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Do you track your potential customers with a CRM?  Is your inventory managed by an ERP system on the web? Is all of this integrated into your website so that everything is all seamlessly working together without any manual data entry? The answer to most of these questions for the average small to medium size business is often no.  However, in today’s digital age, automating as many elements of your business without compromising the quality of that piece of your business can be the difference between keeping the doors open or not.
With the advancements in web technology and cloud software over the past decade, it is now more affordable than ever to find software that may help you automate parts of your business, or to hire a company to build a custom web app to do so for you. One of the best ways to do this is to integrate Magento eCommerce with your CRM and ERP software.  Magento is open source, meaning it is possible to manipulate the power of Magento eCommerce into almost anything you need it to be because you have free access to the code, rather than not being able to add core functionality like most hosted platforms.
Having Magento connected to your ERP, CRM, and an email marketing platform will allow you to seamlessly keep track of inventory, sales, customers and sending out emails to customers or potential customers all within one system.  This is incredibly powerful because you will not have to go back and forth managing each piece of software individually or worrying about what information is missing from each application.  Here is a breakdown of some popular CRM, ERP, and email marketing software that can all be integrated into Magento Community edition at a low cost, making it affordable for the average small to mid-size company.
Integrating Magento With Your ERP & CRM & Email Platform
Customer Relationship Management Software: is a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers using technology such as a web application or mobile application.
If you are a b2b company than you have no excuse to not have some form of a CRM.  Companies like Zoho offer a CRM starting at 12 dollars a month, a tiny expense for any company with massive upside in terms of keeping tabs on all the companies you have made contact with. Here is a list of some good CRM’s to consider:
1) Sales Force: Not the cheapest option, but the leader in CRM technology with the most functionality and ability to integrate with other software. They have all of the mobile products you will need to leverage their CRM wherever you go.
2) SugarCRM: A strong competitor to Sales Force, with a more open source model, is a great option to look at if you are in the market for a CRM.  They are also fairly mobile friendly.
3) Zoho: We see the Zoho CRM as the best value if you are a small company that does not need all the features of Sugar or Sales Force.  If you just need something simple to get the job done, Zoho is inexpensive and has customizable features to suit your needs. Their mobile app is solid, and will help you get the job done on the road.
4) Microsoft Dyanamics: If you rely on Microsoft for many of your products you may want to consider Microsoft Dyanamics because you can most likely integrate it with other software that you use.
5) OroCRM: Founded by the technical co founder of Magento, OroCRM is built with eCommerce in mind which could be a huge advantage for Magento users.
All of these CRM’s can be integrated into Magento with an extension so that you can sync all of your data between Magento and your CRM without manually entering it. Most of these have dual way integration so that data entered into your CRM will also go into Magento and vice versa.
Enterprise Resource Planning / Point of Sale: An enterprise resource planning or point of sale software is designed to help you manage what products and services are selling as well as the inventory to back such sales.
Unfortunately most ERP and POS systems are relatively expensive compared to the cheap monthly models that CRM’s use to charge customers.  However, if you are careful weighing your options, you should be able to find a good value for an ERP or POS.  Here are some options for ERP and POS. This industry is very fragmented and no company dominates the entire landscape like a Sales Force for CRMs or PayPal for payments.  That means you should really take your time when considering the right ERP and POS.
Popular ERP and POS systems:
SAP: SAP is one of the leaders in the ERP market and can deliver a strong ERP solution to almost any business.
Sage ERP: The advantage of Sage is that they have many different products so if you can find value in syncing their ERP to their other software it may have more value than other ERP’s in which you cannot.
Microsoft Dynamics:  Microsoft has done fairly well in the enterprise market for a long time, and is a good choice if you are a big fan of Microsoft products.
Oracle: Oracle, like SAP is one of the largest database companies in the world and can serve enterprise level ERP needs. If you are a smaller company, this might not be a great fit for you, but larger companies should definitely consider them as an option.
Dydacomp: They are a Magento gold partner and have a great new product freestyle that is a cloud ERP meant for connecting to Magento.
Epicor: The leader in POS technology is actually partnering with Magento in order to make it easier than ever to integrate with Magento eCommerce.
Magento Boost My Shop: This is a cost effective extension to leverage Magento as a POS system rather than buying one from a separate company.
Finding the right ERP or POS for your needs is not easy, and I would spend a lot of time figuring out which one is right for you.  You may want to hire a professional to consult with you on the different options because jumping into one without looking over everything you may need in the future could lead you into big trouble as your company grows beyond what it is today.
Email Marketing Software:
Constant Contact:  The leading email marketing company that offers a great product, however they do not have a free trial.
Mailchimp:   A great email marketing tool for sending out newsletters or promotions to users or any type of email lists. They have a free option which is great for a new business looking to test out email marketing.  Still number two to constant contact but it seems like they are catching ground fast.
Sendicate:  Straight forward and easy to use email marketing tool that offers a free trial for new users.
Icontact:  Another great option for email marketing, however they do not have a free option so if you are still new to email marketing you may want to go with one of the free versions.
There are many more email marketing platforms, but these are some of the more popular ones that can also be integrated into Magento. Having your email marketing integrated into Magento along with ERP and a CRM will allow you to leverage the full power of the Magento platform. Search Magento Connect to see if the applications you want to run have an extension to be integrated into Magento.  If they do than as long as it is a good extension, you should have be able to have this integrated into your Magento site with the help of a qualified Magento developer.  If there is not an extension, but you still really want this feature, you may have to find a developer that is willing to build an extension for this feature at an affordable cost.
As a company, we see eCommerce as one of the best ways to automate the transaction process of your business.  Even service based companies are finding ways to have their customer’s login and pay on their website rather than collecting checks that might not arrive in time in the mail, and all of this can be done with Magento.  If you can integrate email marketing, ERP or POS and a CRM into eCommerce than you can really power your business with web applications communicating between each other, and you will start to see how efficient a business you can become through automation.
If you want help doing this please contact the team at Trellis and we will be happy to assist you with this.

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