5 Challenges a Growing eCommerce Business Will Face Without Accounting Integration

July 17th, 2014

eCommerce Growing PainsTo be competitive in today’s eCommerce market it is essential for businesses to be quick, responsive and accurate when a customer makes a transaction. This can be very difficult when your eCommerce store or marketplace is not integrated with your accounting system or ERP.

Think about the steps involved in processing an online order manually and add up the time that goes into each step. It’s likely a bit surprising. Then add up the labor costs to complete each step. Compare it to the time and money spent on handling an order in an integrated environment and you’ll quickly realize that integration is the logical option by a country mile.

Granted, integrations can be complex and time-consuming to have implemented, so hiring a data entry clerk might be an easier and more immediate solution. This approach, however, is usually heavily flawed over the long-term and could leave you drowning in orders and expenses as your online store takes off. To further explain, let me present some of the challenges that an eCommerce merchant will face over time without accounting integration:

1. Scaling Your eCommerce Business

Increasing online order volume is likely one of your primary goals. However, as you drive more traffic to your store and orders are being placed in greater quantities there are generally longer delays in getting them keyed into your accounting system – resulting in longer wait times for your customers. In addition, as you continue to grow your online business you may wish to expand the number of products/SKUs available for sale. Without integration this means entering new product information and inventory into 2 different systems and then trying to keep them synchronized. Say hello to the first of many growing pains!

2. Allocating Resources

When first opening an eCommerce store much of the work involved in processing orders can be handled by one person. Often that person is the business owner. However, as your online business grows all of this work will usually need to be assigned to another resource – or you risk spending too much time on tasks that aren’t enabling you to do what you do best (develop, source, and sell products). When you get to this point you may need to give more work to someone who was not hired to do data entry and is already very busy. Do you want your marketing manager or sales rep spending their time keying in orders? Your other option is to hire a data entry clerk which will come with added costs. We’ll discuss that challenge next.

3. Controlling Costs

Another goal of any eCommerce business is to be effective in controlling costs. Having to manually enter orders, inventory, product and shipping information into multiple systems can eat up many paid employee hours. Unfortunately, this approach is not scalable. The added costs associated with processing more orders and adding/updating more products can easily bite into any additional revenue you’re generating via your store. Furthermore, you have to account for the inevitable mistakes that will happen when keying in data. You could end up having to pay for shipping multiple times, replacing damaged items that you can’t resell, and for all the time correcting the mistake. Sound expensive?

4. Synchronizing Inventory & Pricing

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to keep track of inventory and pricing if it was managed in one system? Handling inventory and pricing updates in separate systems usually results in data inaccuracies, operational inefficiencies, and customer confusion. It could even lead to selling items that you don’t even have in stock. That’s a problem you don’t want to have to explain to your customers.

5. Delivering a High-Quality Customer Experience

In the hyper-competitive eCommerce landscape of today it’s hard for a business to prosper without happy customers. With user experiences improving across the industry, shoppers are now expecting better experiences when they make purchases online. Meeting these growing needs can be very challenging for an emerging eCommerce business. A perfect example of how a non-integrated online business can struggle with delivering a high-quality customer experience is with shipment tracking. The customer expectation is that their order will be updated in their online account with a shipment tracking number within a short timeframe (usually within 24 hours). Unfortunately, items purchased from merchants without automated order processing often are held up by data entry delays caused by high order volumes, absences, competing tasks, etc. Not only do these delays frustrate customers, but they can have other negative impacts, such as a hit to a business’ seller rating in a marketplace like Amazon.

Say Goodbye to Growing Pains

Ultimately, your eCommerce business will have a much greater opportunity for success if it is not faced with these challenges. Automating your business processes via integration software will enable your to reduce your operating costs and improve productivity, efficiency, and accuracy. All of which will lead to growing online sales, maximizing profits, and cultivating many satisfied customers.

Contact the team at eBridge Connections if you want to avoid these growing pains and get the most out of your eCommerce business.

