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Thinking about selling your business’s services through your site?  Reference our previous post to understand what is the ideal platform for starting out vs a fully mature business operation.  Drill down even further here for fully understanding your options and ultimately, how to choose the best ecommerce platform for selling services. 

 

Introduction 

Performing a Google query of “best ecommerce platform for selling services” or a similar line of questioning on ChatGPT leads you to a lot of time wasted on platforms that are very product centric and have no mention of how to properly and successfully sell services, and how incredibly impactful it can be for your organization with regards to both revenue and workflow. I found this dearth of information on the topic fascinating.  Either I am crazy, or this is greatest opportunity ever for your business! 

I chatted with a hybrid ecommerce and quoting solution founder and he nearly blew a circuit when I told him I wanted to sell services as easy as posting an Amazon affiliate link on my website. He said that no one wants that because they need to understand the service before purchase.  

While this can be true, I would argue many businesses are wearing multiple hats. The person taking the call for selling the service is producing the proposal and invoice. If you’ve been able to find and implement the best ecommerce platform for selling services that fits your business, why not simply direct the prospect to your website? 

 

But I Want a More Thorough Review on All Ecommerce Platforms Out There 

I suggest checking our previous post on ecommerce development support options if you need foundational knowledge for what Content Management System platform to use, such as WordPress or Squarespace. The article also covers the various eCommerce solutions that tie into those CMS’ first.  It is a good read for everyone needing a bit of an ecommerce roadmap. 

 

Ecommerce Product Pages Focused on Services 

Alright, this is the challenge: Almost every product page is focused on selling products, which are usually a pretty awkward fit for selling services. The best ecommerce platform for selling services should be specifically focused on just that, making it easy and possible for clients to do things like book appointments, set up recurring services, etc.   

Our previous ecommerce post insisted on purchasing WordPress Themes with ecommerce and CTA features for WordPress organizations out there.  This spares you more than a lifetime of grief. 

The context to the above decision-making for how exactly we concluded is just as important.  Simply defer to any site’s Way-Back-When Machine to uncover some truths about their ecommerce evolution story.   Again, defer to our previous post’s Way-Back-Machine discussion to enlighten you on the subject of ours. 

CMS platforms with an ecommerce api integration and CMS platforms whose entire focus is on products seem to have missed the mark on the United States-dominant vertical known as the service industry, and all its downstream services associated with that. 

Think of lawyers, IT, interior design consultants, the pest control guy, accountants, bookkeepers, etc. as the downstream services.  These are just the tip of the iceberg of the service industry providing services to the commercial and residential market.  I am not sure why the focus has been primarily on products when hosting an ecommerce site, but it does not have to be. 

 

Who are the ecommerce players focused on selling product services? 

Stripe shook up the entire merchant service industry with their game-changing merchant services. They originally eliminated the need for a business to be an expert in PCI compliance and conducting transactions on the web.  More recently, they have created built-in features that would otherwise be developed by third party platforms for easily adding WooCommerce-like pages, but specifically designed for services. 

LemonSqueezy is all about product servicesThey took it to the next level with affiliate marketingThink Amazon Affiliate marketing, but now you are Amazon and your affiliate marketing team is selling services for you.

 

What are my options for affiliate marketing services on my website? 

I remember a clunky site called Commision Junction being a thing, but we are not focused on selling other people’s products or services on our website.  The goal is for us to sell our own organization’s services, then provide an easy way for an outside sales team to be your organization’s biggest advocate.  Salespeople want to sell, that’s it.  Make it easy for them.   

The all-in-one website CMS option with built-in Lemon Squeezy is Framer.  However, 45% of websites are WordPress, as mentioned in last week’s article.  Does the organization really want to migrate to another CMS platform?  If you decide to go that route, we can do make it pretty painless for you and your team.  PS – Yes, this is an affiliate link, I get a commission for referring you to someone I know, like, and trust to migrate your website to Framer and incorporate ecommerce services. 

Learn about Framer here  

 

Integrating eCommerce Services with Business Management Platforms 

The automation of the checkout experience that may have been very invoice centric before does not stop at the eCommerce services checkout.  We want you to buy our services below, but frustration brews if the client does not see relatively immediate action after their payment when purchasing from the link below. 

Service Offerings – Network Antics 

A Business Management platform, PSA, or ERP is critical for many organizations that are managing clients with many moving parts.  For us and a multitude of others, getting the money from a client is step one. Creating the contract that defines the terms of relationship in the platform you manage the account is step two.  

