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Dynamics GP Ecommerce Shopping Cart Integration Options

If you have Microsoft Dynamics GP implemented in your organization as Corporate ERP application and now you are looking for phase two, where such nice feature as ecommerce shopping cart is subject for the integration, this small publication is for you.

First of all we would like to share with you our believes  that ecommerce shopping carts, such as Magento/PHP (especially when you are on Linux), ASP.Net Storefront, Nop Commerce and others, are pretty robust and there is no real need to program shopping cart from scratch internally (until you are really huge ecommerce wholesaler or retailer, where you prefer to have complete control over program proprietary business logic and source code, and have the budget to afford that kind of luxury approach).  In our case, we tried to give you ecommerce add-on for Microsoft Dynamics GP (often referred by its historical name Great Plains Dynamics and eEnterprise, in case if you have some confusion with the application name) where you simply follow setup wizard, selecting your ecommerce shopping cart name from drop down list on one of the initial steps.  Other steps are specific to Dynamics GP typical integration with ecommerce: settings in Inventory Control, Sales order Processing modules:
1. Ecommerce Shopping Cart Image in Great Plains.  It is typically Sales Order Processing Invoice or Sales Order with Customer Deposit in the form of Credit Card payment (especially in B2C scenario, while in B2B scenario you may sell on account, and prepayment is optional).  If you plan to allocate Invoice or Order lines automatically directly from the Shopping Cart, you need to specify default ecommerce SOP Document ID as the one with automatic allocation (in this case item line fulfillment happens instantly as ecommerce document is transferred to GP).  If you would rather prefer to fulfill the lines via Warehouse Management System/Barcoding on the warehouse floor, then pick document ID where allocation is set to manual.  Second important concept is default ecommerce Inventory Site ID – in Great Plains it is important to have default settings to minimize data entry per document.  In the case of Sales Order Processing document each one may have default site ID, and if it is specified – each line will be automatically allocated (or assigned for manual fulfillment) from the specified site.  Inventory control hosted Site object is participating in the logic is such distribution modules as Sales Order Processing, Purchase Order Processing, Bill of Materials, Manufacturing Suite of Modules, Invoicing (this module however is rather legacy, we do not recommend it for serious consideration in eCommerce implementation) 
2. eCommerce and Non-inventory items.  For smaller ecommerce retailers, especially specializing in very volatile (changing every week or month) reselling catalogues of items, you may decide to completely abandon such Inventory Control features as Quantity on-hand, returned, damaged, in-service and only track items sold through Sales Reports (based on SOP30200 and SOP30300 tables – document header and line history).  If you transform your ecommerce shopping cart document lines into non-inventory items in Dynamics GP SOP – item id is simply capitalized text (or flow of the characters), then description is the combination of Capital/Small letters, digits and delimiting characters, plus there is no pricelist (you must specify QTY sold, price and cost if known)
3. eCommerce integration technology.  Our Add-on ecommerce module is based on Alba Spectrum proprietary technology Order Connector.  According to our performance tests, Order Connector is more efficient, comparing to Dynamics GP SDK eConnect (both technologies as based on SQL stored procedures, however Order Connector is geared toward light weight Sales Order Processing transaction logic, where eConnect validates 100% of the Dynamics GP SOP business logic, which might contribute to longer stored procedures execution time and in our opinion and taking into consideration the set of processes in ecommerce add-on module – only some of the business logic must be validated, the rest of the logic realm is really optional)
4. What if your organization is in position to sponsor ecommerce shopping cart programming from scratches?  If shopping cart is generic ecommerce shopping cart interface compliance, we might be able to incorporate it into our ecommerce add-on for Dynamics GP.  If your shopping cart is really complex and proprietary, feel free to call us for estimation.  We have really challenging carts integrated in the past, especially in such environments as Linux/PHP/MySQL.  Plus there are unlimited options to move proprietary shopping cart document to Dynamics GP via Text or Advanced ODBC connection in Integration Manager.  IM is capable to provide you quasi real time integration (every 20 minutes, or you name the time interval), being scheduled in Windows Scheduled Tasks on the Server (there are multiple shareware and even freeware, providing calling Executable program with DOS parameters), the same approach could be called when new ecommerce shopping cart document is triggered as being completed directly in ecommerce application (you can simply call IM with parameters from your ecommerce web application code)
