Best practices for handling e-commerce order fulfillment from external systems (integrations) with GlobalTill.
How successfully you manage an e-commerce business relies on a solid understanding of financial and operational considerations, including how your integration interfaces with GlobalTill and how your store's fulfillment workflow functions. For example, some stores use GlobalTill to manage the fulfillment of e-commerce orders, while others only use GlobalTill to record final transactions post fulfillment. These are both equally valid approaches depending on your e-commerce system's capabilities and the optimal workflow for your store. The specific method you use may also be dictated by the type of integration your e-commerce platform has with GlobalTill or by restrictions in workflows due to how you implement your fulfillment.
GlobalTill offers flexible solutions to support a wide variety of integrations across many industries. This flexibility means management must have proper controls and processes in place to ensure data remains up-to-date and accurate across both GlobalTill and your e-commerce system.
Many stores designate GlobalTill as "the source of truth" for all sales transactions and inventory data because they depend on GT reporting to help create financial statements or reports submitted to accountants and bookkeepers for further processing.
When managing an e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar operation jointly, two overarching goals must guide every decision and process:
- Financial - GlobalTill contains an accurate representation of the sales activity that occurred from the external (e-commerce) system.
- Operational - Store staff can efficiently process e-commerce orders in GlobalTill and quickly identify and correct any problems.
To meet these goals, you must ensure your store has the right processes in place to support your business operations with e-commerce. For example, suppose you process a lot of e-commerce orders and you also use GlobalTill's PO system. You'll want to ensure that all orders are processed and imported into GlobalTill before running your PO generation so that it takes into account committed inventory numbers. Failing to implement this process risks inventory shortages due to not ordering enough product to cover all your sales.
If you are unable to implement processes to ensure that the data is accurate in both GlobalTill and in your e-commerce system, we recommend that you use your e-commerce platform completely disconnected from GlobalTill and provide reports to your accountant from both systems, separately.
Product data and pricing
Integrations typically work using either a "push" or a "pull" method. When data is pushed, it means GlobalTill pushes the information to the e-commerce platform after it's been changed in the GT Backend. When data is pulled, the e-commerce platform pulls products that have recently changed from the GT Backend to update its database. While both of these methods are reliable, there can be discrepancies between product data in one system or the other.
You sell Widget A for $19.99 both in-store and online. You change the in-store price to $24.99, but by the time the change is reflected on your e-commerce website, someone has already bought another for $19.99. If your e-commerce integration doesn't send over pricing with the orders, you need to ensure that you price override the Widget to $19.99 before completing the order.
There are also occasional situations where there are intentional discrepancies between the data in one system and the other. For example, many GlobalTill-Shopify clients handle their promotional activities directly on the Shopify platform for their e-commerce operations and manage the in-store promotional activity through GlobalTill directly. This creates two separate sets of prices that must be properly reconciled for each customer order that is fulfilled at different price points.
E-commerce orders will flow into the GT Backend as customer orders under Selling > Customer Orders.
With some integrations, customers elect to have the orders automatically converted into invoices without further intervention on behalf of the store. This type of integration means there is no active fulfillment process on the GlobalTill side. GlobalTill assumes the information that is provided from the e-Commerce platform is accurate at the time that it is received. But if for whatever reason, an order is not 100% correct, that order must be voided and entered correctly into the GT Backend so that GlobalTill reflects the activity that has occurred on the e-commerce platform.
Similarly, if during the course of fulfillment you substitute a product or change a price, this change may need to be completed on the e-commerce platform, as well as in GlobalTill. Some platforms like Shopify allow for orders to be updated after they're already imported. However, others may require that you completely re-push (or manually enter) in the order if it is not directly connected to GlobalTill.
Timing and payments
Depending on the jurisdiction in which you operate, you may have additional reporting obligations if you accept payments before fulfilling e-commerce orders.
Keep in mind that e-commerce does not follow store hours. Your website is available 24/7, and you can receive orders at any hour of the day.
When you receive an order after your store is closed, this might mean that your store received a new order with payment on one day, but not fulfilled the order until the next. This means there's a difference between the time when that transaction is recognized as revenue in GlobalTill reporting and the time when the payment was received into your bank account (or in other words, the payment occurred on a different date than it is recorded in GlobalTill).
