Is your ‘seamless’ eCommerce integration a drain on your time?

If you are factoring ‘seamless’ eCommerce integration with your accounting system into your shopping cart selection process, don’t fail to exercise due diligence with respect to the claims being made. There are Shopping Carts on the market, commercial and open-source, that advertise ‘accounting integration’ that is often, quite simply, a misrepresentation.

At their worst, these misrepresentations are simple CSV (Comma-Separated Values) ‘table dumps’ in-which the user is left to their own devices to map and import customer and order data. Such exports often present customer and order data combined; which actually requires a separate import process for each entity into the accounting system.  To further complicate matters, standard exports from the shopping cart will likely not address extended requirements that reduce (or completely eliminate) post-import adjustments. For instance, order-level discounts are often applied on a separate line item on the order or invoice.  CSV exports from the shopping cart  have no way of accounting for this transaction, let alone what G/L (General Ledger) account to which it is applied. There are many more circumstances such as this that will required you to do work after (even if) the order is imported.

At their best, these misrepresentations can be more evolved, yet still pose significant gaps in fluidity of operation and assurance of transactional integrity. For instance, There are carts that attempt to pre-format a CSV or XML (Extensible Markup Language) import file that is readable by the accounting system. Such offerings still require a significant amount of manual intervention to import both the new customer master and the subsequent order. To compound the aggravation, when there are errors generated during the attempted import, there is often little or no extended support for their resolution.

Don’t neglect to consider scalability in your evaluation; Just how well your is legacy decision going to support your expected growth?  Carefully consider the ‘flip-side’ of committing to a value-based eCommerce platform with little or no capability in this area.  You’re only processing 2-3 orders per day now, but what happens when you start processing 10 or more? If you become continually engaged in entering/exiting each software to conduct exports/imports,  your time for managing more important aspects of your business will be lost. Making a good decision will ensure that resources that you commit now don’t become ‘sunk’ costs in the near future.

At the end-the-day, the most significant question is, “Have I really saved time and improved the integrity of my business system?”

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