The E-Commerce Technology Revolution: Doing What Quicken and TurboTax Did for Accounting

Industry Insight

The days of Leo Bloom are long gone. The famous fictional accountants, played by actors Gene Wilder and Matthew Broderick in Mel Brooks’ The Producers, used the accounting machines and ledger books of yesteryear. With the development of PCs, software like Intuit’s Quicken and TurboTax replaced these former staples of the accounting profession, turning them into antediluvian museum pieces.

TurboTax and Quicken streamlined and revolutionized the accounting industry. Today, the E-commerce industry is going through it’s own technology-driven revolution. With advanced enterprise e-commerce software platforms like SalesWarp and Demandware, solutions in the cloud like Magento Go and Highwire, and even partnerships among many e-commerce technology companies, online retailers are experiencing explosive growth and new market opportunities like never before.

Although the online industry is booming, there are always unique obstacles to overcome. Similar to when accounting firms completed tax returns manually with a costly labor force,Pamela Hazelton at Practical E-Commerce explains how E-commerce businesses suffer from inefficiencies that detract from their bottom line:

In the business of E-commerce, it’s more about time than anything. Tried-and-true technology (whether it be smartphones or automation software) is a must…

Take order processing, for instance. The majority of small online-store orders are still manually processed — an employee retypes orders into an antiquated database. This wastes time, increases costs, and makes it difficult to offer competitive prices and zero handling fees. Read more

Whether it’s managing orders or managing inventory, hassles of the manual process are like using a ledger book – it’s a thing of the past. Today’s E-commerce business needs to automate and streamline as many tasks and business processes as possible, including:

  • Importing product data from warehouse and ERP systems
  • Publishing products and images to the online store
  • Catalog updates
  • Inventory management
  • Processing and routing of orders
  • Issuing customer notifications
  • Tracking shipments
  • Being able to manage and report on all product, customer and order data from multiple online and POS channels
  • Integrating with CRM and accounting systems, including QuickBooks

    E-commerce Storefront Management System software can do all of this automation and more. In doing so, retailers are able to reduce the time it takes staff to handle these tasks, thus reducing operating costs. This not only makes your business easier to manage, but more profitable.

    Like Quicken and TurboTax, storefront management software does more than just automate and streamline processes. Some E-commerce platforms also offer advanced tools for expanding into new marketplaces, competitive pricing and advanced analytics. These types of E-commerce software solutions will prove invaluable to online-only retailers, but to the survival of many brick-and-mortar retailers as well. To be able to connect in-store and online inventory with competitive pricing, retailers like Best Buy will be able to keep customers from buying elsewhere.

    Long before, Hazelton wrote about the need for E-commerce companies to implement a more efficient way of doing business, Michael Chipman, founder of TurboTax, said something similar about tax software in a 1990 LA Times article. Chipman knew then what e-commerce software platforms are doing today for online retailers: helping companies eliminate costly inefficiencies.