Custom 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. 

Workflow Customisations

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.

 

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.

Zoho Dashboard

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.

threepl screenshot

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.

Other work:

  • 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