So you own and/or manage an SME and you want to branch into online sales. This is great, you engage a web developer who builds you a great website, you start investing in your online marketing with SEO, social media, pay per click advertising. Everything is going great…then the sales start coming in. Amazing right? Unfortunately for many it is not!
If you’re just like a huge percentage of SME’s dipping their toes into ecommerce, all of a sudden you realise your accounting systems, book keeping and inventory management processes aren’t ready for this new sales channel. Hours are being spent duplicating sales invoices from the online store into your accounting program, reconciling payments, and often worse of all, updating the inventory in the online store to ensure it reflects the stock you are actually holding which is likely changing on an hourly basis due to in-store sales.
Thankfully technology has made some huge advancements in recent years. The push to software as a service (SAAS) models has seen the emergence of fantastic new accounting programs, inventory management programs and customer relationship management programs (CRM). These are normally regularly updated, ensuring your programs stay up to pace with modern technology, unlike that old accounting program you once installed “x” years ago off a CD.
Alongside advancements in the business system software, commonly used eCommerce platforms (WooCommerce and Magento are great examples) have also made great technological advancements, particularly in their API’s.
These advancements have seen a number of third party software providers emerge and develop software “connectors”, including accounting integrations for online stores, which work by utilising the business system and website API’s, effectively allowing both programs to talk to each other on a live basis. We are getting a little too technical here, but put simply, API’s allow software to talk to each other. You can read more about them in this great article.
The best part of all is the fact that a number of these third party developers have chosen the SAAS business model, resulting in huge up front savings. No having to develop or install and host an integrator/connector of your own.
It works like this:
- You open an account with a 3rd party connector supplier (we like OneSAAS)
- Provide API keys from your accounting program
- Provide API keys from your ecommerce platform (in some cases this might include installing a simple extension or plugin on the site)
- Complete some simple data table mapping (sales – invoice, inventory, etc)
It really is this simple. Some heavily customised website might run into trouble, but if your ecommerce site remains quite vanilla in it’s development, you aren’t like to have troubles.
The result is an online store with a real-time up to date inventory, which automatically adds or removes inventory as your accounting program is updated (when you buy or sell in store). Online sales are automatically imported into your accounting program, and in many cases, automatically reconciled with the corresponding online payment. Hours of labour are saved in reduced double entry and manual inventory updates.
Money well spent in our opinion! If you are wondering how your business can achieve these great efficiencies and savings, we gladly recommend our very own developers, E-Improvement Consulting, who happen to specialise in eCommerce and were a great source of information for this article.