SellerZen Amazon to QuickBooks Integration Guide

Introduction – SellerZen Amazon to QuickBooks Integration

SellerZen’s Amazon to QuickBooks integration automatically imports Amazon seller transactions into QuickBooks. Setting up your accounting software properly and handling transactions correctly are time-consuming tasks. They’re also prone to mistakes that can take hours to discover and fix. The time it takes to enter documents, reconcile, and fix mistakes can cost you much more than a service like SellerZen.

Additionally, disorganized records mean you’ll end up paying a bookkeeper more just to handle your accounts. With SellerZen, you can be sure that once you configure the platform properly, all your transactions will be accurate. As a result, you’ll save money on employee and bookkeeping costs. Another benefit is that you’ll have insight into your business that you didn’t have if you’ve just been lumping your income and expenses every settlement.

In this article, we’ll go over what the normal process is for entering transactions into QuickBooks. Then we’ll discuss some of the common transactions that sellers forget to enter, like inventory adjustments. We’ll also go over how Amazon sellers can use SellerZen’s features for more convenience.

Check out our list of 3rd party Amazon tools, services, and apps if you’re looking for other ways to automate or improve your Amazon business.

Creating Invoices for FBA and FBM

Amazon FBA and FBM sellers have a slightly different need for handling sales invoices in QuickBooks Online. First, FBA sellers don’t have a critical need to enter sales invoices immediately since their inventory is stored elsewhere. And FBA sellers are paid when Amazon ships the order, so payment is immediate when orders are shipped.

What this means for FBA sellers is that they can enter their invoices when they get a chance since they can create invoices and receive payments right away. They’re not too concerned about having precise inventory counts since their FBA inventory is separate even if they sell on multiple marketplaces. Read more about the advantages of FBA and disadvantages of FBA.

FBM sellers have a slightly different process. When customers submit an order on Amazon, FBM sellers have to create the invoice in QuickBooks Online. Afterward, they’ll ship and mark the order as shipped on Amazon. Only then can they go back to QuickBooks and click on “Receive payment” to close the invoice.

This workflow is important since FBM sellers store their own inventory. Failure to create the invoice in QuickBooks can lead to inventory discrepancies, and if FBM sellers sell on other marketplaces like eBay, their inventory quantity will be incorrect. This workflow has a lot of potential errors in a business where different employees handle different aspects of the business. Miscommunication between different employees can lead to issues that ultimately result in lower seller account metrics because of canceled orders.

When creating invoices in QuickBooks Online, all the line items on the invoice should match the line items Amazon displays for the order. The process in QuickBooks can be a little confusing because QuickBooks uses the term services for line items.

To add line items to QuickBooks Online, you’ll have to go to Sales > Products and Services > New > Service. These services are connected to specific accounts in QuickBooks Online Chart of Accounts. So if you want to view certain fees like Amazon Sales Tax Collection Fees, you should create the corresponding account under Accounting > New. Be sure to select the proper Account and the Detail Type that matches the service.  You may want to use Other Miscellaneous Service Cost or Other Primary Income for the Detail Type if you’re unable to find one that is close.

Naming the service and choosing the right account is important for viewing detailed reports. If you sell on multiple marketplaces and you map all of the services to the same account, you won’t be able to run detailed reports for each marketplace. As you create invoices for your Amazon orders, you’ll eventually create all the necessary services and accounts for your business. You only need to make sure to receive payment for the invoices when you mark the item as shipped on Amazon.

If you’re using a different Undeposited Funds account, be sure to select that before you click on Receive payment. It would be incorrect to select your bank account since you haven’t received money yet. Once Amazon’s disbursement arrives, you would create a bank deposit to your bank account after you’ve reconciled the settlement.

Believe it or not, it’s actually quite easy to lose money selling items on Amazon if you’re selling items for less than $10. Sellers can make pricing mistakes, or FBA workers may measure a product incorrectly, leading to higher than expected fees. If this is the case for some of your invoices, then you’ll have to process these transactions properly.

QuickBooks Online doesn’t allow negative invoices. You’ll have to zero out the invoice and create an additional document with the line item and the remaining amount so that the balances are reconciled. You’ll also have to create proper documents when customers are issued refunds or when they return items, even when these refunds or returns are scams.

FBA sellers have a more difficult time tracking customer returns since those returns can sometimes take more than 30 days before the warehouse ships the removal order. If that’s the case, FBA sellers can track customer returns through SellerZen’s platform.

Whether you use FBA or FBM, SellerZen will automatically create the proper documents for you. If you’re FBA, then the process is completely automated. We’ll create the invoice and receive payment for the invoices. All of this is done reliably, consistently, and accurately no matter the case.

