The quickest route to linking a web store to a supplier is with an e-commerce plugin. They are installed into your store and usually need CSV data files from your supplier. Some have the ability to grab data from FTP, run on a regular schedule, and do other basic things.
Unfortunately they won’t grow with your business.
Plugins are meant to cover the lowest-common-denominator. They can do the basics but then will hit a wall as soon as you need to create a custom pricing rule, or change the product meta-data, or simply change how the inventory is updated. Plugins are created for the purpose of selling in volume and therefore the developers who create them are not interested in your custom requirements. However, any substantial e-commerce store will need customization.
Some of the more common questions I see are:
– What about my ERP system? I want to relay WooCommerce orders back to my supplier and they need them uploaded via FTP or with a web service.
– My supplier doesn’t use CSV. It is XML format. How can I load this into my Shopify store?
– How can I get my supplier’s shipping data back into my PrestaShop store so that my customers can use the tracking number.
– My supplier’s data feed doesn’t provide variants but I need them to show different t-shirt sizes. How can I fix this?
– Can you import products into my store categories for me? They don’t match my supplier but I can tell you which ones to map.
These are all exceptions which we handle on a daily basis at Data Here-to-There. We can adapt our innovative platform to any supplier or online service.
It’s surprising how many data feeds out there have low-quality product information. When I first got started integrating supply feeds for my clients I was shocked at how bad the data was. These are, after all, companies which *want* to sell their products. Yet they have terse (or missing) product descriptions, missing images, and so on. Data Here-to-There can actually enhance data feeds – create variants, add tagging, automatically find product images using Google, or even web-scrape entire product catalogs if your supplier doesn’t have a data feed!
Plugins are a great tool to get started with and can be sufficient for a simple single store, single supplier setup. But to grow your e-commerce empire you’ll need customized automation that fits your business strategy.