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p_virtuemart[/one_fourth]While there are low-cost (and some free) tools that can be used to simply ‘get your orders into the accounting system’, a well-designed (and supported) commercial integration can better support how your business records General Ledger transactions and actually help you sell more product; thus paying for itself in an extremely short period of time.

If you are a developer that has been tasked with sourcing an eCommerce integration for a client, it is highly recommended that you confer with your client regarding the following criteria. Business owners tend to be more concerned with the continuity and capability of their operations than trying to save a few hundred dollars. Failing even one of the following criteria can turn the money/time your client spends on a lesser product, into a sunk-cost.

Compare Product Features Important to Your Business

Are these factors important to you?

  • Recognizes G/L accounts of individual items?Many businesses classify sales of individual items by specific G/L accounts. This helps them better perform financial analysis of their product lines.
  • Rule-based creation of customer names?Businesses often have a very specific naming convention that they use for their customer names. Changing this convention can be very disruptive to the user experience.
  • Updates using Invent. Avail. vs. Qty. on-hand?What businesses have on-hand is not necessarily what they have to sell. Open orders in the accounting system reduce this availability, potentially leaving the company exposed to over-commitments of stock.
  • Phone orders trigger inventory updates?New phone orders and purchasing receipts are constantly changing the inventory landscape and a good integration keeps the inventory picture up-to-date in near real-time.
  • Detailed feature-list to aid your decision?The old saying that, "The devil is in the details," could not be truer than in the case of eCommerce/accounting integration. Ensure that the intended solution appropriately meets well-defined business requirements.
  • Try before you buy! No money up-front.Companies confident in their offering should be willing to let you try their product before requiring any financial commitment on the front-end.
  • History of positive reviews?Do your due-diligence and research the product's reputation in the marketplace. Even if there are limited positive reviews in the market, you should avoid products with a documented presence of negative user-experiences.
  • Money-back Guarantee?How confident is the solution-provider in their offering that they are willing to eliminate financial-risk altogether?
  • Phone number indicated on website?How accessible is the company to you before and after the sale?
  • Support for Assembly-based products?Make sure the tool you use supports not just basic inventory items, but also the extended product types that your QuickBooks system offers.
  • Support for QuickBooks Group-Item products?The Group-Item is a heavily used item type in QuickBooks that allows merchants to easily offer 'kit' type offerings to customers.
  • Recognizes CC used in transaction?Stores processing hundreds of transactions on a daily basis need visibility of detailed payment method to efficiently support bank reconciliation.
  • NO Per/Order transaction fees?Your integration provider should be committed to your satisfaction before you pay for anything, AND, should stay 'out of your pocket' just for growing your business.

CartSpan

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  • CartSpan recognizes the G/L Sales, Asset, and Cost-of-Goods-Sold accounts configured on the accounting side.
  • CartSpan offers sophisticated naming capabilities to match the convention that a business has been using successfully for years.
  • CartSpan factors open orders in the accounting system when updating stock availability in the shopping cart; ensuring that the company does not over-commit inventory.
  • CartSpan actually 'watches' for activity in the accounting system for transactions affecting specific inventory and will update it in a timely fashion.
  • CartSpan offers you an exhaustive list of product features with which to make a decision. If the information provided isn't enough to answer your questions...we're always available by phone.
  • CartSpan not only offers a free 10-day trial, but we will assist you in getting the trial started at not cost to you. You pay nothing until you are happy with the way your orders are being imported into the accounting system.
  • CartSpan is a top-rated eCommerce integration product. Many '5 Star' moderated reviews for CartSpan can be found on Magento Connect as well as on the the CartSpan website itself.
  • CartSpan not only offers a free 10-day trial with setup assistance, but will refund your money if you are not satisfied with it's performance within 30 days of purchase. To-date, CartSpan has never had to refund a customer purchase.
  • CartSpan posts it's phone number in large font at the top of its website and promises a call back within 3 hours for inquiries or support requests.
  • CartSpan will update stock in the cart for all of your product types, including assemblies and Group items.
  • CartSpan offers advanced support for Group Item types, recognizing them during the import and converting to the appropriate items, quantities, and prices.
  • CartSpan supports the FREE Payment Gateway listed lower on this page...which allows you to record the specific credit card type as the payment method. You may then direct the transaction to its own G/L account or to the QB 'Undeposited Funds' account.
  • We personally help you get setup on your trial at no additional cost. CartSpan has never employed a per/order model of licensing and doesn't plan to.

