The Ins and Outs of Integrating NetSuite with Your 3PLs
Many companies, now leverage the benefits of outsourcing online order fulfillment to third-party logistics providers (3PL) -- including merchants that sell on Amazon use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) services. Whether they are processing 20 or 10,000 orders a day, to maximize operational efficiencies, data between online storefront, ERP, 3PL, and other key back-office systems must talk with each other.
Integration between NetSuite and 3PL partners is key to success in operating an eCommerce business. However, 3PL integration needs to be done properly.
Join our webinar to learn about options and considerations for integrating your 3PL partners to your eCommerce systems. Celigo integration experts, Chris Bidleman, Supply Chain Practice Director, and Kelly Izer, Sr. Product Manager, will discuss these topics:
- Options for 3PL integration with pros and cons of each option
- Identifying which data is required and which is optional for integration
- Anecdotes of merchants that have successfully integrated 3PL to NetSuite
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining our webinar, the ins and outs of integrating your 3PLs to NetSuite. We’re excited to have you with us. And with this, I just wanted to introduce Chris and let him take it away. Chris?
Great. Thank you. Yes, everyone. Thank you for joining our webinar today. My name is Chris Bidleman. I’m the practice director and supply chain practice manager for our group here at Celigo. I’ve been with Celigo over six years and have been doing integrations with 3PLs, among many other integrations. Also have been working well over 20 years in supply chain with manufacturing companies and other software. So this is an area very near and dear to my heart, from both a user standpoint as well as an implementer. And then my cohort here is Kelly, which I’ll let him introduce himself.
Thank you, Chris. I’m Kelly Izer. I’m a product manager here at Celigo, working with our integrator.io iPaaS platform. I’ve been with Celigo five years now, and in this time I have worked in many different areas. I am assisting Chris with custom integrations and supply chain management integrations, as well as our eTail channels and our multichannel environments. Prior to joining Celigo, I was actually an end user of many of these applications at a online retailer for about 15 years. In that time, I worked in the multichannel environment utilizing many different supply chain companies, and I spearheaded the integrations for those. So I’ll be assisting Chris here today with the presentation.
Thanks, Kelly. So there are a lot of you who are dealing with different aspects of what a 3PL or a third-party logistics integrations. And what we’d like to do is be able to sort of explore some of the ins and outs of that. And we all know that there are a lot of pain points associated with 3PL integrations. If you’re not doing it today, you’re probably doing a lot of things very manually. It’s a drain on your resources. May have delays with getting orders out. And customers will cancel and then become angry customers, which none of us wants. And also, if you’re not synced up between your order management system – in this case, probably NetSuite is your preferred order management – may have some inventory issues that you’re suffering through. So those are the things that we’d like to be able to address today and hopefully give you some options of how to, hopefully, alleviate that and fix that.
So what we want to do is go through sort of this checklist of things to determine how are you going to integrate with a 3PL, does it make sense, different data flows. And that always starts with sort of a top-down approach. Looking at your first step is reviewing your businesses processes, which we’ll touch on here in a moment. And then getting down to understanding what’s being manually transferred, which can continue to be manually transferred. Does it make, from a cost standpoint, to integrate or automate? But maybe there are a lot of opportunities that you can actually save some money and improve processes and then look to your different integration options, and we’ll be able to present some of those. And then, of course, your next step was move forward with that plan.
