Frequently Asked Questions
E-Commerce and ERP Integration, and Sana Commerce Explained
What is e-commerce?
E-commerce (or ecommerce, eCommerce, or one of countless other possible variations) simply put, is the concept of buying and selling online. Everything from buying from a local artist via their Etsy store to winning a bid on eBay and even automating huge business orders via EDI: it’s all e-commerce. While the e-commerce landscape is diverse, the online commerce channel you’ll be most familiar with is the web store.
How does e-commerce benefit my business?
Launching an online sales channel offers many of the same benefits as digitizing other parts of your business: it can help you save time, cut costs, and minimize the risk of human error. But e-commerce offers many other benefits as well.
Unlike brick-and-mortar stores or physical warehouses, your customers can access your web store from any device and at any time. This means that (prospective) customers can browse and buy whenever they want, without being limited by location, opening hours, or your staff’s availability. And, unlike traditional print catalogs, you can continuously update your web store with the latest products, prices, inventory data and deals.
The exact benefits e-commerce offers your business depends on your web store solution and strategy. Here at Sana, we’re firm believers in the benefits of ERP-integrated e-commerce. By using your Electronic Resource Planning (ERP) software as the single source of truth for your web store, you’re able to unlock even more benefits. For a full overview of what integrated e-commerce can do, download a free copy of our ebook, The Benefits of Integration.
Can I have more than one web store?
Yes! Many companies choose to maintain several different web stores. You could choose to have a different web store per geographical region, but also to cater to different audiences or industries. You can even set up a separate web store for your different brands.
When it comes to web stores, there’s no limit to the number you can launch: whether you have one or one hundred, all that matters is that your strategy is tailored to your online customers’ needs.
I already have EDI. Why do I need e-commerce?
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is a great way to automate bulk orders from your customers. This lets both you and your clients save time and energy while ensuring that they always have enough of their key inventory in stock.
However, EDI isn’t suited to all types of purchases. In our experience, companies use EDI to process 75% of their orders. That means that a quarter of your total orders still require your customers to reach for the phone, or send an email (or even a fax). It’s less convenient for everyone involved, and much less efficient and profitable for you.
Then there’s the matter of marketing. Unlike EDI, a web store makes it easy for (prospective) customers to browse your entire product catalog. This offers more cross-selling and upselling opportunities, and increases the chance that they will find relevant products that they maybe didn’t even realize you stock.
In short: while EDI and web stores do overlap to a certain degree, web stores offer your business opportunities that simply aren’t feasible with EDI.
How easily can I integrate an e-commerce search experience into my online store?
This depends on your chosen e-commerce solution. Many web store software solutions come with built-in search features and functionalities. However, the effectiveness and user-friendliness of the search capabilities can vary from solution to solution.
For example, our own e-commerce software offers free text search, wildcard search, and search box autocomplete for web store visitors who know exactly what they’re looking for. If a visitor has a general idea of what kind of product they need but isn’t quite sure, they can use the Sana web store’s filtering options, narrowing down the number of products displayed based on predefined characteristics. This ensures that customers can easily find the product they need, whether they have an exact item number or nothing more than a vague notion.
I want to learn about e-commerce. What would you suggest?
There are so many e-commerce resources online that it can be difficult to find a place to start — not to mention a reliable source. We’ve used our own years of online sales experience to create a wide variety of concise, high-quality resources for everyone looking to learn more about e-commerce.
Watch the webinar to get tips and insights on everything from e-commerce strategy to data analysis. (Can’t free up the time to watch the entire video? Go to our Online Sales Success in 6 steps infographic. And if you like what you see, head over to our webinar library to see which other topics we cover.
Our blog features accessible, frequently updated articles on everything and anything e-commerce. What better way to keep up to date on the latest trends and get handy tips and tricks?
Our white paper library covers everything from e-commerce for specific industries like electronics and manufacturing to e-commerce challenges like customer experience and omnichannel. And don’t miss out on the original research in our annual Digital Transformation Report!
Check out the other sections
What is an ERP? And does my business need one?
An ERP (Electronic Resources Planning) system is software that helps you manage your business processes. What kind of business processes? Essentially, whichever you like. There are lots of different ERP solutions out there, ranging from small-scale ERPs that let you manage your accounts and inventory to massive systems that let you manage everything from international supply chains and payroll to industry-specific processes.
