Today small and medium size businesses use free open source scripts to setup their online business. This is certainly an exciting challenge and retail opportunity. They will find that applications like Magento, Open cart, wordpress Woocommerce or Prestashop come with a huge list of functionalities to help them out. Quite often, e-commerce websites come as the first applications these modern merchants start with. As they grow and they run their business they realize that their company requires more applications to manage their shop efficiently, to cover legal aspects (Accounting, Human Resource), to manage their inventory (warehouse, retail point, supply chain, shipping and delivery), to provide the best user experience to their customers (customer relationship management, marketing), to rank first in the main search engines like Google. It is clear that your sale points are crucial to your business but they are NOT the centre or gravity of your IT organization.
To cope with this growing and complex environment, e-merchants buy add-ons from developers and marketplaces – link to Themeforest Prestashop and Codecanyon – to communicate with other applications. They buy modules for exporting data from their shop to CRM, SCM, marketplaces to name few.
Quite often e-commerce software editors release new versions to bring new features, new themes, new modules, to fix defects and these changes make modules incompatible with previous versions every 12 to 24 months. Therefore it is crucial to think ahead of your business needs and to setup the right tool chain. Ideally it would be good for your business to switch from one tool to another in the same business area: Prestashop to Magento, Salesforce to quickBooks and so one.
There are no solutions coming from a single vendor. However, more and more tools are pushing their API SDK based on the REST technology and the HTTP protocol.
Let’s consider Prestashop. It comes with an advanced REST API. The web service endpoint was introduced in Prestashop 1.4 and has been updated with new concepts as the number of releases increases. What’s the point? There are few modules you should never buy. Developers who sell modules that could be a standalone application on its own are probably doing the wrong thing. For example, I will NEVER BUY an integrated ERP for Prestashop. Too expensive, too difficult to develop/maintain.
You IT landscape should look more like in the picture below. Your applications should not be build around just one aspect of your business. Tool vendors will never tell you this king of truth because they think they will miss opportunities of selling useless expensives addons.
Ideal E-commerce company IT Landscape
It is probably better to buy an ERP application off the shelf and to fetch resources from Prestashop using either the native REST API or a home-grown software kit.
the management of a business requires company owners to operate more and more tools. Combining the right tool suite helps to last longer whiling focusing only on the most profitable part of the retail activity. You should make sure you identify accurately your needs and for every single aspect you decide of the right tool to implement them. For example, e-commerce scripts/websites should only the interface for your customers to navigate your catalogue and buy your products, not your CRM, not your support website, not your accounting application. The use of bridges based on (secure) web services helps big pure players like amazon offer a huge range of services while they run smoothly. They are examples to follow.