5. eConnect versus Integration Manager.  Dynamics GP eConnect SDK is really powerful instrument, initially it was dedicated to ecommerce programmers, to open Great Plains objects and transactions for ecommerce shopping cart integration.  In our opinion eConnect became stable and bug free with introduction of Dynamics GP version 9.0, so we do recommend you to try yourself (especially when you are considering yourself as practicing Microsoft Visual Studio C# or VB.Net coder).  The best scenario to deploy eConnect libraries, is when your ecommerce website is programmed in Microsoft Visual Studio.  In the case, when you are on Linux e-commerce platforms, there are ways to call Windows DLL as well as eConnect methods (stored procedures) indirectly via Linux to Windows bridges, however it might give you too much hard time and learning curve.  So, if you are on Linux, Unix, Oracle/Java, IBM DBII platforms, we would rather encourage you to reconsider exporting ecommerce shopping cart into text (tab or comma delimited) file or even cross-platform compliant XML format.  Regarding Integration Manager and eConnect performance comparison, you might be aware that Integration Manager for Dynamics GP version 10.0 (and especially current version 2010/11.0, as we are writing these lines in September 2010) introduced eConnect integration connectors, where IM integration is in fact calling the same SQL Stored procedures as if you deploy eConnect libraries directly in your Visual Studio Web Project, so the performance should be comparable
6. Which version is recommended prior to diving into ecommerce integration project?  The answer depends on the scope of the project.  You might be fine deploying Integration Manager on all the versions of Dynamics GP and even legacy Great Plains Dynamics and eEnterprise: 9.0, 8.0, 7.5, 7.0, 6.0, 5.5, 5.0, 4.0 (please note that Integration Manager works even for such archaic DB platforms as Pervasive SQL 2000/Btrieve and Ctree) .  However if you are looking forward to integrate real time ecommerce shopping cart directly from Magento, ASP.Net Storefront or other full-featured shopping cart platform, we recommend you to upgrade to Dynamics GP at least version 10.0
7. Combining Ecomerce with Warehouse Management System and Barcoding technologies.  If you are seeking for complete automation, where Shopping Cart is scheduled for automatic fulfillment on the warehouse floor via barcode scanning, we recommend you to consider Alba Spectrum WMS Add-ons for Microsoft Dynamics GP
8. If you are expanding internationally as ecommerce wholesaler or retailer.  Here you need to familiarize yourself with such concept as Corporate ERP localization.  It typically includes two components: local or regional language support and tax code or local country business regulation compliance (custom code, invoice form, sometimes government approved chart of accounts and how transactions should be posted in GL – good examples are France or Russian Federation).  Current version of Dynamics GP is 2010/11.0 as well as version 10.0 are localized for English speaking countries: USA, UK, Ireland, Canada (Including French speaking Quebec province with Montreal), Spanish speaking Latina America, Caribbean basin, Oceania, South East Asia, where English language is in use as the language of business.  If you are multinational subsidiary, expanding internationally and your country is not listed here, please consider to give us a call for consultation or consider another Corporate ERP platform for you overseas subsidiary: Dynamics AX Axapta or if you prefer SAP platform – SAP Business One.  Also you have to be aware that Dynamics GP Dexterity platform doesn’t support Unicode based languages (typically hieroglyph characters based alphabets, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean)
9. For further information, please call us 1-866-528-0577, email us help@albaspectrum.com  By the nature of our service we are available for WMS implementation USA, Canada nationwide.  Local service is available in Western Michigan: St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Holland, New Buffalo; in Chicagoland, North Western Indiana, Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine, Orange County)Article Search, Houston and Dallas areas of Texas

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Andrew Karasev, http://www.albaspectrum.com Great Plains Dynamics GP and eEnterprise Certified Master, Microsoft MVP and consultant with 10 years and plus experience and expertise.  Alba Spectrum, 1-866-528-0577, help@albaspectrum.com.  If you are thinking to implement Dynamics GP in challenging environment, we recommend you to give us a call.  Our information portal is http://www.pegasplanet.com Pegas Planet 



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