What Are Autotask Contracts? – Network Antics 

Integrating ecommerce services with business management platforms will streamline the friction between client payment and the behind-scenes operations and Accounts Receivable magic that defines the relationship.   

I can’t tell you how many missed opportunities occurred because my team was not readily available to create the contract and invoice the client.  Not optimizing the integrations with API for the legacy workflows will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in business for micro and small business.  

If you’re interested in automating tedious steps of contract and invoice creation, check out our article or reach out to us to see how developers in our API services team can create an ecommerce api integration that generates a better workflow for you. 

 

 

How to Get Started with the Best Ecommerce Platforms for Selling Services 

Obviously, you need the Accounts Receivable, Web Development (if on staff), and Operations team available for a discovery call to perform intake with whomever you selected as your API integrations and Software Development.   It is possible while reading this that you may not understand the fundamentals behind API Integrations and software development, and you may need to go down that rabbit hole with another one of our API basics posts, but we encourage you to read on for a real world understanding of where these concepts are applied. 

Set the expectation that the API services and software development services team will produce a Figma drawing or flowchart illustrating how your current ecommerce service platform flows to the Business Management Platform.  NOTE:  Replace Business Management Platform with PSA, ERP, or whatever platform you are utilizing for conducting contracts and billing services. 

Disregard this Figma request if there is nothing new or out of the ordinary from other API integrations and software development requests.  For example, we perform a lot of integrations between Karmak Business Management Platform and ADP Payroll. The same goes for Karmak and Shopify. 

 

Learn more about our API integrations with Karmak, ADP, and Shopify: 

Valuable ADP Payroll Integration Services: 1 Timekeeping Solution, Plus API Integration with Other Platforms – ADP Payroll Integration Services can make life much easier when working with the right team. Learn what it can do to simplify your business today. 

Expert Karmak API Support Services: Integrations for Payroll, Bookkeeping, Shopify, & Other Platforms – Fusion helps long-haul trucking organizations manage their business. Here’s how to make their software even better with Karmak API services support. 

Find the Best eCommerce Development Support Options for Your Business with 6 Real World Examples – Set yourself up for success with online sales. Demystify online selling with this article on ecommerce development support. 

 

A proposal is all that is needed if it is not the API services and software development team’s first rodeo at ecommerce api integrationsThe proposal could be in the form of a Time and Materials contract if they have never performed this variant of services beforeOtherwise, it is ideal to set up a Firm Fixed contract with prepayment followed by the necessary milestones for inching closer to project completion. 

 

Set Realistic Expectations between the Client and Software Development Services Team 

There is absolutely no way to complete projects in 90 days if, say, one platform drags their feet on development materials, credentials, approvals for this and that another thing.  The API integrations and any associated software development is trying to create the conduit between, at minimum, two separate platforms.   

I can’t tell you how many times we have relayed these challenges to the client only for us to be sandbagged at the end for not magically producing results.  It takes two to tango and three actively engaged vendors to produce an ecommerce API integration. 

 

Going Live with a Client Requesting API Integration Services 

Not only is a functioning API connection between two separate platforms needed to go live, but the API services team must customize the setup to the workflow required.  For instance, we have one of many API connectors from our Autotask PSA platform to our Books, our eCommerce platform, CRM, and our answering service. 

Just for the answering service alone, our operations team requested an API for solving double and triple manual entries of information from the answer service to the PSA and to our PipeDrive CRM.   We wanted to not only populate the CRM with our answering service intake for a new sales opportunity, but tag PipeDrive with the appropriate label for organizing leads as they come in.  There are limitations to this request as PipeDrive development only has so much flexibility in external integrations. 

Basically, the client must know the client’s inherent limitations before becoming frustrated with the results.  Another example of our answering service is not only inputting prospective client contact data during the call intake to PipeDrive CRM, but also populating the organization data in the Autotask CRM and the auto creation ticket. 

Anyone who knows the PSA well knows all sales opportunities should be tagged as an opportunity.  The sales team then communicates with the client to perform the necessary discovery to move opportunity through multiple phases before closing the opportunity as won or lost opportunity.    

While this sounds like the optimized approach in theory, a lot of collaboration between the sales team and sales engineering (IT department for a micro business) must occur for completing the proposal and invoice for more complex projects.  Thus, creating an opportunity is not the best approach.  The need to tag the prospect as a client is required for creating a ticket and disregarding the workflow opportunity completely is required to have the most successful out for many businesses. 

