That’s right, even today, there are companies still new to the Internet, or at least new to figuring out what’s needed to get orders from their website into their Macola Order Entry system. And the reality is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but the main considerations for putting your plan together are similar across the board: Customers, Inventory, and Orders.
There are several options for determining how you want to map your web customers to your Macola customers:
- All web orders get mapped to a single Macola customer
- Each online customer is mapped to their own Macola customer
- A hybrid approach of a single customer and individual customers
This may seem like a trivial task, however, how you map your customers will affect reporting and the amount of data in your database. If your website is open to the public, or what’s commonly referred to as “business to consumer" (B2C), we generally see option one used so that your Macola customer master does not get bloated with a bunch of names from one-off orders.
If your website is a closed system or requires your customers to be pre-approved, then this is generally a “business to business" (B2B) system. An example would be if you have independent sales representatives, distributors, resellers, agents, etc. which purchase or resells your items. These kinds of accounts generally are configured as individual accounts in your Macola system: option two.
You may also have scenarios where you sell to the public as well as existing/pre-approved accounts, leaving you with a hybrid approach for how you map your accounts: option three.
You already know what you want to sell, and Macola has a whole host of options when it comes to representing inventory. Key considerations would be controlling which items are available, inventory levels, and pricing.
We tend to see companies use specific Macola “location codes” to represent which items are available online, the quantities available, and pricing, but there are a lot of other ways to help you manage online items. When building your rules for what you want to put online, you can get creative, such as using specific product categories within a given location and up to a certain percentage of available, on-hand inventory.
Depending on your needs, you may want to look for a bidirectional solution which allows you to push availability and pricing to your website.
Once you decide on the rules on how you are going to map your customers and items, the next key consideration is getting the orders into the system. The mechanics of how you get your orders into your system depends on the types of solutions you’re using.
Types of Solutions
- Integrated products: Products such as Sniperdyne offer a turnkey solution where they provide a front-end, customer facing web site that captures orders and brings them directly into Macola. Although very convenient, these types of systems are more rigid in that if your needs fall outside the realms of what the software provides, your customization options will be limited.
- E-Commerce Providers: There is no shortage of e-commerce and hosting companies willing to provide a platform for your storefront, and the common consideration for these platforms is managing the flow of data between the website and Macola. Each e-commerce platform is different, yet most of them offer ways to upload product data and extract and download orders. These sites also tend to be more customizable than an integrated solution, however, if what you need is outside the realms of what their platform provides, your customization options will be limited.
- Custom Solutions: Implementation would be very similar to e-commerce providers, however, having a site built to your exact specifications gives you the most flexibility in tailoring the solution to fit your business. These solutions do tend to take longer to implement.
We often see companies that have already invested in a website and are collecting orders but are manually putting those orders into Macola or are wondering if they can get orders into Macola.
If you’re using an e-commerce provider or have built a custom solution, then there are tools known as APIs (application programming interfaces) or SDKs (software development kits) that assist with the heavy lifting of creating the orders in Macola. APIs and SDKs give software developers a way to interact with the Macola system so that Macola business rules are enforced during the order-import process.
Depending on your Macola version, Macola offers various APIs for completing the order-import process. Newer versions of the product are moving away from web services and adopting the REST architecture. As of the time of writing this article, Macola’s implementation of these interfaces is new and limited in functionality. Your developer will need to review the API documentation and determine if this interface is adequate for your implementation. The Macola API comes standard with the Macola 10 product line and is not available for Macola Progression or Macola ES.
Macola’s API is not the only option. WiSys, a highly regarded third party add-on vendor offers a suite of SDKs, one of which is for Macola’s distribution system, which covers inventory management and the order entry process. This SDK has been around for quite some time and works with Macola Progression, Macola ES, and Macola 10. The SDK is a standard .Net library which gives .Net developers easy access to its depth of features. With its maturity and ability to chain multiple processes into a single transaction, this SDK tends to be the go-to solution for building an integration with an e-commerce platform.
Macola has been around for over two decades and from Progression to Macola 10, there are options for automating the process of getting your orders from your website into Macola.
Each integration presents its own challenges and whichever path you choose, your partners at Algorithm will be there to help make your project a success.