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What are your thoughts on Rpro/ECI/Website Integration?
#1
I doubt this message will reach a very large audience, but it is worth a shot.

What are your thoughts on Rpro/ECI/Website Integration?

I personally think it is a good concept, but is poorly executed. UniteU is the vendor we use for our Rpro linked website. Both Rpro and UniteU are good in their respective fields, but their integration is really lacking. ECI is slow, buggy, and featureless.

Examples of slowness:

*While in the catalog and you switch between one item to another, it can take up to 30 seconds, depending on how many colors and sizes the item comes in.

*Switching between any menu in general takes longer than it should and eats up the processor.

*Polling takes 15+ minutes and eats up the processor.

*The default reports that came with ECI take.... 2+ hours to run, and are pretty useless.

Examples of bugs:

*Entering proper html code into the product description will get overwritten with outdated html code if you change text in the design window. Not to mention it gets displayed horribly in the code window. It is like notepad with wordwrap turned on. Very disorientating when your working with tables.

*Changing text in the design window will cause nbsp; codes to be inserted all over the place when there is only a single space between characters.

*You can't partial ship an order. It will only let you partial ship one SKU at a time. If you try to partial ship a second SKU it will charge shipping each and every time.

*If you enter a tracking number for a shipment into ECI, if you dont TAB atleast twice, it will not record the tracking number.

*You can't have Rpro and ECI open simultaneously on the same machine. Well you can have them open, but you have to back out of whatever your looking at to be able to use the other one.

Featureless:

*Only 1 product picture (in 2 different sizes) is allowed for a style. Styles almost always come in multiple colors sizes and shapes. You could take a group photograph, but products always get discontinued. Then your stuck with a group photo with outdated colors. There should be at least 5~20 places for photos. You can put them up manually via UniteU but that takes forever.

*You can't cancel an order. It just has to sit in the orders list untill it is deleted and archived. Deleting and archiving are not canceling in my opinion.

*There should be the option to seamlessly integrate RPO/ECI/UniteU with Fedex and UPS software.

*Shouldn't have to go through a 15 minute polling process just to export one item to the website.

*Difficult to link styles since you have to enter a SKU number, and you can't have Rpro open and viewing inventory. Switching between styles to find the SKU in ECI takes forever as I noted.

*Wedding registrys only work 1 way, they can be sent to UniteU from Rpro, but if you modifiy it on UniteU (which the customer has the capability to do) it wont push the changes into Rpro.

This is just what I was able to think off the top of my head. Not trying to disown Rpro or UniteU, but the integration is really sad. It would be nice to see a new feature added via an update through software assurance. I can't say I have noticed any new features being added in the last 2 years. The software is pretty stagnant.

Maybe someone can tell me more about Rpro 9, but last I checked they had not finished the website integration.

I work for another wholesaler that integrates with Quickbooks and IAModules. Their level of integration is much better.
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#2
We have many of the same complaints. This post is pretty old so hoping maybe you have some updated info. Trying to decide on what and where to upgrade our website.

I believe the new UniteU version 5 works with RPro 8, but was made for the newer RPro version 9. I heard in another forum that if you upgrade to RPro 9, UniteU may still be using an old (and possibly outdated) version of RPro's ECI. But, I'm not sure how accurate that information is. I'm not sure how much you would know, but hoping someone might.

First question:

Does UniteU's new version still use the same version of ECI?

- Outdated or not, the new UniteU ecommerce option may offer more bells and whistles for the website, but I would like to know if the integration between RPro and the live website has improved too.

Are there other ways or applications (as in better than ECI) that RPro offers for integration?

Ok, My questions for linens:

Have you upgraded to the new version 5 of UniteU and has it made anything better?

Same for Rpro, have you updated and were there any improvements?

Lastly, we have the same complaints about UniteU's wish list/ gift registry "feature." Have you found a better solution?

TIA
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#3
Glad to see some life on this forum.

Our situation has not changed considerably in the 2+ years from my last post. Our business is still running Rpro v8 and UniteU v4. When I started working for this company in 2008, I was solely responsible for the website. Seeing as there was a need for an IT admin, I now manage both RPro and UniteU. This has helped me understand the restrictions of the two systems and work with their quirks to the best of my ability.

First let me give you some information regarding your upgrade paths.

