Implementing an E-Commerce Backend Software System? Here are the 4 Key Insights You Must Know Before You Start

It’s a simple but evidential theory that without a smooth, thorough implementation, a new backend software system probably won’t work as you need it to. 

The retail world has heard time and again that the implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a process rife with risk and uncertainty, yet the decision to install these systems remains ever popular. Even those who opt for single-point solutions, such as Order Management Systems (OMS), commonly experience challenges or face complete failure during the installation. 

So, why do things go so wrong, so often? In a new report, Brightpearl interviewed hundreds of retail enterprises in the USA and UK about their experiences implementing an ERP, OMS or other back end solutions – and the data revealed some surprisingly widespread scenarios.

We’ve picked 5 key insights from the report to inform your strategy for a major tech project implementation – because in arming yourself with the facts, you can side-step the risks that so many companies face.

1. Around 50-75% of ERP implementations fail the first time aroundand half of firms STILL experience disruption even after going live

We’ve known for a while that the success rate of ERP implementation is as little as 25%, but what’s more shocking is that over half of firms still see disruption after an ERP has been ‘successfully’ installed – with ongoing issues including delayed data, inaccurate reporting, disconnected workflows, or entire system slowdown.

One big reason for this is that ERPs are hefty, and promote a one-size-fits-all implementation that doesn’t take into account the specific needs of each unique retail business – after all, they were built for the 1990s, when e-commerce and smartphones had yet to boom. The rigid infrastructure of these systems means that even if you manage to push through the installation, you’ll likely encounter operational glitches later on.

2. A typical ERP implementation costs A THIRD more than estimated… 

Most firms expect to invest considerable funds when installing an ERP – it is, after all, a comprehensive upgrade that could significantly boost your operations, service to customers and ultimately, profits. 

But the data showed that for many enterprises, implementation of a new system goes way over budget – with unexpected add-ons and integration costs contributing to a shocking overspend of a third (34% in the US and 27% in the UK) more than quoted. Considering ERPs’ negative-leaning success rates and the likelihood of seeing issues further down the road, it’s clear that the big investment associated with ERPs doesn’t do much to mitigate the risks.

A high-quality implementation should be planned from the offset by expert consultants, who will thoroughly assess your requirements and be clear about them from the outset. Brightpearl does exactly this, and provides a fixed, all-in cost up front – one that won’t increase over time, causing a shock months into the process. 

But, it’s not just the budget that’s stretched to breaking point during ERP implementation, but timescales. The average ERP and OMS installations are delayed by up to 200 days – but it’s not unusual for an ERP to take 2-3 years to install. A patient workforce may tolerate the disruption of a delay for a few months, but when that process spills over into years, it could be a different story. 

Opt for efficiency: a speedy implementation is much more palatable – for your staff and your bottom line. Thankfully, Brightpearl takes an average 120 days to be up and running, meaning minimal disruption to your team’s day-to-day and a much shorter time until you’re experiencing the benefits. In some cases, Brightpearl has been set up in as little as 90 days. 

3. ‘Integration issues’, ‘lack of scalability and flexibility’ and ‘a poor fit for a retail brand’ made the top reasons for implementation failure

For many firms, the key reasons for failure forged a picture of a backend system that simply didn’t sync technologically with the way their business operates. In the US, ‘integration issues’, ‘lack of scalability and flexibility’ and ‘a poor fit for a retail brand’ were to blame for 27%, 25% and 17% of firm’s implementation failures respectively (24%, 15% and 16% in the UK).

The afore-mentioned rigid, all-in-one nature of ERPs contributes to its widespread integration issues; while a single-point OMS is simply too basic a system to support the complex operational workflows of today’s modern retailers. What’s more, custom connectors and integrations take time for ERP vendors to build; it’s common that they’ll bring in a third party provider to connect everything together.

Get the right fit: Brightpearl is a made-for-retail operating system; and its superior library of Plug & Play integrations create a flexible tech foundation that will seamlessly extend to any apps and channels you use to run your business. With Brightpearl, you’ll benefit from a backend operating system that is purpose-built to be adaptable to the ever-changing e-commerce climate – which means it will grow and evolve as your business does.

4. Taking a DIY approach to implementing a backend system heightens the risk of failure

A high number of enterprises choose to install a new operating system themselves, seeing it as a way to save time and reduce costs – but the report showed this to be a dangerous misstep.

Over a fifth of firms claimed ‘self-guided implementation’ was the key reason their software implementation bit the dust, while 16% of US and 15% UK firms blamed ‘a lack of expert consultants’ as the reason it failed. This isn’t surprising – with any installation of such a major tech project, there are simply too many variables and things that could go wrong to risk handling it yourself. 

OMS solutions are commonly linked to self-guided implementation. Providing only a few clear-as-mud instructional documents in way of support, the customer is generally left scratching their head, faced with a convoluted process best left to an expert.

At Brightpearl, we won’t ask you to go it alone. Instead, our in-house team of experienced, expert consultants will design, plan, manage and configure the whole process from start to finish, and offer staff training as well as round-the-clock support, throughout implementation and afterwards.

Avoid the gamble

A smooth implementation is key to a system’s long-term success – that’s why Brightpearl takes implementation seriously. 

Our expert team carries out a thorough assessment into whether our solution is right for your business before you’ve signed anything. With a 97% success rate, you can trust that rather than repeated implementation attempts, you’ll be focusing on your brand’s future growth

Our implementation experts will help you assess if Brightpearl is the right fit for you when you book a demo.

Want to know even more about why implementation projects go wrong so often? Grab your free copy of our new report: ‘Implementation Crisis: Are Most Major Tech Adoption Projects Doomed to Fail?’ now.