Ecommerce data integration is the process of bringing all the relevant databases related to your business operations under a single platform.
The goal is to make all the data usable by your ecommerce SaaS application.
Ecommerce data integration allows online retailers to access the data stores quickly.
It helps you carry out the required back-end ecommerce operations such as order placement, inventory update, shipping, payment tracking, and more in an efficient and accountable manner.
Ecommerce integration ensures a smooth customer experience and avoids data quality issues.
For instance, if you have yet to implement a proper ecommerce data integration, you might encounter out-of-stock scenarios, display outdated product information, and generally suffer from slowed performance and errors.
Besides strengthening and optimizing your ecommerce operations, data integration also helps you access additional optimizations via features like email automation, automated inventory control, data analysis on user behavior, relevant market insights, and more.
The ecommerce space is highly competitive, and no business can stand against its competition without data integration.
Data integration is no longer a choice but is necessary to expand and grow your ecommerce business in the long term.
Here are some benefits of a well-executed ecommerce data integration:
Expand your customer base: Data integration with the right ecommerce platform allows you to access a wider range of online merchants, thus opening more sales channels.
Better marketing: You get access to massive data from your SaaS platforms, which can be effectively used to create better marketing campaigns, product design, user experience, and more. Omnichannel marketing reaches consumers on their terms, not just through email.
Implement advanced functionality: Data integration keeps you updated with the latest technology and innovative features. It thus helps you introduce advanced functionalities in your ecommerce solutions.
Improve your user experience: Data integration helps you avoid manual errors, data synchronization issues, and data silos across your systems. This ensures that your customers are always presented with accurate and up-to-date data.
Optimized logistics and supply chain: Ecommerce data integration lets you always ensure accurate inventory and customer data. It also helps you track market trends to manage your inventory levels better. This ensures you never go out of stock, as you can directly use the demand predictions to adjust your inventories.
Ecommerce data integration is inevitable if you want to continue to run a robust online marketplace. But how you go about it can either make or break your business.
You must analyze your specific needs and draft a customized data integration plan that helps you efficiently address all your data needs.
So, let's start with the essential requirements that you need to satisfy for successful data integration:
Avoid data silos and perform holistic data analysis to uncover trends and insights.
Consolidates multiple data tools, APIs, and platforms, and bring it all under a single, easy-to-use, powerful platform.
Supports a data warehousing system, allowing easier integration with business intelligence and analytical applications.
Jot down the features you want to implement, such as the email marketing system, order and inventory management, shipping management, etc.
Once you perform your needed analysis and finalize the goals for your data integration process, you must plan. Depending on your needs and existing data systems, most data integrations could take 4 to 12 weeks. It can be a challenging task requiring expert data analysts and engineers.
Thus, you must hire a data team or outsource the operations to a third-party service partner. You should also have a clear idea of your existing data systems, identify the data sources and decide on the data integration strategy you want to follow.
Here are some decisions you will have to make as part of this process:
Choose the type of data integration process you want to follow. Usually, you have the choice of either ELT or ETL pipelines.
You can also use standard integration tools and build custom apps to implement the integration. You should also consider using Reverse ETL and change data capture (CDC) features.
The next big decision would be choosing the right ecommerce platform. Multiple advanced ecommerce platforms come with a myriad of features and pre-built functionality.
Some notable ecommerce platforms include Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, and Squarespace. You can review their feature list and pricing, compare it against your requirements and select the one that fits them.
As your business grows, you will need more hands to work on crucial tasks, such as customer relationship management and enterprise operations. You would eventually require CRM providers and ERP systems that can act as data sources and be integrated under a single platform.
So, it would also be better to plan your data integration with these applications in mind. Ensure your data pipelines can be easily expanded to include future data sources.
The other tools that could act as a data provider include social media channels and your marketing tools. Ensure you account for your various data sources and include them in your data integration plan.
One of the major decisions with data integration is to choose between ETL or ELT approaches. ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load, and ELT stands for Extract, Load, Transform.
The difference between ETL vs. ELT is essentially the order of the Load and Transform processes.
While ELT is preferred when dealing with unstructured data or big data, ETL is used with traditional data sources such as relational databases.
There is another variant of ETL called ETLT. The transformation process is repeated after the Loading process to combine the benefits of ELT and ETL approaches.
Once you have finalized your approach, you can then move on to choosing the data integration solution. Most enterprises build custom data integration tools as their needs are highly complex. But this approach can be expensive and requires in-depth data engineering and coding expertise.
The other alternative is to make use of pre-built solutions. These solutions provide a wide range of generic options and data connectors that adapt well to your needs.
Some data integration application vendors can also provide custom functionalities on demand, making it a cheaper and easier-to-manage option.
Related Read: 12 Best Data Transformation Tools: Top Features & Benefits
Certain essential features must be part of your data integration solution, like:
Change Data Capture (CDC) can help you automatically detect and update data updates in the central data warehouse. CDC can be a great help in optimizing data operations and saving time.
Reverse ETL sends the information to third-party apps and platforms from the central data warehouse. This feature helps you carry out a variety of use cases where accurate data is required. For instance, you can easily run third-party analytical applications with data sent out from the data warehouse.
Besides these features, you should also look into specific features or custom functions that must be developed for your particular requirements.
As an online store, you will need several applications in your toolkit. While you can function without some of these tools, they will become necessary as you scale your business. Here are some basic applications that help you streamline business processes:
Every ecommerce business needs a website. Their website will be their face on the internet and the primary means by which their customers interact with the brand.
