An eCommerce seller looks at her items for sale on a tablet

Selling on Amazon vs. eBay: What you need to know

Ready to start selling your products online? Or have you already built a web presence and you’re looking to expand? From marketplaces like Etsy to building and hosting your own website on Squarespace or Shopify, small businesses have plenty of platforms to sell their products online. But eventually, most professional sellers find themselves asking: What are the pros and cons of Amazon vs. eBay?

Amazon vs. eBay: Who has the biggest market for selling potential?

By the sheer number of visitors, selling on Amazon is the winner here: 214.8 million people visit Amazon each month, compared to 106.9 million for eBay. However, both of these numbers represent huge potential audiences, so to really make the right choice about selling on Amazon vs. eBay, you’ll want to break it down. 

eBay’s audience is more international than Amazon: 57% of its revenue comes from international operations. Amazon doesn’t release these figures, but analysts estimate about 33% of its sales are international. eBay is also known for having “niche” customers searching for specialized products and second-hand goods. The real winner here depends on what you sell and who you sell it to.

Amazon vs. eBay: Which channel is more competitive? 

Amazon is much more competitive than eBay. Amazon rewards sellers with the highest-quality items at the lowest price. There are far more sellers on Amazon, and you may be competing with factory-direct prices from China or even with Amazon itself. 

On the other hand, eBay follows an auction format that will show shoppers many different options, conditions from new to used and shipping options, allowing sellers more opportunities to reach them. eBay advertising is also less competitive and therefore cheaper. 

Outside view of an Amazon pick up and return center.

Shot of the outside of an Amazon Fulfillment center

Amazon vs. eBay: Which channel offers the best shipping and fulfillment?

Winner: Amazon.

When sellers opt for fulfillment by Amazon FBA, they’re able to use the retail giant’s warehouses, shipping, and customer service – for a fee, of course. They’re also eligible for Amazon Prime and the benefits that come along with it. Just remember that you may have to pay sales tax in those states if you use Amazon’s warehouses. Make sure you follow eCommerce bookkeeping tips to keep your records in order.

While domestic sellers are responsible for their own packing and shipping on eBay, the company does offer its Global Shipping Program. This allows sellers to use its “hubs” to ship internationally, with eBay taking care of the customs forms and import fees and providing tracking. This is another reason eBay is so popular with international sellers. 

Amazon vs. eBay: Whose fees reign supreme?

Overall, most sellers find that eBay’s fees are lower. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. Both platforms’ fees depend on what’s being sold, the type of account you have, and more. On Amazon, you’ll likely want a Professional Seller account, which will run you $39.99 per month. You’ll also pay a 15% commission on Amazon, plus a closing fee. If you go with Amazon FBA, you’ll pay those fees as well. 

On eBay, you’ll pay about $0.35 for each listing you create. With a $28-per-month Basic Store account, you’ll get 250 free listings. Once your item sells, eBay takes only a 10% commission. However, this doesn’t include payment processing, while Amazon does. You’ll also then need to figure out the shipping yourself. 

Once again, the answer to the age-old question of selling on Amazon vs. eBay depends on your sales volume and type of product. Here’s one point for eBay, however: One survey found that eBay was ranked number one by sellers in terms of ease of use, customer service, and profitability – while Amazon came in seventh. 

The verdict: Amazon

Pros:

  • Reach a large audience
  • Amazon FBA is a convenient option for most sellers
  • Easy to use interface and tools

Cons:

  • Highly competitive
  •  Slightly higher fees
  • Less freedom over branding, product descriptions, and policies

Which eCommerce sellers are Amazon right for? 

  • Sellers with a high volume
  • Sellers with high-profit margins
  • Sellers of non-specialty items

The verdict: eBay

Pros:

  • Easier international sales and expansion
  • Control over branding, listings, and return policies
  • Lower fees 

Cons:

  • No domestic shipping program
  • Smaller audience
  • Less straightforward user interface

Which eCommerce sellers are eBay right for?

  • International sellers
  • Sellers of used and customized items, collectibles, and niche products
  • Sellers who desire more freedom over the selling process

You can even decide to settle the Amazon vs. eBay debate by selling on both platforms. No matter what you choose – and especially if you decide to sell on both – you’ll need expert eCommerce online bookkeeping to keep your books in order and ensure you keep up with sales tax laws. At Xendoo, we work with eCommerce sellers on both platforms to manage bookkeeping and accounting, so they can focus on what’s important: selling!

Guide to Accounting for Amazon FBA Sellers

Becoming a third-party seller on Amazon is an exciting opportunity for many small businesses. After evaluating the pros and cons of selling on Amazon, you may decide to go with an Amazon FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) account. You’ll pay a fee to use Amazon’s warehouses, packaging and shipping, and customer service. One thing that isn’t included? Accounting for Amazon sellers

Amazon FBA offers plenty of benefits for small businesses, including eligibility for Amazon Prime and saving you time that could be better spent on management and growing your business. But there are a few extra considerations when it comes to Amazon FBA accounting:

  • Sales tax: FBA sellers use Amazon’s warehouses to ship goods and may be required to pay Amazon sales tax in the states where those warehouses are located. Check your local guidelines.
  • Consolidated deposits: Amazon pays vendors via a single deposit, once every two weeks. This deposit is more than your sales: It includes chargebacks and returns, fees, and sales tax. Manually sorting it all out takes time and can be complex. 
  • Amazon default reports: Amazon does provide reports, and some small business owners manually import that data into Excel spreadsheets to save money. However, this doesn’t allow you to really dig into the details and predict trends. 

Effective accounting for Amazon sellers doesn’t have to be difficult. You can use accounting software or leave it to the professionals. Let’s go over the DIY steps so you can decide which choice is right for you. 

Choose an online accounting software

You may be an Excel genius, but you need to ditch the spreadsheets if you want to do your Amazon accounting right. The best online accounting software is easy to use and secure, integrates with your bank account and other business and financial software, has good customer service and as a bonus, works with Amazon Seller Central. With software like Xero and QuickBooks Online, you can start small and increase your subscription as your sales grow, so you don’t break the bank. 

