eCommerce Website Integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP – Overview for Developer

When you are facing e-commerce transactions volume growth – typical solution is to remap backoffice ERP system to more scalable. In this small article we consider the case, when you remap eCommerce to Microsoft Great Plains Dynamics GP. If you make your homework and search the internet to understand your options, you will see that several out of the box solutions are out there, however it is typically not what you are looking for: you would like to keep your existing ecommerce solution with shopping cart, checkout and credit card processing. In this case – you way is eCommerce integration to Microsoft Dynamics GP

o Remapping technology. Let’s assume that you had something like SAP Business One, where you deployed SAP B1 SDK and programmed eCommerce to SB1 integration in Microsoft Visual Studio C# project. When you remap to GP – you also use MS Visual Studio and C# programming language and GP integration tools, described in the next section

o eConnect. The core logic of eConnect is realized as a set of SQL stored procedures and you can manipulate such GP objects as Customer, Sales Invoice (or Order if you plan to transfer order to invoice later on)

o Automatic Posting dilemma. Looking back to SAP Business One – there when you create Invoice – it is already “posted”. In the case of Great Plains – Invoice is created in so-called “work” status, then typically placed into the batch for approval and posting by GP operator. eConnect does allow you to create Sales Inovice, but it doesn’t allow you to post it automatically from eCommerce application. This is natural restriction of Great Plains Dexterity architecture

o Posting Server. This solution is available for purchase and it uses Microsoft Dexterity posting engine. What you need to do as eCommerce developer is to place the batch into the table, and so approving it for posting. Posting Server checks the approved batches table every five seconds and posts the content of the table. Alba Spectrum Posting Server requires GP workstation running on separate computer – expect one additional user license

o Excurse to Microsoft Dynamics GP Dexterity. It was designed as a shell, written in C programming language to resolve DB and OS dependency. Dex.exe is the application and it launches dictionaries, such as DYNAMICS.DIC. you can find Dex dictionaries, listed in Dynamics.set file. Programming Dexterity should be left to professionals, as it proprietary and pretty unique scripting language: sanscript – plus dex programmer should be familiar with dex architecture and tables structure. Dexterity enables various customizations, integrations, modifications to existing GP business logic.

Year In Review: Top Ten Internet Businesses 2004

The internet boom hit a high mark in 2004. With old
standbys and new emergences, the top ten internet
businesses 2004 show a variety of companies all with one
thing in common: they have adapted well to the World Wide
Web. Many companies have difficulties and struggle amidst
the huge ocean of the internet, especially since it is
quite difficult to maintain a personal face. The
companies in the top ten have not only succeeded in the
business sense, they have invaded out daily life and have
become a household name. From meagre beginnings, these
top ten entrepreneur companies have mastered this new
medium and are an inspirational to any budding
entrepreneur interested in starting an internet based
business.

The Internet search engine Google was the top internet
business of 2004. The world’s largest search engine
receives over 200 million hits a day. Businesses pay
Google to have an ad for their website appear to the
right side of the user’s search. The paid advertising
targets consumers seeking information. Google’s initial
public offering gave it a market capitalisation of over $23
billion dollars, placing it between Yahoo and Amazon.com.
In addition to becoming an economic success, the company’s
name has invaded our language. The verb “google” entered
the dictionary with a definition meaning “to look someone
or something up on the internet.” The essence of a truly
successful business is not only one that makes money but
also serves its clients to the utmost potential.

The online auction site eBay.com continued to expand its
services and customer base throughout 2004. As the industry
leader it boasts over tens and millions of members and has
websites in over 17 countries. eBay.com generated over $3
billion in revenues off of a record $34 billion dollars in
Gross Merchandise Volume.

Amazon.com continues to be the world’s number one internet
retailer with 2004 sales in excess of $6.9 billion dollars.
The retailer continues to expand its offerings and
partnerships with other retailers. Recently Amazon.com
rolled out a9.com, which provides consumers with expanded
search options to find merchandise on Amazon.com’s website.
As part of the Tsunami relief effort and in conjunction
with the American Red Cross, Amazon.com set-up an online
donation channel, which raised over $13 million dollars.