Are there any other challenges that you’re facing because of a lack of integration? Let us know in the comments.

Matt Train Integration, eCommerce

eCommerce Insights: 5 Interesting Examples of Multivariate & A/B Testing

May 23rd, 2014

A/B testing is a common and effective strategy for improving the conversion rate of your eCommerce site. There are affordable tools out there (like Google Analytics and Optimizely) that make it easy for even the smallest eCommerce business to take advantage of their data and begin running tests.

Here are a few interesting examples of A/B or multivariate testing on well-known websites:

Obama for America


(photo: barackobama.com)
Many articles have been written about the U.S. President’s online campaign in 2008. Few of these articles have drawn attention to the data-driven A/B tests led by Dan Siroker. One of the campaign’s primary conversion goals was a sign up form for the OFA mailing list. Siroker tested three different calls-to-action: “Learn More”, “Join Us Now” and “Sign Up Now”. He also tested two photos of Obama: one in black-and-white and one in turquoise. According to Wired, the OFA web team was surprised to learn that the black-and-white photo combined with “Learn More” was 40% more effective than the turquoise photo and a CTA of “Sign Up”.

Netflix

(photo adapted from original by shardayyy on flickr and licensed under Creative Commons)
In a Quora post, Neil Hunt, chief product officer of Netflix said that Netflix A/B tests “almost everything”.
“I have this mental model of particles of attention that a user brings, a finite quantity that they will spread around according to what catches their attention. I call them ‘attentrons.’”
According to Hunt, one of Netflix’s most important metrics is a user’s hours of streaming. Some of Netflix’s most visible A/B tests included the layout of their PS3 application, their iOS app and their video recommendations algorithm.

fab.com

In cooperation with Optimizely, fab.com conducted an A/B test of different add-to-cart buttons in their catalog pages. Fab’s original add-to-cart button consisted of a cart symbol with a plus sign next to it. A/B testing showed that customers were 49% more likely to use a button that explicitly said “Add To Cart”. You can read the entire case study on Optimizely’s website.

YouTube

In 2009, the YouTube team published a blog post on their homepage multivariate test. According to their blog, this was one of the biggest multivariate tests ever conducted, comparing account sign up rates across 1024 variables. In particular, the test evaluated different highlighting colours, different fonts and different CTA wordings. YouTube’s test showed that a white CTA on a bright red background outperformed CTAs on a plain yellow or white background.

Facebook

(Code snippet from the PlanOut project on Github and licensed under the BSD license)
Will Cathart, director of product management at Facebook says that there could be about 1,000 versions of Facebook running at any given moment. Many of these tests are on the algorithms that define the order of the News Feed and the content that Facebook surfaces to its users.
Facebook’s developers have produced two multivariate testing frameworks: one for their mobile apps, called Airlock and one for web applications called PlanOut. Remarkably, Facebook has open sourced both testing frameworks and published a white paper detailing their testing methodology.

Have you run an A/B test on your eCommerce site? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!

joshbrown eCommerce , , , , , ,

B2C to B2B Crunch Time – A Strong Case for Accounting Integration

April 14th, 2014

Sales Order ClutterTell us if this sounds like your business… so you started selling on eBay, then you added an Amazon store, but by then you had a ton of orders and along with that came the headaches and eventually a full-on migraine. It was then that you decided to take all that pain away with an eCommerce store, and everything leveled out. Then, another large batch of orders rolled in and along came some buyers from companies that wanted to re-sell your items in their stores. Each of those buyers placed huge orders, which you had to discount in your accounting system, which led to even more work. This is what we call “B2C to B2B Crunch Time” and we’re going to explain to you how to avoid it.

You first need to choose an eCommerce cart which will allow you to create a login for B2B customers, which will offer them their own pricing tiers and products. You will also be able (depending on your cart selection) to create skins for your B2B customers which can provide branding allowing you to cater to your each B2B customer individually. This simple change also allows you to maintain your B2C presence without the two worlds colliding.