Add some helpful add-ons

The right accounting software goes a long way, but there may still be gaps you need to fill in. For example, breaking down those consolidated deposits is a notoriously tricky part of accounting for Amazon sellers. However, an add-on like A2X hooks up to Seller Central and automatically categorizes all the fees and reimbursements. There are also automation solutions like Avalara and TaxJar, which manage your sales tax returns and payments. 

An Amazon seller sets up her accounting reports on her computer

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Set up your reporting

It’s tempting for small business owners to check their bank account, see that big Amazon FBA deposit and assume their company is growing. But thorough Amazon FBA accounting means keeping track of the following: 

  • Profit & Loss Statement: See your revenue and expenses within a given period to spot trends
  • Balance Sheet: See an overview of your assets and liabilities
  • Cash Flow Forecast: Use cash inflows and outflows to model various cash flow scenarios
  • Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable: See what’s owed to you and what you owe others

Reconcile your bank statements

Reconciliation is the process of comparing two different sources, such as internal financial records and bank statements, to ensure they match up. If the software you use to keep track of your finances has the wrong information, those mistakes will compound over time. Double-entry accounting software, like those mentioned above, can help you with this. However, you’ll still want to run a reconciliation report at tax time to double-check your reporting. 

Outside view of an Amazon pick up and return center.

Keep track of your inventory

Amazon FBA sellers use Amazon’s warehouses, packing, and shipping, so they may not even see their inventory. Amazon’s reports will tell you what you’ve sold, but it’s up to you to properly categorize your inventory and look for trends, so you know what to put on sale, what to keep on the shelves and how to deal with shrinkage. And don’t forget to use the matching method for the cost of goods sold: rather than recording a lump sum cost when you buy the inventory, do not record the COGS until the item is actually sold. 

Stay compliant

With warehouses in many states, cross-border trade, and varying sales tax laws, accounting for Amazon sellers can get complex. This is where sales tax compliance for Amazon FBA sellers comes in. Most FBA businesses sell “tangible goods,” which are taxable in nearly all states, with some exceptions for clothing or groceries. You’ll also need to consider whether you have “substantial nexus” in a state – and having inventory in an Amazon FBA warehouse may be enough.

When to hire a professional Amazon accountant

If you’re feeling confused, we don’t blame you. Sales tax compliance alone can be tough to keep up with, and penalties and fees can kill a small business. Accurate, up-to-date recording is essential, as well as basic knowledge of financial statements. Of course, you could do it all yourself, but remember, time is money. Xendoo is here to help, providing expert Amazon bookkeeping and accounting services and leaving you more time to focus on what matters: Growing your business.

Pros and Cons of Putting Your Small Business on Amazon

Ecommerce is booming. Total revenue will reach nearly $4.6 billion in 2021 and grow at an annual rate of 4.6% over the next five years – reaching $5.6 billion by 2025. It’s easy to see why owners of small and medium businesses are asking themselves how they can get a piece of the eCommerce pie. One popular option—the Amazon small business marketplace. 

In the first quarter of 2021, 55 percent of the units sold on Amazon were from third-party sellers. For a company with sales of more than $300 billion, that’s more than pocket change. But what are the pros and cons? And is it worth the trouble? 

What is Amazon marketplace?

The Amazon marketplace is an eCommerce platform that allows independent vendors and sellers to sell their goods on Amazon. The platform allows Amazon to forego the typical retail model, where it sources materials, then produces and stores each of its products until shipment. Instead, third-party vendors put products on Amazon and take care of the details, while Amazon gets a cut of the profits. 

What are the pros of selling on Amazon as a small business?

There’s no question that Amazon is popular with small businesses: In 2018, nearly three-quarters of Amazon sellers had between one and five employees. And Amazon for small business does have plenty of benefits, like the following. 

You can reach a larger audience

One of the biggest benefits of selling products on Amazon is that it can connect you with a wider audience: There are more than 200 million Amazon Prime members worldwide, and that’s not counting site visitors who don’t subscribe to Prime. That’s a huge audience for Amazon small businesses

Amazon can take a lot of the work off your plate 

Getting set up with Amazon marketplace is relatively easy: Just sign up and add products to the catalog. If you want Amazon to do more work for you, you can sign up for Amazon FBA, or Fulfilled by Amazon, which allows you to use Amazon’s warehousing, packaging, shipping, and customer service. 

Amazon has tools to help you sell 

In addition to Sponsored Ads – which actually make Amazon the third-largest digital advertiser behind only Google and Facebook – Amazon small businesses have access to MerchantWords, a proprietary keyword research tool. It uses actual Amazon data to help you optimize your product names, descriptions, and ads. 

Amazon provides technical support 

Amazon Seller Central is the platform’s support team for Amazon small businesses. It’s available 24 hours a day, although most sellers will be required to submit a request and wait for a callback. Still, most sellers receive a prompt response and are happy with the support they receive 

Closeup of two Amazon labeled AA batteries.

Photo by Syed Ahmad on Unsplash

What are the cons of selling on Amazon as a small business?

Amazon Marketplace sounds pretty great, right? For many small and medium businesses, it is. But it also has a few drawbacks you should be aware of. 

It can be expensive

With charges for selling, referral fees, and Amazon sales tax, the cost of selling on the marketplace can quickly add up. Sellers without a monthly plan will pay 99 cents per item sold, while those with a Professional Plan pay $39.99 per month. If you opt for extra features, like Fulfilled by Amazon, expect to pay more fees. 

It can be time consuming 

Getting set up with Amazon Marketplace is easy – understanding how to be successful there can be more time-consuming. Diving into the tools Amazon provides and optimizing your product take time. Plus you’ll need to figure out Amazon bookkeeping and accounting, inventory management, and more. 

The competition is fierce 

There were 1.1 million active Amazon marketplace sellers in the United States alone in 2019. Amazon Marketplace is also incredibly popular with Chinese merchants, some of whom sell products at super-low, factory-direct prices. You’ll even compete with Amazon’s own private label brands. And fake reviews abound on the platform, with competitors using bots to write thousands of five-star reviews at once. 