SellerZen Line Item page

Using SellerZen, you can create and link the service items you create to any account you want. Then simply map those service items to our platform, and we’ll automatically create the correct invoices in QuickBooks Online every time. Our platform can link any Amazon line item to a service item of your choice.

We require the most common line items, but every seller is different. You can map the FBA Labeling Service fee to see how much you’re spending for that service. Then you can run reports in QuickBooks Online to see just how much you’re spending every month on the label service. You may discover that you’re better off printing the FNSKU on the package or putting on your own labels.

For fees that you haven’t mapped, we’ll use the “Other Fees & Expenses” service item so that the invoice is created in QuickBooks Online. You can always look through that account later and create any service items you’ve missed. Then map those new service items in SellerZen under “Other Line Items Mapping.” Future invoices will properly reflect the correct fee.

Amazon FBM sellers may find our service particularly convenient since we create invoices as the orders become available through Amazon. Sellers can focus on shipping their orders. We’ll close the invoice as soon as the status change is available through Amazon. FBM sellers no longer need to worry about inventory counts. Because SellerZen imports data in real time, FBM sellers can focus on picking, packing, and shipping rather than setting time aside to enter transactions into QuickBooks Online.

You can save even more time by learning QuickBooks Online shortcuts.

Reimbursements & Refunds

Whether you’re FBA or FBM, you’ll eventually see reimbursements from Amazon for one reason or another. FBM sellers may have reimbursements for Item Not Received (INR) claims when purchasing shipping through Amazon. FBA sellers may be paid for damaged inbound shipping or lost warehouse inventory. Whatever the reasons, many sellers don’t accurately record these transactions, but these transactions can have a significant impact on their business. This is even truer if Amazon loses or damages a large amount of inventory.

Let’s take a common scenario: as an FBA seller, you send in 100 units of inventory. Amazon receives only 50, and after you open a case for investigation, Amazon reimburses you. Amazon may reimburse you for the purchase price or for the sales proceeds price (your sales income after fees). Regardless, few sellers record this transaction properly. This reimbursement isn’t technically a sale. Recording it as such may lead to poor inventory forecasting if you’re using some kind of inventory forecasting tool and you may end up spending money on inventory that doesn’t necessarily sell quickly when you can instead spend it on inventory that moves.

If Amazon reimburses you with inventory, then you may be tempted to ignore the loss and reimbursement since you received back what was lost. However, you should consider recording these two transactions in the event you receive counterfeit or defective goods. SellerZen will log all transactions so you’ll have a record of them if you ever need.

Because all the inventory adjustments happen at the warehouse, you don’t know what condition the items are in. They could be new but slightly damaged or flawed in some way that might result in more returns. Ultimately, you’ll have to trust that any reimbursements with inventory are in excellent condition. The only other way to find out is to create a removal order. You’re still not guaranteed to get the affected item back unless you remove everything. Even then, you wouldn’t be able to tell which ones Amazon gave you unless there was an obvious difference. If you remove inventory during their free inventory removal promotion, you will not be able to send the same ASIN back until later.

Amazon reimbursement for a failed customer return

In the image above, the customer received a refund but didn’t return the product. Because FBA handled the customer service, Amazon funded the loss automatically. A customer return, lost warehouse, or lost inbound will all result in a similar document in QuickBooks Online. In an ideal world, you’d issue the refund and receive a return that is still in new and sellable condition. But that’s hardly the case on Amazon.

Instead, you should create a refund receipt that will increase the inventory count by 1.  Then create another sales document for zero dollars to decrease the inventory by 1. If Amazon reimburses you inventory or cash for the failed return, you’ll have to create another Vendor document to reflect the transaction. When you create the proper documents, your inventory will be synchronized. If you only create the refund document, then your inventory will be out of sync with Amazon.

FBM sellers generally issue refunds after they receive and inspect the return. But FBA sellers don’t have the same luxury since customers return orders to Amazon. Amazon sometimes issues refunds without the return. When customers receive a refund before returning the order, they may not feel obligated to send items back.  Since they’ve already received their money, their priorities shift.

For low-cost items, Amazon may even allow customers to keep the product since return shipping and fees may exceed the cost of the item. Sellers who sell low-cost items should look into returnless refunds. This option will save sellers time and money from having to process refunds and returns.

Creating a refund document in QuickBooks Online when customers haven’t returned the item isn’t accurate. A refund in QuickBooks automatically increases the sellable inventory. The only time this is correct is when the customer returns the item and it’s still in sellable condition. FBA sellers may not see the condition for 60 days since customers can request a refund 30 days from receipt and then have an additional 30-45 days to return the item.

