eCommerce Integration

eCommerce Integration

One of the most challenging parts of creating a smooth, automated ecommerce presence is both setting up and integrating the card processing / billing and accounting back-end and front-end interfaces.  For some businesses the integration is simple and for others, specifically those that meet the following criteria, it can be very complex.


Common Reasons for eCommerce Complexity

  • Product catalogs are vast or change constantly (seasonal or otherwise)
  • Affiliate tracking is necessary to pay commissions
  • A 3rd party fulfillment house or drop ship methodology is used
  • ACH, Check Processing or Recurring Billing is required
  • A 3rd party CRM application is used to manage business contacts
  • Billing occurs at a time other than at point of purchase online
  • Customer service and fulfillment house are independent entities
  • International customers or suppliers are involved

Many businesses turn to 3rd party CMS (Content Management System) applications such as Yahoo Stores, Intuit, 3dCart among others, in order to better manage this process, but there are two chief concerns with this approach.

1. A 3rd party cart and CMS increases costs (Could be from $99 to several thousand per month)
2. A 3rd party CMS may lack the customization or modularity needed (particularly with accounting and interface to QuickBooks and similar software applications)

There are many good options out there that are reasonable from a cost standpoint and provide high connectivity; such examples are Intuit Stores QuickBooks and Enstore AccountEdge, however some common objections / issues are as follows.

  • What if I want my site in WordPress for the simplicity and SEO value?
  • What if I do not have a retail storefront (and visa-versa)?
  • What if I work part-time or full-time doing something else and cannot monitor the queue?

There are many questions and concerns just like these and the answer to them all is that every business needs a “Custom-Standard” solution.  What this means is that each business needs a solution customized to their business needs that creates a standard process whereby smooth automated eCommerce can exist.


Developing the Custom-Standard CMS

The “Custom-Standard” solution can be contrary to taking the standard CMS application and forcing the business to customize its process to fit.  Although a 3rd-party CMS may be a good starting point, further integration and customization outside of the standard person’s knowledge level may be required for total eCommerce automation.  Rather it be as simple as an email auto-forwarder or as complex as designing a bolted on SQL database, it is important to utilize a process map to define each step before procuring any assets or committing to any particular design.

eCommerce Automation Beyond simply programming up some nifty technology, in order to ensure smooth operation, an integrated eCommerce solution will include documented work instructions (WIs), checklists and procedures for fulfillment houses, outsourcers and employees to utilize.  This of course is assuming a highly complex process and in some cases all that a business will need to do is plug in a shopping cart and internet payment gateway.  For those who require more with less, developing a fully documented “Custom-Standard” CMS will be required.

There are many books that outline in great detail how to develop the management operation system for an ecommerce business; a good example is 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris.  A must read for creating the factory model or franchise duplicable model is The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.  We recommend these books are read before embarking on creating an eCommerce model as a primary business.


The Total Merchant Network Solution

Total Merchant Network brings years of hands on experience in creating ecommerce business models and integrating existing ones.  Rather it be as simple as programming a 3rd party cart or as complex as full payment / accounting design, Total Merchant Network can help architect both the payment process and accounting interface that is critical for measuring business health.  From a marketing and analytics standpoint see our sister company Total Marketing Network for more information on how to effectively promote and track business success on the web.
Contact Total Merchant Network today for a free 30min preliminary needs analysis to help determine the right solution for your business.  Call us at 503.862.8541or Click Here.