My experience is mostly related to Open Source ERP systems (and eCommerce systems).
The two options you have are:
1. Go with an ERP system that has inbuilt eCommerce.
There are several ERP systems which have this feature. Netsuite is a popular commercial cloud based system that has a built-in eCommerce system. Tryton and Nereid is an Open source alternative (Disclaimer: I work for a company that works on this stack).
At advantages of an integrated system are:
- One database to manage everything from sales to gift cards to refunds to shipping
- Order updates reflect real time across the customers my account page and your ERP.
- No more asking for credit card information when customers want to change orders.
- Shipping (fulfilment) status reflects realtime
- Pricing updates have to be done only at one place
- Possibility to have additional sales channels like a point of sale, a marketplace etc.
2. Go for an eCommerce system that has known integrations with ERP systems.
This is a popular approach too and there is a large plugin ecosystem with most ERP systems that provide integrations. The tricky aspect however is that no integration can be a 100% tight. So you need to analyze if the integration covers the features critical to your workflow. For example, most integrations provide importing of orders, but if your business uses gift cards extensively, you might want to make sure that the integration handles gift card and related accounting well.
A few disadvantages of the approach is:
- Maintaining integrations when either of the softwares change is costly.
- Introducing a feature on either systems will need development on the other. For example, if you want to use reward points on webstore, your ERP might need it too.
I will be happy to take a call to understand your use case.
I've created quite a few online stores in the past 6 years and it depends greatly on the volume that you plan to manage.
If you are running a basic ecommerce site for selling products and your sales process is fairly straightforward (checkout, ship, done) then you will probably do fine with whatever tools are included with your shopping cart software. (Shopify, Magento, Woocommerce, etc).
Now, if you handle a more complex sales process (partial payments, support fees, manufacturing, drop shipping, etc) then I would definitely recommend trying out an ERP or at the very least a CRM to keep tabs on your clients and your communication with them.
There are some nice free tools out there like Podio that can help you create your own custom CRM or ERP to fit your needs (no coding required) in a drag and drop manner.
If you prefer a more hands-off approach, there are tools like Infusionsoft that have automation workflows. You could set up things like: creating a task for a sales rep to follow up with someone has not paid a late invoice in two days. Or send customers an automatic e-mail as a follow up a few days after the purchase, etc.
I hope this answers your question, let me know if need anything else!
Depending upon your business type and budget there are many ERP solutions available to cater your need.
Let know if your business is small mid-sized to provide you appropriate Erp examples.
Your functional requirements may be covered in free Erp solution also.
I would never say that there is one "best" ERP solution for an ecommerce business as there are many factors to consider. Rather, I would encourage you to consider the specific needs you have in your business and then determine how you can leverage an accounting or ERP system to support these.
A couple of areas I would encourage you to consider are: the integration(s) you will require with shopping cart sites, inventory systems, dropshippers, shipping services etc. The types of products you are working with will also help to determine the type of inventory accounting requirements you are going to require.
As to whether an ERP solution is 'needed'...well, I can say from personal experience that I have seen many businesses significantly improve their efficiencies and profitability through implementing an appropriate solution. However, as with anything, spend the time either internally or with a consulting partner to determine the requirements your organization has. A good consulting and implementation partner can lead to great success of a ERP implementation, and a bad one can make you wish you had never taken the plunge.