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Kristopher Pursel May 16, 2019

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Adapting to customer expectations is a common concern among B2B businesses using the Epicor Prophet 21 ERP. It’s 2019 after all, and your B2B customers expect B2C-like shopping experiences and customer service.  

But how do you upgrade to a market-leading eCommerce platform like Magento without switching ERPs or disrupting business? How can you bridge the gap between the old world and the new?

With Magento Epicor Prophet 21 integration!

Why Magento Epicor Prophet 21 Integration?

Epicor built P21 decades ago to meet the needs of B2B businesses. It was popular among wholesale distributors because it could support many distribution models with features like:

  • Contact management
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Account billing information
  • Customer-specific pricing and discounts
  • Invoicing
  • Tax calculations
  • Logistics and shipping automation

For a long time, these features were more than enough. But those days are over. B2B eCommerce has changed and will continue to do so. Pretty soon customer ‘expectations’ will become requirements, and customers will choose business partners who can meet them.

Without help from a future-ready eCommerce platform, Epicor P21 cannot support the needs of the changing B2B market. For example, even with P21’s recent update, its user interface assumes that your customers know exactly what they need and where to find it.

…and you know what happens when we assume…

It’s time to rely on data. Mckinsey’s B2B customer experience research reveals that today’s B2B customers want:

  • Better search options
  • Easier product browsing
  • Unified content access from multiple devices
  • Quick reordering

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Today, services like Amazon Business and eBay Business offer robust and satisfying B2B shopping experiences that customers want. This means that integrating your ERP with a modern eCommerce framework is the only way to compete.

Magento Benefits for B2B Businesses

We’ve already discussed the pros and cons of Magento 2 and how the platform can support B2B business growth. Today, Magento (the company) is working hard to enhance its platform’s already impressive suite of B2B features. These include:

  • Corporate Account Management
  • Quoting
  • Streamlined ordering and reordering
  • Custom catalogs and pricing
  • Payments on account

This makes Magento a great solution for wholesale distributors running the P21 ERP, which lacks the bells and whistles of a modern eCommerce platform.

The Best of Both Worlds: Prophet 21 + Magento

You’ve got Epicor Prophet 21. Magento has the scalable eCommerce features you need to thrive. All that’s left is to connect them.

So far so good, except that every business uses Prophet 21 differently. This means that there’s no out of the box solution (a connector) that can integrate Epicor P21 with Magento.

Don’t get discouraged.

“Just because Prophet 21 is a legacy system doesn’t mean it can’t remain the foundation of your business. But the integration with Magento is complex, so you’ll need a qualified development partner to make them work for you.”

– Mayank Agrawal, Chief Technical Officer, DotcomWeavers

The Magento P21 Integration Process

Your developer will help you create a custom integration plan. Though each approach will be based on different requirements, most integrations follow the same process.

Start by preparing your systems:

  1. Install the API module for P21 on the internal network
  2. Expose APIs to the outside world via the Firewall access
  3. Establish relevant credentials and API keys so that only authenticated users can access the API.

Technical Note: The default P21 APIs sometimes lack required functionalities. Your Solution? Custom APIs that Magento or a similar framework can use to connect with Epicor P21.

What Does the Integration Do?

Epicor P21 provides an API add-on. Once enabled, it opens the P21 system to talk to any external system via SOAP-based Web Services. Magento allows consuming APIs using SOAP-based services to establish a connection between the systems.

Customer Data Management & Acquisition

  • Customers records are verified from P21 and created on Magento
  • Information from new customers who sign up on the site is sent to P21, which creates new customer accounts
  • Magento’s B2B module and Prophet 21 both allow the company and contact management
  • Existing customers on P21 can create and link their account online through express registration. This validates their accounts and registers them on the Magento system.

Product Master Data

  • The integration syncs key information about products (SKU, Title, Description, Specifications, custom File IDs, etc.) on Magento and Prophet 21.

Product Pricing & Availability

  • The Magento – P21 integration allows live Product Pricing.
  • Magento pulls customer-specific pricing from P21 and displays it for users logged in on the site.
  • When customers view product listings on the site, the P21 checks product stock, and availability and then displays the inventory status on the website.
  • Product inventory changes happen in real time. If an item is sold on P21, it should no longer be available on Magento.

Order Information & Fulfillment

  • Information from orders placed via Magento syncs automatically with the relevant customer account on P21.
  • When P21 processes orders, invoicing, shipping and tracking information updates on the Magento customer account.

Elements Payment Integration

  • Epicor’s Elements Payment Solution processes and stores credit card information via the Elements Gateway in a PCI-compliant mechanism.
  • The elements gateway only accepts orders with verified funds on credit cards. This reduces instances of bad or failed credit cards.

Questions You Can Expect from Your Developer

To determine if Magento Epicor Prophet 21 integration is right for you, your development partner will (and should) ask lots of questions. Here are 7 questions we ask every business before they commit to the integration.

  1. Does your ERP have an API or data exchange interface available to connect with the eCommerce Storefront?
  2. What kind of data exchange do you need from your ERP? (Products Master Data, Inventory & Pricing, Customers, Orders, Shipping and Tracking?)
  3. Does your business have customer specific pricing?
  4. If you answered ‘yes’ to question 3, the follow-up question is: do you need pricing specific to individual customers or to certain customer groups?
  5. Do you want bi-directional sync of order data (i.e. have orders placed outside the online storefront also be imported to the storefront)?
  6. What kind of payment processing workflow does your business have?
  7. Do customers pay online before their orders are sent to the ERP or are their cards authorized and then charged on the ERP?

It’s time to Integrate and Adapt

Though it’s a legacy ERP, Epicor Prophet 21 can still support your business for years to come. That is if it’s integrated with a modern customer-friendly eCommerce platform like Magento.

This integration eliminates the need to change your ERP system – a huge task. Instead, you’ll get streamlined data flow AND a fresh eCommerce site that gives your customers the convenience and ease of use they demand.

Still wondering if Magento Epicor Prophet 21 integration is right for your business? Get in touch with us for a free consultation or leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!

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