Managing refunds accurately can be a frustrating process for both FBM and FBA sellers. The process is worse when customers open an A-to-Z claim since failing to respond properly results in an automatic loss. Read more about how avoiding some common mistakes new sellers make. Sellers who don’t respond to A-to-Z claims in a timely manner will lose both their product and the funds. They’ll also take a hit on their seller account metrics.

Another scenario sellers may face is when Amazon issues a goodwill discount or partial refund to customers. When this happens, sellers have to create the proper documentation as well. Many sellers may be tempted to create a refund document with the product, but this is incorrect since doing so will increase inventory. Instead, sellers should create a refund with the Goodwill Discount service item and associate the order ID with the document. This case is further complicated if customers later return the item. Then sellers would have to create an additional refund document with the remaining amount and an additional document if the product is damaged.

Creating all of these documents can be confusing since selling on Amazon and keeping track isn’t straightforward. You’ll have to periodically check for reimbursements or returns so that your QuickBooks Online will be synchronized with Amazon transactions. Most sellers don’t bother with this level of detail since proper recordkeeping requires such an investment in time. And it’s nearly impossible to manage if sellers have thousands of orders a month.

Managing refunds and reimbursements correctly will allow you to keep your inventory levels synchronized with Amazon and accurate. For FBA sellers, inventory management is not as urgent since inventory is stored at Amazon. Only FBM sellers may encounter some issues if inventory levels are inaccurate. Since FBM sellers may sell on other marketplaces, inventory management is more critical.

Using SellerZen, sellers can automate the entire process. No matter the case, we’ll handle the proper documentation in QuickBooks Online. Sellers will always have an up-to-date view of their Amazon business since our automated data entry is done in real time.

Inventory

Many sellers start looking for an accounting solution only when they need it. If sellers keep information on a spreadsheet, they may be missing important information. Or they may be logging information that isn’t necessary. Either scenario is a waste of time for sellers.

Few sellers also look for an inventory management system when they first start their business. They may keep a simple spreadsheet with their first few SKUs and not think about recordkeeping until later. Eventually, the spreadsheet grows organically, and a lot of data is missing, misplaced, and highly disorganized. Sellers just want to sell their products and grow their business. So keeping track of inventory can be frustrating and time-consuming.

In this section, we’ll go over some of the issues sellers have with inventory when using QuickBooks for the first time. To create a new inventory item in QuickBooks Online, go to Sales > Products and Services > New > Inventory (or Non-inventory). We recommend that you use the default QuickBooks accounts for inventory. They are the Inventory Asset, Sales of Product Income, and Cost of Goods Sold accounts. SellerZen uses these default accounts if you want us to create the inventory items.

One mistake Amazon sellers make here is that they use the Amazon SKU field for the QuickBooks Online SKU field. And why not? The labels both match. However, the QuickBooks Online SKU field is not unique, meaning sellers can create several inventory items with the same SKU. Sellers who do this can potentially make mistakes or incorrectly map inventory items. This can also lead to a lot of confusion later.

Instead, you should map your Amazon SKU to the QuickBooks Online Name field. The Name field is a unique identifier, so you won’t be able to have two items with the same Name. Here’s what we recommend for the fields so that you can create the proper inventory items.

Below, is what you’ll see on your Amazon account when you click on Manage Inventory. We recommend you use the following names for the QuickBooks inventory fields. The Inventory sales information (description) isn’t really necessary since that may change.

Amazon Inventory Catalog

When you create a new inventory item in QuickBooks Online, you’ll see the following fields.

Add Inventory Screen in QuickBooks Online

Enter the initial quantity on hand. For the As of date, you should use the date that the first transaction occurred for this product. That can mean a sale, purchase, or reimbursement. Many sellers just use the current date. However, QuickBooks Online won’t allow you to create documents for inventory with dates that precede the As of date.

For example, if you choose an As of date of May 1, 2018, then all documents for that item must have a date of May 1, 2018 or later. All transactions for the inventory item you create needs to have a date of May 1, 2018 or later even if the transaction happened before. If you do this and run reports, your amounts for the year will still be correct, but your amounts for the month may be different because all transactions use the As of date from the inventory item.

Why shouldn’t you use the Amazon Product Name in the QuickBooks Online Inventory Name field? Some sellers like to use their product titles or descriptions in the QuickBooks Online Inventory Name field. But doing this can be problematic since QuickBooks Online restricts the number of characters you can use in that field. Also, if the Amazon Product Name changes, you’ll have confusion amongst employees who need to work with your QuickBooks company. You can change QuickBooks Inventory Names, but this can be confusing since it’d require a lot more tracking. You’d have to revise the Name field every time there’s a change on Amazon if you want to keep the two synchronized.