This was given to me by UniteU:

Upgrade UniteU to v5, stay with Rpro v8 – This requires a conversion fee of $5,000 if you would like to go with v5 Express and includes multiple features/functionality built into the site

Upgrade Rpro to v9, stay with UniteU v4 – Not an option

Upgrade Rpro to v9, Upgrade UniteU to v5 simultaneously - From a UniteU perspective, we will need to work with you and your RPRO dealer to change data and repoint polling processes so we estimate that up to 40 hours of UniteU time may be needed for a conversion from V8 to V9. This varies based on your data but I would budget up to $5,000 for labor on our end for the conversion to RPRO v9 and $5,000 for the conversion to v5 Express. We would do these as 2 separate projects with the v5 conversion to take place first followed by the v9 conversion project.

Additionally: With Rpro v9/UniteU v5 ECI does not exist and all website updates are done through UniteU's site manager. I beleive the orders to poll into Rpro v9 so they update inventory, but I think even processing the orders takes place strictly on UniteU's site manager now.

There is a company called Retail Dimensions. They integrate with Rpo v9. They essentially picked up ECI and tweaked it for v9. I saw a demo of it. It definitely had some major improvements, but I still feel it is light years behind what it should be. Due to the high cost of the UniteU upgrade, I am considering switching to them.

So that rules out a few scenarios. Presently, I do not foresee our company upgrading RPro or UniteU in the next 1-2 years for a variety of reasons which may not apply to you.

On the Rpro front: Our staff is not trained well and many lack the capacity to learn. They do not use half the features of Rpro v8. I can't recommend the v9 upgrade when there are already several feature in v8 they could be using that would make their lives easier. Additionally there is the whole debacle of the upgrade itself. If you want to retain your history you have to scrub your data clean which requires lots of man hours in DVS which can only be done while your store is not open for business. Then you have to have two severs running simultaneously for a few months for the transition period. Severs aren't cheap, and Rpro does not officially support virtualization. We are actually in the market for a new sever so we are going to take the leap this year and virtualize our v8 install and hope for the best.

On the UniteU front: There are big advancements for the back-end design of the v5 websites, however the shear cost of upgrading to v5 is very off putting. Essentially you start from scratch and have to re-build your site from the ground up. When your website is not a major revenue source it is very hard to justify the capital expense. Our website is not a major revenue source for a few reasons. It is not user friendly. The outdated v4 code is hurting search engine ranking. I do not have the time to devote to updating it. We could spend money to make it more user friendly or hire an employee to work on updating it, but any thing we invest in it wont transfer to v5. So what is the point? I feel we are so far behind we would be better starting from scratch.

The gift registry is essentially useless in my opinion. It's a joke if you were to compare it to babies r' us. I haven't discussed fixing it with UniteU because as I said before, any improvements we make to v4 wont be transferred to v5.

I don't believe my company is the only one in this situation. I attended a RPro conference in NY earlier this year. They were pushing v9. At some point the question was asked, "Who here is on v9?" and not a single person in a room of 25+ raised their hand. Due to the high cost of the upgrade, if there were ever a time to consider switching POS/website system, now is the time.

My goals for the near future include getting our company a new server. Virtualizing our Rpo v8 install. Make training video's/exercises for Rpro v8. Any spare time I have left I will be maintaining our website.

Hopefully I was able to get all my thoughts organized in some manner for you to follow. I look forward to your response.
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#4
linens,

Thanks for your informative and well written post. Judging by the number of views this topic is very popular. Please keep us updated on your progress and any news.

In our situation we have upgraded our UniteU website to version 5 and have it currently integrated with Retail Pro v8. Earlier this year, as part of a company wide upgrade to Server 2008 and windows 7 we wanted to upgrade to Retail Pro v9. The lack of ECI was a major concern for us. We didn't want to go the route of the Retail Dimension option since we wouldn't be able to use it with our existing website. We have started the process of the v9 upgrade and will run it concurrently with the existing v8 installation. We will not go live with it until our website integration is fully functional. In the next few months we'll work with One Step and UniteU on the website integration. Since there are other v9 customers on UniteU we are hoping that together we can work through any of the problems with the integration in time for a successful launch in 2013.
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#5
setvan,

Thank you for taking the time to post and share your experiences. You company is much further along than mine. I am still waiting for the green light on our server 2008 upgrade. Till then we are going to be sitting on Rpro v8 and UniteU v4.

I am very interested in hearing how your transition to v9 and the marriage with UniteU works out. Are you pleased with your v5 site? Are you using it "out of the box" so to speak or did it require lots of customization?

The one thing I have come to realize with UniteU is that they specialize in websites with big traffic. For the mom and pop shop like myself it is a very bad fit. Their services simply cost too much for a company that doesn't devote at least 1 full time employee to the website.

I don't expect any changes to our website in the near future because of the lack of human resources devoted to it. I wish I had more to share, but the website is not my first priority any more.
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