Does your business need to ditch small, targeted applications (or even Excel sheets) and make the switch to an ERP solution? That depends on your business needs and ambitions.
If you’re interested in spending less time on existing processes (through automation and optimization ), consolidating your business data and building a strong foundation for your future IT landscape, then it’s probably a good idea to start looking into ERPs. If not, then you’re probably fine with your current setup.
What ERP systems do you integrate with?
The Sana Commerce web store software integrates with Microsoft Dynamics and SAP ERP systems. We currently offer on-premises and SaaS integrated e-commerce solutions for:
I want to learn about ERP. What do you suggest?
Want to get a better idea of what an ERP system can mean for your business? We recommend taking a look at the ERP Software Blog, which features articles from Microsoft Dynamics partners and ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) like us.
Our own technical specialists have created guides to the various ERP systems Sana Commerce integrates with. You can find this documentation here.
If you already have a list of ERP questions you want answered, it might be time to look for an ERP specialist. These companies can implement and optimize an ERP system so that it perfectly supports your business processes. Not sure where to start your search? We have a large global network of partners who are specialized in Microsoft Dynamics and SAP ERP systems.
How tight is your integration? And what’s the degree of integration?
Here at Sana, we are proud of our software’s 100% seamless integration with SAP and Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems. Our web store solution can exchange data bidirectionally and in real time with your ERP, without affecting the performance of either the ERP or the web store.
This is possible because of how we approach integration. Instead of creating a complex and fragile web of connections between the web store software and the ERP, part of Sana Commerce is installed inside your Microsoft Dynamics or SAP system. This not only streamlines the exchange of information between the two systems, it also makes for more straightforward, less error-prone upgrades.
Because our software is installed inside your ERP system, the quality of our code is of the utmost importance. This is why you will be happy to hear that our integrated e-commerce solution is certified by Microsoft Dynamics and SAP.
Are you willing to integrate with an ERP outside of Microsoft Dynamics or SAP?
The different versions of Sana Commerce were designed specifically for the SAP and Microsoft Dynamics ERPs listed here. Achieving the same level of integration with a different ERP system would require a lot of development work.
If you would like to discuss this option in detail, get in touch with your local Sana Commerce office.
We host our ERP on premises. Is that a problem if we want a Sana web store?
Not at all. An on-premises ERP system is still compatible with both SaaS and on-premises versions of Sana Commerce.
Check out the other sections
How customized can I make my web store?
This depends on the kind of Sana Commerce solution you select.
If you choose Sana SaaS, customizations are possible. However, not everything can be customized at this time: only the areas of the software that currently have extension points available — shipping, for example. We are constantly adding new extension points, which means Sana SaaS is becoming more customizable with every release.
The on-premises version of Sana Commerce already offers extensive customization options. Our teams of solution architects are able to make virtually any adjustment necessary to ensure your Sana web store perfectly suits your business needs.
Can you calculate shipping rates directly from the item page in Sana Commerce?
The shipping rates for each of the shipping methods you have configured are displayed at checkout. The shipping rates are calculated by your ERP system, not Sana Commerce. All the data necessary to calculate the exact shipping costs is already present in your ERP, after all: Sana simply retrieves the final result instead of recreating the business logic.
When calculating the shipping, all items in the order are taken into account. This makes it easy for your customers to select the most cost-effective shipping option.
What shipping carriers do you integrate with?
Sana Commerce currently integrates with FedEx, UPS and USPS.
What add-ons are available?
You can use an array of add-ons for shipping and payments, as well as sales tax calculation, email marketing, and more.
Which system owns the master product catalog?
Sana Commerce retrieves the product catalog data from your ERP system. This ensures that product information in your web store is always up to date, and means that you only need to manage product data in a single system.
What type of account information can customers view?
Sana Commerce uses your ERP system as its single source of truth. That means that it retrieves product and customer information from your ERP system. As a result, your customers are able to view the kind of information you expect — addresses, order status, and so on — but also information that wouldn’t be available in less tightly integrated web stores, such as orders placed via other channels.
The account information your customers can view includes:
- Company and customer details
- Order history (across multiple channels)
- Order templates
- Pending orders and quotes
- Order line status with track and trace information
- Return orders
- Sales agreements
Please note: the availability of these features depends on the ERP you use. You can see which customer service features are available for your ERP in the corresponding Solution Highlights document, which you can download here.
How often do I have to upgrade or update the software?
