Magento and Dynamics NAV (Navision)

E-Commerce
Magento is an unstoppable force.

There are NAV e-commerce add-ons out there, however, the websites that are created, at least from what we’ve seen, looks very outdated and “old”. In addition, it’s hard to add features and customize the website to your liking. The end result is probably not the best foot you want to put forward if your e-commerce webstore is the first thing your potential customers sees about your company.

Even if the integration works flawlessly, if you have a terrible looking website that’s hard to navigate in, you’ve just wasted your money. This is true for B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2B (Business to Business) websites.

Integration
The infrastrucutre is basically the same, to have real time, you must host the the web server in house. Not a lot of companies like to do that because of reliability and the cost (IT people, hardware, software, etc) of hosting the most vital order taking system for a company inhouse.

When it’s hosted, then we’re just uploading and downloading data and syncing anyways, so there’s really not that much benefit for you to purchase an expensive e-commerce add-on for Navision.

This is where Magento comes into play. Magento is an open source webstore software that’s gaining in popularity. How do I know this? Well, I hear a lot of new softwares and services that our clients are excited about. Usually when I hear a product once or twice, I’ll make a mental note.But more than that, it will require some investigation because I know the next thing the client will ask for is integration.

There are usually 2 components when designing the integration piece:
1. Getting the data to the Magento site
2. Getting the data back from Magento to Navision. i.e. Authorize.net approval amounts

There are a couple of ways to go about it:
1. Webservice directly to your database
2. Flat file transfer to Magento web database
3. Pump data to SQL Express and have Magento do query on it

I’m not a fan of having web services connected directly to your production database as, depending on the traffic of your site, it may cause performance problems. You probably don’t want people around the world to be querying into your production database when the customer service people are on the phone with your customers.

Personally, I prefer options 2 and 3 because if the website is down, you still have your ERP to take phone orders. If your ERP is down, you still have your website to take orders.

For real time, or as close to real time, you can use NAS to pump data in/out as much as you like, which is what option 2 and option 3 is for.

Your Magento developer(s) shouldn’t have any problems with the import/export of the data you give them.

Conclusion
There are probably a lot of other methods of integrating your Dynamics NAV (Navision) solution to Magento. The important thing is to not get caught up with what you need and what you’re being sold. Usually simple is good and simple is more than enough.

Having said that, I’d love to hear some other methods you use to integrate Dynamics NAV and Magento. If Magento is the next best thing for web stores since slice bread, us Dynamics NAV (Navision) community should be ready for it.

Leave a comment ?

15 Comments.

  1. I have a customer using Magento for a b2b website hooked into NAV and it’s been up and running quite happily for getting on for 12 months now.

    the website is hosted rather than on-premise and we’re using web services only for things that require an instant response – ASCII files for everything else.

    Because it’s hosted I had to create a simple .NET proxy to sit in-between Magento and the NAV web services.

    They have a large number of products on the site, generally updated on a quarterly basis so using an ASCII file was the preferred method for simplicity and speed – all of the ‘attributes’ that describe the products are stored and updated in NAV too and passed via the ASCII file.

    Their pricing mechanism is very complex; their price varies by the day and it’s partially based on weight. The website makes calls into NAV via a webservice to acquire prices ‘live’, IMO a preferable option to recreating the complex business logic outside of NAV or maintaining ever changing prices. Of course this means that Magento cannot acquire prices if it cannot communicate with NAV, but this has not been an issue to date.

    Orders in Magento are regularly pushed to NAV, again via webservice which can be reviewed prior to release.

    As I said, it’s been running quite happily for a while now. It is very much a bespoke solution though.

  2. Very nice! Hybrid solutions works very well as well. I guess it’ll be too much trouble to pass every little attribute as a file to Magento, in this case, using webservices is perfect.

  3. Alex,
    I know we have talked some over the years but I am not sure if we ever have done any presentations. One of my engineers told me to read your article. He agreed with you on many points. The ones below specifically.

    1. How internal hosting is mostly a pain (Which we agree with).
    2. How using web-service is most a risk, and a pain (Which we agree with).
    3. How using a tiered data system is mostly the best option (Which we agree with).

    In reading the article our conclusion that we suspect you are stating is “you’ll get a good website, and a good amount of service hours.”

    Many of the areas you discuss regarding some of the negatives of existing e-Commerce systems might be correct for some systems, but not ours. None of your criticisms relate to our product. Maybe that is the reason we are the top selling e-Commerce system in the world for NAV. If you are looking for a turnkey system with all of the built in integration to NAV, and is very easily configured and can be done quickly, then you should contact us.

    Now if your intent is to get a lot of billable hours, then our system will not work well for you because we already have 90% of the features most customers are looking for built into out system with the real time integration to NAV.

    Cheers, 🙂

  4. Hi Steve, thanks for the reply. My intention is to give the user options instead of just allowing the users to feel trapped with existing NAV add-ons. They can still buy your add-ons if they don’t feel Magento is right for them.

    ExpandIT is a reputable add-on company for Navision. I have a lot of respect for the stuff you guys release.

