Customisations and Integrations for Dear, Xero, Cin7, Shopify, Neto and more
About Integrations and Cloud apps
Large business systems are built from modules. For instance, traditionally you had a GL module, an AR module and a Sales module. Accounting has worked like this since the days of fountain pens: it calls these modules "ledgers", so if you are familiar with the "debtors ledger" and the "stock ledger" you already understand the concept.
Business systems before the cloud bundled many modules under one "integrated" solution because there was no agreed standard to connect modules from different providers. Sometimes business systems had to be connected anyway, and it was a very expensive process, requiring custom coding and a lot of software to keep everything working. So traditional ERPs all individually reinvented their own GL ledger, not because they found some exciting new way to do double-entry book-keeping, but because it was cheaper than integrating to an already-existing GL package. All this reinventing of wheels was a bit crazy. Just like shipping containers standardised the process of loading ships, the rise of cloud computing has changed this: integrations now use standardised technology for moving information around, and asking customers to pay for reinventing the wheel usually does not make economic sense any longer.
Cloud ERP systems, such as Dear Systems or Cin7, provide a small number of standard integrations (e.g. with Xero or Shopify). Dear also provides Zapier, a "no-code" connector to a much bigger universe of Cloud Apps.
GrowthPath is an expert at more advanced integrations.
Also, we can build "internal" integrations where the API of the cloud App (Dear, Cin7, Xero...) is used to automate processes internally, such as rules-based order-splitting across different locations.
Out of the box integrations
Cloud apps have taken-off due to simplicity and price. And a reason for that is that they focus on doing a focused set of things quite well, rather than trying to many things less well. They can afford to ignore some important functionality because integrating with other cloud apps is so easy. So integrating with an "ecosystem" has become a selling point. Most apps come with a core set of integrations bundled with the package. ERP apps, such as Dear and Cin7, include integrations with Xero and Quickbooks Online, for instance, and also with Shopify, WooCommerce, eBay etc.
We call these "out of the box integrations". The advantages of these integrations are they are cheap (often bundled for free) and supported by the ERP vendor.
However, there will be gaps. There are so many CRMs, for instance, that ERP vendors would be exhausted providing their own integrations.
You may also find that even when an out-of-the-box integration exists, it isn't good enough
Bridges such as Zapier and OneSaas
There are services which let you build connections between apps with no coding. These work by distilling certain core functions. For example, a CRM app always lets you define a new contact. Likewise, every CRM lets you define a new contact. So if Zapier knows how to detect a new contact created in five ERPs and if it knows how to create new contact in 50 CRMs, then with a few clicks, it offers 250 new connections.
These services are convenient, but not compelling, since they exploit "lowest common denominator" features. The transaction-based costing can be expensive too, eventually.
Custom Integrations and Workflow Customisations
The most expensive but most powerful integration is coded specifically for your requirements. This has higher upfront costs, but lower ongoing costs, and on this basis alone it may be a good choice, although compared with Zapier, you would see payback between three and five years, typically. The business case for custom integrations must be based on the advantage of an integration which does exactly what you want.
Integration between software applications is not new: an entire layer of enterprise software called Middleware is well-known to IT managers in large firms. But the way you built such integrations was not standardised. Integrations required a huge mix of proprietary technologies, and simply accessing interface documentation required large licence fees.
Cloud apps are radically different. Documentation is free, and the interfaces are defined with open-source technologies. Most cloud apps allow free access, or cheap access, to their interfaces.
As part of our integration work, GrowthPath has written a number of advanced integrations using cloud APIs.
In some cases there are solutions in the market, but our clients wanted a more specific solution that provided better value and automation.
Cloud software is largely 'what you see is what you get'. Vendors don't do customisations per client (except Cin7). New features and improvements are frequently rolled out, but you don't have much influence is setting development priorities.
However, the APIs allow automation to be built.
Here are some examples:
- Reordering based on sales history and custom forecast logic
- Integration with global corporate procurement systems
- Advanced customer service forecasting of order completion dates
Also, integrations can include business logic, not just information exchange. For example, data can be transformed before being sent to a data warehouse for advanced reporting.
Integrations and customisations typically cost AUD $3000 - $20000. GrowthPath provides a limited but broad licence to our source code, and we work exclusively with open-source technologies: this is designed to avoid vendor lock-in with GrowthPath.
Shopify Payments and Xero Reconciliations
We have an integration which produces a bank feed from Shopify Payments for fast Xero reconciliation.
We also have an integration which optimises Dear and Xero reconciliations when using Stripe: we change the Dear payment reference to match the Stripe bank feed, allowing automatic reconciliation. We also have an automation robot which performs Xero bank reconciliations.
GrowthPath has a drop-in replacement for the standard Dear Systems quantity sync. Like the other integrations mentioned here, this integration runs on the GrowthPath Application Server and uses the highly optimised GrowthPath Dear (Cin7 Core) cache and middleware.
This module has two advantages:
1) It does not require the Dear product catalog to be linked ("listed") on Shopify. Instead, it simply matches Dear (Cin7 Core) SKUs to Shopify variant skus.
So you no longer need to list to Shopify if the only reason you were doing that was to sync quantity
2) It has a more advanced design with protections to greatly reduce inflated stock levels in Shopify, substantially eliminating the risk of overselling during periods of high demand.
Syncing systems in real time over cloud APIs is hard due to delays. The key problem in this case is when Shopify has reduced available stock because it has accepted an order, but this order has not been received in Dear. At that moment, Dear will consider Shopify's stock level is too low, and if it runs a stock sync, it will push up Shopify stock. If the Shopify order, not yet in Dear, consumed the final available stock, the product should no longer be available for sale, but Dear's action will relist it. Eventually, the Dear sync will notice the error, but only after further orders have been placed for stock you don't have.
