Commerce 101: The Top 11 Must-Know Acronyms for Merchants
Acronyms and technical terms are part and parcel of the quickly changing commerce world. Just keeping up with industry jargon can be a full time job! And we at VL OMNI would know—we’re in the thick of cutting-edge commerce developments every second of every day, on the lookout for the next trend that might impact Merchants to incorporate into our serverless platform. But, luckily for you, VL OMNI is always on the side of sharing what we learn. So we’ve created this list of common abbreviations as a guide to understanding some key terms for the industry alongside clear and concise definitions.
As a new member of the VL OMNI family, I found myself creating my own cheat-sheet of terms and abbreviations. This quick reference sheet helped me quickly learn about all things integration and commerce, and I’m refining and adding more detail as I get deeper into the multichannel commerce world. On that note, this handy tool will be continuously updated to ensure we stay up to date with new and up-and-coming commerce abbreviations and terms. Don’t miss an update: Click the star and bookmark this page!
Looking for particular definitions? Jump to:
Commerce Acronyms and Terms All Merchants Should Know
iPaaS means integration platform as a service and refers to a single platform that connects various applications, systems and technologies, and can be thought of as a subset of ‘SaaS’. iPaaS platforms and services like VL OMNI allow businesses to maintain organization-wide data that’s holistically shared across all applications and communication points.
Some important features of iPaaS:
- iPaaS allows for accessibility because of its cloud-based nature, allowing businesses using iPaaS to check their operations from anywhere on any type of device.
- iPaaS solutions promote speed as data upload and transfer can be made in real-time between integrated applications.
- Another great benefit is the flexibility and agility that iPaaS offers: with iPaaS, businesses can expand and grow in an elastic and scalable environment.
Also known as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, EU-GDPR are new standards of online privacy as it relates to personal data and consent. The EU-GDPR regulates all businesses that use or touch any data that can be traced back to an individual from the EU, regardless of whether or not the EU citizen is physically in the EU. Businesses that handle such data are subject to strict laws on gathering information legally and protecting it from hacking.
Fun fact: VL OMNI has been fully EU-GDPR Compliant since well before it came into full effect!
A Warehouse Management System is a software application designed to support and optimize warehouse functionality. A WMS plays an integral role in supply chains running smoothly; WMS applications typically track inventory movement, locations, and status between warehouses. With the right WMS integrated into a broader technology ecosystem, merchants are able to keep better track of their inventory to ensure on-time deliveries, prevent delays, and to monitor customer concerns—all in real time.
This stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and is at its essence it is a tool for managing information—especially important for growing SMB and Enterprise Merchants. Information management is the organised collection, storage and use of information for the benefit of the organization.
An ERP centralizes all main business processes such as CRM (see below), finance, ordering, invoicing, and more. By centralizing these key business functions in a single application, Merchants can streamline the flow of information. Coupling an ERP with strategic data integration only further empowers your business, linking together all of your business processes with satellite applications strategically and allowing your business to fulfil on promises faster and more accurately.
Customer Relationship Management applications are tools that allow companies to manage all interactions with current and potential customers. CRMs typically house customer details and order history, including the entire history of a customer’s interaction with the company for the purpose of improving business relations with customers.
A CRM is beneficial to not only businesses but to end customers of that business by:
- Allowing companies to improve sales growth and understand customer’s interactions with a company, including through marketing, customer service, sales, and support.
- Improving the customer experience via accessible customer data records and business intelligence via analytics.
The Order Management System is a computer software system used for order entry and processing and provides efficiencies by providing timely invoices and payments. A fully integrated OMS can also prevent manual errors.
Electronic Data Interchange is the grandfather of modern data communication methods (APIs) and is a standard format in which businesses electronically communicate information such as purchase orders or invoices with bricks and mortar sales channels including third-party retailers.
There are challenges that come along with EDI, many of which can be resolved via the right EDI provider (like VL OMNI!). If your business does EDI and is experiencing the following issues, it might be time to look into a different EDI solution or provider:
- There are errors and missing fields associated with your EDI strategy; as volumes increase, it will be more difficult to manually catch and fix errors, resulting in chargebacks and other penalties.
- Transactions must happen in a timely manner and with transparency; the velocity of receiving and sending information is crucial for maintaining this transparency.
- Communications through EDI do not always occur in real-time, can affect transparency and communication with partners if not planned for accordingly.
Product Information Management is a crucial piece of technology for merchants and retailers; it manages master product information. Product information is clearly crucial for marketing and selling products through different distribution channels, but without the right mechanisms in place to push the right product information to the right sales channel, you’re not getting your money’s worth from your PIM instance. For maximum impact in delivering product information automatically to all sales channels in the correct configurations, pair your PIM with the right data integrator.
An Application Program Interface is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An application’s API(s) specifies how software components should interact, and are of critical importance to all data integration efforts. It is impossible to integrate an application that does not have an API, and not all APIs are created equal! Bottomline: when you start talking APIs, you’re in deep technical territory. If you’re not certain, reach out to an expert like VL OMNI; we’re always happy to share the benefits our 25+ years in moving data with Merchants and Partners alike!
But before we move on from APIs altogether, there’s one more important distinction you should know about: there are two kinds of APIs that exist in the world today, and one is definitely better than the other…
REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer. REST is simply a different style of application interface when compared with its predecessor, SOAP. REST enables data integrators like VL OMNI to receive data from different sources and alter it. With REST, it’s easier to manipulate data to conduct several different operations without much effort. Overall, REST is way easier to use and far more efficient, allowing you to rest while you are using REST (pun intended). Learn more about REST here.
SOAP, meanwhile, stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. No, this is not the soap used to clean with, but rather a messaging protocol that outlines the specifications for exchanging information within computer networks. The purpose of SOAP is to deliver extensibility, neutrality and independence. SOAP is the predecessor to the more agile and flexible REST API structure. Learn more about SOAP here.
Not the End
Although this list is only 11 out of probably hundreds of acronyms for commerce, this list is a great place to start to better understand commerce and the intersection of commerce technology and data integration.
And as we started this blog out saying, this list is not—and purposely will never be—complete! Commerce and the language we use to describe it is undergoing constant renovation, disruption, and expansion. New terms come out every week, if not almost daily.
I hope that you find this list helpful as I did, and if there are other terms that could be added, give us a shout on LinkedIn! So bookmark this page, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow me as I update this blog and continue to write more on my journey to becoming a data integration expert!