Yahoo Inc. provides comprehensive global internet services.
It remains the most visited website with over 3 billion
page views per day. Yahoo launched its own search engine
technology after dropping Google-powered results. Boasting
free and paid email accounts and website complete with
design tools, many pleased clients are using Yahoo.

Expedia, the Washington-based travel company has
revolutionized the entire travel industry. Allowing
individuals to serve as their own travel agents and search
a database of airfares, rental cars, and hotel rooms,
Expedia has allowed everyone to gain access to the
phenomenal travel deals that would previously be
reserved for insiders.

Technology giant Microsoft launched the Microsoft to serve
a variety of needs for a consumer. Boasting email, news,
chat software, and website hosting, MSN is one of the most
visited websites on the internet.

America Online has found a great deal of competition with
companies like MSN and Yahoo! but is still one of the most
popular internet service providers out there. Boasting an
entire network of satisfied customers, AOL goes beyond the
service of other providers. Many individuals new to the
internet choose to use AOL due to its ease of use and
availability all over the globe.

Netflix has become an increasingly popular option for many
movie-renting customers. Instead of having to travel to
your local movie store, the movies are shipped directly to
your home. You have an unlimited number of rentals and
pay a nominal monthly fee for the service. By lowering its
fees in the middle of the year to compete with lower
competitor prices, Netflix drastically increased its
clientele.

With the popularity of burning audio and video files to
create your own CDs, many copyright issues have taken
center court. Instead of illegally trading music for free
using person to person programs; Real.com has a wide array
of songs available for legal download for a nominal fee.
Additionally, Real.com offers a variety of free and pay
media players so individuals can play MP3s, CDs, DVDs, and
any other type of media file directly on their computer.

The last internet company in the top ten is online retailer
and technology giant Apple. Their website Apple.com boasts
an amazing number of customers each month, as it provides a
forum to purchase Apple products along with different
programs necessary for maintaining your Apple computer,
iPod, or any other electronic product sold by the company.

Start an Internet Business in 5 Easy Steps!

Want to start an Internet business? Great! Let’s get started quickly by looking at five simple and necessary steps to getting your Internet business off the ground.

1. Select Your Domain Name – It is very important to select the proper domain name for your business. Why? It’s how customers will find you online. A couple of simple pointers: shorter is usually better, I’d stick with a .com name – not one of the other top level domains. It can also help search engines to list you higher if your domain name contains some of the keywords you want to be found for.

Believe it or not, there are still a huge number of domain names that have never been registered. Sure, the so-called ‘dictionary’ and common single word domains have all be registered long ago, but there are strategies to circumvent this issue.

Why not simply add a modifier to a word in order to create a compelling domain name? For example: let’s say that you sell bicycles and bicycle parts online – here are some domain names that come to mind that are almost certainly taken:

bike.com

bikes.com

bicycle.com

bicycles.com

bikeparts.com

bicycleparts.com

So how can we modify these common names to create names that are available? Let’s try adding some simple descriptive terms either before, or after the main word. For example:

Deluxe

Premium

Best

Superior

Cheap

Discount

Online

Universal

I’m sure you can think of many others that apply to your products and business. If you simply add this short list of modifiers in front of the original short names, you can create multiple new names that are available right now!

You can search to see if your domain name is available here: http://www.dotster.com.

2. Hire a Web Designer – Ask around to locate a great designer that someone else has used. The design of your site can make you look professional, or like an amateur – it’s clear which way you will want to look.