It’s Amazon’s world, you’re just selling in it 

Some Amazon small businesses feel they don’t have much power over the selling process. There are reports of Amazon punishing businesses for selling at lower prices on other marketplaces, or pressuring them to sign up for extra services. 

Should I use Amazon for my small business?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should sell products on Amazon. Certain categories, like personal care, beauty, and home goods, seem to have greater success on the platform. Businesses with high margins, who can afford to give Amazon its cut, can also do well. However, success with Amazon for small business depends more on your ability to figure out what works for you than on the type of business.

Xendoo can help dive into your books and help you make a sound decision on whether to sell on Amazon Marketplace. If you’re already a seller, we can ensure your books are in order – allowing you more time to focus on selling.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

A business owner integrates her accounting software for her eCommerce site

How to Setup Your Online Store to Integrate Accounting Software

You’ve set up your online store set, and orders are starting to come in. But in your rush to pack, ship, and sell, there’s a good chance you haven’t made time to integrate accounting software with your eCommerce software. By downloading a third-party app plug-in, you are just a few clicks away from saving time and money by automatically sharing data between your accounting and eCommerce programs. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s simple!

Most popular online accounting software options like QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks all have a menu where you can search for compatible app plug-ins. And most popular eCommerce programs like Shopify, Squarespace, and WooCommerce have a corresponding app available from a third-party software developer. So you can easily install an app to sync the two programs! 

What to Look for E-Commerce Accounting Software

As soon as you begin spending or making money, it’s time to set up your eCommerce bookkeeping and start accounting. There are many affordable online eCommerce accounting software options available. Programs such as QuickBooks Online or Xero store a business’s financial data in the cloud and are always connected to the internet. In addition, they automatically receive and update your data by connecting to your bank accounts. Sounds easy, but not all accounting programs are the same, and there is a lot to choose from. When deciding which program is best for you, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Compatibility – Does the program work with all of the devices you plan to use? How many users can be simultaneously logged in? Can your international team members log in, too?
  • Cost – Many options have a free plan, but the pricing goes up as your business scales and grows.
  • Support – What are the customer service options? Does the program offer expert bookkeepers and accountants you can hire to take on the work when you are ready to delegate? Can they help you file your taxes?
  • Additional Services – All of the programs offer basic bookkeeping and financial reporting, but what kind of extra offerings does the software have? Some eCommerce trends include hefty employee management solutions to help with payroll, time tracking, and benefits, while others may offer project management tools. Some offer payment processing through third-party partnerships.
  • Integrate accounting software with your eCommerce program – Make sure the two programs sync so you can limit the amount of data entry you are doing. Ideally, you will be able to eliminate manual data entry of sales, invoices, customers, products, and more. 

Syncing Your Accounting and E-Commerce Programs

Most popular eCommerce software options, such as Squarespace and Shopify, integrate easily with third-party app plug-ins compatible with accounting programs like QuickBooks and Xero. Once synced, your inventory, orders, customers, and shipping can be automatically updated and will stay accurate. And getting started is easy! Most of these integrations only require a quick authorization and a few clicks to import your eCommerce data into your accounting program.

Below is a list of some popular eCommerce platforms that offer integrations with popular online accounting software programs. Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive, but these are the most popular eCommerce platforms that easily integrate with accounting software like Xero and QuickBooks Online. 

Integrating your accounting software with your eCommerce platform can help save you time and money. You’ll be able to get an instant view of your financials, allowing you to plan your sales strategy more effectively. 

A open laptop with a screen showing an eCommerce store.

Photo by Le Buzz on Unsplash

What Else do I Need to Know About My Accounting Software Integration?

As your eCommerce business grows and you decide to sync your eCommerce software with your accounting software, there are many aspects of eCommerce and accounting that you will want to keep in mind for this integration. For example:

  • Inventory Management – You will want to be able to connect multiple sales channels such as your brick & mortar’s Point of Sale, your Online Store, and your Pop-up location to ensure stock levels always stay up-to-date.
  • Choosing the correct payment gateway – Does the available option match your needs? Will international business be supported?
  • Tax settings – How does the software help you with your sales tax reporting? What role does it play in monitoring important tax deadlines? 

Why You Should Outsource Your E-Commerce Bookkeeping and Accounting

As your eCommerce business grows, you will want to outsource your bookkeeping and accounting to professionals. Even though app integrations with the best accounting software for small businesses are great, many automatic tools such as your monthly reconciliation can be inaccurate. Even a minor error in your bookkeeping can have a ripple effect and lead to everything from your financial reports being inaccurate to your marketing budget and your tax payments. It’s best to have an experienced set of eyes on it! These professionals can even find tax breaks you were missing and help you save even more money! Spend more time growing your business and less time crunching the numbers by working with the team at Xendoo. 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

9 Common E-Commerce Accounting Mistakes You Need to Avoid

As a new business owner, you have a lot to manage on your eCommerce site. From making sure that customers can easily find what they need to creating an easy path to purchasing your goods, it may leave less time to tidy up the little things in your accounting processes. However, these mistakes and misses can snowball into significant issues that could cost your eCommerce business profits and customers. To make sure your business is running efficiently from top to bottom, here are nine common eCommerce accounting mistakes that you need to avoid. 

Not adjusting your inventory levels

Inventory levels play a significant role in your profit & loss, balance sheet, and cash flow forecasting. Not adjusting your inventory levels is a mistake that can carry over from one accounting cycle to the next and affect all your reports. 

It may be time-consuming, but doing a physical stock take is essential to avoid this mistake. Fortunately, technology is on your side, and there are many excellent inventory control applications to help you streamline the process.

Sticking with spreadsheet or paper ledgers

While it is good to have a backup, manual entry, especially those not saved to the cloud, can cost you when it comes to tax time. As your business grows, you will need more than a digital spreadsheet to keep your accounts in order. Manually combing through all your sales and entering them is highly time-consuming, and chances are, as an eCommerce business owner, it is time you do not have. Unless you are meticulously keeping up with sales tax and the like, you may end up costing yourself more than you make.

