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Moving your retail business online

Small Business Guides | 3 min read

Shopping your store from anywhere

The impact of COVID-19 has meant businesses have to think and operate differently. Not only to keep themselves and their customers safe, but to ensure they can still generate sales and keep cash flow moving. For retail businesses, uncertainty around when shops will be able to reopen means now may be a great time to move online. Ecommerce platforms have opened a world of possibilities for small businesses. Selling products domestically has never been easier, and sites like Amazon and Shopify are helping businesses export to new markets.

This article will provide tips for moving your business online, as well as a selection of tools from Xero’s app marketplace to help you get set up for success.

1. Launching your ecommerce store

Ecommerce apps are a quick, easy, cost effective way to create an online store without engaging someone to build it. If you don’t already have a website, an ecommerce app can help you quickly design, build and host your website. If you have a website already but it has limited functionality, an app that includes a website migration tool might make all the difference.

Shopify is a quick, easy and cost effective way to set up an online store yourself. This makes it even easier to get started selling your products. Selecting a tool like Shopify will help you set up everything from choosing your domain name, to getting the tax and shipping settings right for each product. 

Shopify will also present you with valuable insights into your business through reporting and analytics dashboards. You’ll have a view of your traffic, conversion rates, total sales, average order value and new vs. returning customers. Once you have a few months of data, you’ll be able to dive into any trends you’re seeing in your sales. 

2. Payment services for ecommerce businesses

Once you’ve set up your business online, you’ll have a clear picture of sales and cash flow, and how these might look in the future. The next step is to look at ways to maximise it, in addition to using your business acumen to increase revenue or minimise expenses.

If you’re not already using an online payment service, it’s worth considering to help you run a more efficient accounts receivables process. We’ve seen first hand the difference this can make, with small businesses that enable an invoice payment service, like Stripe or GoCardless, paid up to 14 days faster globally compared to those without a payment gateway. Make sure you’re using the full range of payment gateways recommended by your ecommerce platform. These will all integrate with Xero.  There are also payment services that allow a buy now pay later option, such as Afterpay. You might also like to offer the option to pay by gift card. Selling gift cards is an easy way for customers to support you in the short term during this difficult time.

3. Why you need a tailored ecommerce solution

Ecommerce accounting can be a little tricky when compared to retail accounting. The large marketplaces often pay periodically in one bulk payment, rather than for each sale. It can be hard to figure out when - and why - you’re getting paid. The money arriving in your account might cover sales, orders, refunds, disputes or charge-backs. Things get more complicated managing multiple payment gateways, accounting for gift cards and managing the different fees and charges that might be bundled into your account.

A2X solves this problem by posting Shopify or Amazon store sales automatically to Xero, and reconciling your payouts so that you know everything has been accounted for correctly. A2X automates that manual process, so you don’t have to spend time manually reconciling your payouts and figuring out fees, refunds or adjustments. You also end up with improved data quality and reporting.

4. Managing inventory

For smaller retailers, the inventory feature within the ecommerce app may be all you need but if you have thousands of products, you might benefit from a specialist inventory management system. These can help you to optimise your stock levels and reduce working capital.

Dear Inventory is a cloud-based inventory and order management platform designed to help startups and SMBs take the time and stress out of managing their inventory and sales. It enables you and your team to manage all products, customers, suppliers, contacts, purchases and sales in one easy-to-use system. It comes with out of the box, ready to use integrations to Xero, Shopify and Amazon as well as shipping services, meaning you can get set up instantly.

Get your retail business online and keep cash coming in. Check out other retail apps that integrate with Xero here.

Xero app marketplace

The Xero app marketplace features 800+ third party apps that help small businesses and their advisors seamlessly run their business.  With apps that support everything from inventory and logistics to cash flow and project management, businesses have an array of options to build a customised experience.

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