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ERP backend worth it if we plan to scale?

Discussion in 'Tech talk' started by Womble, May 26, 2020.

  1. Womble

    Womble Member

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    Hi - new member here, hoping someone has some experience in building the right ecommerce back-end :)

    My wife and I have put together a business plan - in short, its based on e-commerce and having multiple store fronts with a single broad catalogue which overlaps various of the fronts in different areas.

    I.e. one store front might focus on a specific customer segment and be deep in product knowledge/depth, whilst another might address a broader segment and carry more products, but including many of the same SKU's as the niche one, which we would manage as a single inventory/supply/fulfillment setup, just with different front-end branding.

    The key question we're facing right now is whether its worth starting out with an ERP-style backend which supports the scalability (e.g. Odoo / Netsuite), or going with a simpler setup initially which we'll have to migrate off in order to scale.

    Does/has anyone here used an ERP setup to run their e-commerce business, and found it helpful, or problematic?
  2. Womble

    Womble Member

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    So talking to someone today, her recommendation was to pick a simple setup to get the ball rolling and learn, and then make the platform decision further downtrack, as migrating a single store front into a new engine isn't too hard when its still small/simple.

    Woocommerce looks like a good simple option - we already want to move to Xero to reduce the workload on my for managing accounts (been contracting through my own PL for years).

    The question on ERP for an e-commerce company still stands tho - as it looks like many people go for a few key disparate components, and I can't help but feel that will lead to a fair bit of pain on things like version upgrades and keeping integrations running smoothly.
    WillRyan likes this.
  3. Paul - FS Concierge

    Paul - FS Concierge Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi And Welcome to Flying Solo.

    Thank you for joining our community and posting.

    It is definitely a difficult question to answer because the future implications can be huge. On the other hand, it is impossible to determine weather an idea will turn into a profitable business.

    One thought I had is to do some research around who can support modifications in the platform you choose so you can make the modifications you will need to make your business work.

    https://www.blackbeltcommerce.com/ comes to mind.

    Good luck.

    Cheers
  4. flyingsideways

    flyingsideways Member

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    Sorry I have no experience with ERPs but use (and thought of when I read your question) woocommerce. Proving the business concept with as little technical and cost distractions would seem a good low risk approach. Those odoo component costs add up real quick, depending on the budget of your venture I guess.

    Those black belt commerce guys look the goods for shopify, I assume there's a wordpress/woocommerce specialst group out there too for an alternate but similar approach. The benefit of these platforms is there's a competitive marketplace for integrations, where Odoo looks like you only have one choice for each. Anyway, hope you get some relevant advice!

    It's funny, at my 9-5, I'm waaay more strategic looking to solve current and future problems with tech (probably due to the scale) but with our home biz it's all just solving the next problem quickly and as simply as possible!

    keep us posted, I would love to have multiple sites to experiment with, but still hooking back into our single product inventory.
    Paul - FS Concierge likes this.
  5. Womble

    Womble Member

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    Thanks for the link - their blog has some interesting reading.

    You're right - the future implications can be huge, which is why I asked. I've worked on data migrations and build out of reporting and analytics professionally and have seen first hand how big the cost of managing the change is (the technical part is relatively easy - its the not-disrupting part which is a challenge).

    I figure I'd rather be busy running the business than running the migration project, which is why I'd like to figure out the back end to the extent that we won't have to worry too much about it and will be able to focus on building brand, marketing, and improving the customer experience to achieve growth.
    Paul - FS Concierge likes this.
  6. Womble

    Womble Member

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    Yeah - the advice to just get one front up and running was solid, and I've registered the domain name and am writing a content and branding brief to get some graphic design work done for logo's, placeholder page (so suppliers take me seriously), and graphics for email, packaging etc. Hopefully we'll be putting the brief out next week and looking at a first round of candidate designs in a couple of weeks.

    Woocommerce looks very friendly and can achieve the basics, and I work with data professionally, so I'm not intimidated by things like ingesting supplier catalogues, and pushing out a format which woocommerce can easily consume.

    However - whilst I have technical skills - I don't have the time to do it all, so I want to focus on the business growth, and limit my technology involvement to strategic decisions and areas which are key to business operations, like how we get the right data metrics to make good decisions, instead of how to connect which bits of software to which other services.

    While we establish a product set and supplier relationships, and sort out things like packaging, shipping labels, invoicing etc. I can research further, and once we've started shipping products, we'll have a clearer picture of how we want to work, and migrate before it becomes bigger than ben hur!
    Paul - FS Concierge likes this.
  7. flyingsideways

    flyingsideways Member

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    FYI I'm struggling to find a woocommerce plugin that creates the consignment with auspost & returns the tracking info which really surprises me (and see that netsuite, ecorner and neto all do). All the woocommerce ones just to the rates, I'll keep you posted, but another reason to get some advice from people who understand the limitations of the platform, instead of stumbling into them like I am!

    edit, found one, phew! : https://help.blaze.online/hc/en-us/categories/360000072015-Woocommerce-eParcel
    Womble and Paul - FS Concierge like this.
  8. Paul - FS Concierge

    Paul - FS Concierge Administrator Staff Member

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    "but another reason to get some advice from people who understand the limitations of the platform, instead of stumbling into them like I am!"

    I agree entirely with your sentiments.

    Even though you have spent the time and now have something that hopefully works, it is hard to know really unless there are a ton of verifiable testimonials - and there almost never are.

    I hope it works out for you.

    Cheers
  9. WillRyan

    WillRyan Member

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    I would take the advice above and start with something simple. I've seen founders build $50M + companies with wordpress/woocommerce or Shopify. I've worked with multiple teams to build ERPs for a range of global brands manufacturing products locally and overseas and the advice on starting, testing, learning and optimizing is invaluable. You will save thousands of dollars and keep your cash runway for more important things. Starting with multiple websites also seems over kill. I would focus on doing something well first, learn and then move forward to expand. Can I ask what your main need is for starting with an ERP off the bat? Some details on your business model, is it a simple pure play ecommerce focus, as in keeping stock in a warehouse, selling it and shipping it out or does the scope extend further with greater features needed? This would help in making better recommendations. What type of products are you working with? Cheers Ryan
  10. Paul - FS Concierge

    Paul - FS Concierge Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi And Welcome to Flying Solo @WillRyan . It is great to have you!

    Thank you for joining our community and posting.

    Hopefully some helpful members will be along soon with some advice to point you in the right direction.

    Cheers

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