Co-founder and a Managing Partner at CSW Solutions. You can find Yoel on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Our customer is a leading retailer of personalized products and gifts. A large portion of their orders are received from Wholesale/3rd party customers through a file exchange. As a result of a request from one of their largest wholesale customers, they wanted to migrate from a file data exchange solution to a real-time, custom-built API solution, running on the Azure cloud platform.
Our customer has two main sales funnels. The majority of sales come from a family of eCommerce sites and the rest, around 30%, come from wholesale customers. Most wholesale customers submit their orders through EDI file exchange solutions like VendorNet to exchange order information and get updates on shipping.
However, these data exchange solutions were limited, as orders and shipping updates only flowed in once or twice a day. The increased traffic and dependency in the eCommerce realm meant that it was necessary to remain agile and adapt to stay competitive. They needed a way to anticipate consumer behavior and receive real-time data regarding their orders and manage logistics with the greatest efficiency. This growth in business and innovation meant that there was a need to build a back-end solution to allow real-time management of orders and shipping.
There were several challenges that we needed to overcome to develop the right solution. We needed to provide a way for wholesale customers to securely connect their back-end application with our customer's custom-built ERP solution that would only expose the relevant data to the user.
The solution would need to create a streamlined, automatic data exchange between systems in real time. Another challenge was the on-premise network. This type of network meant there was no access from outside. The solution needed to be public-facing, with secure and authenticated access to our customer's ERP database.
CSW Solutions developed a custom .NET-based API that provided a simple way for wholesale customers to send orders in real-time and receive acknowledgment of their orders.
After authentication, the user will have the option to either submit an order or check the status of an order and check inventory status for any item. The API also provides advanced error handling which provides the user with detailed activity information in case an order couldn't be accepted. In addition to that, the solution was fully documented to allow other developers to a better understanding of how our API works so they can build their webhooks to the API in robust fashion.
The public API was installed as an app service in Azure with a direct, secure connection to the on-premise network and to an internal API that connects and relays information to the database. This allows authenticated users using the Azure Cloud Service to send and receive data without providing direct access to the customer's on-premise network.
When the solution was implemented, orders were being entered and updated throughout the whole day, not only specific times and this meant better and faster service from customer service to production. In terms of performance, it takes less than a second to receive orders and inventory updates. With the new API, our customer is able to provide better support and faster service to their wholesale customers and funnel sales to see considerable growth and efficiency.
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