You wouldn’t have to constantly revise inventory if you use the Amazon Seller SKU for the QuickBooks Inventory Name. The Amazon Seller SKU doesn’t change. And you can change the Product Name without worrying about your QuickBooks Online inventory item.

With SellerZen, you’ll have the option of mapping your Amazon Seller SKU to Inventory Name or SKU. We recommend that you use the Name field since that’s a unique identifier in QuickBooks Online. If you use our setup wizard, then we’ll use the Name field and we’ll use the ASIN for the SKU.

SellerZen SKU Mapping page

If you want us to create inventory items, then we’ll use the date of the first transaction we process for the SKU. This may not necessarily be the correct date since we don’t know when you first started selling the item. So if you set the As of date for this month, you’ll see all of your refunds and reimbursements from as far back as you’ve synced dated to this month for the product. Your annual reports should still reflect the correct amounts.

If you enter the Inventory Cost, we’ll calculate and display your true profit per sale on our Order Dashboard. This quick view can alert you to any pricing or issues you have per item or invoice. You can easily see your profit per invoice and investigate further if necessary.

Some sellers don’t need or want to track inventory. If that’s the case, then you don’t necessarily need the QuickBooks Online Plus subscription. Use the “Use the following item for all (Amazon US) SKUs” option and choose the Non-inventory account you want us to use for all of your Amazon SKUs. We recommend that you name this Non-inventory item using your marketplace region. This way, you can connect other marketplaces and separate the sales reports. Something like “Amazon US SKUs” will allow you to run better reports if you later have multiple Amazon marketplaces connected.

You can also map your Amazon SKUs to both Inventory and Non-inventory items through SellerZen. Read our guide here for how to configure custom SKU mapping.

While your own bookkeeping methods may make sense to you, they may not be so clear for other people. Employees, bookkeepers, and accountants aren’t mind readers. By using best practices in QuickBooks Online, you’ll minimize the amount of confusion for other people. And you’ll ultimately pay less for an accountant because your books will be in order. With SellerZen, you won’t have to worry about whether or not someone has properly categorized an expense. You’ll set it up the first time and it’ll always be correct after.

Reconciling Inventory on Amazon & Filing Claims

Keeping track of your inventory on Amazon can be a stressful task. Amazon delays reports anywhere from 24 hours to a week, so knowing your exact inventory level can be difficult. In this section, we’ll go through some tips for checking your inventory status on Amazon.

If you use SellerZen, we’ll reconcile your Amazon and QuickBooks inventory. Any discrepancy between QuickBooks and Amazon means that Amazon has yet to reimburse you for it. You should be filing reimbursement claims for these if the loss or damage occurred more than 30 days ago.

FBM sellers don’t have many reimbursement cases because they store, handle, ship, and refund on their own. Sellers can file for reimbursement claims for Item Not Received claims if they’ve purchased shipping through Amazon. They can also file reimbursement claims for cases where customers exchanged items, though Amazon has become more strict about these claims.

Amazon Inventory Reconciliation Report

Amazon delays the inventory reconciliation report in the image above by a week. But you can run reports like the refund, customer return, and inventory event detail report for current information. You should reconcile these two factors:

  • “Inventory Received” should match what you sent in
  • Lost and Found numbers should match

If the inventory received doesn’t match what you sent in, then look at the FBA shipments report. Confirm that they received what you sent in. Otherwise, you’ll have to investigate and open any cases regarding the discrepancy. If the lost and found numbers don’t match, then you’ll have to look at the Inventory Adjustment report. Amazon may have already reimbursed you, so remember to check your reimbursement reports for that particular SKU.

Requesting claims for customers Amazon refunded but who haven’t returned items

FBA sellers should look at their Inventory Reconciliation report. You can find this under Reports > Fulfillment. This report is delayed by a week, but you can look up any necessary information through other reports: Inventory Event Detail filtered by Shipments will tell you of any inventory sold, while a Payments > Transaction View report will show you refunds.

Amazon Refunds Screen

Compare the refunds here to what customers have returned under Reports > Fulfillment > Customer Returns. Make sure Amazon hasn’t already reimbursed you for these cases. Customers have 30-45 days to return the item.  If the refund is fairly recent, you’ll have to check back later.

The easiest way to find out whether Amazon owes you for failed customer returns is to download the refund report, the return report, and the reimbursement report.

Copy and paste the Order ID column from the refund report into one column on a new worksheet. Then copy and paste the Order ID column from the returns and reimbursement report into another column. Use conditional formatting to match and highlight or delete matching values in each column. You can download an add-on in Google Sheets to do this for you as well. Investigate the remaining order IDs on the refund column since customers haven’t returned those and Amazon hasn’t paid you.