So what we suggest is you sort of break this problem down in sort of four areas as far as what kind of metrics are you dealing with. So as far as orders, how many orders a month are you dealing with that average and peak geographical distribution across either the US, different countries. We’ll be showing some different use-case scenarios where people who may be a small shop can actually be rolling out to multiple countries in a very short manner, so you need to have a distribution centers in those different countries. So how does that play into your planning? And then as far as back orders, how are you handling that? Around the inventory area, we want to be able to understand how many warehouses you have. Do you have your own internal central warehouse that you’re receiving? Are you going to start utilizing a third-party logistics? Or maybe only sell on Amazon, and you have Fulfillment By Amazon, or FBA, as your warehouse and you want to expand beyond that. And what are your sales channels and any inventory adjustments? How are those being handled today as far as your touches associated with that? Around the catalog, we’ve seen a wide variety of different SKU counts. We’ve had customers with just one SKU, with one configuration of that, which is one approach. Or there’s customers we have who has tens of thousands of SKUs that you have to deal with. So you have to look at how often those SKUs are changing. Do you have seasonality to worry about? How many variations, maybe different sizes that you’re dealing with? And then if you’re set up in NetSuite already, then you’re going to roll out to a third-party logistics. What item types are we dealing with? Are you assembly items? Do you have inventory? Do you have kits? Are you drop-shipping orders? So all those things need to be accounted for when you’re doing the planning.
And then, finally, besides the orders coming in and out and the shipments, you have to deal with what’s coming– inbound shipments is how most 3PLs look at it. Do you have returns that are going to be processed through that third-party logistics? How many of those do you have? How many transfer orders? So this might be where you would be transferring inventory between warehouses such as your central– you do central receiving in your own warehouse. And then you need to transfer stock to that third-party logistics for fulfillments. And so that’s would be handled by transporters. Or maybe you’re having your vendors who do the manufacturing drop-ship those items via purchase orders to that. So that’s an inbound shipment or advance shipping notice to the third-party logistics. So how many of those are you dealing with? So you take all those factors into account. You can maybe determine what is the manual process that you’re doing today. For example, for order processing, we see a lot of clients who have maybe just moved off of QuickBooks or some other thing, just started on NetSuite. They’ve still been emailing or sending spreadsheets to their third-party logistics for orders. And then they’re getting spreadsheets back as far as when shipments are or when a purchase order has been received and how many were received.
So there’s a lot of room for error or human error that can occur in there. So we want to be able to map these different processes and make sure that we can maybe improve those and be able to note perhaps how many hours are being spent or full-time equivalents that are dedicated to that because that gives you, actually, your return on investment or ROI metrics to say that, “If I do this automation, how soon can I actually get paid back on that for the hours that were being spent?” And then certainly errors that can occur by all these human touches is something else considered, how to reduce that. So once you identify those different areas of improvement, then you can come up with a process map associated with, “All right. Perhaps maybe I’m just going to work on the order side.” And we see different scenarios that different companies will take as far as, “Let’s just look at the orders.” So you could either bring in your orders from your storefront directly to the 3PL. A lot of third-party logistics actually have plugins to different storefronts that can bring in those orders directly, and then you might want to bring in those shipments information into your NetSuite system. Other scenarios, we see orders going directly into NetSuite, being processed, allocated, and then sent to the 3PL. So you just need to understand what works for your 3PL and also what works for you as far as how orders will be managed.
Around the shipping, kind of works the same way. After the third-party logistics company ships it out, has tracking information, do you want– obviously, want to bring that information into NetSuite, but other systems can actually send that directly to the storefront, or you may want to actually bring it from NetSuite to your storefront that, “Your order is shipped. Here’s your tracking number. Have a great day.” So those are the different business process you have to understand. And we’ve just sort of noted some potential hours that could occur with these different manual processes so we want to make sure that you account for those based on those different touches you were talking about, as far as order volume and where there might be areas for improvement. Then, finally, on the item side, as I mentioned before, if you only have a few SKUs that don’t change a lot, maybe this is something that can continue to be a manual process as far as your item master is here in NetSuite. We have actually seen some clients where their third-party logistics company is the item master. They’re the ones kind of keeping control and managing it from there. But that’s a rare occasion. Typically, it will be your order management system when new items are introduced or new pricing and those get published out to the third-party logistics, and also to your store. So as you can see, each one of these can represent a different data flow. [inaudible] we have the inbound shipments identified here but, again, these are where we see a lot of manual areas. If you started adding up these hours, that’s quite a bit of time that can be saved going forward.