So now that you have solved that problem it’s on to the same old problem… all those orders.

How can you possibly key in your B2B and B2C orders and do inventory all at the same time?

When B2C to B2B Crunch Time occurs you really need to consider an integration solution, which will allow you to pull down all those orders into your accounting system and take away the tedious manual entry of those orders. The integration solutions offered by eBridge Connections will not only pull in those orders in automatically into your accounting system, it will also send updated tracking information, inventory and products all back up to your store. In addition, new customer entries can be added automatically if they don’t currently exist in your accounting system.

Does this sound like something you might need? Of course it is.

Let eBridge Connections help you get past the B2B to B2B Crunch. We could explain more but it’s better to know your specific requirements and needs. First, build your own integration blueprint, and we’ll respond with a follow-up phone call or email to review your situation in more detail.

Image courtesy of Flickr, alancleaver

marketing eCommerce , , , , , ,

Introducing Mozu

February 28th, 2014

In September, Volusion, Inc. announced that they were launching a new enterprise-grade eCommerce platform called Mozu. eBridge has been a Volusion partner since 2010 and today we are proud to announce that we have joined the Mozu developers’ program. In the weeks ahead, eBridge will be preparing to build a new connector that will enable Mozu businesses to integrate data between their eCommerce site and their ERP.

We are particularly excited about working with Mozu because we know that it has been designed with back-end integrations in mind. Mozu was created using an API-first approach, which means that eBridge can use the same integration points used by the Mozu web interface. Robust APIs allow us to build strong integrations with the advanced touchpoints that enterprise webstores need. Volusion’s commitment to supporting ‘omnichannel commerce’ is really promising and it speaks to a growing requirement for close coordination between offline retail systems and web-based eCommerce solutions.
You can learn more about Mozu at www.mozu.com or read Volusion’s press release here.

joshbrown eCommerce , ,

Update – ePortal Unscheduled Maintenance Notification

February 28th, 2014

Completion – ePortal Unscheduled Maintenance Notification

Time / Date: 12:00 EST 28 February 2014
***************************  ePortal Unscheduled Maintenance Notification  ************************
Issue: ePortal Maintenance
Start Date: 28 February 2014
Start Time: 12:00 EST
End Date: 28 February 2014
End Time: 12:42 EST
Duration: 42 minutes
Services Impacted: ePortal
Customer Impact: The maintenance window is complete. The ePortal Website and
document processing are functioning as expected.


Contact information:

Email: support@ebridgeconnections.com

Phone: 905-631-8057

Website: http://www.ebridgeconnections.com/support/log-a-case.html

Thank you for selecting eBridge as your provider of business-to-business solutions.

Support Services

eBridge Connections

Toll Free: 1-800-755-6921
Phone: 905-631-8057
Fax: 905-631-8811

Available 24/7 – eBridge now has an online self-serve Knowledge Base packed with tips, trouble-shooting advice, and other current information on your products

Click here to access the online Knowledge Base

PvanAsseldonk Support, The ePortal Web-based Transaction Engine, Uncategorized

Magento 2 Sneak Preview

February 14th, 2014

In December, the Magento product management team hosted a webinar to communicate the progress they have made on Magento 2.0. The webcast lasted more than 2 hours and provided great insight into some of the Magento team’s rationale behind changes in the new product. In this blog post, I’ll summarize a few of the key features that we expect to see in Magento 2.

PHP Upgrade

Magento 1.x is dependent on the server running a version of PHP between 5.2.13 and 5.4. Support for PHP 5.4 was rolled out through a patch in January.

By contrast, Magento 2.0 requires PHP 5.4 at a minimum and it will allow users to upgrade their site to PHP 5.5. PHP has come a long way in the past few years and there are significant performance benefits from running a modern version. On her blog, lornajane has published benchmarks that show the speed improvements between PHP 5.4 and earlier versions of the language.

jQuery by default

In Magento 2, the default JavaScript library has been changed from Prototype to jQuery. This will be a popular decision with many front-end developers. jQuery is a much more common library and using both Prototype and jQuery together could cause conflicts.

