Many businesses are currently searching for a new e-commerce solution. We asked two questions in our search for the best POS system:
- What setup allows you to get your listings on the most websites with the least amount of effort and lowest cost?
- What system allows you to easily syndicate your listings?
One of the most affordable, efficient arrangements we’ve found is a do-it-yourself point-of-sale system.
You can integrate an accounting system like QuickBooks with an e-commerce solution like ecomdash + WooCommerce for maximum functionality and customization—and for a fraction of the cost of many other POS solutions.
Challenge #1: Updating Inventory
Problem: Small businesses have told us in conversations and surveys that their #1 difficulty in e-commerce solutions is the man hours spent keeping inventory updated.
Solution: Systems like ecomdash automate the syndication of product listings between WooCommerce, QuickBooks Cloud, eBay, Amazon, GunBroker and more. In other words, update one system and you update them all!!
Challenge #2: Cost
Problem: A second major concern when considering any DIY point-of-sale system (POS) is the cost of building out a new website and e-commerce solution, which can run from $10-$20K on up.
However, most small business owners are far more concerned about the ongoing cost in both time and labor than the upfront cost of building a great system.
Solution: If you could invest more money upfront on a system that streamlines your omni-channel presence, costing far less in labor costs in the long term, wouldn’t you?
You could even stagger out the costs over time by beginning with a small website that includes only a homepage, locations, lending and products/categories, as well as test-targeted, paid advertising to drive initial traffic. Then you could add more pages and features over time until you’re able to hit the right mix of organic “free” and paid traffic.
Note: In reality, organic traffic is never free. Qualified search traffic only arrives at your website organically after you put in many hours of SEO and wait patiently. Both paid advertising and SEO cost money, and both are necessary, though you will emphasize one or the other more at different times in your business life cycle.
The Ideal E-Commerce Solution
Through our research, we’ve determined that if we were to build the ideal e-commerce solution for one of our clients, we would include these pieces:
- WordPress website + WooCommerce shop
- An accounting system to integrate with it, such as Quickbooks
- An extension to automate syndication of inventory, like Unify or ecomdash
The Goal: Maximize exposure while minimizing labor and the costs of flipping inventory online.
If you are already happy with your current inventory system and are just looking for a way to sell more efficiently online, this could be a relatively inexpensive option. Let’s explore it a bit.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that you can install on a hosting server. The great thing about WordPress is that it’s designed to be search engine-friendly so your site can quickly be picked up by Google and other search engines if it is optimized properly.
We usually use the Divi theme in our WordPress sites because of its mobile responsiveness and broad design flexibility.
An incredible array of plugins can be used with WordPress sites, and most of them are free or freemium, including Yoast SEO, Jetpack and a host of other popular tools.
Native Deodorant is an example of a WordPress + WooCommerce site
WooCommerce is the leading e-commerce plugin for WordPress sites and is used in anywhere from 28% to 41% of all online stores and 94% of all WordPress e-commerce sites. Just to put it in perspective, its closest competitor commands only 5% of the e-commerce market.
It’s a very widely-used and robust solution—yet extremely inexpensive. The base version is free, and extensions to add features, such as automatically posting to eBay, range from $29 to $299.
Not only is WooCommerce built specifically to integrate with WordPress, it can also integrate with Facebook, Amazon Fulfillment and PayPal. It’s compatible with any kind of product and includes over 400 optional extensions.
Its main disadvantage is that WooCommerce can only be used with a WordPress site. If you do not use WordPress, you will need another solution like Shopify or Magento.
We’ve used WooCommerce on our WordPress websites for a while now and would highly recommend it for its affordability and flexibility. It has an extension called Unify that integrates seamlessly with Quickbooks, Amazon, eBay and other platforms and also automates accounting, stock and shipping.
Quickbooks advertises itself as an accounting platform that automates and organizes all your information. At the higher levels, it not only tracks income and expenses but also tracks inventory and manages bills. Quickbooks integrates with WooCommerce, PayPal, Shopify, Amazon and other systems and channels.
