DATE: Dec 27, 2009
AUTHOR: Mike Bates
Apache Open For Business (OFBiz) offers an amazing amount of functionality across a wide variety of business processes. The scope of OFBiz, as with most ERP systems, is very broad — including e-commerce, inventory and order management, accounting, manufacturing, and much more. As you consider all of the ground covered by OFBiz, it follows that any given OFBiz system is likely to encounter other systems with which it needs to gracefully interact.
3rd party integrations can sometimes become very complex. For my post today, however, let’s consider a few simple example together: we will look at three types of integrations commonly used by online e-tailers running OFBiz direct-to-consumer e-commerce storefronts.
There are many ways that HotWax Media helps our customers drive traffic to their e-commerce sites, including various SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click) tactics, but we will leave detailed discussions of those tactics for a separate post. For our example today, our story begins with a visitor arriving at the OFBiz e-commerce storefront.
Upon arriving at the merchant’s OFBiz e-commerce site, the visitor browses products. There are some really effective merchandising features available with OFBiz, including cross-sell, up-sell, layered navigation, promotions, and so forth. As our visitor navigates the site and finds the products she wants, she adds them to her shopping cart. Eventually, she has her cart loaded up and is ready to checkout.
Using OFBiz, HotWax Media creates completely custom checkout experiences for our customers. One-page checkout, split shipments, anonymous checkout, coupon codes — it’s all available through OFBiz. There are, however, additional 3rd party checkout options that are also available. So these will be our first examples of 3rd party integrations available with OFBiz.
Google Checkout and PayPal Express checkout are both available to OFBiz merchants.
The idea with these 3rd party checkout services (as with most concepts in online retail) is to boost conversion rates. This works well for users who already have established checkout preferences. For example, if our site visitor prefers PayPal Express, she simply selects that checkout option, enters her PayPal username and password, chooses her shipping method, and she is done. The benefit is that she may have saved a minute or two, and presumably she is comfortable with PayPal and confident in the quality of her purchase transaction.
We mentioned shipping, and this is our next example of 3rd party integration options.
Unless our merchant is exclusively selling digital products that are downloaded by the end user, he needs to offer shipping options in order to fulfill his orders. Using OFBiz, HotWax Media offers many integration options with 3rd party shipping services. The idea is to make this as simple as possible for the shopper by allowing her to see custom, real-time shipping costs (based on her shipping address) from a variety of carriers and allow her to select her preferred method.
Shipping integrations available with HotWax Media and OFBiz include the biggest names in shipping, such as FedEx, UPS, USPS, and DHL. We also offer more specialized integrations with Endicia (includes USPS support) and Oagis Shipping. (As of December 2009, Endicia (with USPS support), UPS WorldShip, and a more complete FedEx integration are currently not offered out-of-the-box with OFBiz, but are available through HotWax Media.) These 3rd party shipping integrations allow our online merchant to control rate display in the user’s shopping cart (using real time shipping rate quotes that the merchant can then adjust as needed — see screenshot above). Once the order is picked and packed, the merchant can automatically print shipping labels, email a tracking number and shipment confirmation to the customer, and more.
Finally it is time to submit the order and process payment. Our visitor has her products in her cart, has selected her shipping method, and has entered her payment information. She clicks “Submit Order,” and this is where the payment gateway comes in.
Using OFBiz, HotWax Media offers integrations with a variety of 3rd party payment gateways. The industry leaders are PayPal, Authorize.net, and Orbital, so we generally recommend one of these. These integrations offer credit card processing along with fraud monitoring, scoring, order separation for manual review, and many other useful features for our online merchant. The order is submitted, the card is processed, and there you have it — e-commerce!
That was just a simple example of a very common e-commerce use case that makes use of a few 3rd party integrations. Of course, there are many other 3rd party integrations available using OFBiz, such as multi-channel sales (eBay, Amazon, etc.), single sign-on (Crowd), and integrations with other systems like Magento. I plan to address many of these in future posts. In the mean time, for a more complete list of 3rd party integrations available from HotWax Media / OFBiz, take a look at our 3rd Party OFBiz Integrations page.