Handling Customer IDs when Moving from Bricks-n-Mortar to Online Commerce

Perhaps the stickiest obstacle in successfully migrating from a legacy ‘Bricks-n-Mortar’ business to operating an online store is the creation of new customer IDs/Names. Over the course of time, customer IDs may have been created without utilizing any standard naming convention.  When the prospect of integration is delved into more deeply, the process of reconciling the automatic creation of new customer master records with the potentially 1000’s of bespoke customer IDs can appear intractable.

Jeff Lipton, owner of Bobalu Cigar Co., states “When my business first started 10+ years ago, we did not anticipate the technology of today.” The technology Lipton is referring to is essentially the eCommerce platforms of today that readily enable most any business to sell online. So, Lipton, and other likeminded business people, would simply create a slightly different customer ID for the 2nd “John Smith” that called to order their product.  The problem manifests itself deeply when subsequent IDs are created as “John Smith 2”, or “John Smith-3”, or “John A. Smith” …you get the point.

This is often a ‘deal breaking’ aspect of integration. Most good eCommerce integration packages have some type of rule-based configuration for creating a unique customer ID during the import process, but no integration offering is capable of adapting to such random and inconsistent historical naming practices. If ignored, the consequence is the duplication of customer accounts and its ensuing confusion when your existing customer base begins to order online. When faced with the prospect of manually renaming 1000’s of existing customers in the accounting system, many business owners will abandon integration and opt to continue keying orders manually.

The CartSpan eCommerce integration for QuickBooks overcomes this obstacle by offering a utility that will rename existing customer records to support a desired rule-based ID creation going forward; thereby eliminating any manual intervention required for cross-referencing. This rule-based ID can be generated from just about any combination of billing contact information coming from the cart, including formatting characters to improve readability.

Renaming QuickBooks Customer Names

In the case of Bobalu Cigar, CartSpan renamed over 6,500 customers to a level of absolute consistency and saved the business countless hours with a task required to enable the integration. This has prompted Lipton to say, “CartSpan has taken integration to the next level. They have found a way to update my customer base so that is works seamlessly with my QuickBooks…What a relief; this saves so much time and effort, not to mention accuracy.”

As you investigate your integration options between QuickBooks and your eCommerce platform, understand that there is an option available to preserve (and even improve!) the meaningful naming conventions you have grown accustomed to.

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