non-credit card payments methods (purchase orders, Echecks, etc.), you want to make sure allocate a little extra time for testing and revisions.
Stone Edge also integrates well with QuickBooks and can help bridge the gap from web order to fulfillment to financial management.
Option 2, Order Motion (http://ordermotion.com/)
Order Motion’s Connector is one of the more advanced in the space. It does an excellent job of not just funneling orders from Magento to the central management system, but it also updates Magento’s product and inventory data based orders being received from other channels (such as POS transactions). It does a very good job handling more complex order elements such as drop shipments, multi-shipment orders and returns.
Key element to know about this connector, it requires Magento Enterprise Edition to leverage all the functionality available. Community Edition integration is available, but you would not be able to leverage all of the Order Motion capabilities with community edition.
Option 3, OpenERP (http://www.openerp.com/)
For those moving beyond just basic order management, and ready to begin looking at true ERP solutions, there are a number of options. A strong, open sourced based tool, with prebuilt connectors available for Magento is OpenERP. Open ERP is a more complete and robust solution. It provides accounting, warehouse, manufacturing, Point of Sales (POS) and other modules as you would expect from and ERP system. However, you do not have to use all these modules and the point of sale feature is a fantastic plus for this solution.
OpenERP offers an enormous amount of functionality for the mid sized company looking to expand and grow, but that functionality does take more time and effort to implement. Installing and getting going with OpenERP is a real project, it will take one or more months to go from end to end and will likely require consultation and services from an OpenERP partner. But for those firms looking to establish an ERP instance, this is a good option to consider.