Last October, Sage announced the Sage Business Cloud, which integrated all their separate cloud products on a single united platform. The idea was to provide easy cloud access to all Sage products, both to make upgrading easier and to utilize the capabilities of additional Sage offerings. When Sage Business Cloud was announced, Sage also indicated that the plan was to add more capabilities and more microservices, including those from third-parties. The first of these has now been announced, with an agreement that will see the UPS logistics capabilities integrated on Sage Business Cloud.
“The UPS shipping solution is being integrated into Sage Financials, within the Sage Business Cloud,” said Nancy Harris, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Sage North America. Financials was formerly Sage Live. Some of the Sage brands were renamed when the Business Cloud was announced, to make their functionality within the larger platform more explicit. Sage One, for example is now Sage Business Cloud Accounting, while X3 is now Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management.
The UPS offering will be available out of the gate in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Sage plans to roll it out to other geos later this year.
Harris emphasized that this is an important integration, both on its own terms, and as a harbinger of things to come.
“UPS is a very big brand, and it will provide tremendous time savings and good analytics that will help our customers,” she said. “In addition, this is just one among many integrations that will be rounding out the ecosystem on the platform, facilitated by the open API infrastructure that we are putting in place. A number of these are already underway.”
While many – perhaps most – of Sage customers will already have UPS accounts, Harris said they will realize significant new value-add from having it as part of the Business Cloud. It starts with being able to do everything through a single pane of glass.
“In Financials before, you would have had to go into another platform and log into UPS, and there would be a lot of back and forth,” Harris said. “Now, it’s all integrated in Financials. You can track all the shipments and their status, and the cost of all the shipping for a given customer – all of the metrics and insight you get from UPS – from within Financials.”
UPS will also be providing a value-added service to Sage customers involving optimizing transaction and shipping costs.
“It’s analogous to cell phone providers making recommendations to customers around things that will help with costs” Harris said. “They might recommend a different price tiering, or a change in how the customer handles logistics that would save them money. They provide this as part of our relationship with them.”
Some Sage customers will have had experience with UPS integrations before. An earlier one with Sage 50 has been discontinued, and Sage 100 offers Sage Shipping which offers a similar functionality to the UPS integration with Sage Financials in its ability to manage shipments.
“The UPS integration with Financials is different, however, in that it was built directly in Financials in partnership with UPS development teams using their suite of APIs,” Harris said. “This gives Financials customers the immediacy of managing their shipments in the cloud, and the benefit of having their shipping, stock, and financial data all in one platform.”
There is no cost for the UPS integration. In addition, UPS has offered Financials customers discounts on shipments when they ship with UPS via Financials.
While the value of the UPS integration is being specifically pitched at Sage small business customers, Harris said that it really provides value to any size business.
“This isn’t something that just small businesses can benefit from,” she said. “Businesses of all sizes can save time, as well as eliminate the possibility of errors from retyping shipping data into Financials.”
UPS will be the exclusive shipper integrated into Sage Business Cloud. That does not mean, however, that subsequent vendor integrations will have exclusivity.
“We will determine this category by category and partner by partner,” Harris said. “UPS is a very large company. However, we want to create a very rich ecosystem of partners, and created a very open and extensible platform for that reason.”
So, what third-party integrations might be on the horizon?
“There are many potential partners out there who pursue us regularly, and we match their abilities up with demand from our customers,” Harris said. “An additional integration Sage is typically asked for is a robust document management system, giving customers the ability to customize, track, manage and store financial documents keeping all of their financial data in one platform. Sage also receives requests for integrations with credit control applications, to give customers the ability to easily extend and manage credit to their customers, vendors or suppliers. Expense and receipt management systems are also something customers want.”