Magento Commerce has been out a year now, and as the product has matured, and more companies have adopted it -from mom and pop shops to international, multi-channel retailers – the demands of many users still grow. With the introduction of its enterprise platform, Magento has looked to fulfill some of the demands of those companies requiring such features as user level permissions, auditing (logging) of administrator actions, content staging, among other features. While the featureset of both the newly branded “Community” edition, and Enterprise editions is expected to continue its growth with the support of Verian, there are a few significant holes that many online retailers leveraging the platform have significant difficulty with. And in defense of Magento, this hole exists with most eCommerce platforms: its integration with merchants’ accounting / ERP systems. This is typically something reserved for third parties to develop.
Strides have been made, and recent developments indicate that solutions have arrived, finally. Smile has developed an OpenERP module, and a few others have popped up here and there for various other ERP platforms, but the most widely adopted accounting package for small businesses (at least in the US) – QuickBooks – still lacks a clear leading solution for integrating with Magento. But let’s cover the options that are available for merchants to integrate with QuickBooks
Available Quickbooks to Magento Integrations
- T-Hub: One of the early options available for Quickbooks integrations, T-Hub (developed by Atandra Systems), and has been in the order fulfillment / Quickbooks integration market for quite some time. While I cannot say that I have personally used the software with Magento, with other eCommerce applications – I’ve heard some unfavorable remarks about the support provided by Atandra on this product. However, because of Atandra’s long-standing in the market, it certainly provides a valuable option for those looking to not only integrate Quickbooks, but also improve their order fulfillment processes. It is not what I consider a straight Quickbooks integration, and may include more functionality that necessary, but it certainly has the capabilities to synchronize the data between the applications.
- Magento Data Link: This seems to be the first “straight” synchronization between Magento and Quickbooks, however falls well short of what I’d expect just in terms of available information about the product. No documentation, no valid reviews (lots of people complaining about the price though), not even a screenshot. Warning signs to me to steer clear of this one.
- eCC: One of the later contenders in this market, eCC is developed by Webgility, and much like T-Hub, is more than just a Quickbooks integration. With a full set of order fulfillment capabilities, it can also be configured to not process shipping so that users can bypass those steps which lead to a direct integration into Magento. Webgility is fairly new to this market, but appears to be aggressively targeting retailers looking for a solution to their order fulfillment and integration woes. One thing that impresses me greatly with this company is the service provided (I was on the phone recently with a sales rep for 20+ minutes who was very helpful), their focus on quality, and the helpful information on their website. When you compare their website to Atandra’s (who hasn’t even taken the time to update their copyright data in the footer for over 3 years), with the videos, and documentation, it goes to show the effort that Webgility puts into the product. However, when it comes down to it, the proof is in the pudding and we’re looking forward to testing this product against T-Hub in the next week (stay tuned for that post).
- Magento Order Export Module: This Magento extension allows you to output XML or CSV formatted order data to be manually processed or imported into a variety of different backend applications. While this requires a manual process to be executed, it is certainly a viable solution to bringing down your order information into Quickbooks.
- Stone Edge Order Manager: A well-known solution in the order fulfillment arena for small to medium sized businesses, there is a beta version of the software available that integrates the order fulfillment solution with Magento, and again, backend integration into Quickbooks.
- Custom Development: None of the above truly present a seamless, automated solution to integrate Magento with Quickbooks. The community had started some initiatives a while ago in creating a Quickbooks sync group however one year later and the project has seemed to stall. The costs to develop this for an individual project or client would be a big pill for a client to swallow, and there aren’t any signs of any development firms (aside from the group) really stepping up to the plate (at least not that I’ve caught wind of).
My past experiences with enterprise software have proven that integration projects and software can be difficult and riddled with problems. Which is probably why you see such few options available for Magento (also why we don’t develop one ourselves). This has been the number one request from our Magento clients, but again, this is certainly not something unique to Magento, most eCommerce platforms in the small to mid market rely on third party software (like T-hub and Stone Edge have done) to tie onto their software, and usually it is just a matter of time before they do.
Over the next few weeks, we will be trying out more of these solutions, and we’ll make sure to report back with our findings. If you have other recommended solutions, or have feedback on any of the above, please share your experiences in the comments below!