So in regards to your different integration options, we want to present what you can possibly do. So we’ve seen different customers who may want to just do in-house. There are some pros and cons associated with that. You have total control. It’s point-to-point integration between your order management system and the third-party logistics, so there is a lot of security. But there are some downsides, cons to that as far as you have to have developer in-house expertise, as far as both, in this case, NetSuite and how to integrate with the third-party logistics who can be utilizing a variety of integration technologies, from EDI to XML, web services, SOAP, REST, JSON, or CSP files. So we’ve seen quite a variety of different ways we’ve integrated with– in our time, we’ve been– and Celigo has been around– we’ve been around 11 years, and third-party logistics companies is one of the things we’ve done probably the most of. And we’ve seen a lot of different integrations. So, again, that depends on technology. And EDI is still utilized by quite a few. So as your second option, they may be utilizing EDI or a value-added network already to be able to exchange data. So now you’ll be exchanging your 940s, 945s, your purchase order 850s.
So, again, it really is something you have to kind of look and balance that. Outsourcing it is a good thing. You don’t have to have the in-house. But, as I just said, there’s a lot of other limitations to deal with. Now, particularly with the high cost. Most EDI VANs charge by transaction and by how many data points, or bits, are being exchanged, so that can also add to your cost. Third option you have for integration, as I mentioned before, some of the larger 3PLs have their own plug-ins to different systems, such as NetSuite. They may be served by NetSuite, built for NetSuite integration. They also may have different plug-ins to your webstore that you can utilize. Which is great, because the thing to understand, as many of you might know, that NetSuite does do major upgrades a couple times a year. So in order to do a certified integration, you have to have their Built for NetSuite badge. So that’s one of the questions to kind of review with any third-party logistics, if they have a plug-in to NetSuite. But some of the cons associated with that, you might have to rely on them as far as the integration. You may not be able to automate all the steps. 3PLs may only have the orders and the shipments automated, but everything else still has to be handled manually, or through emails, or through other means. Customizations to what they have already might be costly and also there’s the maintenance, as I mentioned before. They have to be able to stay up with any of the certifications associated with what NetSuite may do. So those are things that we want you to consider.
And then, finally, the fourth option here, which is what Celigo does is we have iPaaS, which is an internet platform as a service. So this allows you to be able to have some in-house controls over that, to be able to utilize the different built-in integration expertise that us and other vendors may have as far as pre-built connectors, templates, other things that can be provided. It’s cost-effective because you’re only paying for what you utilize. And so that gives you some options there and ability to be able to extend beyond just 3PLs of the two other integrations. And then as far as monitoring and be able to troubleshoot through that, that’s certainly an advantage of a lot of the iPaaS platforms. Because it’s cloud-based, there’s the reliability, other than if you lose your internet connection. Cloud-based provides a lot of backup redundancy, and so there are some advantages associated with that. But there are some downsides that you have to consider even with iPaaS, as far as you’re still having to depend on a vendor for the platform, to stay up to date. And to be able to be reliable as far as– and some people also have some hesitation with any middleware. Even though this is [laughter] new middleware, this isn’t your client-server middleware or some of the other stuff that was going on even a few years ago. So, again, though you are still passing data between a middle layer, that gets transformed and then connection made. So let’s say there are some considerations to do even with an iPaaS platform, but for us, Celigo, this is what we utilize and is our solution for 3PLs. And certainly, if you have questions associated with that, please enter them in the chat window there and we can certainly address those. But Kelly’s going to get in a little bit more about detail as far as our integration platform.
So once you determine which way you’re going to do an integration, and in our case, we hope that it is going to be an iPaaS, these are sort of the things that you need to do your due diligence around as far as integration experience with the 3PL, with NetSuite, with other applications you might be interested in. As far as your project team, would look like all these different players will be also involved as well as your in-house folks. So you would need somebody from your logistics or warehouse management. Probably customer service should be part of team. Project manager from your team would be good to have and also any other stakeholders that might be needed to help flesh things out. And then as far as your launch checklist, these are sort of the items that you would need to be able to start your project as far as credentials. So different applications are going to need to be able to access those applications. And if you’re using FTP to exchange data, we need those. And possibly any IP filtering that is done, you might have to whitelist the different IP addresses associated with that. So a lot of things to get started have to be set up. File samples are needed to be able to validate against. Doesn’t even matter if it’s web services, or XML, or JSON, or EDI specifications. If you’re going to utilize that, do the mappings. Come up with a different user acceptance testing test cases. What do you do when there’s a partial shipment? Do you support that? What do you do when something is partially shipped? What do you do when something’s partially received? All these different scenarios besides just a happy path as far as order coming in, shipment going out, and customer loving it and never returning it.