While hiring an in-house team to develop a website from scratch is one way to go about it, it is expensive and time-consuming.
The better option is to use a website builder solution embedded with most commerce platforms, such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce.
Unless you have just a couple of customers for your business, you should invest in proper shipping and fulfillment software for utmost customer satisfaction.
It helps you automate the shipping process, track all the details, and ensure your orders are fulfilled on time. Examples of shipping data integrations include ShipStation, Easyship, and EasyPost.
Email is still among the most widely used marketing channels, bringing in much ROI. Using email marketing tools can help you automate your email campaigns, set up auto-replies, organize your mailing lists, and more.
Mailchimp, AWeber, SendGrid, and Constant Contact are prominent email marketing tools you can check out.
Like email marketing, text message marketing offers a simple yet direct way to reach your target audience. SMS marketing is also quite effective in sales and improving customer loyalty.
TextMagic and Listrak, and Omnisend are popular SMS marketing tools you can try for your business.
A big part of ecommerce is handling payments and financial transactions in a business. Payment gateways allow you to embed online money transactions into your websites easily. They take away much of the complexity of building a payment solution yourself.
Payment gateways like Stripe, Checkout.com, and Square provide multiple payment options, an easy-to-use interface, and a secure channel to conduct financial transactions.
Finding a retailer without social media presence in this age is almost impossible. Social media management tools allow you to make the most out of your social media handles, gather data and optimize your campaigns.
Popular social media data integrations include Sprout Social, Meltwater, and LinkedIn Pages.
Many cloud-based and standalone inventory management tools can help you optimize your business's inventory management.
They also serve as another data source that needs to be synced up with your centralized data warehouse so you can make the best inventory decisions based on real data and insights.
Some of the best ecommerce data integrations can be achieved using inventory management systems like Cin7, SKULabs, Sortly, and Zoho Inventory.
As mentioned, CRM management systems are essential for maintaining healthy customer relationships and attending to your customer base.
You should also look into customer support tools and features like live chat and customer support automation. Popular CRM data integrations include Salesforce, Kustomer, Close, and Keap.
QuickBooks is often the most preferred choice among ecommerce companies to handle accounting needs. You can also try alternative solutions like Xero, Zoho Books, and Freshbooks to complete your accounting tasks perfectly.
While these are tools necessary to run an ecommerce business, data integration tools are the ones that let you integrate the data from all these multiple channels into a single centralized repository.
Choosing your data integration tool involves various considerations, such as the approach (ETL or ELT), custom-built or pre-built, pricing, added features, etc.
Here is a checklist of items you can use to make your final choice.
Scripting and custom coding — The level of scripting and custom coding you would need. If you have limited resources and coding expertise, you should look for tools that provide extra support and customization.
ETL vs. ELT — This decision depends on the data type you deal with. Understand your data models and sources and how best to integrate them into the centralized repository. The data integration tool you select must have the required features to support your product data pipelines. Otherwise, you'll have to build custom connectors for your data sources.
Standard connectors — Besides your internal data sources, pulling data from common channels like social media and SaaS platforms is a good idea. See if your data integration tool supports these standard connectors and how well you can adapt them to your workflow.
Data warehouse support — Your data integration tool should work well with the data warehouse solution of your choice. So make sure they are compatible and easy to adapt if you are to change your central repository later on.
Leverages automation — Automation is a great way to scale up your data integration tasks and free your data team from manual data entry for the more crucial development and innovation tasks. Automation also rules out any human errors.
Related Read: Data Management Best Practices: Strategies & Tools for 2023
Portable is a highly acclaimed user-friendly data integration platform providing 500+ ETL connectors for all top data warehousing systems. It supports Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, MySQL, BigQuery, and Google Sheets. It has excellent support and comes at flat pricing, making it a suitable choice for any business.
500+ data connectors with unlimited data volumes
On-demand custom ETL connector development with fast turnaround times
Hands-on customer support
Portable offers a generous free plan with the manual data sync functionality. Its paid plans offers scheduled data syncs for $200/mo. per data flow. For enterprise support and advanced capabilities, contact the Portable team for a reasonable quote.
Segment is another popular data integration tool that works with real-time data. Companies often use it to quickly and easily gather and unify data from one platform to another.
Segment comes with a free plan that has limited capabilities. The paid versions start from $120 per month, and the overall pricing could vary depending on your custom requirements.
Dataddo is a no-code cloud-based data integration tool that works with a wide range of BI tools and data warehouses. It provides a single admin center to manage all your data streams. It is best suited for companies looking for a quick solution to work with their existing BI templates and data warehouse systems.
Easy to scale
No maintenance required
No coding required
Quick and easy deployment
You can start using the tool for free with a free trial of 14 days, after which you can either go with a free tier plan or paid plans that start from $35 per month.
Hevo data is a reliable data integration tool allowing bidirectional data flow and no code deployments. It has a solid customer base in over 35 countries, serving over 500 enterprises.
Excellent assistance with dedicated data architects and account managers
The paid plans from Hevo Data come at a monthly starting price of $249. It also provides a free plan which comes with limited features.
Synder is a data tool that offers specialized functionality, mostly catering to accounting and sales data management. It can significantly help ecommerce platforms as it can connect with multiple payment processors and accounting solutions.
Payment processing and online payment portal support
Easy product mapping
Integration with accounting systems
The starting plan for Synder starts at $11.10 per month. And its costliest tier, named Large, comes for $199.99 per month. You can also get a free trial for a limited period.
Related Read: 100 Best ETL Tools for 2023: Ranked & Rated