Nobody said running an ecommerce business is easy. It takes a serious amount of grind. But some ecommerce businesses give themselves extra work to do by making basic ecommerce finance mistakes.
How you handle your finances can make or break your store. So, let’s take a look at some common ecommerce finance mistakes that get ecommerce stores into unnecessary financial trouble, so you can avoid these pitfalls.
1. Running out of cash
There are plenty of start-ups that don’t get sales and go bust… but that’s not necessarily a finance issue. Usually, it’s broader than that.
No, what we’re talking about here are ecommerce stores that are getting sales, seem to be doing okay, and still go bust: cash flow problems.
You’ve bought your inventory, you’ve spent your budget for ad campaigns, and you’ve paid your tax bill… but then your funds don’t arrive from your payment gateway as quickly as expected. Maybe your ad campaign doesn’t deliver the instant return you had hoped for. And there’s a technical issue on your site that causes a temporary dip in sales. Suddenly, you’re in big trouble.
The big lesson here is to put plans in place that will help you to avoid the problem in the first place. You can — and should — prepare for cash flow problems long before experiencing them. With a Juni credit card, for example, eligible businesses get flexible, interest-free credit limits of up to £1million*, with 37 to 60-day payment terms. And more importantly, a bit of breathing space if cash flow gets tight.
2. Not seeing cash flow problems coming
If you’re busy running your business and not looking at the medium to long term, you might not notice a big shortfall on the horizon. Occasionally, of course, there will be a sudden, unexpected, and unavoidable hit to cash flow.
But more often than not, signs of impending cash flow problems are already on the horizon, like an iceberg waiting for your ecommerce store to come sailing along.
If you know what’s coming, you can take steps to avoid or mitigate the ecommerce finance mistakes. Keep an eye on not only your current balance but also what your balance is going to look like once you’ve added your expected cash in and subtracted your inventory costs and cash out for the upcoming period. Xero — a great ecommerce accounting tool — integrates fully with Juni and will help you to keep track of what’s ahead.
3. Getting hit with foreign exchange fees
The beauty of an ecommerce business is that you can sell to the whole world. But having your profit margin squeezed by foreign exchange and international transfer fees will soon take the shine off your global marketplace.
There’s no need for you to lose out because you’re selling across international borders. Your bank’s systems are not necessarily the best for your business. There are plenty of free or very cost-effective alternatives that almost eliminate forex fees.
With Juni, it’s free to create IBAN accounts in USD, EUR, and GBP, so you can receive funds from payment gateways in the currency that make the most sense. When you do need to exchange currencies, FX fees are capped at 0.25%. You can also integrate with Wise, which prides itself on being six times cheaper than traditional international transfers.
4. Holding too much inventory
With the exceptions of dropshipping businesses and those selling digital products, all ecommerce businesses need to get their stock levels right to maintain cash flow. That’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Optimistically over-ordering when the business is launching, or not getting the balance right between restocking and keeping cash in the business when ordering new stock, can result in simply having too much inventory.
Good inventory management is also about knowing when to say goodbye to particular products. Being determined to stock a product you love that doesn’t actually sell is one example of when you need to learn to cut loose an unprofitable SKU. Another is remembering that even when your store is profitable, you still need to be aware of individual products that aren’t.
Dig into the sales figures for individual products and use that to set a reorder point for each SKU, remembering to factor in lead times. Use an inventory tracking system to stay on top of this. Tools like ShipBob will help you stay on top of inventory management, as well as help with order management and fulfillment. StoreFeeder manages inventory across multiple locations and makes automated suggestions on stock replenishment based on sales.
5. Losing sight of the big picture
It’s tempting to focus on specific metrics or maybe even a single metric that you’ve earmarked as an indicator of success for your ecommerce business. But if you’re only checking your revenue or focusing solely on keeping your cost-per-acquisition (CPA) as low as possible, it’s easy to forget about other important metrics and your business as a whole.
That’s why a financial companion like Juni, which gives a centralized overview of all your bank accounts, ad networks, and payment services, is helpful to see a true picture of liquidity across your business.
6. Losing sight of the details
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s important not to only look at the big picture and miss valuable financial information that is contained in the details. Only taking a high-level view will create a lack of clarity over costs – and mean you aren’t making another of those ecommerce finance mistakes.
Maybe your store as a whole is making money, but a specific ad network is nowhere near as profitable as others, or even losing you money. It’s important to keep tabs on the financial breakdown for individual accounts and parts of your business.
7. Wasting money on admin and accounting
Running an ecommerce store involves a certain amount of unavoidable, essential administrative tasks. But some ecommerce entrepreneurs mistake time spent on mundane tasks for the grind needed to scale their store.
If you’re spending hours going in and out of different accounts to check on balances, exporting financial data and pasting it into spreadsheets, or manually downloading receipts that could be automatically generated, that’s not a good use of your time.
A time-tracking app like Paymo will give you an impartial overview of how you’re spending your time. Juni integrates with Google Ads for automated receipt generation.
It intuitively groups transactions, so you can quickly track all your transactions and export them to your accounting software. Tools like Xero, which we mentioned earlier, are another great way of saving admin time.
8. Marketing cannibalization
All ecommerce sites are vying for the all-important click. In the ensuing frenzy, many stores make the expensive mistake of competing against themselves. They pour funds into their ad budget to make sure they get the click… overlooking the fact they would have got the same click for nothing via the organic search results.
Studying paid traffic data, organic analytics, and clickthrough rate modeling will help you to find keywords for which you shouldn’t be running ads. The extra money can be better spent on other ads.
9. Taking too much money out of the business
When the sales start flooding in, the temptation is to reward yourself for your hard work in getting this far with your ecommerce venture. That would be one of the biggest ecommerce finance mistakes.
Taking too much money out and not leaving enough in the business for inventory, marketing, and other expenses can create problems.
Look at cash flow, and inventory levels. Look at the big picture and the details. Use all the data at your disposal to decide the right amount to pay yourself.
Cash flow is key for any business, and ecommerce businesses are no exception. With no physical cash being handled and transactions often spread across several bank accounts, payment gateways, and other accounts, sometimes it becomes difficult to keep track of how much money is in the business and to make sure that’s enough to cover upcoming expenses.
A lot of what we’ve discussed in this article boils down to giving your cash flow the respect it deserves. The most successful ecommerce entrepreneurs know where the business finances are right now, but also where they expect them to be next month, the month after, and in 12 months’ time. Ecommerce finance mistakes don’t just happen overnight…
If that doesn’t come naturally to you or sounds like a big drain on your time, use a financial companion like Juni to give you the financial insights you need at a glance and in one place.
New customers who sign up get 2% cashback on all their Juni card spending for the first 30 days!
*For UK companies only, upon eligibility. Terms and conditions apply. See the website for details.
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