So, again, working out those different edge cases is a good thing to be able to plan out. Come up with a project plan, and then as far as how you’re going to cut over from what you’re doing today as far as manual processes, any training, and other things you might want to consider, and then be able to have a good cut-over plan associated with that. So a lot of things. And, again, this is our methodology. This is something you would have to do internally as well, too. So it’s not just unique to Celigo. And then, finally, once you actually come up with these different scenarios, what I’d like to do is now hand this over to Kelly to actually get into specifics as far as what data flows you might need to be able to consider, as far as which ones to implement and what phases you might want to do that. So, Kelly, why don’t you go ahead and take over?
Perfect. Thank you, Chris. I appreciate that. So where I’m going to pick it up here, as Chris has done a great job here of setting up some framework of things to consider when looking at a 3PL and considering a 3PL integration with your platform, what I want to look at now is some of the individual flows that build integrations. Chris outlined the silos to consider here, such as orders that need to be passed, your inventory, your catalog, and your inbound shipments and such. Now, under each of those silos, there are different types of orders and such to consider, and how those would be integrated with your systems. As Chris was stating, in Celigo’s many years here, we have done hundreds of 3PL integrations. So what that means is we’ve seen 3PL integrations as simple as 2 to 3 data flows and we’ve seen them as complex as 20-plus or more data flows, depending on your business process as well as the 3PL carrier that you select and what they support. So it’s always important to consider what you need to support your business process.
So, for example, if we look at the first silo here for orders outbound, this is usually what a 3PL considers the orders that ship out of that warehouse. The most common use case is just a regular sales order. This is where your business sends them a sales order that they then have to ship out their door to your end users, to your clients and such. That’s an order to consider. Do you have to consider order acknowledgments from the 3PL? So when you send them an order over, does the platform that you’re using, your ERP, does it require order acknowledgments to be sent back to confirm that they received that order and all lines are there? As well as the ship confirmations, as well. So that’s where the 3PL– once they ship an order out the door, they then send you that confirmation that says, “Hey, we have shipped order X. It has contents X, Y, Z, and here’s the tracking numbers and such.” And another thing to consider with ship confirmation is does a 3PL that you’re integrating with, do they send you complete shipments only, or do they do partial shipments? And is that to be considered? So those are some considerations around the orders when integrating with the 3PL. What requirements do you have for your company in integrating with your 3PL?
The next silo to consider here is the inventory. So when a 3PL has your inventory in their warehouse, some 3PLs have specific actions they perform on adjustments. So they are receiving a shipment that you send them from your vendor. When they’re unpacking it, they run over the box with the forklift. They say, “Uh-oh, we need to adjust out 10 units of this because we ran over it.” Do you need to have those integrated and have that automatically integrated with your system? Is it that common? Or is it very rare that you receive inventory adjustments and then, hence, you can just do it manually within your system and manually go into your ERP and perform that action? And the other thing around inventory to consider is what they call inventory snapshots. Now, this is more of a cycle count, or where they actually go out to the warehouse and say, “Hey, product X, I’m supposed to have 10 of these in a bin. I’m going to count and see how many I actually have. Oh, I only have eight.” And then they usually do those in blocks. And then they’ll send you a file that says, “Last night we did a cycle count. Here’s 3,000 items we counted. Here’s the quantity on hand in our actual bins.” And then you have to import those into your system and do the updates in your system. So those are some things to consider. On the flip-side of that, when you bring it into your system– Celigo here, we have done many integrations. And some of the things we have seen is when you bring that back into your ERP, do you want that update to go direct into your system? Or do you want to create a record that you can review before publishing those snapshots directly into your ERP?