 If you haven’t already, it is time to upgrade to accounting software like Xero for eCommerce or QuickBooks for eCommerce. Both of these accounting softwares can sync with your website, do a lot of the grunt work for you, and help you avoid this eCommerce accounting mistake.

Still, you will need to have an eye on your accounts to make sure everything is accurate. Xendoo’s eCommerce bookkeeping service can help ensure your books are up to date and accurate, giving you more time to focus on your business instead of your books 

A business man uses a credit card to buy something online

Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash

Mixing business accounts with your personal accounts

While it may seem convenient to use your personal accounts for business-related purchases, mixing the two can create more problems down the line than it solves. Maintaining separate business and personal accounts is the best practice. 

You can take advantage of several tax benefits with a business account. It allows you to keep the proper line of sight over business income and expenses while avoiding accounting nightmares and potential liability issues if you get audited.

Not monitoring your cash flow

You may be seeing how much money your eCommerce business is generating, but are you keeping track of how much you are spending? Account reconciliation compares your internal financial records against monthly statements from external sources such as banks, credit cards, or other financial institutions, to ensure they match up. 

 Knowing how to reconcile your accounts is essential for the financial health of your eCommerce business. You need to reconcile your accounts to provide a clear picture of how much cash flow you have to reinvest or to pay yourself. If not, making this eCommerce accounting mistake could have you missing out on new investment opportunities, or worse, realize that you don’t have enough money to run your business. If it all sounds a little complicated, then Xendoo can help you get a clear picture of your financials and the overall health of your business. 

No accounting for fees

Many sales channels have different fees, and if you are selling through multiple channels like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, etc., you probably are starting to lose track of which channel charges what. If you aren’t keeping track of all these different channels and adjusting your pricing for each, you may be losing more money than you make. Accounting software can help you manage the multiple-fee structures for each channel. An accountant can help you avoid this eCommerce accounting mistake and figure out what you need to charge to make a profit for every order and which channels you should prioritize. 

Not keeping track of overhead expenses

We mentioned the importance of tracking your inventory, but you also need to keep track of all the overhead expenses like advertising, shipping, website domain licensing, etc. All these monthly charges can add up fast. If you aren’t tracking your overhead expenses and comparing them to ensure they are not growing at a different rate than your sales, your eCommerce business may be without valuable resources to keep it running. Every day you can’t make a sale, you don’t make a profit, and worse, you may lose potential and existing customers if they go to our website and it isn’t there. 

Not choosing the right business entity type

Picking a legal entity may not be as fun as naming your eCommerce business, but you must try to get it right the first time. Every business entity comes with its own tax benefits, and misclassifying your eCommerce business means you could be missing ways to maximize IRS tax savings. Plus, misclassifying your business is one eCommerce accounting mistake that could lead to compliance issues that can cost you. 

 An accountant can help you choose which business entity is the most beneficial. And you’re just starting an eCommerce business, an accountant, like the ones at Xendoo, can help you switch to a business entity that provides you with the most tax breaks. 

Not making time to focus on your accounting

Accounting and bookkeeping are huge time commitments,  but putting them off is one of the worst eCommerce accounting mistakes you can make. For all the reasons mentioned above, you need to take the time to follow these eCommerce bookkeeping basics, so your financial records are in order.

If you’ve been avoiding your books, it’s not too late. Xendoo provides catch-up bookkeeping for eCommerce businesses to get you on the right track and keep you from making any more eCommerce accounting mistakes.

 

At Xendoo, we know that eCommerce business owners have too much to do and not enough time to do it. But even the smallest eCommerce accounting mistakes can lead to financial repercussions down the line. If you don’t have the time to dig into your books, then let an outsourced bookkeeping and accounting service like Xendoo do it for you. Xendoo has a flat monthly fee and specializes in working with eCommerce businesses, so we have seen it all. Contact us today to learn how we can help get your books back in order.

As a new business owner, you have a lot to manage on your eCommerce site. From making sure that customers can easily find what they need to creating an easy path to purchasing your goods, it may leave less time to tidy up the little things in your accounting processes. However, these mistakes and misses can snowball into significant issues that could cost your eCommerce business profits and customers. To make sure your business is running efficiently from top to bottom, here are nine common eCommerce accounting mistakes that you need to avoid. 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

Starting an eCommerce Business? Bookkeeping Basics You Need to Know

Just like a traditional brick-and-mortar business, your eCommerce business needs a good bookkeeping system for essential functions like tracking revenues and expenditures and filing tax returns. There are a lot of compelling reasons you need a bookkeeper, and for most small businesses, it’s generally more cost-effective to outsource the accounting and bookkeeping services to professionals like Xendoo that work with small businesses than trying to do it in-house. If outsourcing just isn’t feasible for your business, here are some bookkeeping basics for eCommerce that you need to know before trying to do it yourself.

Choose an Accounting Method

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide which of two accounting methods is right for your business – cash basis or accrual basis. The key difference between the two lies in when revenues and expenditures are recognized on the books. Let’s take a quick look at the differences between them.

  • Cash Basis: Transactions are recorded at the time the money enters or leaves the bank. If an invoice comes in during December but you pay it in January, the entry would go on January’s books.
  • Accrual Basis: Transactions are recorded at the time they are made, regardless of when cash enters or leaves the bank. An invoice dated in December would go on December’s books, even if it gets paid in January.

Cash basis accounting is simpler and easier to keep track of, but accrual basis gives a more accurate picture of the long-term profitability of the business by factoring in accounts payable and receivable ledgers. Most small business owners choose cash basis, but if you do, you may have to adjust your accounting software. QuickBooks, for example, defaults to accrual basis. Once you choose a method, you have to stick with it unless you are willing to go through a lot of government red tape to change it.