The GrowthPath sync uses a number of techniques to minimise this risk. Each time the sync runs, it takes stock snapshots and order snapshots, to detect orders which are only in one system and then adjust the Dear stock to anticipate orders which Dear does not yet know about. There is still a timing risk as even "delta updates" from Shopify take a few seconds, but due to an optimised multipass approach, we believe it as small as theoretically possible; typically 5s to 15s. Optionally there is an additional protection that prevents stock increases in Shopify unless they occur over two successive updates. This delays legitimate stock increase corrections from flowing to Shopify, but provides extra protection against over-sells. The GrowthPath stock update acts over the entire stock, rather than per SKU, and does not wait to be triggered by orders; this means that if an incorrect stock level still happens despite the two layers of protection, it will be corrected within a few minutes, which is another layer of protection. The GrowthPath approach can not run stock updates as frequently as the Dear Cin7 core approach, but it is more robust. Our clients who use this run stock updates once every 30 minutes to once every 15 minutes (remembering that Shopify manages stock levels itself). If the same warehouse is service multiple stores, faster updates are needed.
Finally, being a separate app, the GrowthPath Shopify stock sync operates under different API rate limits to the Dear connection, which may give it an advantage during high order load; the Dear API connection may get rate limited at peak order load delaying orders, but the GrowthPath stock sync is not affected by this. This is conjecture; there is no way of easily determining if this is actually an advantage.
Document Recognition for automated PDF PO entry
GrowthPath has an integration module using Amazon's AWS machine learning document reading service, Textract, which we use to read customer PO PDFs and enter as orders into Dear.
The workflow is that you forward emails containing the PDF to an email address. Our integration will recognise the customer and enter the PO as a sales order in Dear.
GrowthPath CRM Integrations: Dear to Zoho CRM, Dear to Capsule
Most of our advanced integrations are with Dear Systems and Xero. Both Xero and Dear have very good APIs.
- Dear Inventory Capsule CRM: Dear to Capsule sync
Opportunity, Organisation and Contact sync
- Dear Inventory - Zoho CRM: Sync of customers, contacts and quotes: Read more
Dear Systems Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence Integrations
GrowthPath has a highly advanced data warehouse feed. Most of our clients connect it to Zoho Analytics.
A Zoho Analytics Dashboard combining Zoho CRM data and Dear Inventory data
"Highly advanced: means:
- We handle multiple Dear instances, even in different currencies
- Automatic integrity checking of the data
- We have developed added-value analysis tables which combine data from different Dear endpoints for powerful reporting well beyond what Dear offers, and well beyond any simple connector-based mere on storing raw data from Dear's endpoints
- Our connector uses GrowthPath's advanced Dear cache, for very high performance. The Dear cache can share load among multiple API connections. We can do very frequent updates of Analytics data.
- We have client-specific ETL layers to correct historical data errors and badly-designed attributes and classifications
Analytics, and the additional complexity of using slow and sometimes unreliable cloud APIs places unusual robustness and integrity checks. The GrowthPath connector has been live for about three years now. Around 20 Dear sites are using it.
- Microsoft Power BI and other BI Tools: GrowthPath's Analytics Connector populates a cloud Postgresql server (dedicated, not multi-tenant). This provides a high-quality set of tables for use with Microsoft BI and as a feed for other BI tools.
- This is Beta release.
Dear Systems 3PL, WMS and shipping management integrations
GrowthPath has a library of middle ware for quick deployment of sophisticated logistic integrations.
An example 3PL integration
We can handle
- Batch and serial tracking at the 3PL and Dear, or only at the 3PL
- Advanced order integration
- Reliable and Robust automatic invoice generation for partial shipments (auto-invoice what has been shipped so far), linked to web-hooks for manifesting updates
- Automatic order-splitting across multiple locations, routing fulfilments, based on business logic including optimisation logic
We have integrated with multiple 3PLs using REST APIs and traditional file transfer. Our approach is suitable for advanced integrations requiring custom logic.
We also have good experience with MachShip and an advanced Starshippit Integration which goes well beyond the standard Dear integration.
Order Configurators for Dear Systems
We have made order configurators which interact with customer-facing front end tools to allow customers to specify a range of options to build a custom product.
We then turn this into a custom BOM, produce an Assembly Order and use batch logic to link this back to the Customer Order.
Promise Dates for orders (Cin7 and Dear)
We have logic which simulates allocation of stock to orders, providing accurate order fulfilment dates, considering current stock and inbound POs. This provides customers with high-quality updates on when they can expect their order.
In some cases, clients have used this information to provide accurate back-in-stock dates. Unlikes standard approaches, our logic takes into account both open customer orders and multiple POs.
Custom Workflow automation
GrowthPath has written a number of custom workflow automations suiting specific requirements.
For example, a JV handling B2C sales with Shopify, where the JV makes the sale and collects the revenue, and is a separate legal entity (so the standard Shopify integration can't be used). Our integration routed those orders to the Dear backend, but substitutes prices for with the agreed transfer price.
It keeps Shopify updated with stock levels. It forwards fulfilment and tracking to Shopify. It creates Xero invoices in the JV Xero instance.
Simplified Shopify Stocklevel sync for Dear: Sometimes the standard Shopify integration is not suitable because it binds the product catalogs too closely, with a dangerous risk of overwriting valuable front-end data. GrowthPath has a minimalist Shopify stock sync, which bypasses the need to use Dear to manage the Shopify product catalog.
- Order import in various formats
- PO export and integration with supplier systems
- Advanced payroll data format processing
- Dear Inventory <-> Pepperi: Contacts, Product and Orders
Desktop MYOB integrations
- MYOB to Zoho Analytics
Can consolidate multiple MYOB instances into one pool of data