For your catalog items here in the next silo, so these are the actual item records that you’re going to send over to that 3PL. When you’re sending a 3PL – Chris was mentioning this earlier – do you have five items to send over? Do you have 5,000 items that need to be sent over to your 3PL? And then under those items, are they just regular items with one SKU? Or they may be items that have variance. Apparel usually has variance, like small blue, medium blue. And how is that catalog set up? And what needs to be integrated? As Chris was saying, some 3PLs, the catalog is housed inside of the 3PLs first. They’re your inventory masters. So they’ll actually create those inventory records for you, and then you pull those back into your ERP system, and then create that inside of your system. And then, finally, something else to consider is what a 3PL calls inbound shipments. Now, these are shipments that will be going into their system. So this would be where you have a purchase order with a vendor and you’re sending the 3PL, “Hey, 3PL. You’ve got 10 crates of my goods coming to you on March 1st.” So do you need to send that over to them? If so, that’s to be considered when looking at your integration. Now, when you send them your purchase orders, will that 3PL send you the receipts? So when they receive that purchase order on March 1st, they will then send you back a receipt that says, “Okay. Of those 10 crates, here we have received 9. And in those 9 crates, these are the units we’ve received.” And then you can bring that back into your ERP to update it accordingly.
Something to consider with NetSuite is NetSuite also has the concept of what’s called a transfer order. That is different from a purchase order in the fact that it’s more of an inter-company transfer. So you would actually be sending that out of the 3PL and it would be coming direct to your actual location versus the 3PL. And then also something to consider is many 3PLs do what they call return receipts. So this is where if your client or your customers purchase something from you, then they return it, a lot of companies have those returns go back to the 3PL. So then the 3PL will open the package, return the units into the inventory, and then they have to send you a notification that, “Hey, thank you. Customer X returned order number A1234 with the following units inside of that package.” So what you can see here in talking through that is there’s a lot of things to consider when looking at a 3PL integration. It’s not always as simple as just, “Hey, I need to send you an order and I need a shipping receipt back.” There’s many different things to consider as to exactly what to send over to a 3PL and what to integrate. Also when considering how you’re going to integrate with these platforms is, what integration methods does this 3PL handle and support? Some 3PLs out there only support a simple CSV file. So you have to consider that when weighing what options are best for you and your business requirements. Does a CSV file being sent to them via an FTP suffice? Or do you need a more in-depth integration, such as Chris was alluding to earlier, such as a deep EDI integration with very specific field requirements and such? So there’s just some things to consider when looking at a 3PL integration and what requirements need to be fulfilled there.
On the next slide here, Chris and now are just going to talk about a couple of 3PL integration stories. We’ve seen hundreds of these over the years. So kind of piggybacking on what I was talking about on to what level you want your company integrated with that 3PL, we’ve seen all sorts of different integration levels. For example, in our top-left quadrant there, we’ve seen small merchants who have two data flows who may be supporting 10 items with only a couple hundred orders a week being sent over to the 3PL. In this case, again, a couple of data flows, they’re sending their orders over and getting their ship confirmations back. In the top right-hand quadrant, something that’s very popular nowadays is the Amazon-based fulfillment. So with Amazon’s introduction of Fulfillment By Amazon, many companies are moving over and using FBA as a fulfillment center. So we’ve done some very complex FBA integrations. This is where we’ve got some clients using Amazon Seller Central, so they’ll get their orders direct from there. They may also have a direct website that they’re taking the orders, and then they’re sending those orders to FBA to be fulfilled, then getting their fulfillment numbers back from Amazon as well.