Record Your Transactions

Every time money comes into or leaves your business, whether it’s a retail sale, an invoice from a supplier that gets paid, or a loan payment, it has to be recorded “in the books.” Your “books” could be anything from an old-fashioned paper ledger to an Excel spreadsheet, or a full suite of accounting software. If you opt for manual bookkeeping, you’ll need to import all your information from your bank account into your ledger. Most good accounting software will interface with your bank and automatically enter transactions in your books for you, which can save you a lot of time. Whichever way you go, it’s crucial to stay on top of data entry so that you have an accurate picture of your business’s financial health.

A view of a couch on an eCommerce site

Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

Categorize Your Transactions

You’re probably starting to see a trend in these bookkeeping basics for eCommerce, and that is to stay organized. Every transaction that gets recorded has to also be categorized for financial reports and tax returns. The two most basic categories you’ll need are revenue and expenses, although you’ll almost certainly want subcategories of each for your reports to be useful. You’ll need to be able to tell the difference between expenses for rent, payroll, utilities, debt installments, etc.

Another category that you’ll probably want as an eCommerce seller is “Revenue – Returns and Allowances.” This would encompass things like merchandise returns and credit card chargebacks in the event of fraud, which are not expenses, but rather debits to your revenue as essentially a reversal of the sale. However, if your credit card processor charges you a chargeback fee for the return, this would be an expense separate from the return itself.

Monitor Your Budget

If you haven’t already, you need to create a realistic budget that factors things like the seasonality of the business, how much inventory stock you will need to support your sales, cost of goods sold, and overhead expenses like rent, payroll, and utilities. Remember: a budget should not reflect what you hope will happen, but what is likely to actually happen. Many owners tend to be overly optimistic in their budgets and assume a best-case scenario for everything, which rarely happens.

Once the budget is in place, the company’s financial reports have to be checked against the budget regularly to see whether the business is over or under-performing your expectations. This can be simplified by using a budget calculator spreadsheet that uses formulas to compare actual revenue and expenses to budget figures. That way, you can see at a glance where your budget might need adjusting. 

Reconcile Bank Statements

Each month when the bank statement arrives, it’s crucial to compare what the bank says you have with what your internal books say you should have. This is done on a transaction-by-transaction basis and is critical for detecting problems early. If you find a discrepancy, you need to identify and resolve it quickly because it may be a sign of theft or another internal issue, or there may be a problem with the way you are keeping your books.

Check Your Cash Flow

Cash basis accounting gives a pretty clear snapshot of cash on hand, but if you’ve chosen accrual basis accounting, your books may show more cash on hand than you really have at the moment. This can be a problem if you need to pay a big invoice, so it’s important to run weekly or monthly cash flow reports to see the real amount of cash on hand and implement good inventory control policies.

Save & Organize Records

If there’s one bookkeeping basics for eCommerce rule you need to follow when you are starting out, it’s save everything. Good record-keeping is essential for any business, so you should save everything – receipts, invoices, statements, etc. You might just need to refresh your memory about a transaction you can’t remember, or you might need to validate your tax return for an audit.ecommerce business tips

You might notice that you are paying more than usual for a particular supply item and want to see what you paid for it in the past. You just never know, so be prepared. Here is a sample list of folders you should have in your filing cabinet for the basics of bookkeeping for eCommerce:

  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Other proofs of payment
  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Financial reports and statements
  • Shopify or Square revenue records
  • Cryptocurrency transactions
  • Previous tax returns
  • W-2 and 1099 forms for employees and contractors
  • Other supporting documents for income, deductions, or credits

Be sure to keep these bookkeeping documents in an area where you can easily find them.

File Sales Tax

Since the Supreme Court decision in Wayfair, Inc. v. South Dakota (2018), eCommerce retailers are subject to the sales tax requirements of each state in which they sell goods. That means that potentially, you might have to file 50 different sales tax returns monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the state. This is incredibly time-consuming for a small business and creates a lot of extra accounting overhead, which is just one of the reasons it’s generally more cost-effective to outsource your accounting and bookkeeping to a professional service like Xendoo.

Pay Income Tax

Most businesses pay estimated quarterly income taxes and then file an annual return in April, in much the same way individuals have estimated withholding every pay period and then file a return in April. To calculate how much to pay each quarter, you’ll need to estimate your annual business income for the year. If you’ve been in business for a while this may not be too difficult, but if you’re just starting up you may need to make some careful calculations. The IRS has worksheets to help you calculate your quarterly taxes – Form 1040-ES for individuals and Form 1120-W for corporations. 

Generate Financial Statements

This may need to be done manually if you’ve opted to keep your books by hand, but generally, your accounting software will be able to generate these for you. You’ll need to go over your monthly profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and other documents. Once you have insight into all of these, you’ll be able to plan ahead to make your business more efficient. Without them, you’re flying blind. Your P&L statement can reveal several key things:

  • Administrative Expenses (too high if they are over 20% of gross revenue)
  • Cost of goods sold (should be less than 75% of gross revenue)
  • How much you can afford to reinvest in the businesses

Similarly, your balance sheet can provide you with a snapshot of your company’s total assets and liabilities, including debt and equity positions. With this information in hand, you can calculate some key ratios that a lender will look at when you apply for a loan, including:

  • Assets to Liabilities Ratio (the company’s solvency or ability to pay bills)
  • Debt to Equity Ratio (financing from creditors in relation to stockholders)
  • Asset Turnover Ratio (how efficiently you generate sales from assets)

These are the bookkeeping basics for eCommerce that you need to know before you start your online business, but to grow your business and sustain success, you’ll probably need to do more than just manage your books.

 At Xendoo, we specialize in small business accounting for eCommerce and offer a full suite of accounting and bookkeeping solutions. We can help you every step of the way with automatic bookkeeping entries, tax reporting, financial statements, and much more to keep your new business lean and mean. It’s also a lot more affordable than you probably think because Xendoo’s low flat monthly fee is less than half of what you would typically pay an hourly accountant. 

