Sage 50 and e-commerce solutions

A problem for SME’s

The Sage 50 accounts package is designed to save time, deliver accurate data and, in many cases, act as the first port of call for stock management. Accounting packages are not often associated with powering e-commerce solutions. Certainly not at a cost that makes them accessible to small businesses. Or so you might think….

Our client’s problem

The client sells a wide range (1,000+) of product lines into the health sector, predominantly to organizations but wishing to target a specialist direct consumer group as well. The client was using 2 systems within the business; Sage 50 Accounts and a standard web CMS.  All the products were loaded into sage accounts for warehouse management. Data then had to be loaded into the web CMS in order for products to appear on the website. In addition the website acted merely as a brochure; no actual on-line ordering/payment systems were in place.

Needless to say, in a relatively small operation, the website product updating took more time than it was deemed worthwhile.  As a result the website was out of date and communication was predominantly via telephone, and promotion via a printed brochure.

However, the client wanted a digital solution which could act as the main shop front, take sales, promote products and become an effective marketing tool for the business. Equally, the client wanted to reduce the double entry of data, ensure stock management wasn’t compromised and get accurate performance stats out of the website.

Fundamentally, the client wanted to click a button, and see his entire website updated.

The Solution

sage ecomms interfaceWe reviewed options for linking the Sage 50 Accounts  package to on-line systems that provided seamless updating and content management.  Whilst we might have just accepted a CSV update that would have meant a slight delay in updating and also meant it wasn’t in the clients’ control.

We looked at Magento and other web shop solutions but these involved more manipulation of the website, styles, categories and ultimately, they were targeting the general market place and didn’t allow for on-credit accounts of the sort that industry sales would demand. Equally, the Sage plug-in for Magento was proven not to work, which would have been an expensive, and ultimately fruitless transfer!

So the result was to implement a website utilizing a unique data transfer system (DTS).

 

Results

The existing website was taken and amended to accept its data feed from the DTS. There was no need to do any major redesigns and in any case, the client wanted to be able to see comparable results where an enhanced design wasn’t the reason for more engagement.  So the data link was built between Sage Accounts 50 and the website. Photos needed tagging and categories reviewed but broadly, the solution was “plug and play” And the results….

  • Single data entry point – Sage 50 Accounts
  • All products and stock match across Sage 50 Accounts and the website – only entered images, descriptions, price and stock volumes once
  • All staff can see exactly what has been sold via website – on-line orders imported into Sage 50 Accounts automatically
  • All new customer orders from website are added directly to Sage 50 Accounts
  • Price updates and stock control is automatic.
For the future, should the website need to be upgraded and customised, the messaging could be extracted and dropped into any web template, thus allowing for many more design and custom features to be added.

And the best news…

Apart from delivering the solution that saved time, money and generated a marketing opportunity there was one final issue that made this an ideal project……cost.

A project such as this, incorporating a standard web shopping solution would normally involve a complex website rebuild, training and an inevitable tie-in to an agency for management and updating. For an SME such an investment (circa £14-18k+ over a year) is a major cost to their business.  So being able to re-engineer the company systems, take advantage of the existing accounting package, and perform a simple site update for less than £8k may come as quite a surprise? Throw in the benefits of a digital strategy solution from Braid as well and not only has time been saved, and money, but a new avenue to market opened up.