So with Amazon FBA, there’s also many other things to consider in regards to being integrated with them. How to get your inventory quantities back. We have several clients using this and we’ve built some deep integrations with Amazon and the FBA fulfillment centers. International, so we’ve also had many integrations with our international 3PLs. So in this regard, we’ve had companies come to us who have had multiple 3PL centers. They’ll have stateside 3PLs, and then they may have 3PLs in international-based domains. So we’ve had to do integrations there, where not only do they have to figure out what orders are sending, but we also have to do some routing. So they may look at the orders and say, “This order has to go to our Europe-based fulfillment center.” And then, finally–
Yeah. Sure, Chris, go ahead.
Oh. I was just going to add in, we see that a lot with the FBA, too, since FBA is being expanded out to a lot of different countries. We’ve seen a lot of cases where they want to roll out to a new FBA center in the UK or Australia. And I think they just started one in Mexico. So those are other options that people have. And they can just stay with the FBA as their 3PL but it’s still kind of the same thing. You need to be able to roll out to these different countries and handle the multicurrency and, obviously, the different channels.
Correct. Exactly. Thank you, Chris. And then, finally, in our bottom right quadrant, we also have vendors who are doing some high-volume data with 3PLs, sending thousands of orders over to a 3PL an hour. And conversely, with sending those orders over, we’re also bringing back thousands of ship confirmations per hour. And Celigo has been able to support all of these different integrations use cases and requirements, be it small merchants to high-volume international, or Amazon FBA-based integration points.
Yeah. And if you have some use-case scenarios that you’d like to ask today, go ahead put it in the questions or we can certainly set up time at another time to discuss it in more detail, personalize that discussion with you. But I think the main thing to get across here is there are a lot of different ways to be able to roll out your strategy with the 3PL integration, and it doesn’t have to be a big bang. You saw a list of 14 different data flows there. As Kelly said, we’ve seen a lot others, like there’s a use case where if you still have a– you’re a bricks-and-mortar company – you still have a store – and you need to do store replenishments, well, in NetSuite, that’s actually a transfer order, but to the third-party logistics company that’s a sales order. That’s an outbound shipment, the same as any other. It’s just going to a store instead of that. So the handling’s different in NetSuite. But you add another data flow or integration point that you need to consider as far as your rollout strategy. So that’s why there isn’t one size fits all when it comes to 3PL integrations. And us or any other integrators, they can tout having one connector to do it all [laughter], sort of like the one ring to serve them all. It’s just not possible. But you need to be able to adjust it to what your needs are. All right. Any other stories you want to share, Kelly? Or even your own personal ones?
No, sir. I think we’ve covered those well. I mean, as you were stating, we’ve seen a lot here. We’re very experienced. And it’s just things to consider for when a user’s setting up a 3PL integration. So on this slide here, what we wanted to look at is integrating with a 3PL is not the only integration point to consider nowadays with the multichannel environments that exist with most clients. Now, you have to bring your data in from multiple places and send this over to your 3PL. So as you can see with that little icon or little image there in the top right, there’s often many different channels feeding into one particular point that need to be considered when integrating with either your ERP or your 3PL. So you can see here that with the right partner and the right integration platform, you’re able to have, as Chris was saying, one ring to control them all and bring all that in and make your integration as simple as possible. But this is also something to consider when setting up your 3PL integration: What are all the requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to support your business requirements? Okay. Next slide please, Chris.
All right. I don’t know, Kelly, if you wanted to touch on smart connectors or–?
Yeah, just at least touch on the difference here between what might be a connector versus integration.
Sure. So Celigo has the concept of what we call smart connectors. So these smart connectors are almost plug-and-play adaptors for certain applications, like a Shopify integration. Now, this is where you may have a requirement to integrate Shopify with a particular system. And let’s say, in this use case, it’s NetSuite. We have a pretty much plug-and-play smart connector where we can put that into your integrations for you. And then with just a couple of settings, you can be up and running with a full set of data flows to support your requirements there, such as customers, orders, items, inventory quantity update, and things to that nature. So that’s a concept of a smart connector that can be deployed. Whereas if you do a pure iPaaS integration, Celigo also has the ability to come in and help you custom-build integrations as needed to support your business cases. Now, that is where we would actually come in and sit down with you and actually scope out your business requirements. And then from there, we can custom-build an integration to support your needs.