Easier Customization and Integrations

The Magento team emphasized that many of the changes in Magento 2.0 are focussed around making it easier for developers to extend and customize Magento.

Mage class replaced with Namespaces and Dependency Injection

The ubiquitous Mage class has been replaced by a new method for declaring class dependencies. You can read more about this on the Magento 2 wiki.

Increased Modularity

In their webcast, the Magento developers said that part of their short-term plan involves decoupling modules and reducing the dependencies between different components of Magento. A goal of this effort is to make it possible for developers to entirely replace a sub-system of Magento with third party functionality.

It will be interesting to see how this can be applied to ERP integrations. There are many overlapping and redundant features between eCommerce systems and ERPs. If the modules can be separated easily then accounting systems might be able to fully replace parts of Magento’s functionality, like inventory management.

Adoption of PSR Coding Standards

The Magento team has committed to following the PSR (PHP Specification Request) coding standards. This is another developer-friendly move that makes perfect sense for Magento to implement now. Magento 2 is already PSR-0 and PSR-1 compliant and PSR-2 compliance is in the works.

Community input welcome

The community is invited to give input on Magento 2 through the Magento 2 Github repo. No release date has been set yet for a production-ready version of Magento 2, however you can download the work-in-progress from Github.

joshbrown Webstore Integration, eCommerce , ,

Integrating Your Salesforce.com CRM With Your ERP Will Make Your Life A Lot Easier

February 10th, 2014

Over the last 2 years eBridge Connections moved their Accounting Integration software to the cloud and with that came a complete overhaul to all of our software adapters. One specific overhaul was our Salesforce.com CRM integration.

Our Salesforce.com integration is one venture that eBridge has put a lot of R&D into. Since moving the Salesforce.com integration to the cloud we’ve been able to expand the capabilities of the integration to fit our customer’s customized demands instead of them having to change their current CRM infrastructure. Our integration allows a Salesforce Opportunity to flow through our universal integration platform and into over 40 supported accounting/ERP packages. We regularly get requests for integration projects with many different ERP systems including, but not limited to, The Microsoft Dynamics family of products, multiple Sage products, SAP Business One, and NetSuite.

The main benefits to our integration with Salesforce.com is that eBridge Connections supports custom fields on all standard objects as well as custom objects to all standard objects, which makes our integration flexible to various different requests.

Since moving the Salesforce.com integration to the cloud we’ve been able to enchance many different integration functions. Enhancements include:

  • Creating and updating Opportunity information in Salesforce
  • Creating and updating Account information in Salesforce
  • Creating a product with Pricebook association in Salesforce
  • Updating product quantity

In the 2 years since we moved our integration to the cloud we have not just strengthened our Salesforce connection, but we’ve  a built strong partnership with CRM company. We are currently featured on their Salesforce.com AppExhange, where you can learn more about our powerful integration software. If you have any questions or comments regarding our Salesforce.com integration specifically or about any CRM integration, feel free to email me directly at pvanasseldonk@ebridgeconnections.com or send us a Tweet @eBridgeConnects.

PvanAsseldonk CRM Integration, Education, Integration, Integration as a Service, eBRIDGE Blog , , , ,

How Are Webstore Customers And Their Orders Posted In Your ERP? Well That Is Actually Up To You!

January 21st, 2014

One of the most common questions we get asked from prospects prior to their integration project starting is ‘How Are Webstore Customers And Their Orders Posted In Our ERP?’ There isn’t just one easy answer to that question and ultimately we’ll post your customers and their orders in a way that’s easiest for you!

We usually break it down to two options:

Option 1- Create a Customer account for every order that is posted in your Webstore, which is done on the fly. If that customer orders again, their Customer Card will be updated in your ERP/accounting system.