You should open a case for any refunds with no returns past 30 days once you’ve checked Amazon reimbursements.

Requesting claims for lost or damaged warehouse items

Another common reimbursement scenario is inventory that Amazon workers have lost or damaged at the warehouse. You can find these under Reports > Fulfillment > Inventory Adjustments. Enter your SKU and look at the inventory adjustments. The balance should be zero between the misplaced and found inventory. Be sure to view the reimbursement report to confirm before you file a claim.

Amazon Inventory Adjustments Screen

Filter by “Damaged” to see any damaged inventory at the warehouse. You’ll see these possible reasons under the reimbursement report. You should open a case for any inventory that Amazon has damaged and not reimbursed after 30 days. Reimbursements with inventory instead of cash show up as “Transfer from holding account.” “Transfer to holding account” usually happens when Amazon damages inventory, moves it to your unfulfillable inventory, and then to its own holding account.

Reimbursement Reason

It’s not easy keeping track of all your inventory on Amazon. There are numerous cases where Amazon has lost or damaged inventory and has never reimbursed sellers. Amazon may owe some sellers thousands of dollars for lost and damaged products. Amazon also reimburses for out-of-policy refunds. Sellers should monitor their accounts regularly in order to catch these reimbursements and get their money.

Sales Tax

Sales tax has become much more complex for Amazon 3rd-party marketplace sellers in 2018. Amazon began collecting and remitting sales tax for certain states, and this is certain to expand to other states in the near future. These taxes show up on orders as the Marketplace Facilitator Tax. This new tax has been the cause of some confusion for many sellers. Because this tax shows up on the sales order, Amazon sellers must have some way to record it.

In this section, we’ll go over how sellers can document what Amazon collects and pays as evidence for states. This is particularly important if sellers later need the documentation for their accountant or for the state tax boards. Read more about how SellerZen handles this tax.

As of July 2018, Amazon collects and remits sales tax for three states: Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Washington. To accurately process invoices, you’ll have to configure Sales Tax in QuickBooks Online for those states. This is necessary because QuickBooks Online creates the proper liability accounts when you create a sales tax rate. The sales tax Amazon collects for the Marketplace Facilitator Tax should be deposited to a bank account that you use to offset the sales tax liability accounts for the states.

QuickBooks Online Sales Tax

To summarize, sellers will have to configure tax rates for the affected states in QuickBooks Online. Sellers also have to create a bank account to offset the liability accounts QuickBooks creates for sales tax. Sellers will also have to create a Marketplace Sales Tax service item that they’ll link to the offset bank account. Doing all of this will allow sellers to properly account for the Marketplace Tax.

If the Marketplace Sales Tax exists, sellers will use the Marketplace Sales Tax service on the invoice. All money collected for this tax is then deposited into the offset bank account. Ultimately, you’ll use the Marketplace Tax bank account to reduce the balance on the sales tax liability accounts.

Other Transactions

Once sellers have configured all of the product, service, and account items, they’ll still need to deal with the non-order transactions. These transactions can include expenses like storage fees and reimbursements for damaged warehouse inventory. Some sellers will want a detailed breakdown of these expenses, whereas other sellers want them lumped into one account. You should talk to your bookkeeper to see how to organize and categorize these expenses for your business.

Many sellers don’t enter these transactions individually since they take so much time to organize properly. That’s because you’ll have to look through the settlement, create the proper QuickBooks document, and make sure they go into the right accounts. Chances are they’re lumping all the fees and expenses instead.

Using SellerZen, you can choose which accounts you want for these transactions. We’ll automatically handle it for you every settlement.

For the settlement transaction mapping in SellerZen, we recommend that you separate some of the expenses. You should map expenses like inbound shipping, storage fees, and reserve amounts so that you’ll know what these are. A high storage fee alerts you to slow items while knowing your reserve amount can help you plan purchases.

When you map your reserve amounts to one account, you’ll know what to expect if you request payment earlier. Otherwise, we’ll put the transactions into the income or expense account depending on the transaction type.

SellerZen Mapped Settlement Transactions

Watch our video about how to map specific transactions like reserve amounts or read more about the fields under the Settlement tab.

Customer List

Unlike traditional brick and mortar retailers with customers who live nearby, Amazon customers come from all over the world. And they are loyal to three values when it comes to shopping: price, quality, and shipping. That’s why having the lowest price, the highest reviews, and the Fulfilled by Amazon tag are such important factors in a product’s success on Amazon.

This also means that a list of Amazon customers in QuickBooks isn’t as important as it would be for a traditional retail store. Not only is a list not as important, many customers can and do disable messages from sellers. In the past, sellers bombarded buyer emails with automated emails to get reviews, prompting customers to disable all messages from sellers.