    However, I don’t see how the companies can quickly create their own e-commerce site with a community of open source developers supporting it using an add-on software. In addition, the web world is changing ever so rapidly, as quoted by one of our customers that did a search for e-commerce products for Navision: “The e-commerce site from these add-ons always look a generate or 2 behind than what’s out there”.

    I suspect this is the same for e-commerce solutions for other ERP products as well.

    If I wanted a lot of billable hours, I’d start learning how to program in Magento. But looking at the code gives me a headache.

  5. Hi Alex,

    I totally agree with you. Magento is by far the best webshop now (even open source and free). The enormous functionality is exactly what customers need. That’s why Tinx-IT (my company) has developed a generic tool to integrate Microsoft Dynamics NAV with Magento. At Magento side we developed a PHP-script which uses the API from Magento, this manages the import and export from data. The data is processed by XML-files and this new webservice. The NAS is running as scheduler.

    In Navision an add-on will installed which arranges the exchange of outbound and inbound files. Also logging is enabled.

    Want more information? Please let me know!

    Kind regards,

    Erica

  6. Nice, a hybrid method as well. Although how would an addon be different if you were to built it inhouse?

  7. We use Joomla/Virtuemart with Navision (not connected in any way) and are researching future possibilities.

    Options are:
    1. Stay with Joomla/VM/Nav
    2. Magento/Nav
    3. Joomla/Nav-to-Net

    Every option has heavy pros and cons. The biggest cons:

    1. Continuity is always an issue

    2. The biggest hurdle to go to Magento would be the loss of flexibility and hefty learning curve. Not to mention the server needs if you want it to function properly. It’s huge in every way, certainly not free and very slow when not optimized. But the continuity seems very good and every month it gets a bigger crowd.

    3. I’ve seen very little of Nav-to-Net which on paper seems like the perfect solutions for Navision users needing webshop integration. Where is Nav-to-Net in this discussion? We are considering integrating Nav-to_net in a Joomla website to have functionality of Joomla with Nav-to-Net instead of Virtuemart.

    Very anxious to read your thoughts on the above…

    Blans

  8. Net to Net is a good solution. Again, my concerns are described in the first sections of the report. Any sites created by the add-on company will always be 1 or 2 generation behind what’s really out there.

    Also, integration will be an issue. Unless you want to host your own e-commerce site, asking your partner to write an integration is a lot more cost effective than purchasing an add-on.

  9. “asking your partner to write an integration is a lot more cost effective than purchasing an add-on.”

    That’s the question… Magento is far from free! I cannot say that loud enough… It’s far from free! And the better you are aware of that the less you’ll be disappointed. It is a huge beast and needs a serious professional hoster to do it’s work properly. Besides that you need someone to control the beast (my work) and those hours have to be paid.

    Our biggest concern is that a Magento/NAV integration turns out to be far more costly and time consuming as planned. Set this against the benefit of having one database and up to date stock on a website and you have a hard decision to make.

    For us the discussion is whether or not to take on Magento before the choice between and add-on or integration.

    I have faith in the integration but the growling Magento beast is frightening me… 😉

  10. Nothing is free… 🙁

    The point is that the community of people out there supporting Magento will be exponentially greater than the people supporting a particlar e-commerce add-on for any ERP software.

    Yes, Magento may be a beast and find a good company to support it may be tough. The bottom line is the company.

    Again, if the company wants a e-commerce solution that can adapt to the latest trends, software like Magento, Drupal, WordPress, etc is the best way to go about it. Using an ERP e-commerce addon will help you on the integration end, but your website may not look the best.

  11. Thank you Alex for giving your view.

    You’ve got me convinced about leaving the add-on thoughts and looking towards integration of Magento/Joomla-VM etc with Navision.

    I was already on that path since the flexibility, “better looks” and “growing with time” will be better guaranteed with these e-commerce specialists.

    Pffff… I’m already taking a long run-up towards the steep learning curve of Magento. The integration companies are shooting up like mushrooms so finding a good one will also be a daunting task.

    Thanks for your great blog and insights 🙂

    Blans

  12. Sorry, I didn’t mean to steer you one way or the other. It really depends on what the company is trying to do and what they’re after.By no means using Magento will solve all of your problems. In fact, it may cause more problems because of lack of professional support for Magento.

    It’s the job of the analyst to find out what the company needs and what will fit the company both in the short term and the long term.

  13. Don’t worry… We are currently still very happy using Joomla and Virtuemart so we can use this time to look around. We are a production company using Navision now for several years. Since 2 years we also sell through our website but info and orders are manually inserted into Nav. With the expansion of our online sales this becomes a ever more daunting task but that’s a positive thing.

    We will certainly not make any hasty decisions and finding your blog and reading your thoughts is a very helpful step along the way.

  14. Hi Friends,
    We are using MS dynamics Nav 2013 r2 with Magento. Regular we sync the sales orders from Magento to Navision 2013 but some time orders are get miss in XML file which created at Navision local drive.
    Can any one suggest about this problem.

  15. Is this a custom solution you created? Sounds like the problem is coming from the Magento not writing the file to XML to your local drive. I would start there.

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