xTuple Tackles E-commerce in Earnest




xTuple, a provider of open source enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solutions, recently announced the availability of xTupleCommerce—version 2.0 of its e-commerce Web portal. The vendor also acquired a notable Web consultancy partner, Artsmith Media, to support booming customer demand for the online business/commerce solution—investment bank Goldman Sachs expects global e-commerce sales in 2013 to reach nearly $1 trillion, growing at over 19 percent per year.
 
With special expertise in the Drupal content management system, Artsmith’s founding president Josh Fischer now leads the new xTupleCommerce team tasked with delivering ERP-powered Web site solutions. On the other hand, Andrey Mikheychik, Artsmith’s lead developer, brings deep expertise in cutting-edge Web technologies to that team, which includes a global network of consultants and engineers available to support xTuple customers.
 
xTuple currently has nearly 40 employees, over 60 partners/resellers, and over 300 commercial license customers. There are over 700 more open source customers who have bought something from the vendor (training, documentation, add-ons, etc.), whereas about 3,800 companies are using the free open source PostBooks product in production.
 
Artsmith brings with it a group of its own customers, with a particular focus in the nonprofit world. There should be good opportunities for xTuple’s customer relationship management (CRM), basic accounting, and especially the project accounting add-on package that is pretty well suited for groups who need fund accounting functionality. But frankly, xTuple is looking at heavy demand for the xTupleCommerce solution among current customers, and it expects to keep the team pretty busy in 2014 with just that work.
 
The new xTupleCommerce solution, which the team is reportedly already deploying for several existing xTuple customers, represents a major leap forward in the automation and complete integration of business systems. Not surprisingly, the universe of customers for xTuple’s first generation portal offering is skewed heavily to very technical self-starters.
 
The portal, currently deployed as integration with the Drupal Commerce system, can be adapted to support any modern e-commerce engine, including Magento, Shopify, X-Cart, and other popular online “shopping cart” providers. It is made possible by a massive overhaul of xTuple’s application programming interface (API), which now makes every business object in the ERP system available through a REST (REpresentational State Transfer) Web services interface.
 
Version 2 of the Web portal, now branded as xTupleCommerce, makes use of the aforementioned REST APIs, whereby every business object in the ERP is now available in a standardized way with a great deal of the logic already built in. Companies running their internal operations with xTuple ERP can now conduct business—both consumer and trade sales and service—with a public, customer-facing Web site that includes real-time, two-way integration eliminating the need for double-entry or maintenance of separate systems. All business logic and customer-specific pricing, order history, multiple images, documents, and rich descriptions of items are maintained in one database. Online orders can be immediately processed within xTuple, including all business workflows defined in the ERP system, including manufacturing, shipping, and billing.
 
The xTupleCommerce solution is also mobile-ready, with a “responsive design” philosophy that tailors the user’s experience to the form factor of a tablet or smartphone. Future releases of the Web portal will include an enhanced customer service and support module, customer visibility into project management activities, and portal functionality for suppliers.
 
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