That’s why we highly recommend that sellers use a default customer per marketplace. If you use this option for SellerZen, you’ll still be able to search for information in the shipping address field. But your customer list won’t have tens of thousands of customers that will slow down your QuickBooks performance. With a massive list of customers, search functions and reports take longer.

Default Customer List

Even if you keep individual customer names and information, you’ll eventually get a lot of customers with the same name. You’ll need to distinguish them somehow, like using John Doe 1, John Doe 2, and John Doe 3. If you enter invoices manually, using a single customer account for each marketplace will save you some time as well.

Conclusion – Amazon to QuickBooks Integration

At SellerZen, we believe in empowering businesses with tools that will help them succeed and thrive. Automating data entry from Amazon to QuickBooks frees your employees from performing mundane, repetitive tasks. Your employees can then focus on other aspects of your business, like sourcing and sales. You’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your company’s financial data is secure and that your accounting is accurate. You’ll also save money from having to pay a bookkeeper thousands of dollars to sort through your Amazon account.

But perhaps the most powerful feature is that an up-to-date set of books allows you to run crucial reports. If you don’t consistently keep track of your sales, you could be losing money on several SKUs. You could never know because your only insight into your business is the settlement summary. But many sellers don’t even look closely at their reports or individual sale. Instead, most sellers are content knowing that their settlement net income is positive even if they’re losing hundreds or thousands of dollars on some SKUs.

You could be losing money on some SKUs, or your margins could be so low that it’s no longer worth the labor involved in sourcing, managing, and selling those items. Read more about SellerZen’s layout to see at a glance whether or not some items are losing you money.

One of the biggest obstacles to a company’s growth is the lack of manpower. There’s only so much one person can do on his own. The cost of hiring and training an additional employee can be prohibitive for most small businesses. That’s why automation can be a vital tool for streamlining processes and improving profit. Using SellerZen, you can integrate your Amazon and QuickBooks Online accounts and focus on selling and growing.

 

Increasing Amazon Profits through Automation

Automation can save businesses a lot of money. The adage “time is money” has never been truer for business owners today. Whether it’s your time or an employee’s time, there’s always an associated cost. Finding ways to streamline business processes to make your business more efficient and effective should always be a consideration.

Earning money on Amazon as a third-party seller is becoming increasingly difficult. A slew of factors that include unscrupulous sellers and increased competition encouraged by self-proclaimed Youtube Amazon gurus have drastically reduced profit margins for many sellers.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for less. Increased competition isn’t necessarily bad for third-party sellers. In fact, it’s an opportunity for you to streamline and automate areas of your business that you wouldn’t have otherwise considered automating. In the process, you may end up working fewer hours and earn even more. At the very least, you’ll save valuable time.

In this article, we’ll go over different methods and resources you can utilize in order to automate or streamline various aspects of your business.

Accounting

One of the most popular accounting platforms in the USA is QuickBooks. QuickBooks has a market share of over 75% of all small businesses that use some kind of accounting software. If you’ve ever owned a small business, chances are you’ve had to work with some version of QuickBooks.

Keeping proper records in QuickBooks isn’t easy since it requires a discipline and dedication to recordkeeping that isn’t usually a top priority for small business owners. Creating an invoice with the proper transactions can be time-consuming even with existing accounts, products, and services.

Additionally, it’s just not practical to manually create individual documents in QuickBooks if you’re a successful Amazon seller. With potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of orders, reimbursements, and refunds a day, you’ll need more hours than exist in a day just to enter those transactions into QuickBooks.

That’s why many sellers don’t bother with individual invoices or documents. They may just reconcile the settlements when they need them–usually around tax time. Or they may just hire an employee specifically for data entry. While hiring a data entry employee may free you from having to perform the task, you’re still limiting your growth.

As your Amazon sales increase, so will your need for more and more data entry clerks to keep up with the work. Soon, you’ll find yourself in need of a manager for your data entry team and a human resources team to handle interviews and other employee-related issues. This is the kind of trap many small to medium-sized businesses fall into–hiring people to perform tasks that could potentially be solved with technology.

That’s where automated data import services like SellerZen come in. SellerZen automatically imports your Amazon transactions into QuickBooks Online. Cloud-based services such as SellerZen work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and their costs are a fraction of what it would cost you to hire, train, and manage employees.

The benefit of a service like SellerZen is that it doesn’t make mistakes, unlike an employee who hasn’t had his coffee in the morning. A typographical error can lead to disastrous results when it comes to accounting. Even small errors, over time, can lead to countless hours spent reconciling different accounts and inventory.