If your e-commerce platform and payment gateway allow it, we recommend that you only authorize payments at the time that the order is submitted, and only capture payment at the moment the order is fulfilled (when the revenue is recognized in GlobalTill). By doing this, you avoid many complications related to timing because while the transaction may have been authorized at one point previously, you're only capturing it at the exact moment that you sell it and that you're recording that sale in GlobalTill.
Other best practices
Having worked with many high-volume retail plus e-commerce stores, we've noted a few common best practices among the most successful:
If you process e-commerce orders every day, you should be performing a daily reconciliation between your e-commerce platform and GlobalTill. This only needs to be a quick check to verify that the total sales figures on both platforms are identical and that no invoices have balances owing or other discrepancies.
If you process e-commerce orders infrequently, a weekly control check may be sufficient. However, any missing orders should be entered daily.
Make reconciliation part of your end-of-day process, and, in any case, perform it no more than 24 hours later, so if any discrepancies are found, you can immediately ask the staff who fulfilled the order.
Separate online payments
Ideally, you should not be using the same payment methods in-store as you do online. Keep online payments separate for easier identification. Typically, our clients create a single payment method that acts as a bucket for all e-commerce payments. Having one payment method allows you to quickly determine that the total payment amount for online orders matches the total that is on your e-commerce website. Using the payment log and GT reporting, you're able to identify what payments were made from in-store customers versus e-commerce orders. You can use payment data to identify any variances between GlobalTill and your e-commerce website system.
Create a new payment method called "Online" or "E-Commerce" and use that for all e-commerce orders. This gives you visibility into your in-store payments, relative to your e-commerce payments and is a useful tool for reconciliation.
Fulfill in GlobalTill and verify orders
Using GlobalTill's customer order fulfillment feature is a great way to verify that your staff is fulfilling the correct products, particularly if you are scanning the orders out for added accuracy.
The most effective method of ensuring accuracy is to verify orders at the time of fulfillment.
This is the process of ensuring that the correct products match both the e-commerce platform and GlobalTill, that each price matches, and that the overall financial totals are the same.
When financial amounts don't match, or when quantities or products don't match, it's important that both GlobalTill and the e-commerce platform be updated to reflect what was actually sold to the customer. When discrepancies arise, unless the systems are showing the same information, it becomes incredibly hard to reconcile one against the other and to determine what actually occurred.
What we've observed with clients that have effectively managed, high-volume e-commerce stores is that the flow of information between both systems is highly controlled. Store managers or assistant managers review invoices each day to ensure the GlobalTill data ties to e-commerce. The store manager also reviews invoices for other abnormalities, including balances owing (both overpaid and underpaid from e-commerce). This is done because of the flow of product data and, depending on whether the promotional activity occurred in GlobalTill or in e-commerce, there may be pricing discrepancies between the two systems due to the timing of the promotional activity, or due to some other type of discount code that may be applied in one system that isn't present in the other.
For larger operators, we recommend that you train staff to look for a financial tie between the e-commerce platform order and GlobalTill, and to alert their supervisor if there's no match. That way, you can then train supervisors and managers to alter the invoice to match online and to close it out. Just like you count your cash at the end of the day, this becomes a normal check when performing e-commerce online fulfillment.
Frequently asked questions
- I have an online order that did not import into GlobalTill, what do I do?
Communication failure is when the order doesn't make its way into GlobalTill in an automated manner. This should not happen frequently, but when it does it's important the problem is recognized and the order is correctly entered in GlobalTill to reflect what was sold in the e-commerce system. Even if the order must be entered manually, it's critical that it is entered at the correct prices when it was sold in the e-commerce platform and that payment is recorded. Many times, stores have an online payment method for their e-commerce operations and mistakenly apply that in its full amount, regardless of whether the prices match between the e-commerce platform and GlobalTill. This is an error because it may result in figures like sales revenue being either over or understated. It also can incorrectly push A/R balances into these invoices, whether positive or negative, that should not be there.