Sign up for a free trial today and see how Xendoo can help your online business grow.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Choosing the Right Accounting System for Your Shopify Business

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Whether you’re brand new to online retail and trying to decide how to set up your eCommerce business, or you’ve been around a while and simply reached the point where your DIY accounting solution just isn’t cutting it anymore, Xendoo’s innovative suite of business offerings can help you. Xendoo can get your small business accounting running like a well-oiled machine so you can focus on what’s important – growing your business. To be competitive in the new economy, cloud-based accounting is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity. Here are some of the best accounting systems for Shopify that can help get your business on track.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is the cloud-based version of the popular and versatile QuickBooks business accounting software. Quickbooks Online accounting system for Shopify allows you to access your account information from any web browser, and the API creates a seamless interface that links directly to Xendoo’s platform. That means you can easily organize and sync all of your critical financial data with no tedious manual data entry. Additionally, Quickbooks Online for Shopify allows you to easily create and send invoices, receive payments, pay bills, and manage payroll. 

  • Track income and expenses
  • Capture and organize receipts according to your chart of accounts
  • Download and organize bank account and credit card transactions
  • Print checks
  • Create and send invoices, as well as receive payments
  • Print financial reports
  • Tax organization

Xero for E-commerce

QuickBooks is a popular accounting system for Shopify, but it may not be the best choice for everyone. Xero is another cloud-based accounting solution that will appeal to a lot of Shopify store owners. Xero is fast, simple, and powerful. It can sync with hundreds of third-party applications for point-of-sale, inventory, and much more. It also offers a mobile app for convenience and allows customers to create an unlimited number of users. From within the Xero accounting software for Shopify, you can manage your accounts payable, accounts receivable, budget, and category or division tracking. 

  • Customizable dashboard
  • Create invoices and quotes and receive payments
  • Track inventory
  • Bill payment
  • Expense management and project management
  • Create and print financial reports
  • Bank account reconciliation
  • Highly scalable for small or growing businesses

A2X for Shopify

A popular middleware, or “connector,” application that links your Shopify store with your cloud-based accounting system is A2X for Shopify. It automatically posts your Shopify sales and fees directly into QuickBooks or Xero, saving you hours of tedious work each week. That also means no more stressing over why transactions don’t match your bank deposits because A2X eliminates data entry mistakes.

  • Automatically post store data into QuickBooks or Xero
  • Automatically reconcile bank statements
  • Automatically make adjustments for fees and refunds
  • Create and print summarized statements

TaxJar for Shopify

A major time vampire for business owners who sell on Shopify is state sales tax compliance in the wake of Wayfair, Inc. v. South Dakota (2018), which requires online sellers to comply with sales tax requirements in each state where they do business. TaxJar accounting system for Shopify will streamline your sales tax compliance process by showing you where you should be collecting sales tax according to economic nexus laws and generating return-ready reports. It can even auto-file your returns for you if you want.

  • Calculate sales tax based on each state’s nexus
  • Daily updates allow for timely return filing
  • AutoFile option for automated return filing
  • Display fines and penalties for delinquent filing
  • Compare actual collections to what should have been collected

Shopify Apps

In addition to your accounting software, Shopify offers over 1,000 plug-in applications from their app store to help you with managing inventory, shipping, reporting, and much more. However, we suggest that you fully explore the capabilities of QuickBooks, Xero, A2X, and TaxJar before making any decisions about additional applications. A lot of functionality might be duplicated, and you certainly don’t want to pay for the same thing twice.

In addition to tons of helpful plug-ins, Shopify also features a profit margin calculator. Just plug in your cost of the item and a markup percentage, and Shopify will calculate the sale price, your gross profit in dollars, and your gross margin.

Outsourcing Your Bookkeeping and Accounting

Even though these accounting systems for Shopify can make life much simpler for sellers than even just a few years ago, it can still sometimes feel overwhelming. If you begin to feel like you might be in over your head, you should consider outsourcing your accounting and bookkeeping to a small business accounting firm like Xendoo.

There are a lot of good reasons to outsource your accounting for your Shopify eCommerce business, and it’s more affordable than you might think. Xendoo’s accounting team works with small business owners just like you to provide expertise and insight into the accounting needs of e-commerce businesses. Xendoo can take care of everything from weekly bookkeeping to filing business taxes for you, and our flat monthly fee is less than half of what you’d probably pay an accountant. Xendoo’s mission is to give you the peace of mind of knowing it’s being done right, and free your time to focus on what’s important – growing your business. Sign up for a free trial today.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Cash Flow Management for eCommerce: 4 Tips for Smooth Sailing

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Cash flow is a measure of your business’s liquidity and ability to pay its debts from sales revenue. Cash flow management can be one of the most challenging aspects of being an online business owner. Your business can be profitable but still have a negative cash flow because profit calculation takes into account assets like inventory that you can’t use to pay bills. 

E-commerce businesses have an edge in cash flow management by virtue of the immediacy of the transaction, but that doesn’t mean online retailers are immune to cash flow problems. The customer has to pay you before you ship the item, so that means you don’t have to deal with an accounts receivables ledger full of aging accounts. But you still have operating expenses that can deplete your bank account, and you might end up having a lot of cash tied up in inventory before being sold. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to smooth out the turbulence and keep your cash flow – and your business – on an even keel. Read on to see our cash flow management tips to keep your eCommerce business sailing smoothly. 

Minimize Inventory

If your inventory is sitting on the shelf for more than 30 days, you have too much. You can’t afford to have that much cash tied up doing nothing. Use stock-keeping units (SKUs) to track the sell-through rate for each item in your inventory. The sell-through rate is the ratio of inventory sold during the month to new inventory added. If you see that an item’s sell-through rate is too low, you need to dig deeper and find out why. Are you producing too much of it? Is demand for it falling? Maybe some of the cash tied up in that product can be shifted to a more popular item that’s selling better, or it might even need to be discontinued. Don’t be lured in by bulk discount offers from suppliers unless you know for sure the item will move quickly. The right inventory management software can help you make sense of what is going, out, coming in, and just sitting there. 