Finally, many small businesses waste a lot of money paying for accountants and bookkeepers to go over their messy and inconsistent financial records. Using SellerZen to automatically sync Amazon transactions to a QuickBooks Online company in a reliable and consistent manner will result in fewer billable hours for accountants and bookkeepers. That’s because the accounts will always be accurate, requiring less time for accountants to do their job.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t have to hire a data entry clerk when you can automate the task. Find a service like SellerZen to automate your accounting. Whether you use Xero, an Intuit product like QuickBooks Online, or even GoDaddy Accounting, some app or service exists that will handle the task for you. Not only will you be guaranteed accurate accounting, but the service will be online and active all the time.

Try to avoid services that require you to download and submit Amazon reports. Such services may seem appealing at first, but having to submit various reports daily can be a chore, and if you’re already paying for an automated service, then it should be completely automated, requiring no more work after the initial setup. After all, you have a more important job to do than remembering to download and submit various Amazon reports that may be up to a week old.

Fulfillment

Ask 10 different Amazon third-party sellers, and you’ll receive 11 different responses regarding Fulfillment by Amazon, better known as FBA. Nightmare FBA experiences from sellers abound in the Amazon seller forums. While FBA is not for everyone, you should seriously consider the advantages.

FBA handles all customer support regarding FBA inventory. That means you don’t have to answer questions, process refunds, or handle returns. You don’t need to have an employee responding to customers in a timely manner in order to keep on the good side of Amazon’s seller metrics.

FBA picks, packs, and ships all of your FBA inventory. Not only does this save you from having to hire a warehouse worker to pick, pack, and ship, but you’ll also save time and money from shipping services. Chances are you won’t be getting the same rates that Amazon gets. So you’ll pay more to ship since you won’t be able to charge too much just so that you can remain competitive. FBA also means that you won’t have any incorrect shipments mistakes because of warehouse workers.

FBA generally protects you against negative seller reviews. Because Amazon handles customer service and fulfillment, you won’t have to worry about negative seller reviews. When customers give you a negative seller rating because of customer service or shipping, you can have those reviews removed. If you were to fulfill the orders yourself, you’d be stuck with those reviews, and you’d take a hit on your seller metrics as a result. Even one bad review can translate to tens, if not hundreds, of lost sales for a new seller.

FBA also gives you a higher chance of winning the buy box. It’s no secret that whoever owns the buy box gets the majority of the sales. That determination is based on metrics such as seller ratings, order metrics, and stock availability. Sellers who use FBA will have an advantage since their seller ratings and order metrics tend to be higher than sellers who fulfill their own orders due to the reasons mentioned above.

Many sellers just look at FBA fees and don’t consider other factors that go into fulfillment. For instance, small businesses won’t need large warehouse spaces, warehouse workers, and customer service representatives. FBA and storage fees are but a fraction of what you’d have to spend in order to do the same job. You’ll also find more free time because you won’t have to manage employees. Anyone who has managed or even worked with bad employees can tell you how much time a bad employee can take up.

If you’re still not convinced about using FBA, then consider other third-party logistics companies to store, inspect, and fulfill your orders. More and more companies are starting or expanding their fulfillment services. Companies like Walmart, eBay, and even FedEx have already announced or are looking into fulfillment options. Smaller businesses that specialize in Amazon fulfillment are showing up every day.

Software Solutions

There are a number of applications available that can save you time and increase your sales. Using such applications can save you time, money, and in some cases, get you money that you’re owed.

Repricers are one of the most common services used by Amazon sellers. These applications automatically reprice your inventory so that your price is always the lowest. The idea is that your seller rating, combined with stock availability and low price, will win you the buy box. Then you’ll get more sales. The danger is that setting up a repricer incorrectly can lead to a race to the bottom on price, so you can end up losing money on the sale.

Email services offer to send your customers a friendly reminder to leave feedback in order to boost sales rankings. If you’re a new seller, these services may seem invaluable since positive customer feedback boosts your sales rankings, leading to more sales. But be careful, as Amazon has cracked down on the number of emails you can send and the manner in which you ask for feedback.

Reimbursement services look through your Amazon reports in order to see if Amazon owes you money. These services reconcile various reports to get you your money back. For instance, one of the most common reimbursements is for items that are lost during inbound shipping and receiving. The degree of success varies from one service to another, but the fact remains that they will get you money that you’re owed and would have otherwise never received.

Inventory management is another type of service for Amazon sellers. Some services offer a more accurate inventory prediction model than what Amazon provides, and those services account for lead time. This ensures that you can place an order at the right time and receive stock before your inventory runs out. Running out of stock is a retailer’s worst nightmare, and the consequences on Amazon are magnified since no stock means a drop in the sales ranking. Conversely, you don’t want to have too much stock since that’ll cost you in storage fees or take up valuable warehouse space, so knowing when and how much to order is a fine balancing act.

