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Need More Time In Your Day to Focus? Your E-Commerce Platform Can Help You.

by Allen Burt
February 25, 2015

If you’re anything like me, you know running a business requires wearing many different hats. Some of these hats, however, are completely unnecessary. In hindsight, I realize that I’ve spent years wasting my time on managing tasks that were a direct product of not being well-organized.

In the well-known leadership book “Start With Why,” author Simon Sinek observes that in his attendance at the Gathering of Titans (an annual 5-day retreat for entrepreneurs at MIT), many of the business owners in attendance lost focus “poring over financials or some other easily measured result, and fixating on HOW they were to achieve those tangible results.” Sinek was taken aback at how removed these Titans had become from leading their businesses.

If you’re still manually generating reports or crossing your fingers that all your online orders have been properly fulfilled, you are  spending unnecessary energy on operations that can be easily automated. This is time and energy better spent on focusing on your core mission.

First, you need to take time and analyze how your e-commerce platform can help alleviate some of your disorganization. Here are a few solutions your platform can provide:

Accounting: Integrating with Software

quickbooks integration blue stout

Image courtesy of Shopify

For many new e-commerce businesses, accounting is usually a task that is done manually by entering data into a software like Quickbooks. However, in order to keep track of sales correctly, the business should have the same information in Quickbooks as they do in their ecommerce platform. If these two things aren’t integrated, you’re doing double data entry, which means you’re doing double work.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like much of a time suck, but once you begin to scale or should you decide to run a sale, there is much more room for error in doing double entry.

For example, should you decide to do offer a discount or freebie online, you will need to apply this discount or zero out the total cost of the product or service twice – in two different places! If one error is made, you will then have to spend more time comparing data in both places to find where the discord lies.

By integrating your accounting software with your platform, a discount can be applied to your item or service seamlessly. You won’t have to worry about going back into your Quickbooks later to enter and discount items accordingly or comparing two sets of data to find an error.
Lux Lampshades was a previous double data entry business. Once they integrated their ecommerce platform with Quickbooks online, they were able to sync more than 750 products and saved 25+ hours in manual accounting. (Full case study here.) Now, they are able to utilize some of those 25+ hours to focus more time on their goals and working to achieve them.

Inventory Management

Managing inventory requires that many operations be in-sync. As ecommerce businesses begin to scale, their inventory needs will also scale, and managing these larger numbers can become quite complicated. For example, managing your stock is probably conducted separately from order preparation. When an ecommerce company begins to scale, it is essential that they focus on implementing an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution, or a highly-customized software that integrates the many different facets of a business from inventory to HR.

When companies reach this stage, most try to “make do with what they have” or utilize their in-house team in attempt to develop a solution. However, the time spent hacking away at solving this problem is – most often – wasted and pretty expensive in the end.

Such was the case for one of our favorite companies, Bonobos.

wombat ecommerce blue stout

Image courtesy of WP.com

After spending a lot of internal resources and time on solving inventory issues, Bonobos found SpreeCommerce’s Wombat to help them streamline their inventory needs. By connecting their front end to their inventory management via Wombat, Bonobos not only saved a lot of technical overhead, but also launched their women’s brand, Ayr, with Wombat from the beginning. (Full case study here.) The mistakes they made and the lessons they learned from those mistakes gave Bonobos a great advantage for launching their new brand, positioning Ayr for more profitable growth from the beginning.

Bonobos saved dollars in recouping their technical overhead, but  now they also have more time. Their technical team can focus these wasted hours on initiatives more important to the brand development such as technically implementing marketing initiatives or optimizing their mobile UX.

Order Fulfillment

When a customer completes their purchase online, they trigger a domino-effect of processes that ensure the package arrives at their door. Many e-commerce businesses only have a few of these processes integrated with their ecommerce platform and complete the others manually – or flat out ignore them!

For example, it is common to have an order status integrated into your platform so that you can see the order as “received” or “processed” – but what happens when a customer orders something and it’s out of stock with your vendor? Do you have to manually check the orders each day, then contact your vendor to make sure that your stock is sufficient and your customers’ orders will be completed?

Image courtesy of Spree Commerce

Image courtesy of Spree Commerce

E-commerce company Quarterly.co had this exact problem. Since their inventory changes on a regular basis, their SKU’s would often be mismatched with the SKU’s of the vendor. Rather than having to analyze their orders and find the errors, Quarterly.co decided to implement Wombat as a solution to generate alerts should a vendor not confirm an item’s stock.

In the end, Quarterly.co saved money wasted on customer demands for refunds or discounts because of “lost” orders. By implementing Wombat, they are able to focus more time on generating revenue and not on repairing damaged customer relations. (Full case study here.)

Audit Yourself

These are just three examples of processes that can be automated into your ecommerce platform. Though you may not identify with time-waste in any of these specific areas, we would encourage you to spend a week auditing yourself to see where you are spending most of your time. Keep track of it, and then analyze it. There’s most likely a way to automate the process that is eating up your time and free it up so you can focus on growing your business.


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Allen Burt Allen Burt is the CEO & Founder of Blue Stout. A design and development agency that builds applications to power commerce and drive user engagement. Follow him on Twitter.