The point is that the software development services team will push the client to “go live” after all features are integrated.  The client may resist the “go live” because we never created the “opportunity” integration.  Trying to convey that messaging before, midway, and after the project is always a challenge when dealing with those who do not thoroughly understand the limitations of each platform.  They will be forced to go live with software development services’ best effort to solve or provide workarounds for any platform’s inherent limitations. 

 

All Software Development & API Integrations Require a Home 

The small application console necessary for all API creations created by your software development services team for performing tasks, cron jobs, etc. will need a home.  This can be on some Suzy Lu computer and a remote access agent can be installed for others to access, but I would argue this is not the most logical location.  Why place your Porche out on the street?  It needs to be put in a garage from the a-hole keying your car, nature doing its damage, and for your own piece of mind. 

The same goes for your shiny new application console that is going to save countless hours for your team and enhance productivity overall.  Most of us in the tech world can easily throw the application in the cloud by way of something like Azure Virtual Desktop, but many do not know how to secure, maintain, or backup the solution.  Even then, significant and unnecessary costs can occur when renting cloud space if your IT team did not configure the Azure Virtual Desktop or any cloud hosting solution for that matter.   

Please make sure you not only find the right home for all your custom software development, but also optimize the home. This means being active only when you are on and those resources, while actively utilizing it, are not too much as the rental costs can spike if you do not deploy the correct solution. 

 

Our API services team developed an integration between Zoho Books and Autotask PSA to populate the invoices generated in our Autotask Professional Services Automation platform into Zoho Books.  Once again, optimizing this accounting workflow through the use of API integrations saves countless hours in manually generating invoices in Zoho Books when that invoice was already generated in Zoho Books.  Basically, the Ruby script authenticates with Autotask for the date defined in our executable query and then a list of questions follow in the script for producing the correct type of invoice based on the associated contract

Pretty cool, right? The only challenges are the updates in APIs and unforeseen problems or features that require maintenance and more development, which can happen to even the best ecommerce platform for selling services. Below are some of the unforeseen problems an API services team might have with the Zoho Books API integration with the PSA: 

Inability to Generate More Client Invoices: The workaround is to delete unnecessary clients in Zoho Books. Eventually, this Band-Aid solution is no longer practical because there are only so many zombie clients you can delete in Zoho Books without fouling up record of keeping. 

The Introduction of a New Contract in Autotask PSA: Generating a new type of contract like a Block Hour for future clients to use may be fundamentally sound business solution but the Ruby Script that performs the API integrations will have to be updated to accommodate this new Block Hour Purchase

Bottom line, be prepared to have an ongoing relationship with your software development and API services team. You will encounter more software development services and related maintenance costs as you build our your ecommerce api integration. Fortunately, the above API solution between Zoho Books and the Autotask PSA was pretty minor in scale and thus did not require a monthly-recurring relationship with the software development services team. It was more of a one-off – break/fix than anything else, but getting into a monthly-recurring maintenance contract may be a better fit if the API integrations between the software platforms are more convoluted than this.   

Just like our Managed IT Service offering for maintaining, securing, and implementing (some) IT infrastructure for fixed month-to-month fixed costs, ongoing month maintenance contract of software development will have additional costs in the form of AMC. 

 

What is “Adds Moves or Changes”? 

An Add Move or Change may vary. In our API services and Managed IT services, we largely maintain the environment and permit the request for one new computer setup per month. The quantity of brand-new computers permitted for us to set up for new users will vary based on the size of the organization. 

The same AMC concept can be allowed for API Integrations and software development additions in software development. Are you asking to develop a new feature in your ecommerce api integration? Yes, well that’s more development time. We will have to invoice you for the time invested in the new software development project. 

Do you wish to move the API software console off Suzy Lu’s computer? Well, that is going to cost you too if you want to host it in the cloud and the Azure Virtual Desktop is not already setup. Basically, any significant changes have to be billed to the client. There is some debate sometimes as to whether it should be invoiced separately as AMC, but our API services and Software IT support team tend to be a bit more flexible than IT organizations as it relates to AMC.  

 

How to Integrate the Best Ecommerce Platform for Selling Services with Your BMP Summary 

In another our last post we gave our review for ecommerce platforms available for various business requirements. In this article, we discussed some helpful considerations to make before deciding which ecommerce platform might be best for what you are looking to offer your clients.  

To save yourself a ton of time and a lot of headaches on all sides, make sure that you work with your software development team and API integration team to outline all wants and expectations before you begin the official process. The ‘best’ part of the best ecommerce platform for selling services is how you can personalize and automate your preexisting platforms to your ecommerce platform.  

To see what our API integration and Software IT team can do for you, contact us today! 

 

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