Get Creative with Sales

At the risk of stating the obvious, one of the best ways to keep a positively manage cash flow is to get more sales from your eCommerce business. The big question, though, is how to do that. What’s the best way to drive traffic to your site and increase the conversion rate of your visitors, and maybe even do a little upselling in the process? Here are a few ideas you can try for driving website sales.

  • Offer free shipping on larger orders to encourage bigger quantities
  • Create a loyalty program for repeat customers
  • Offer Buy One, Get One (BOGO) on items with a high margin
  • Bundle high-margin products with best-selling products
  • Cross-sell by offering related add-ons at check-out
  • Offer a recurring purchase option for consumable products
  • Offer incentives to “abandoned cart” visitors
  • Use a human or automated chatbot to engage with visitors
  • Implement a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy to improve your site’s rank in search results.

If each of these strategies can increase your site’s average order by just 1 or 2%, that can quickly add up to 10% or more extra revenue coming into your bank account to help ease the cash flow. If you do go the free shipping route, make sure to read our tips on how to reduce shipping costs

Manage Your Payables

The other side of cash flow management is what’s going out to your accounts payable. You need to maximize the amount of time the cash stays in your bank account instead of going to your suppliers. When you set up contracts with suppliers, try to negotiate the terms. Standard terms will typically be 30 days, but some suppliers may be willing to go as far out as 60 or 90 days if you ask. Whatever the terms are, you should generally wait until the end of the term to make the payment so you can hang onto the cash as long as possible. Watch out for late fees, though. However, if your supplier offers discounts for early payment, they may be worth taking advantage of.

Consider an Inventory Loan

If you’ve done your best but still find yourself in a cash crunch and need to restock inventory, an inventory loan may be an easier option than a traditional bank loan. Lenders will look at more than just your credit history and will take into account your sales history and the stability of your business. Inventory loans can be either lump-sum loans or lines of credit with the bank that you can use over time. You won’t be able to finance the entire cost of your inventory, but you can expect to be able to cover around 50% of the cost through a loan.

Managing your cash flow wisely can be the difference between success and failure for your eCommerce business, even if you’re showing a profit on the books. Xendoo’s suite of products and bookkeeping services for small businesses can help you know exactly where your money is going so that you can manage it more effectively. Contact Xendoo today to start your free trial and see how we can help your small business grow.

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

eCommerce Trend Report: 2020 Recap & 2021 Forecasts

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

For all the challenges the economy faced in 2020, it may come as something of a surprise that overall domestic retail sales saw their highest rate of growth in over two decades during 2020. What probably isn’t much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention is that that strong growth was driven entirely by eCommerce trends in 2020, with online sales accounting for 101% of that growth. 

The COVID-19 pandemic drove more and more shoppers to online retailers in lieu of brick-and-mortar stores, and the good news is that that movement shows no sign of slowing down in the eCommerce trends for 2021. The bad news is that sales tax compliance continues to be a thorny issue for online retailers as they struggle to keep up with state regulations. Figures represent US domestic sales unless specifically noted as global figures.

Consumer Migration to E-commerce

Overall retail sales in 2020 topped $4.04 trillion, representing a 6.9% increase over 2019 sales of $3.78 trillion. That was driven by a massive 44% increase in online shopping, nearly three times the previous record eCommerce year-over-year growth in 2019 of 15.1%. A significant portion of that increase was due to first-time online shoppers, as well. E-commerce market penetration leaped from 15.8% in 2019 to 21.3%, representing a sharp increase from its previous trend of 1-2% growth per year. In 2020, eCommerce transformed from being a convenient alternative to brick-and-mortar stores for some consumers to an essential part of daily life in an age of pandemic.

A person checks his phone for sales during Black Friday

Holiday Shopping

Following along with the overall trend toward online shopping, domestic holiday shopping showed similar rates of year-over-year growth. Out of $861 billion spent online in 2020, over $200 billion of sales occurred during the holiday shopping months of November and December. 

  • Thanksgiving Day online sales rose 21.5% to $5.1 billion 
  • Black Friday online sales rose 21.5% to $9 billion
  • Cyber Monday online sales rose 15% to $10.8 billion
  • Total Cyber-week domestic online sales reached $60 billion 

Hottest E-commerce Segments in 2021

Fashion and online apparel remained the largest segment of online shopping globally in 2020, followed by toys and electronics. 

  • Online apparel sales rose 15% to $760 billion globally, projected to reach $1 trillion by 2025
  • Toys rose 12% to $590 billion in global online sales, projected to reach $766 billion by 2025
  • Consumer electronics saw $542 billion in global online sales, a 28% increase over 2019.
  • Food and personal care items came in fourth at $468 billion
  • Furniture and household appliances totaled $362 billion globally.

Largest Retailers

Unsurprisingly, Amazon retained its throne as the undisputed king of online retailers, with a whopping 38% of all domestic sales, down slightly from its 2019 share of 43.8% share in 2019. Other online retailers like Walmart and Target managed to chip away at Amazon’s lead, but are still behind by a wide margin. 

  • Amazon – 38%
  • Walmart – 5.3%
  • eBay – 4.7% 
  • Apple – 3.7%
  • Home Depot – 1.7%

Smartphone Sales

Smartphones continued to increase in popularity as a platform for online shopping, representing 54% of online sales in 2020 and projected to reach 73% in 2021. 79% of smartphone owners have made at least one online purchase with the device, and 80% of smartphone owners have used a smartphone to look up product information or reviews while shopping in a traditional brick-and-mortar store. It’s clear that the prevalence of smartphones will continue to be a driving force in eCommerce for the foreseeable future. 

A man pays for an item using his digital wallet on his phone

Trends to Watch

Whether you have something like a Shopify store or sell through your own website, it’s imperative to stay on top of technology and predict online consumer product trends so that you can stay one step ahead of the competition. To that end, we’ve identified some eCommerce future trends that are definitely worth keeping an eye on in 2021.

BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store) and Curbside Pickup

This was the trend that dominated much of 2020 because it combined the convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of in-store shopping. While some shoppers will revert to in-store shopping, this trend is here to stay.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality emerged as a player in eCommerce in 2020, with, for example, some furniture retailers allowing consumers to upload a photo of their living room and see how a particular piece would look in it.

Digital Wallets & One-Touch Purchase

Many consumers have been hesitant to make the move to online shopping due to concerns about fraud, while others were put off by the inconvenience of having to enter a credit card number. Digital wallets like ApplePay and GooglePay have alleviated many of those concerns by making secure one-touch purchases from smartphones. However, most security concerns are pushed to the wayside for convenience, and this eCommerce trend is probably here to stay. 

Cryptocurrencies

Although controversial and not widely adopted currently, cryptocurrencies are poised to become a force in eCommerce in the not-too-distant future. Because Bitcoin is both a currency and a payment processor, it can facilitate secure transactions across borders at transaction fees of 1%, as opposed to the typical 2-3% merchant fees charged by credit card processors. Some large online retailers like Overstock.com already accept Bitcoin.

More Sales Tax Headaches

In response to declining state sales tax revenues from the move to online shopping, the US Supreme Court ruled in South Dakota v. Wayfair (2018) that each state had the power to individually tax online retailers to create a replacement revenue stream. Online retailers must now monitor and comply with 50 different sets of sales tax laws, creating an enormous amount of accounting overhead. 

This is yet one more reason to outsource your bookkeeping service and accounting to a professional firm like Xendoo as a cost-effective solution to this regulatory nightmare. Sales tax processing is just one of the many affordable services available in Xendoo’s suite of small business offerings. Xendoo can also make sure that you are getting all the eCommerce tax deductions that you are entitled to as an online retailer.

It’s clear that eCommerce will only continue to grow by leaps and bounds in the years to come. Consumers were already growing accustomed to the convenience of online shopping, and the COVID-19 pandemic was the impetus that pushed many holdouts to take the plunge. Many retailers struggle to understand emerging technologies and keep pace. The retailers that don’t will be left behind in the wake of those who do. Staying on top of technology and eCommerce trends is critical to success in retail in 2021. 

Experience the Xendoo difference with a one-month free trial.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

The Benefits of Selling on eBay

eBay and Amazon were both founded in 1995. Amazon back then specialized in selling
books, and eBay had few other competitors in the ecommerce selling space at first.

As we know, this is no longer the case – by a long shot. eBay is now up against giants
like Amazon and Walmart (whose relatively new marketplace has taken the ecommerce
industry by storm) and Shopify to name a few.

With these kinds of competitors, what could give eBay an edge for sellers, and why
should you consider the platform if you aren’t already using it?

  • The Auction Format: what eBay is known for (although you do have the ‘Buy It
    Now’ option available too). Particularly good for rare or collectible items, the
    auction format allows buyers to bargain for products and may result in higher
    profits. It can also move your inventory quickly, if you need faster sales.
  • Simple and Quick Set-Up: your eBay store can be set up and ready to go in a
    matter of minutes. Great for newer sellers to get started and build on over time.
    Scroll down for a step-by-step on this process.
  • Competitive Fees: there are six subscription options for sellers on eBay, starting
    from as low as $4.95/month. You then have insertion fees (approximately $0.35c
    per listing), final value fees (around 10%) and if you choose, listing upgrade fees.
    These are relatively easy to stay on top of compared to some other platforms.
  • eBay Managed Payments: eBay’s new Managed Payments system eliminates
    the extra fee previously paid to PayPal for a transaction, saving sellers a little in
    the process. It gives buyers more payment options, generates reports on your
    financials, provides tax documentation, and allows direct transfer to your bank
    account, saving you time. Plus, with A2X now able to integrate with Managed
    Payments, you can level up these bookkeeping tools even further – more on this,
    below.
  • Third-party Sellers Only: sellers on eBay escape the added challenge of
    competing with own-brand products like Amazon Essentials for example, being a
    platform for third-party sellers only.
  • More Global Reach: typically, more than half of eBay’s annual sales revenue is
    generated from its 60 million buyers outside the US, setting it apart. Sellers are
    able to choose to list their items on international eBay sites, expanding their
    reach and tapping into that huge overseas customer base.
  • Global Shipping Program: reaching international customers requires
    international fulfillment, and eBay delivers. You will need to meet a few criteria to
    be eligible for the program, including earning a rating of Above Standard or
    higher. If eligible, your items may be covered by eBay’s Money-Back Guarantee,
    and any bad feedback received due to mistakes in the handling will be
    automatically removed from your store.
  • Highest Mobile Reach (for Android): approximately 6.27% of Android users
    can be reached with the eBay app compared to Amazon’s 0.97% and Walmart’s
    1.78%. Those numbers may look small, but with mobile ecommerce sales
    expected to make up around 54% of total ecommerce sales by 2021 – they add
    up. And don’t underestimate the portion of people using android; the number of
    Android smartphone users is forecast to reach 130 million in 2021 and only just
    lost the top spot to iOS at the beginning of 2020.
  • More Room for New Brands and Private Label Sellers: large established
    brands flock to sell on platforms like Amazon, flooding the seller space and
    making things a little tougher for the smaller or younger businesses to cut
    through. Sellers still developing their customer base and brand might have more
    success on eBay, as may private label sellers, due to a few changes in eBay’s
    offering.
  • More Room for the Miscellaneous: eBay has the option for sellers to select
    “does not apply” when they can’t find a product identifier relevant to their listed
    item. There are also no ‘gated categories’ as found on other ecommerce
    platforms (but there are some prohibited and restricted products to be aware of).
  • Diversifies Your Portfolio: diversification is a great step to grow and future-
    proof your ecommerce business. Having all your virtual business eggs in one
    basket is never a good idea. Not only can you sell more stuff by branching out,
    but you can protect yourself from complications if you are suddenly suspended
    on one site. You can also expand your reach and learn more about your
    customers’ buying behavior beyond one platform, and ultimately grow your brand
    awareness and loyalty.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.