ProductCart, Peachtree, and an outsider’s thoughts on our shopping cart

Scott Wheeler at CartSpan recently worked on an integration between ProductCart and Peachtree, which makes it easy for users of our shopping cart software to automatically import Web orders into their Peachtree accounting system.
PeachtreeThis type of integration can really make a difference in your business’ daily routine, saving a tremendous amount of time and money, reducing errors, and removing a lot of the headaches that go with transferring data from an online store to the accounting system.

Scott was impressed with the functionality he found in ProductCart and sent us this guest blog post, which we are publishing unedited (except for a couple minor syntax changes). For more information on the integration between ProductCart and Peachtree, please visit the CartSpan Web site.

Guest Blog Post by Scott Wheeler, CartSpan

There are many value-added features within ProductCart that distinguish it from other carts, but it has specific features,  from an accounting integration perspective, that make it very attractive. Here are a few that CartSpan has capitalized upon with its integration to Peachtree accounting:

Build-To-Order (BTO) capability – The more advanced carts in the market have some type of standard kitting functionality, but not the dynamic kitting functionality provided by ProductCart.  It is impractical to attempt pre-configuration of all possible Bills-Of-Material (BOM) in the accounting system and present them within the shopping cart. An overwhelming number of these BOM’s would never be ordered, and those that did are likely ‘one-off’ configurations. Use of ProductCart’s BTO functionality essentially eliminates this administrative ‘bloat’ in the accounting system.

ProductCart’s BTO functionality conveniently writes BTO item components to a table in the database where they are picked-up by the CartSpan API. These components are then imported individually into a Peachtree invoice with correct pricing and an appended description clearly indicating the associated parent configuration. If the ‘Peachtree/CartSpan/ProductCart’ user is importing the Web order as an ‘Invoice’, the inventory is relieved immediately, thus supporting the real-time view of inventory that business owners so greatly desire.

Order Handling Charge – A common business requirement – yet often overlooked feature in many shopping cart offerings – is the ability to apply some type of handling fee on the order level. ProductCart offers this functionality and CartSpan supports the import of handling fees against a targeted General Ledger account. This feature eliminates one more instance where the Customer Service Rep must ‘touch’ the order or invoice to ‘get it right’. Elimination of as many of these ‘tweaks’ as possible is the goal of a good integration.

Rule-Based Data Acquisition – ‘Hang’ with me here while I explain this powerful aspect of ProductCart as an open-source offering. Similar to the handling charge problem a lot of businesses face, is the issue of capturing a Purchase Order (PO) number for Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions. Most shopping carts are geared to conduct Business-to-Consumer (B2C) transactions and the common method of PO-based invoicing is ignored. While ProductCart itself does not handle PO capture out-of-the-box, it has, with great foresight, instituted well-organized data-structures to support the capture of this and any other customer-specific data.

The CartSpan API for ProductCart has been designed to retrieve the PO (or any other value) from these data-structures by referencing a customer-defined rule. Granted, you will still have to code modifications to capture/store the desired information, but this option for easy extensibility is simply not available in other proprietary hosted systems. You are at the mercy of the host when dealing with proprietary systems; not so with ProductCart.

Affiliate Association – ProductCart supports the assignment of an Affiliate ID and an associated commission rate on the order level. This functionality is generally used to reward people for promoting your product.  This could be a sales representative that actually works for you or someone just loosely associated with your organization.  CartSpan has been developed to map to this field and potentially create a payable in the accounting system to a vendor setup with an ID corresponding to the Affiliate ID. The commission rate currently applies to the entire order, regardless of which products are ordered. What would make this even more powerful is to recognize rates by affiliate and item. If one chose not to extend the order tables beyond what they are, some type of weighted average commission rate could be employed to properly represent an overall commission payable.

Product Attributes – Any product attributes configured against an ordered-item are automatically appended to the item description upon import into the Peachtree accounting system. This is a great help if fulfillment is actually managed from within the accounting system. Because most small business accounting systems don’t handle the potentially lengthy attribute descriptions that can be generated, CartSpan offers a rule-based substitution of abbreviations to ensure that the whole description properly fits on the order line description.

Overall, ProductCart is a very capable cart with features and data-management that supports good accounting integration. As we move forward in our partnership, we are excited to work with ProductCart users to further exploit yet-to-be-determined opportunities for saving time and better serving their customers.

Scott Wheeler, CartSpan

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