An alternative that can be very cost effective when compared to a custom designed web site is to use pre-formatted templates – either put together by another company, or filled in with data yourself. For example, Affinity Internet, Inc. offers a professional web design product through it’s ValueWeb brand that is billed out at a low flat monthly fee. According to the ValueWeb website the ReadyWeb product offers the following advantages: “A professional web designer will set up a consultation with you to better understand your business and online goals to ensure your web site is not only impressive but successful.Our web site professionals will make updates to your website on a monthly basis as needed. ReadyWeb includes two hours of maintenance and updates each month at no additional charge.” You can learn more about the ReadyWeb product at: [http://www.valueweb.com/readyweb/readyweb_learn_more.htm].

Alternatively there are do-it-yourself templates available at sites such as http://www.templatemonster.com.

3. Choose Your Web Hosting – Every small business that sets up a web site online will need to host it somewhere. According to industry expert Tamara Field, President of Apollo Hosting (www.apollohosting.com) these are the top three things to consider when selecting your web hosting company.

* REAL Live Support – Call their tech support number NOT their sales number, and see if you can talk directly to a technician. Or go on their live chat and see if you are able to talk to a technician. How long did it take for you to get someone on the phone or live chat? That’s very important. Just because they say they offer live support, doesn’t mean they really have people there when you need them.

* Guarantees – Money back guarantee, price freeze, uptime, and a guarantee of a refund on unused portions. There are so many hosting companies that don’t offer money back on unused months if you cancel early! If you sign up for 1 year, believe it or not, many hosting companies won’t give you ANY money back if you cancel 3 months later. A money back guarantee is important as is a prize freeze guarantee. But these days, look for the refund on unused hosting. Many companies don’t mention it because they don’t offer it.

* Upgrade Path – If you see your business growing, and you might want more products/services in the future, then you will need an upgrade path. It is a real hassle changing hosting companies. Just getting lots of bandwidth and storage is not the answer. Many customers don’t use near the amount of bandwidth and storage that many hosting companies are offering. This is really just a marketing technique for a lot of hosting companies. Look for extra products that they offer. What about ecommerce? Do they offer the best ecommerce products, SPAM/Virus filtering, marketing tools etc. Remember that these days hosting is not just about storage and bandwidth. It’s about a whole lot more. Don’t settle for just space on a box.

You can easily compare web hosting options by looking through web hosting directory sites as well. These sites offer information about multiple hosting providers, and special offers and product information. Several of the more useful directories are: http://www.websitehostdirectory.com, http://www.cheaphostingdirectory.com, and http://www.tophosts.com.

4. Set Up Your Email – It may seem like a no-brainer to some, but you simply cannot adequately conduct business on the Internet without an email address. Your email address will let your customers and potential customers communicate with you, and give you valuable feedback on your web site, products, services, and ordering processes.

You’ll also need a way for you to communicate with vendors and others who can help you market your web site. Each hosting provider has different protocols for setting up your email account, so you’ll have to look to your provider for help with your specific account. One other important note: be sure to include a signature line at the bottom of every email that includes your business name, URL, and a brief description of your products and services. This idea alone can increase your business.

5. Promote Your Site – There are so many ways to get traffic to your web site that it would require several separate articles to cover the topic. Here are a couple of basic ideas. Try to educate yourself about, and get listed on search engines. A few basic steps can go a long way towards traffic driving in this way. A great step-by-step manual is at http://www.searchenginewatch.com.

If you have a budget to advertise, you may want to try Google AdWords as a method of reaching the search engine keyword market. Information is available at: http://www.google.com/ads. Alternatively, if you simply want to pay someone else to manage your online search engine advertising campaign for a flat monthly fee, you could check out ValueWeb’s ValueTraffic program. ValueTraffic costs $100 per month, and guarantees traffic and impressions to your website. You can see further details at: [http://www.valueweb.com/online-marketing.htm].

Of course, you should print your web address on all of your existing marketing materials such as: business cards, stationary, brochures, newsletters, product sheets, etc. You may find that driving qualified traffic to your website is as easy as releasing information on where to find it in your company promotional materials. Customers are always eager to utilize faster and more convenient forms of communications with companies.

Good luck with your new site, and remember – it takes a while for any great project to get real traction – the same holds true for your website.