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The Biggest Online Sales Accounting Mistake (and How To Fix It)

The biggest online sales accounting mistake (and how to fix it)

Every minute of every day, someone somewhere is selling something. Be it online or in-person, sales are happening, 24/7, around the globe.

But with the shift from traditional invoice sales to the modern era of digital sales, a new set of accounting challenges has arisen. And many business owners are at risk of sleepwalking into an admin nightmare if they fail to implement the correct processes.

In this short blog post, we’re going to share the single biggest accounting mistake business owners make when it comes to selling online – and the steps you can take to avoid it.

It’s all about the process

It’s almost unthinkable to be in the business of sales without having an online presence. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, you need a website and you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy from you.

Most consumers want to deal with a website that makes the entire process simple, from start to finish. And this means you need to select the right service providers when building your website. From hosting and design, to payment gateways, and everything in between, the customer journey on your website needs to be secure and seamless.

You need to take a similar approach to the behind-the-scenes process (the part the customer doesn’t get to see). When they click “buy”, what happens next? Is everything automatic, or does it call for manual intervention? This is where the mistake occurs, and we’re calling it Blind Integration.

What’s Blind Integration?

Blind Integration is the result of an admirable attempt to be more streamlined. Business owners are tempted by the promise of efficiency and decide to integrate each and every platform they’re using for their website, online sales, and accounting process. Yet, while these integrations exist, they’re not always what they’re cracked up to be.

Before you click each stage together, you need to be clear on the process. Will connecting your online sales platform (e.g. Kartra) with your online payment gateway (e.g. Stripe) result in data duplication, or make reconciliation even more challenging?

And speaking of reconciliation, you must consider the impact of integrating your website with Xero. While on the surface it might look like an obvious time saver, it’s not always the case. It has the potential to create a huge volume of sales invoices that all require reconciliation. Integrations should remove manual intervention – not create the need for more.

Choosing these integrations blind will often make things harder. So, what’s the answer?

Prevention is better than cure

The simple solution is to loop in your accountant before you start integrating everything and anything. After all, prevention is better than cure. And when you’re faced with reconciling online and in-store purchases, things can get tricky, and fast.

Your cloud accounting software might have the option of integrating with your payment provider to help you track all of your invoices in one place, but you must be certain that it won’t result in more work after the fact. If it does, you’re leaving yourself open to costly accounting errors and even more stress when tax season rolls around.

You should also remember that, when it comes to online sales, your customers want choice. If you don’t offer them the payment solution they’re most accustomed to, they may abandon their cart, never to return. Making it easy for them to buy trumps any perceived benefit of integrating everything – and it’s not always easy to integrate multiple payment services, such as Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, or PayPal.

Before you start down the path of integration, think, would a tight manual process with compensating controls actually save you more time in the long run? In most cases, the answer is almost certainly “Yes!”

Don’t worry – there’s also a cure!

If you’ve already integrated your various online sales platforms and it’s proven to be more trouble than it’s worth, all is not lost. You still have the option of the cure, and here at Stepping Stone, we have the medicine.

Get in touch today and find out how we can help you implement the right accounting process for your online sales.

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