Considering a Magento Epicor® Commerce Connect™
Prophet 21 Integration?
What's best for your business?
When you are considering the future of your business, can you trust your distributorship to a general-purpose online selling tool such as Magento or will your customers be served more effectively by an e-commerce platform that was designed for distribution?
A brief P21 e-commerce history
For many years, B2B Seller was the system created by Epicor® that was integrated with P21.
For a variety of reasons, many distributors found it was inadequate in many ways for their e-commerce needs.
Recently, Epicor decided to refocus efforts away from a system created with distributors in mind and instead decided to promote the usage of a general-purpose e-commerce system (Magento) via Epicor Commerce Connect.
Why Is Magento A Challenge For Distribution?
It wasn't made for distributors
Magento was made to fit the needs of shops selling a relatively small number of products online. This ecommerce software was not designed with the intent of surfacing catalogs of thousands or hundreds of thousands of items such as are commonly found in distribution. Epicor Commerce Connect is not the integrated e-commerce solution appropriate for a distributorship.Intended Use
Magento was not created with distributors in mind. While distribution has some relationship to retail e-commerce, the customer base is usually significantly different with different expectations. Ideas such as custom part numbers, alternate part numbers, complex customer-specific pricing, ship-tos from the ERP and other things that distributors take for granted are foreign concepts to Magento. And even if they were added, they were done via customization which leads back to security issues...
Magento is a very popular e-commerce platform... however, with popularity comes risk. As an open-source product, the code of Magento is publicly available. Any ill-intentioned person or group can review the code and find flaws to exploit. This means that constant upgrades are required in order to maintain a secure site. When Magento is integrated, upgrades require that you first make sure the new version is compatible with the customizations to enable the upgrade... if they aren't, you either risk breaking the Prophet21 integration or you have to wait to upgrade risking the security of your site and users.
One of the arguments for Magento is the plugin architecture it provides. Unfortunately, a $99 plugin often receives very little scrutiny or review. In many cases, plugins are the normal causes of bugs and security issues. If a plugin sells for $99, can the developer really afford to spend significant time on perfecting and making it secure? What seems like a benefit quickly becomes a liability.
Concerned about outdated Magento versions?
The square peg, round hole problem plagues a Magento integration. To make it do things it wasn't initially conceived to do (e.g. invoices, statements, most integrated customer service functions) requires customizing Magento. While this might seem great at first, the problem is every time a new Magento version is released, this integration must be reworked. If the Magento change is large, the integration work will be significant and take time. That's like constantly aiming at a moving target. Will you be forced to use a Magento version that is old and outdated, potentially with security flaws that cannot be patched because updating would break the P21 integration?
Linux and MySql
Neither Linux or MySql are negative. However, as a distributor, do you have expertise in managing either of these systems? If you do, how does it compare to the systems you manage daily for Prophet21? You probably already know Windows and Microsoft SQL, is it cost-effective to learn yet another system? If so, do you have the ability to maintain and update yet another set of systems?
Given these systems drive a website, security must be a consideration. Do you have the skills to manage these systems and keep your website, customers, and related data secure? Most distributors find that managing servers is not a core competency and they are better served with systems that use Windows and databases they are already familiar with.
Without special add ons or customization, Magento lacks powerful search. It is limited by SQL-based searching which, as many users have experienced in P21 keyword searches, is not able to satisfy the search needs of end-users.
Magento largely focuses on e-commerce retail sales and as such is not a powerful content management system. Having a single source of updating both marketing and e-commerce data is extremely valuable to most distributors as it allows them to focus on tasks that drive profits rather than learning multiple systems.
No Single Source Customer Service
A final challenge for most distributors is that Magento lacks a single source you can contact for your Prophet 21 commerce connect integration. You may use one group to do design, another to do integration, yet another for hosting, and then hope that a final group will offer support. A single-source provider is a powerful force for the modern distributor. Having a single source for all your website needs means you can turn to someone who knows your business, cares about your relationship and is able to provide support for your entire system.
Why Does Epicor Recommend Magento for Prophet21?
That's a question we cannot answer. Our opinion is that the Epicor software B2B Seller quickly became outdated and inadequate for most users. They needed a solution and chose to recommend a lesser solution rather than put more effort into B2B Seller.
Why Is WebAlliance A Better Choice?
We will leave that evaluation up to you, the reader.
- Our integrated e-commerce platform was created specifically for distribution by experts from the industry.
- We offer a single-source solution with values that are not often found in the IT industry.
- Our solution is cost-effective and supported from our US headquarters.
- Our customer experience team is friendly, helpful, and interested in serving our customers with quick response times and solid answers.
- WebAlliance is SEO friendly. You can easily be found on Google and other search engines using our platform.
The features of the WebAlliance e-commerce system are unmatched
- Many things 'just work' reducing time spent by the distributor
- Our e-commerce search is powerful and allows customers to quickly find the products they want
- We have very tight integration to P21 allowing for customer-specific pricing, inventory, customer info, invoices, statements, and much much more
- WebAlliance was created with the mindset that, as a distributor, you have specific needs (different from a retailer) and we want to help meet those needs for you and your customers
Our market is distribution
Unlike 'job shops' that will do whatever work will pay for a given job, our company is focused on the distribution industry and specifically making distributors competitive in today's challenging technology market.
Since distribution is what we do daily, we understand the needs and challenges unique to the industry and continually improve the WebAlliance E-Commerce platform to help meet those needs.
If you are a little unsure about these questions, you are not alone.
Many clients have turned to Aldrich Web Solutions because e-commerce solutions integrated to P21 is what we do.Click here to see some of our work
Spend your time doing what you do best:
Serving customers, making deals, and building relationships.
Not worrying about security, patching servers, and dealing with hassles.
Our e-commerce platform (WebAlliance) was built from the ground up to help distributors
WebAlliance was designed to be integrated with your ERP
Grow your business and serve your customers via an online sales channel
Design, Implementation, Integration, Hosting, and Support are all available under one roof
We know P21 ERP software and we know distribution
If this doesn't sound like your current e-commerce platform, you should check out how we can help you make that a reality.
Click below for more info about our Integrated e-Commerce Platform, WebAlliance.Learn More