Whether it’s data requirements, payment gateways or third-party functionality, integration challenges can cause headaches for your eCommerce store.
High quality, reliable integrations are a must for creating a high performing solution. Fundamentally, you need your integration to be right from day one. If not, a bad integration will undoubtedly result in a bad site – no matter how good it looks on the surface – and can affect:
- Site stability resulting in downtime
- Syncing of stock levels with the risk of overselling
- Order syncing affecting delivery times and the customer’s brand experience
- Syncing with your order management system causing slow down dispatch or shoppers to even receive the wrong item
- Creation of new products onsite
- Your server, adding excess pressure which causes your site to go offline
- Your site’s ability to scale – and this is often when those integration cracks in begin to show
These are all issues that can impact the success of your eCommerce store, damaging the customer experience, your brand image and conversions.
Methods of integration
When it comes to integrations, there are different approaches you can take. Direct, middleware, flat file and API are the various integration methods available. Each one has pros and cons, the choice typically comes down to the scale of your integration – after all, you don’t want your site being taken offline.
A direct integration involves functionality being integrated directly into your website code. While the result is a deep integration, if you have lots of different channels to integrate into a single system you end up bottle necked by this approach which isn’t ideal.
A middleware integration does what it says on the tin. Acting as the middleman, it bridges the gap between different platforms, applications, databases and channels.
Ideal if you have multiple channels to consider, middleware essentially functions as a hidden translator enabling communication and data management. This approach helps to keep everything in sync, making it an efficient integration method. However, it would be overkill and unnecessarily expensive for a smaller eCommerce business.
Typically used by smaller businesses, flat file integrations are the cheapest to implement but also the slowest. In these cases, a file containing SKUs and stock levels are uploaded, taking one file into the other to update them.
An API integration connects two or more applications via an API, allowing those systems to exchange data. The middle ground between direct and middleware, an API integration allows seamless connectivity between various business processes.
What do you need to consider when it comes to integrations?
Scoping is hugely important to the integration process and we would recommend taking part in an extensive scoping exercise first and foremost.
Taking this approach will help you analyse any risks and consider important considerations beforehand such as:
- Where in your business is the most accurate and best place to work from? Consider your systems, what feeds into what and how does one affect the other?
- Do you need one way sync or two-way sync of data?
- Do you need real time stock syncing? Could there be a risk of you over selling if it isn’t real time?
- What are your third-party integration requirements such as payment gateways or site search functionality?
- If one of your platforms goes offline, how does this affect your other channels? Levels of redundancy should be considered within this, so your whole site doesn’t collapse if something goes offline.
Signs of a good integration agency
Integrations can be complex and hold the power to impact your eCommerce store negatively when not done properly. We recommend working with an agency who has extensive experience in integrations to mitigate the risk as much as possible.
Here are a few pointers on what to look for to help you find the right agency to support your integration needs:
- Prior experience and examples of working with a large volume of data
- Able to demonstrate they’ve worked with businesses who had huge data sync requirements
- Extensive scoping documentation to pinpoint your requirements and really understand your needs
- Pay attention to the questions they ask and the recommendations they give. What integrations does your agency suggest and what are these suggestions based on? A good agency will outline both the pros and cons, allowing you to decide what’s best for your business
- If third party integrations are what you require such as a payment provider like Klarna or search technology like Klevu, speak to the third party and see which agency they would recommend
- Look for an agency who knows the whole market. Your agency should be able to recommend partners across all requirements from warehousing to tax to email – not just core eCommerce functionality
Most important of all, aim to seek out an agency with proven experience and a sound technical expertise who can show they understand your challenges and provide a solid solution.
Our integration experience
We’ve stressed the need for high quality integrations and how a bad one can seriously hinder the success of your store. But not all agencies have the same experience or capabilities to implement effective integrations.
As a Magento eCommerce agency, we’re fully aware of the unique challenges integrations can present. Deploying our specific set of technical skills, we’ve integrated many Magento sites with a range of third-party systems and bespoke technology for clients including Casio, N.Peal and Regis to name but a few.
Partner to many of the world’s leading technologies including Yotpo, Nosto and Klarna, we can lend a helping hand with security, flexible payments, enhanced site search and personalised shopping experiences. Quite simply, whatever your integration needs, with our specialist expertise we create a smooth onsite experience for your customers.
Need a hand with your Magento integrations? Get in touch with team Pinpoint.