We think Quickbooks can be a great, inexpensive option for managing finances and even inventory. Consider that some solutions cost thousands of dollars a month and then check out its pricing options:
Customer Service and Technical Glitches
Although the price point of Quickbooks is excellent, online research reveals that Quickbooks is known for being “glitchy,” which can cause problems when your business depends on it for your inventory tracking and payment.
Many users report issues with customer service, especially with program updates and old versions being incompatible with newer ones.
Even though the price point is low, you have to pay for upgrades that cost extra. If you’re going to use QuickBooks, it needs to be combined with a robust inventory management system because Quickbooks requires a lot of manual oversight to ensure compliance.
QuickBooks does offer its own POS system, which costs $1,200-$1,900 depending on the size of your business. This system enables you to track inventory, refunds and customers as well as accept payments. However, reviews seem to indicate that the functionality is not worth the price.
In summary, although Quickbooks is relatively inexpensive, just know you may be getting what you’re paying for when it comes to customer service, functionality and technical support.
Ecomdash calls itself a “multichannel inventory control software for ecommerce sellers.” It can integrate with eBay, Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, Magento, GunBroker, QuickBooks and more.
It’s just $60 a month to run the software, which is incredibly cheap. Just add another $25 if you run more than 500 sales a month.
Ecomdash won the 2016 Expert’s Choice Award from FinancesOnline, a well-known SaaS software review platform, because of its ability to handle complex inventory and its flexibility with listing products on many different sales channels through its in-suite ecommerce listing tool. The award indicates that ecomdash is in tune with the problems and needs its customers face every day and offers efficient solutions to solve them.
In addition, the platform won the Great User Experience Award for top inventory management software, demonstrating that the tools are “simple, intuitive and able to effectively improve work in a company.”
Ecomdash effectively allows you to manage all of your online stores from one screen – an e-commerce dream. Like Amazon, it even offers fulfillment services, allowing for dropshippers, suppliers and warehouses to streamline fulfillment of your ecommerce orders. Among its primary features are:
- Multi-warehouse dropship management
- Barcode scanning and generation
- Automatic syncing of inventory levels across channels
- Customization of inventory rules for each channel
Especially if you have a smaller operation, one thing we like about ecomdash is that it has multiple pricing levels and can grow with you. We also read in customer reviews that their customer service is great whether your business is big or small.
One user writes, “We sell in a physical retail store, as well as Amazon, eBay and our own website and the system is great to sync inventory so we don’t oversell.”
Ecomdash, when used in conjunction with QuickBooks, can help compensate for some of the shortcomings of QuickBooks.
Integration with WooCommerce
How exactly does WooCommerce work with ecomdash? Ecomdash provides a great explanation:
Once integrated, ecomdash scans WooCommerce every few minutes. When we find a sale, we automatically update stock quantities for that item on every other channel you’ve integrated. We can automatically list an item as “out of stock” once it sells out, eliminating the risk of overselling and allowing you to grow your sales, deliver a better customer experience and expand your business with peace of mind.
We think ecomdash + WooCommerce is an excellent, user-friendly, inexpensive e-commerce solution.
Functionality of ecomdash
The main issues we see reported with ecomdash are “glitchiness” in posting items and mixed customer support experiences. You have to keep in mind the requirements for each channel you are posting to, or some of your listings might not post correctly.
Generally, what we see over and over is that users report excellent functionality for the cost. Although there are a few mixed customer service reports, most small businesses report excellent customer service from ecomdash. No system is perfect, but ecomdash seems to give you the best value for your money.
As e-commerce websites proliferate and more and more customers shop online, business owners cannot rely solely on their brick-and-mortar locations. They to keep up with the changing ways customers are finding and purchasing what they need.
Without an integrated e-commerce solution, businesses will struggle to compete successfully because of the man hours required to accurately keep track of inventory.
While many e-commerce solutions are expensive and frustrating to manage, a DIY POS that includes WordPress+WooCommerce, combined with Quickbooks and ecomdash, will be an effective, low-cost solution.
If you’d like to talk about a customized solution for your growing business, we’d love to get in touch.