Yeah. And that’s, I guess, a good point here because, for example, Shipwire, we’ve been working with Shipwire for years and years now. But I think every integration we do with them is a little bit different because of the needs. They may have two flows. They may have 10 flows. 3PL Central is a WMS software package that different 3PLs can utilize. So each one of those might utilize it a little bit different. Though we’re familiar with the data format, again, the business processes are different. So we’ll have to customize it for that particular system. Or for that particular 3PL, or how they’re using 3PL Central [laughter]. So, yeah, we’ve seen a little all over the map when it comes to the 3PLs versus– Amazon’s pretty standard. eBay. Jet. Yeah, these we’re very familiar with. But, yeah, I can’t tell you how many different use-case scenarios we’ve run across with 3PLs over the years. Cool.
Okay. Okay. So, wrapping things up a little bit here, we hope that this conversation and this webinar has helped you consider some of the tripping points when integrating with a 3PL and supporting your integration requirements. So, now that you have that in front of you, hopefully, you’re now going to be able to take-off and use that to build your integration and go to the moon and back with this and help your company grow as needed. So please check back. Here at Celigo, we regularly do scheduled webinars covering many different topics, as you can see here, so please check back regularly and attend some of our additional webinars that we will be scheduling in the future.
Yeah. And probably the first two are pertinent to this discussion as far as Amazon integrations with both the seller FBA and Vendor Central as well as EDI integrations because EDI is still utilized a lot with 3PLs.
That is correct. And so just a little quip here about Celigo. Again, we’re a company that has made it to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for integrations. We have about 1,300 companies that we are now supporting, doing multiple different integrations, not only 3PLs but many different eTail integrations, integrations with some high-tech industries as well. So we can support just about any business requirement out there. So at that time, we’d like to open this up for any Q&A and answer any questions that you may have.
Thank you very much, Chris and Kelly. We actually do have a couple of questions so I will shoot them off. What is the best option if we want to integrate more than one 3PL?
Sure. So if you want to do multiple 3PLs, those things to consider are, as we were laying out before, what data needs to be sent to each 3PL? Typically, in the past, when we’ve seen multiple 3PL integrations, kind of the first thing that always comes in here is what’s the criteria for when to send data to which warehouse? That’s something to consider. And then one of the things that I would say is try to get maybe two 3PLs that support the same integration platforms and types. You wouldn’t want to necessarily get one 3PL that has an EDI and the other one that uses a CSV. Hopefully, if you get an integration or two different 3PLs that you have to integrate with, if they both support EDI, you could kind of utilize that same structure. And then you could reuse some of the same flows and just redirect them as needed. Chris, did you want to add anything else? Is there anything to consider with–?
Yeah. Yeah. You brought up a great point there, Kelly. We’ve seen it where a client will utilize the same 3PL for the different warehouse locations that they can support and they do to use the same WMS system, which is great because we have the ability to actually clone data flows and be able to reuse the existing mappings and everything else. And it’s a very quick– I mean, when I say quick, like a week to get the other data flows up and running from the clone. The other thing to consider is when you’re talking to your 3PLs, if you haven’t picked one, is some 3PLs– I’ll use our friends over at Shipwire, for example. Shipwire, now being part of Ingram, we can send the order outbound shipment to one location. I mean, one endpoint API call that they determine which warehouse will be best to ship that item out at the least cost. So that really works great for an expanding system. And since it is Ingram, they have thousands of warehouses all over the world, I think, whereas some other 3PLs would require us to hit a different endpoint for each location. Like Amazon FBA, every country is a completely different implementation, different certification, different support. So it is a lot more work. So certainly something to consider there. What’s the next question?
So the next question is what is the average time to integrate 3PL? For example, DHL.