Option 2- Post all Web orders under the same Customer Account, which keeps the information being transferred very streamlined. The orders would be posted under your webstore name and when it’s time to create reports you can use their specific email addresses, ship to addresses or bill to addresses as filters. The specific mandatory field you choose for webstore orders will be how each order is recognized by your reporting/ordering.

Determining Factors:

  • If you have a very high volume of orders and you’re receiving 100s to 1000s of customers every day than Option 1 might not be the best option for you. Your ERP must be able to handle all of the orders and information being received
  • If you think posting all the orders under a single account is the best approach then Option 2 is your best choice. You can always do your analysis based a customer’s email or shipping address. This allows for a very slim integration connection because there’s a lot less information being transferred between your webstore and your ERP.
  • If you want to be able to report on all customers and their entire order information, then Option 1 may be your best selection. This option allows you to see each customer’s information in your ERP where you can summarize order information, customer demographics etc., with a more precision than Option 2.

In the end it really depends on how your company operates and how you want to analyze your data. We have many customers using these options as well as some others, but we urge all of our new customers to think thoroughly about this before started any integration. If your company is looking into integration please talk to us so we can help you determine which option may be best for you. If you have any questions regarding posting customers or orders in your ERP from your webstore, please comment below or email me at pvanasseldonk@ebridgeconnections.com

PvanAsseldonk Education, Integration as a Service, Uncategorized, Webstore Integration, eBRIDGE Blog, eCommerce , , , , , , , , ,

Spending Too Much Time Manually Entering Orders From Your Magento Webstore Into Your Accounting System?

December 18th, 2013

Is the number of orders growing and you are hiring people to manually enter orders into your different back-end systems? Is it too time consuming for your business to create a new customer in your accounting system every time a customer orders from your site who hasn’t in the past?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we may have the solution for you! By integrating your Magento webstore with your ERP or accounting system you can improve productivity, efficiency and accuracy.

To be competitive in today’s online market it is essential for businesses to be quick, responsive and accurate when a customer does a transaction. You don’t want to have dissatisfied customers so the entire online shopping experience needs to be seamless from the front to the back-end of your webstore.

The link below will take you to a recorded version of our Magento webinar which will outline a number of benefits when integrating your Magento webstore with accounting or ERP system which will make your online business more optimized and ultimately more successful.

Seamlessly Connect Your Magento Webstore With Your Accounting Software Webinar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQMSQSA1mWs

You will learn:

-How a seamless integration will connect your accounting software to your webstore, transferring information like Sales Orders, Customer Info and Inventory
-Different integration options and questions when selling B2B or B2C
-Magento specific tips regarding Catalogue Management, Options for a single Skin compared to Multiple Skins, Group Pricing and More!

If you don’t use Magento, we have a number of upcoming webinars that explain our connections with Volusion, BigCommerce and Salesforce.com CRM, so go to our Webinars webpage if you’re interested!

If you have any comments or feedback regarding our latest webinar, please comment below!

PvanAsseldonk Integration, Integration as a Service, Uncategorized, Webstore Integration, eBRIDGE Blog , , , , , , , , ,

Wow! eBridge Has Reached 100 New Customers In 2013 And We’re Still Going!

December 10th, 2013

eBridge Connections would like to send a special thank you to all of our new customers this year. In the month of December we hit our ‘100 New Customers’ goal for 2013 and we couldn’t be more proud of our hard-working and conscientious Integration Specialist Team!

Our new customers have a wide variety of ERP systems and accounting software, like Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, NetSuite and SAP, as well as many different webstores, EDI Trading Partners and CRM applications, including Magento, Volusion, BigCommerce, Salesforce, Walmart and Home Depot.

But 2013 isn’t over yet – we’ve still got a couple projects in the pipeline. Thanks again to everyone for a fantastic year! We look forward to beating our ‘100 New Customer’ goal next year :)

PvanAsseldonk CRM Integration, EDI Integration, Integration as a Service, Uncategorized, eBRIDGE Blog, eCommerce , , , , , ,