We’ve heard plenty of our clients complain about siloed information trapped in different platforms. If only our Shopify could talk to our point-of-sale (POS) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM). While most software as a service (SaaS) programs like HubSpot, Salesforce and the like have built-in tools that allow them to easily sync-up, many companies are using business systems that pre-date SaaS and don’t have these plug-and-play architectures.
Yes You Can
The good news is that there are ways to connect these platforms that can dramatically improve business performance and streamline operations. We can build custom interfaces that can have a POS update inventory as sales are made, and that inventory can be linked to e-commerce platforms and warehouse management systems. The technology for this kind of integration is called an Application Programming Interface (API), which at its most basic serves as a door or window into a software program, allowing other programs to interact with it without the need for a developer to share its entire code.
Everyday examples of this type of integration include things like connecting Google Maps to your “Contact Us” page so that people can find your business from their computer or phone. Your site and Google Maps are two different “programs,” and Google has created a tool to allow any website to access its mapping program.
One of our clients is a local network of motorcycle dealers, and the parent company has a proprietary POS system for all of its franchisee. They want to use HubSpot for marketing automation and as a CRM, but only if it can communicate with the POS. We helped them define the requirements and build the interface to make that to happen.
Another client uses Shopify for e-commerce and needs it to communicate with a legacy POS in order to have a real-time view of inventory and can see all sales information in one place. Again, we helped them define the requirements and to build the integration to streamline information management.
Another common request is for e-commerce sites like Shopify and Magento to connect to shippers like FedEx and UPS to be able to automatically calculate shipping weights and shipping costs. This is becoming a “must have” for e-commerce sites to remove friction from the online shopping experience.
Making it Happen
Think of APIs as creating a translator for computers. All of your programs can be broken down into the basic elements of data, 1’s and 0’s, and customer interfaces deconstruct data from one platform and translate it into the language spoken by your other platforms. SaaS platforms like HubSpot and Shopify have these translation systems already in place, and it’s pretty easy to get them to talk to one another. For others, a custom interface is required. The cost for these translators varies, depending on the complexity of the languages the systems speak and the number of platforms that need to be integrated.
So far, though, we haven’t found one that couldn’t be done.