Sure. I can take that since my group is the one that actually does the implementations. It depends on if it is a 3PL we’ve done before and seen and are familiar with. DHL, we’ve worked with mostly in Australia. They seem to be the prevalent one down there. So it is something that we can realize what we call templates to actually know the mappings, and then we adjust to how your NetSuite system is set up. So those can actually go– our rule of thumb is about one week per data flow to get set up, configured, tested, and then handed over for UAT. Sometimes they actually go faster, but if it is a brand new 3PL we haven’t seen, or utilizing EDI, or if it is FBA, again, there is a lot of manual things that need to be done as far as certification and other things. So it’ll probably extend to maybe two weeks per data flow, but, on average, we see our 3PL integration, simple ones, taking only three weeks from start to finish. But some can extend out to months depending on how many data flows is mentioned. FBA can have up to 17 different data flows if you go for the full treatment there. So it’s pretty involved.
Wow. That’s great to know. Please, everyone, keep submitting your questions. But the next one is, do I need developers to use an iPaaS?
Kelly, why don’t you handle that?
Yep. I was going to say, “I’ll take that one, Chris.” So I can’t talk to you about other iPaaS platforms that are out there because I haven’t necessarily used them. But with the Celigo integrator.io iPaaS platform, you do not need a developer to use the tool. We’ve designed it in such a manner that your average business user inside of your company should be able to build and support data flows. Now, that being said, the tool is not lacking developer tools. So if you want to use it as a developer and build some very advanced integrations using the tool, you have that ability as well. So, to answer your question, the integrator.io platform can be used by any user, from a novice to all the way up to a developer.
Great. Okay. So, so far, we have one more question. And in case somebody submits something else, please do. But our last question is, just in general, how long somebody needs to plan. What kinds of information should they prepare before trying to do a 3PL integration just to help make sure that the timing is on the shorter side rather than the longer side?
Yeah, I guess I can take that. I did point out a few of those items. The thing we see that takes the longest is just getting file samples from the 3PL. What does the file need to look like? So if it’s CSV, what are the field definitions? If it’s EDI, what are specifications? Because there’s an EDI standard out there but each vendor utilizes the EDI standard differently as far as what segments are actually utilized and what fields need to be mapped. So that’s usually the longest thing that it takes. And if they have published APIs, great. I see a lot of 3PLs can support multiple integration factors, from CSV to EDI to XML, web services, or a combination of it. So, for example, they may have some real-time data flows or shipment confirmations but everything else is handled through batch or through flat file. So once you can understand what those are and see, then you can determine that, “Oh, okay. This is how I would do the integration.” And as Kelly mentioned with our Celigo integrator.io, once you actually have a file sample, you import those into there and the mappings are sort of parsed out. So now you aren’t typing in all those fields. You just pick and choose the fields that you need to map into NetSuite or to Shopify or whatever the other system you might want to integrate to.
Great. So one last question just popped in, and after that we’ll be done. The last question is, we are implementing NetSuite from QuickBooks. We need to also integrate Magento and 3PL. What would be the best way to plan this out?
So I can take that one, Chris. So the first thing is if you’re implementing NetSuite, you’re going to want to use NetSuite as your system of record. So I would not suggest going direct between Magento and a 3PL, directly. You would probably want to go Magento to NetSuite and then doing NetSuite to your 3PL and integrate that way. Because what’s going to happen, NetSuite as your system of record for your orders and such, you’re going to have your inventory and all inside of NetSuite. Your purchase orders, everything to that nature. So you would actually probably want to go Magento to NetSuite, NetSuite to your 3PL. Go ahead, Chris.
I was just going to point out, if you’re also just implementing NetSuite, often, you don’t want to start looking at that integration until you have, at a minimum, your order to cash set up as well as your items. Because there’s considerations on how your NetSuite system and what item types are being utilized that affect how your integrations work.
Great. Thank you, guys. And just, of course, for everyone on the line still, please reach out to us. If you want to, you can reach out to us at [email protected] Also, keep tuned and you will be notified as we have more webinars coming up, especially that FBA one. We will be reaching out to make sure that everyone is aware. So thank you very much for joining us today, and I hope you have a wonderful week. Have a good day. Bye.