Use CartSpan eCommerce integration for QuickBooks to leverage grouped product functionality in your shopping cart

Suppose you have a group of items you think will sell better together, like a SHOP THIS LOOK deal.   Maybe, you have a hat, scarf and gloves that all look great together and you want to offer them to your customers as a group.  They get a great look; you sell more items.

Luckily, QuickBooks accounting supports the creation of an item with a product type of ‘Grouped.’ One may then associate multiple child products, with individual quantities, to the grouped parent item. Thus, when the individual parent is selected on the QuickBooks invoice, like all of the associated child items are automatically added to the order. This feature of QuickBooks has been a tremendous time-saver for organizations utilizing such marketing-oriented groupings.

When customers come to our site, they typically buy more than one item.  As an on-line retailer, I need to make sure I make it easy for them to add more items,”   says Lisa Foster, who runs two eCommerce carts, and

The problem for Foster, and many online vendors, is that her accounting and shopping cart capabilities were out-of-sync.  Her Magento cart wasn’t configured to offer group items,, so keeping track of inventory, getting accurate data on what was paid for what, offering a group deal to encourage more spending, became messy.  The Magento eCommerce platform natively supports the concept ‘grouping’ to improve the customers’ buying experience, but carts of lesser complexity (and there are many) may never offer such functionality.

Now, a new update to CartSpan eCommerce integration for QuickBooks bridges the gap and eliminates all that mess.   Retailers can offer a SHOP THIS LOOK deal, even offer a discount on it, and the group will automatically be imported correctly into QuickBooks as the correct child items with the correct price for each.   Additionally, CartSpan’s special treatment of grouped products can be leveraged to further simplify administration of grouped offerings in carts where configuration of such offerings is overly complex.

Here is how it works:

In the cart, create a simple item (parent) with all of the detail regarding the child items and quantities contained in the marketing description. Then set any price desired for the deal; it doesn’t have to be an exact sum of all the child components.

When CartSpan imports this item into QuickBooks, it will cross-reference the individual grouped item and automatically add all of the associated child items to the order. For those who are one step ahead of this article in their own minds, CartSpan will intelligently allocate whatever price was assigned to the parent, to the individual child-items during the import process.  This allocation accounts for any premium or discounted pricing set for the parent and balances to the penny; ensuring that no $0.01 customer balances exist in the accounting system.

The original parent item coming from the cart is subsequently ignored during the import process. This simple relationship represents a hidden-gem of flexibility with respect to managing products and avoiding data ‘bloat’ in QuickBooks and the shopping cart. The parent item can be modified (i.e., add-to or take away children) infinitely to reflect constantly changing or one-off deals.  All of this can be done with zero impact on the accounting system.

To support your ‘pick & pack’ operations, CartSpan will modify individual line-item descriptions with a suffix referencing the parent SKU. This supports an easier distinction of items that may require group packaging.

In a reverse fashion, CartSpan also supports update of price and quantity on-hand for the grouped item in the cart; thus enabling QuickBooks to be the complete master of grouped item management. For these items, CartSpan will dynamically calculate the price of the grouped product based upon the associated count and pricing of the child items as-configured in QuickBooks. Going one step further, CartSpan will calculate the total quantity available for sale based upon availability of the child items. This ensures that product availability is properly represented in the cart and you don’t find yourself in an oversold circumstance.

Why are grouped product offerings (also known as bundling) important?

As markets become more competitive, merchants need a way to better distinguish themselves from competitors offering similar, and sometimes identical, products. To do this, “… combining a variety of features to create a compelling whole – can add the value necessary to close the sale”, according to Kim T. Gordon in her article “Stand Out to Your Customers.” 1 Grouping products together allows you this additional measure of personal creativity in keeping the customer on your page and converting the business.

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  1. Gordon, Kim T. “Stand Out to Your Customers” Throwing in some extras adds value to your offerings – and brings in customers., 1 Nov. 2007.
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