It’s common practice to integrate Magento with backend systems like an ERP/Accounting, POS or 3PL. Integration improves the quality of your business. It ensures critical data like orders, inventory, products, and fulfillment automatically move efficiently and consistently across your systems. When your data is consistent, so are your operations. Your team can stop policing it and instead focus on growing your online business.
Integration is challenging work. Since all software systems require different data formats, it requires extensive knowledge of how each system sends and receives data. Magento integration providers must map data fields between systems per your unique business requirements. Throughout the entire process, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Here are some common problems that can make integration extremely frustrating.
Integrator doesn’t know your systems.
Many integration projects go awry because the provider doesn’t understand the endpoint systems well enough. Your integration provider must know two things. ,
1. How does each endpoint system receive and send data through its interface?
2. How to transform the data so it’s received by the other system?
To do that, you must follow integration best practices. It’s not something you want your integrator learning on the job.
For example, an ERP uses product data in a fundamentally different way than an eCommerce platform like Magento. If your provider doesn’t understand how to overcome these differences, you won’t get the solution you expected.
Integration Doesn’t Handle Data Exceptions
Some integration providers only account for the “Happy Path” of how data should move between your systems. Most of the time data behaves as it should, however, there are exceptions to the Happy Path like an API going down or invalid input data. When not accounted for, data exceptions can routinely break your integration and even result in information-loss.
A sophisticated integration solution should be able to recognize these exceptions and either automatically take care of it or alert users to take action.
Integration is maintained by a single person.
Is your project delegated to a single developer? If so, this means that one person will build, maintain, and support the entire solution. What happens when that developer goes on vacation, becomes unable to work, or leaves your vendor’s company? When something goes wrong, you need to be able to rely on more than just a single person. Otherwise, you could be stuck in tough situations with no one to help.
Integration isn’t actually automated.
In one horror story, we worked with a merchant who thought they had an “automated solution”. They were still consistently losing web orders though. When they investigated, they found out their solution was in fact a lone developer moving order transactions at night by himself!
Integration doesn’t sync fast enough.
Not all integrations sync your data in real-time. Some might “batch” sync, which usually means it’s once a day. Others might only sync every 15 or 30 minutes. These slower sync times put your business at risk for overselling, especially during high-volume sales. There’s nothing more frustrating to your customer than learning the product they bought is actually out of stock. On the flip side, you also don’t want to miss a sale because items aren’t listed as in stock.
While you might be tempted to settle for these slower sync times (especially if the price tag is lower), there could be consequences for your business.
Integration platform goes offline.
Just like Magento or another endpoint system, your third-party integration platform can also go offline for various reasons. If your provider’s platform isn’t available, then you won’t be able to sync data between your systems, which leads to delays and data clean up.
Integration doesn’t throttle for endpoint systems.
Every endpoint system has a level of bandwidth for data (or API calls) that it can handle. If you hit an API too hard for calls, it can severely slow down, or even trigger lockdown, causing data syncs to delay or fail. If an endpoint’s capability is constantly strained, then you’ll spend too much time policing and fixing your data.
Provider doesn’t have a reliable support team.
Who can you call when something goes wrong? Slow and unresponsive support teams can be extremely frustrating. The longer it takes them to fix your integration, the longer it could mean for you to support your customers. Tickets shouldn’t take weeks to fix. How well your provider handles data exceptions and audits could determine how quickly they can support you.
Changing your integration requires a total re-build.
The purpose of integration is to improve the quality of your business. When you’re not policing data, you can focus on progressing your business like adding new complex workflows or sales channels. Depending on how your integration solution is built, it can be very time-consuming and expensive to change it. This happens more often when you have a custom-built solution that is hard-coded to your requirements only. Adding or changing a flow in your integration means starting from scratch. When this is the case, you might be discouraged from investing in a new venture for your business.
Data isn’t secure.
When it comes to data, you must always consider security. Do you need to sync or store sensitive data? Who has access to that data? Does the integration provider need to meet GDPR or CCPA compliance? If one endpoint is breached, is your integration provider able to mitigate risk to the rest of your business? If you’re not sure the answers to these questions, your business’s data could be at risk without you even realizing it.
How to Avoid Magento Integration Problems
Integration projects between critical systems like Magento and an ERP, POS, and 3PL system take extensive knowledge and time to be built right to meet your unique requirements. As showcased above, there a handful of scenarios that can turn projects into disasters. How do you avoid such problems?
It’s important to educate yourself on issues like these and so you can vet providers. Ask them the hard questions. If they can’t give satisfactory answers, it could be time to look at something different. Luckily, a sophisticated integration solution won’t result in problems like these.
Want to learn more about Magento data management? Listen to this podcast between nChannel, JetRails, and 121eCommerce that covers the pros and cons of connecting Magento via its APIs, flat file import and export, and direct to its database.