by Roxanne Brown, CQA – Consulting 4 Quickbooks
My firm has worked with hundreds of eCommerce clients over the years and many have started the conversation with “My company has really taken off and my current order fulfillment processes just aren’t cutting it anymore; what are my options?
Many of the business owners we’ve worked with started out using Quicken or QuickBooks, coupled with Excel to track and manage their inventory, orders, customers, etc. While this approach may be acceptable when you first start out, it can quickly turn into an inhibitor of the growth for your company.
As your business grows, copying and pasting information from one system to another and constantly updating Excel (no matter how good you are at it) must be replaced with better and more efficient processes. This is when we get the calls, asking “there must be a better way, what are my options?” – and the answer is automation!
While no two eCommerce businesses are exactly alike, they all follow the same basic fulfillment processes and can benefit from automating these tasks. Automation is king; it’s what will allow you to take you time away from the time consuming task of copying and pasting so you may can focus on really running and growing your business to the level you know it can achieve.
The first step in achieving business process automation is to switch from Excel or Quicken to QuickBooks; however that’s just the beginning. QuickBooks (or whatever accounting system you use) is designed to handle the accounting portion of your business; it’s really not meant to handle everything else needed to run an eCommerce business. What you really should consider implementing is an inventory and order management system (OMS). This type of implementation can strike fear in the heart of a business owner as they imagine the challenges of adding and changing many of their business processes – therefore many put this decision off much longer than they probably should have.
I won’t lie and say the transition is easy; however I will tell you that it’s well worth the time and effort to make the change. No one has been sorry they made the decision to automate their business processes and increase productivity. Many of the business owners we’ve worked with are shocked at how much they can now accomplish in a day, without adding employees. I’ve seen businesses double and triple revenue in a year or less, solely because a good order management system was deployed!
When reviewing order management systems there are many things to consider beyond whatever your biggest pain point might be at the moment. Inventory and order management is just the beginning; there are a lot of additional factors to consider as you take your business to the next level.
- How many sales channels are you currently on? Do you plan to add any in the near future?
- Are you maintaining 100% of your inventory, or do you also drop ship?
- How can you easily manage the ordering and receiving of products?
- How can you automate your drop ship processes?
- You MUST be PCI compliant. If you’re not, you’re running a risk your business can’t afford.
- How many states are you required to collect sales tax?
- How many warehouse locations or fulfillment centers are in the mix?
- What type of selling tools would make running your business more streamlined; and thus more profitable?
- Fraud protection is key; what tools are available to reduce your risk?
- How can you provide top-notch customer service?
- The order management system needs to integrate properly with your accounting system.
Deploying a good order management system will make it possible to do all of the above and SO much more. So, are you ready to take your business to the next level?
For additional information on the benefits of automating order, inventory and customer management, read this real-world case study about a luxury bedding etailer. And for more insight on QuickBooks® and eCommerce Training & Integration check out the Consulting 4 QuickBooks blog here.