The frequency of updates — and the actions required on your part to implement them — depend on the Sana Commerce solution you choose.
If you use Sana SaaS, our cloud-based software as a service web store solution, you do not need to perform any updates yourself. Updates, which we release several times a year and eventually aim to release on a monthly basis, are automatically applied to your web store.
The on-premises version of Sana Commerce has the same functionality as Sana SaaS, but updates are released at a slower pace. Instead of regular updates, on-premises customers can install one or two bundled updates a year. Unlike with Sana SaaS, these updates aren’t automated, and need to be performed manually. However, you can choose to not implement an update, or to update at a later date.
Can the software support different types of products with different attributes?
Sana Commerce retrieves all product information from your ERP system. You can use any product field from your ERP system in your web store. If it’s defined in your ERP system, it can be used in your Sana web store. You can determine per specification whether it’s displayed on the product detail page.
In addition to listing product attributes on the product detail page, certain ERP systems also allow Sana Commerce web stores to display product variants in matrices.
Can different catalogs be defined for purposes other than a business-to-consumer (B2C) store?
While Sana Commerce of course lets you offer a standard online product catalog suitable for all types of buyers, it also gives you the freedom and flexibility to tailor your web store catalog to individual customer preferences.
The customer assortment feature lets you create customer-specific catalogs . This means that when they log in, your customers can view the catalog as defined by you. You can filter out products and items that you know are not relevant to a specific customer, but also display items that are meant specifically for them, or the group of clients to which they belong. Thanks to this feature, it’s easy to use a single web store to serve different customers and customer groups without compromising on usability or confidentiality.
What product attributes can customers search on?
Your customers can search for products based on any product description field defined in your ERP and used in your web store, including, but not limited to:
- Item number
- Rich product description
Is the search engine pre-integrated and catalog aware?
Sana Commerce comes with built-in search functionality based on the Lucene search engine. If you are using customer-specific catalogs, the search functionality will take this into account and only show results the customer is permitted to see.
What website behaviors can be easily monitored?
Sana Commerce is compatible with Google Tag Manager (GTM), so you can use Google Analytics to view and learn from web store visitor behavior. Using GTM lets you view the following behaviors in Google Analytics:
- Views of product list and search results pages
- Views of product details
- Clicks on products or product links
- Adding products to the shopping cart
- Removing items from the shopping cart
- Initiating the checkout process
- Sending the checkout value for specific checkout steps
- Completing the purchase
How long does a Sana Commerce implementation take? What kind of resources are required?
The time and resources required to complete a Sana Commerce installation depends on your business needs. If you do not want extensive customizations, you can get to work quickly with Sana SaaS, which is easy to deploy and benefits from a largely automated rollout.
However, a customized on-premises installation will take longer and require bespoke development work. If the latter better suits your business needs, a requirements study will be performed so that you know exactly how much work will be required to implement and launch your ideal web store.
Can the application support business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) business processes?
Yes. Sana Commerce has been developed so that you can offer a customer experience that lives up to the most stringent B2C standards, regardless of whether you serve consumers, business buyers or both.
Meanwhile, it also has features that make it possible for B2B clients to place their orders online without compromise. Customer-specific pricing, volume/tier pricing, BOM/kitting, requests for quotes, roles and authorizations: Sana Commerce was developed with the business buyer in mind.
For a full overview of Sana’s B2B and B2B2C features, download a free copy of the Solution Highlights for your ERP.
Can the application support other interactions beyond shopping, such as web self-service or customer care?
Yes. In addition to streamlining the order process, Sana’s tight ERP integration makes it easy to share the most up-to-date information with your clients 24/7. If they want to know whether a certain product is still in stock, or the status of their most recent order, they no longer need to call their account manager.
With Sana Commerce, your customers have around-the-clock online access to information including:
- Customer details (also editable)
- Pending orders and quotes
- Order history (across channels)
- Outstanding amounts
- Last viewed products
And much more.
Moreover, customers can even edit recently placed orders that have not yet been processed in the ERP, and pay invoices online.
How do I get information about product upgrades?
We release a variety of materials detailing new product features in the run up to a new version.
You can always access the latest version of the Sana Commerce Solution Highlights in our resources center, for instance. Also, our CPO Arno Ham gives regular webinars to keep our partners up to date on the latest Sana development news. We update our customers and partners as soon as these new materials are available.
How much does Sana Commerce cost?