Competitors

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  • Competitors often require the use of a single account for all items imported.
  • Competitors often offer a 'one size fits all' approach to creating customer names...raising the probability of orders being assigned to incorrect accounts.
  • Competitors often update stock based upon quantity on-hand in the accounting system, leading potentially, to conversations with irate customers who want refunds for non-delivery of product.
  • Competitors are often subject to the triggering logic of the QuickBooks web connector that will not account for new phone orders.
  • Competitors typically offer you a paragraph and a few bullet-points to to make a decision...and there is no one to call for clarification.
  • Competitors most often take the 'buyer beware' approach, requires you to pay up-front, and offers little in the way of personalized assistance to get the product running efficiently.
  • Search the internet for a history of positive reviews. Even check the forums of other shopping carts to research user experiences with your prospective integration tool.
  • With competitors 'buyer beware' approach to the market, all sales are FINAL.
  • Competitors often don't provide any information about themselves. No phone number on the website, no contact names, and no business address; only web-based email for communication.
  • Manufacturers beware; ensure the prospective integrating tool supports the update of assembly-type products in QuickBooks; some do not.
  • Many competitors offer absolutely no support for this important QuickBooks feature.
  • Many competitors offers no such support and import credit card type for the transaction reference only.
  • Most competitive systems require some form of payment up-front before you even import your first order. This is often in the form of separately listed 'setup charges'. Ongoing per/order transaction fees can cost you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in lost profit over time.

Consider the CartSpan value-proposition vs. integrations that ‘just get you by’

Competitive integrations like the ones compared above tend to utilize a common ledger account for items, regardless of how you have them configured on the QuickBooks side. Most businesses classify their products differently for the purpose of analyzing sales. This capability is lost because there is no dynamic interaction with the QuickBooks company file to support this detail in the import.

Also, many competitive integrations do not recognize assembled product types in the QuickBooks system. If you are offering anything other than the basic ‘Inventory Item’ in QuickBooks, you may have difficulties importing them properly into the accounting system from VirtueMart. The CartSpan integration for VirtueMart closes this gap beautifully and even provides advanced support the ‘Group Item’ type in QuickBooks.

Relying upon your integration to help increase your sales has less to do with the order import side of the equation than with the practice of effective stock management between systems. If you have a significant number of products to manage and don’t update availability in VirtueMart in a timely manner, you are losing significant income opportunities.

Hard Benefits: CartSpan provides a deep integration with both QuickBooks and Sage 50 to provide you with near real-time updates of product availability in your store. So, as soon as you receive stock into the accounting system or accept a new order over the phone, CartSpan sees the new inventory and will pushes an updated quantity-available to VirtueMart. If you are a manufacturer, CartSpan offers a stock management feature that projects how many of an assembled item you can offer based upon supporting stock. See our blog post, Inventory Management for Assembled Product Types, for details on how this feature can increase your earnings.

Soft Benefits: Don’t discount the ‘softer’ side of how a good integration can maximize the use of your accounting system. If you are constantly changing, adjusting, or ‘tweaking’ your imports to reflect how you do business, you might ask yourself, Am I really saving that much time? CartSpan is built for QuickBooks and Sage 50 and maximizes integration opportunities of each. These finer points of integration can be found on our Product Features page for order imports as well as for inventory updates.