Digital commerce with Shopify and Pimcore - The Sintra Omnichannel HUB
This is a guest blog post by Pimcore solution partner Sintra Consulting. The original version was published in Italian and can be found here.
Efficient marketing needs structure
Successful digital commerce requires you to automate daily operations such as marketing and sales processes and order fulfillment to spend human resources’ time on choices of "value". Many cloud-based technologies foster this evolution and progress that allows us to focus on activities of great value to make your business live and prosper.
Let's have a look at the daily life of an eCommerce Manager. Every eCommerce has daily needs that keep the staff busy; A webshop, just like a biological system, must be fed with daily updated data and these operations are time-consuming.
We can group these "necessary for eCommerce" operational tasks under the following 3 macro points:
Management of an order’s life cycle
Management of marketing activities
These activities take place on a daily basis in most digital commerce businesses.
We must proceed with the automation of data flows with the aim of collecting, analyzing, predicting, and planning actions based on everything that has been collected. To make it simple, in order to analyze and make marketing decisions, it is necessary to collect data in the first instance; but as we know, data collection is closely linked to the automation of the integration flows between the systems. Effective marketing cannot be achieved without integration between systems and automatic data flows. The "data funnel", which aims to "make decisions on marketing actions to be taken" is:
To communicate all this is a very important and trivial task: time is money.
Centralized data and master data management
In the previous paragraph, we strongly recommended creating integrations between data exchange systems and automatisms, to transport the product, customer, and order data to the "correct" and central positions for the company. If in 2010 the trend was to have monolithic systems to manage all company data in one place, today the technological trend is to use vertical IT systems, such as:
eCommerce as an online sales and purchase system
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) as a central customer data collection system
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) as a central system for managing a company's business processes
OMS (Order Management System) as a system for collecting/managing orders from all sales channels
PIM (Product Information Management) as a product master data management system
DAM as a digital asset management system (images, videos)
and many other vertical platforms for all marketing operations
Many of the systems listed above have common functionalities and features; the CTO’s task is to design an architecture with the software mentioned above, capable of satisfying the business needs and sales channels used. By master data management we mean the corporate data management strategy, or "how a company manages product data, orders, etc. ...". A software solution or an architectural design that includes the "Master Data Management" represents the connection between systems and information. Gathering product, customer, and order data in a single place allows the company to operate a digital transformation based on data, capable of offering valuable insights to improve customer experience via marketing and sales activities.
Which one is the simplest "Master data management" system?
Easy. It is an Excel sheet. But what happens when:
Data has to be shared with others?
There are multiple collaborators/systems modifying data?
There are multiple sales channels creating data (example: customers acquired in physical stores and customers acquired online)?
Everything becomes laborious, complicated, and expensive. This is why tools like PIM and DAM exist.
Today, in 2020, tools such as PIM / DAM, OMS, and CRM, must be connected and integrated to the eCommerce platform. Based on the industry and market need we saw, I would like to tell you how we started with Pimcore and developed a tool that represents our "hybrid vision" of the software listed above. With the aim of quickly, fully and automatically satisfying the "Everyday life of every eCommerce".
Pimcore and the integration with Shopify
For some years now, we have been joining Pimcore with Shopify in our eCommerce projects. The Pimcore Platform includes a PIM/ DAM which is the corporate product repository. It has a user-friendly interface that allows non-technical users to manage product data and its complexities, translations, and attachments in a very simple way. Let me give you an example: You want to add a new language to your product catalog or a new set of technical product attributes? Without the need of expert technicians, add the new interface fields, and import an Excel file with the value of the products, that’s it. With all this power in our hands, it came naturally to us to extend its use to prices, warehouses, promotions, orders, shipments and returns. This is how the Sintra Omnichannel HUB was born.
Sintra Omnichannel HUB
The link between Pimcore and the management of the daily life of an eCommerce inspired us to create the Sintra Omnichannel HUB, a software capable of responding to the requests of any multilingual, multicurrency, multistore, multi-warehouse and multi-marketing eCommerce.
What is the Sintra Omnichannel HUB?
It is a software package, developed by Sintra and based on Pimcore, which consists of 3 parts and has the following features:
- Importing/updating products: multilingual personal data, prices, images/videos
- importing/updating prices: multi-list, sales prices/wholesale prices, importing/updating quantities/warehouse stocks, multi-single warehouse stocks
- managing the order life cycle: a collection of orders coming from all sales channels (or from all Shopify instances/clones), shipment management, connection to "broker" shipping systems such as Gsped / ISendu / ShippyPro
- management of data import and export: Import, by synchronizing data from logistics, ERP, PIM to all sales channels. Export, by synchronizing data from sales channels to third party systems, such as logistics, ERP, PIM, CRM and OMS
- connects to Shopify PLUS (with more than 1 instance) or to N Shopify Standard / Base
- connects to marketplaces (eBay/Amazon to Zalando, Farfetch)
- connects to SAP, Salesforce
We believe that this is the basic tool for all those who want to sell on Shopify and Shopify PLUS.
Here is an overview of the Omnichannel HUB system’s architecture.
The other tools available on the market
Sintra Omnichannel HUB do not represent the only option out there as a tool capable of synchronizing data to sales channels (and specifically to Shopify). Here is a list of "cloud" software alternatives that are able to manage the various aspects
The question that immediately arises: What is the difference between the Sintra Omnichannel HUB and all the software products mentioned above?
By working with all that software we have always found limitations in:
- limited performances in terms of update times and amount of data
- prices (which become very high as orders and data grow)
- ability to adapt the software to the specific needs of the business
- possibility of integrating software with ERP, CRM and company logistics
Here is a comparison based on our experience with the above software, which we do, however, consider excellent solutions.
The comparison was made in terms of:
- PIM, data and product image management functionality
- OMS, order management and order life cycle Warehouse management
- Integration, interoperability with other systems
- The sales channel, available for immediate integration
- Performances, update times and number of products/orders
- Customizations, the possibility of customizations
- Price, monthly price of the eCommerce solution with about 2000 products and an annual turnover which goes above 1 million euros
On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst grade and 10 is the best one (except for the price, where 0 = expensive and 10=cheap).
Our mantra and conclusion
We are in the middle of a cloud transformation and we know that on the one hand we must use the push of new emerging software and on the other hand we must support the brands to find their niche and market position. This is why we have adopted "the mantra of 80 - 20" in the integration between Shopify and Pimcore, meaning that:
- 80% of our product features are STANDARD and core/identical for all customers
- 20% of the functionality of our product is CUSTOM based on customer needs.
Sintra Omnichannel HUB takes all the advantages from Pimcore's open-source technology and puts them in the cloud by responding to all the needs required by any eCommerce company using Shopify or Shopify PLUS.
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