The exact price for a Sana Commerce web store depends on a number of factors: SaaS or on-premises, ERP version, hosting, number of web stores, extent of customizations, and so on. Do you want more detailed information about the price of a web store that meets your needs.
Can I see a demo of the product?
Yes! You can view a short demo of Sana Commerce for a specific ERP system on the relevant product page:
- Microsoft Dynamics AX
- Microsoft Dynamics GP
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations
- SAP ERP
- SAP S/4HANA
- SAP Business One
- SAP Business One for SAP HANA
However, you can also book a personalized demo with one of our staff. By providing information such as your industry, ERP system and business size, we’re able to tailor the demo to your specific situation and help you get the most complete picture possible of what Sana Commerce can and can’t do for your company.
I want to learn about Sana Commerce. What would you suggest?
Our resources center is full of free factsheets and ebooks covering a variety of topics relating to our software. Here you can download information about Sana Commerce for your specific ERP or industry, as well as more general topics such as security and GDPR. And, of course, in-depth information about our latest product release.
What payment gateways do you integrate with?
Sana Commerce offers payment add-ons for a number of PSPs (Payment Service Providers), including:
- Authorize Net.
How can we ensure only customers can see the prices in our web store?
Sana Commerce lets you enable or disable pricing per audience in your web store. That means that you can define customer groups (B2B, B2C, B2X) and then determine the price visibility settings per audience.
How secure is your software?
Your web store security is of the utmost importance: the last thing you and your customers want is for their sensitive data to fall into the wrong hands because of your online sales portal. That’s why Sana Commerce, in addition to being SAP and Microsoft Dynamics certified, offers a variety of safety features including:
- SSL security support
- SALT added to encrypted data
- Minimum password requirements
- Google reCAPTCHA
- Admin session expiration
For a full list of the security features available in Sana Commerce, download the Solution Highlights for your ERP system.
Can you make recommendations for similar products? Does Sana Commerce have AI or algorithm for product recommendations?
Sana Commerce offers a number of options for cross-selling and upselling. You can, for example, connect products to one another so that your product detail pages display alternative products as well as suggested accessories.
Sana web stores also offer predictive ordering. This uses past order data to suggest items for a customer’s next order, saving time for customers and ensuring they don’t forget to order items that they have ordered frequently in the past.
Check out the other sections
Who are you and what do you do?
We offer the shortcut to e-commerce. How? Through 100% seamless integration with SAP and Microsoft Dynamics. Our e-commerce solution leverages existing business logic and data in powerful and user-friendly web stores. This lets our clients focus on improving customer experience, streamlining sales processes, and increasing sales volume and frequency.
Our innovative approach and strong partner network make Sana the driving force behind over 1,500 web stores worldwide. Because of our experience and expertise, we can go all the way, offering not only a product but also supporting services such as online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) advice, hosting, design and online payment providers.
What makes Sana unique?
Sana Commerce was designed to integrate seamlessly with specific SAP and Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems . Instead of relying on a complex and fragile web of interfaces, our e-commerce solution is installed inside the ERP. What that means for you is that your web store and ERP system can exchange data in real time, without sacrificing the performance of either system. What it means for your customers is a fantastic online buying experience using only the most reliable product, inventory and price information. Every time.
What types of e-commerce solutions do you offer?
We support customers around the globe from 9 offices. You can view our locations here.
Sana Commerce is available in English by default. You can ensure that your web store is available in other languages by downloading and installing language packs. We currently offer language packs for:
- Bahasa Indonesian
- Dutch (Belgium)
- English (Australia)
- English (New Zealand)
- Estonian (Estonia)
- French (Belgium)
- French (Canada)
- German (Austria)
- Spanish (Mexico)
Where can I find more information about Sana?
How do you provide support?
We have an international Customer Success (CS) team dedicated to helping our clients achieve their e-commerce goals. Our CS specialists ensure not only that any issues are resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible, but also that customer feedback is passed on to the right department within our organization so that we can continue to develop and improve our products and services in line with what our customers truly want and need.
As we understand the importance of strong self-service, we also offer a variety of technical resources. We have a Help site providing detailed user guides, technical manuals, ERP user guides, a knowledge base, and more. The Help site is open for all visitors — no login required.
Finally, Sana customers and partners can access the Sana University. This learning offers on-demand training in Sana Commerce web store installation, administration and management, created by experts.