View our complete list of Amazon services and tools to help you with your business.

Productivity

One often overlooked part of business is the hardware cost. Many businesses owners don’t factor in the cost of computers, networking, printing, and all the related expenses. But these expenses are well below what it takes to hire a competent computer technician to maintain and repair the technology. Unfortunately, you can’t automate computer repair services, but you can reduce the need to for a computer technician.

When your computer, laptop, or internet goes down, that can completely halt your business. Then you’re spending time on the phone calling your internet service provider or taking your computer into repair places with questionable privacy practices. Even a few hours of downtime can cost you thousands of dollars if your employees are unable to work.

While there’s no way to prevent catastrophic hardware failures, you can minimize the downtime caused by a computer malfunction. Here are some tips you can implement now.

Use cloud services whenever possible to store your data and backup your information. Using services like Google Drive, iCloud, or Microsoft’s OneDrive can allow you to retain backups of important, but not sensitive, business data. The added benefit is the ability to access your information from any device. This can save you thousands of dollars and months spent waiting for data recovery services. Save on the cloud only data that you’re comfortable exposing should there be some kind of hack. Sensitive business data should be backed up and stored through other methods.

Try to use a single technology ecosystem whenever possible. Don’t use an Android tablet, a Windows-based computer, and an iPhone. Doing so means more workarounds when trying to access data across the different devices. What’s worse, the same apps for each device may have different or limited features. Instead, use an iPad, iMac, and iPhone. While the cost may be initially higher, you’ll save time sharing documents amongst the devices. And you’ll only need to learn one ecosystem rather than three. Sticking with Apple devices also means that you’ll be less exposed to malware, and you’ll have better quality control rather than the lower build quality that comes from some budget desktop Windows computers.

Pay for quality, reliable internet service. Don’t get the cheapest business plan because you want to save a few dollars on your monthly expenses. Slow internet means that you’re wasting time waiting for downloads and website access. If you have to update your computers or you need video streaming, you’re sitting around waiting. And while you’re downloading, your workers experience a slowdown in their work because their connection is limited by your usage. Let’s face it: employees won’t be working and active 100% of the time, and some will find ways of streaming video. The last thing you want is for your workers to lose focus because the website is taking a few seconds longer to load.

Look into chat applications like Slack to connect all of your employees. In a big organization, keeping in contact with team members is crucial to productivity and workflow. Instead of having employees on the same team or across different departments contact one another through text messages or email, look into something like Slack. Creating chatrooms focused on different teams, projects, or departments allows your team members to keep in contact with one another no matter where they are located. Those messages are also saved, allowing you to monitor their communications, progress, and create tasks. These messaging applications are also available with most devices.

Virtual Assistants or Remote Workers

If you need to hire someone to manage your Amazon account, one common method is to hire a virtual assistant. Hiring someone to manage your Amazon account may not be necessary if you’re looking only for specific tasks like customer service or inventory reconciliation. Instead, look for Virtual Assistants (VAs) who specialize in Amazon. They will cost you a fraction of what employees cost, and you won’t have to spend as much time training them since they’ll already be familiar with Amazon. Give them specific tasks, and you can hire multiple remote VAs to cover shifts for your Amazon account.

VAs can handle customer service for your products if you send them those products to use. You’ll want your VAs to be familiar with some or all of your inventory if you expect them to answer customer questions and provide support.

Both Amazon and accounting applications like QuickBooks Online also allow limited user access. You’ll want to set up user permissions to limit a remote worker’s ability to compromise your accounts. With limited user access, virtual assistants can reconcile inventory and accounts and then report any discrepancies to you before the issues grow too large.

Whatever you decide, the use of specialized remote workers can really reduce the amount of work you’ll have to do and the amount of money you spend on hiring employees. Almost all facets of your Amazon business can be delegated to a remote worker you’ve trained. For instance, many sellers spend hours a day policing their listings to keep other sellers away. Instead of doing that yourself, why not hire a remote worker and have him monitor your listings and report to you when issues arise? Delegating such work can save you a lot of time and money.

Conclusion

There’s no reason why a single person can’t run a multimillion-dollar Amazon business with low overhead costs. Amazon’s marketplace provides just this opportunity to run a successful business without the expenses of a traditional retail store. With the right services and an emphasis on automation, you can streamline your business to such a point that a slow sales period won’t leave you struggling to find funding to keep your business afloat. Better yet, you’ll find even more free time to enjoy the money you’ll be earning!