Article by Evan
I know the feeling, I have been there, but it’s an essential part of running your business successfully.
Without it, your business is likely to end up amongst all of the other failed companies.
But you are busy right?
The good news is that it is easy (with our bookkeeping help, of course) to set up a reliable bookkeeping and accounting process and system to help manage and grow your ecommerce business.
In this comprehensive guide to finding an ecommerce bookkeeper, we’ll share all you need to know to get started and hire the specialist you need.
Table of Contents
Why Hire a Specialist Ecommerce Bookkeeper?
Small business owners are some of the most overworked people in the business world. They’re under-appreciated, and it can feel like the struggle will go on forever.
This is why outsourcing to specialists makes so much sense. Founders who try to do everything in-house operate much less efficiently because they are simply not experts in all business areas.
This puts them at a competitive disadvantage…
…and eventually puts them out of business.
So, why hire a specialist ecommerce bookkeeper?
Quite simply because you remove the hassle and time of handling your accounts and keeping on top of your finances by outsourcing to a virtual ecommerce bookkeeper, allowing you more time to focus on making your business a success. An expert bookkeeper is a must!
I was a solopreneur for 5 years trying to do all the business support services while writing articles, sales email, interacting with clients, and doing my own bookkeeping. Let’s just say that my health declined rapidly while the business grew …and then it stopped growing because I just couldn’t keep up.
This is where outsourcing services come in.
Remember, we’re talking about an ecommerce bookkeeper, not an ecommerce accountant. Bookkeeping is a business support service that’s done in the background while accounting involves higher level management decisions based on a bookkeeper’s work.
But while it’s a support function done in the background, hiring the right agency or bookkeeper is an important decision. Outsourcing to the right etail bookkeeper will drastically improve your cash flow management, free up time, and reduce stress.
Hiring the wrong team will simply replace bookkeeping work with more management and oversight work, as you constantly answer questions and show your new hire how to do the work.
Keep in mind, expert ecommerce bookkeepers have years of experience with ecommerce bookkeeping so can complete work faster than you, are probably more accurate, and can apply best practices that you don’t even know exist. This means better numbers to base decisions on.
A good ecommerce bookkeeper will:
- Understand where to find documents on ecomm platforms
- Understand how to correctly categorize transactions for your specific business
- Complete work faster than you or general bookkeepers can, so lower cost overall
- Provide specialized knowledge without the significant costs of hiring internally
- Allow you to free up your time to focus on critical tasks.
So, really, do yourself and your business a favor and start early with your outsourcing.
It is never too early to hire an ecomm bookkeeper if your business is profitable. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to start with a solid process than it will be to untangle and clean up your finances a few years down the line.
What Makes a Bookkeeper an Ecommerce Bookkeeping Expert?
How do you know you are dealing with an expert eCommerce bookkeeper?
This isn’t the start of a bad joke but an important question that needs answering… it’s no big deal, it only the future success of your business that depends on it!
Now, there are a few key signs to look out for and to help we have provided a brief checklist for you. If your potential bookkeeper doesn’t meet these basic criteria, I would suggest you keep looking.
Experience – Expert Ecommerce Bookkeepers Have a Lot
First and foremost, years of experience working in the eCommerce industry is a must.
Would you trust an out of shape personal trainer to get you into shape?
The good news is looks don’t matter in bookkeeping, thankfully for us, but experience sure does. Ecommerce has its nuances so it is obviously a huge benefit to find someone who knows the business inside and out.
Multi-Platform – Expert Ecommerce Bookkeepers Can Span the Spectrum
A bookkeeper with a range of eCommerce clients on different platforms (Amazon, eBay and Shopify) is another tick for an experienced operation. While you may only be operating on one platform at the moment, a bookkeeper who can grow with your business seems like a sensible option.
Qualified – Proof Positive that Your Ecommerce Bookkeeper Can Do the Work
Would you ride in a taxi driven by a 7 year old? Then why trust your business numbers to someone who doesn’t have the proper qualifications?
I would say that experience is better than qualifications alone, but certification gives some reassurance your bookkeeper is qualified to do the work. It is also a good way to discount other online bookkeepers, if they aren’t qualified, move on.
Business Focused – Expert Ecommerce Bookkeepers Think Like Owners
Finally, look for a bookkeeper who has run their own eCommerce businesses. You don’t want to end up entrusting your business to someone who has no idea what they are doing.
You want an outsourced team that thinks like an owner or manager, and makes the sort of decisions an owner would make. This also helps you take advantage of their years of experience in the industry – and everyone needs help or feedback at times.
We have been running eCommerce businesses for over a decade and managing our own books just as long. We understand how to think as a manager and owner to get the best out of your company. That’s why we package this experience into our virtual ecommerce bookkeeping service.
Key Considerations When Hiring An Ecommerce Bookkeeper
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably sold on the need to outsource bookkeeping to an expert. Congrats, you’ve made a wise decision.
Now it’s time to make a hiring list, to make sure you get the right guy or gal or team to take over for you. Feel free to use the checklist we use to hire our team:
1) What Is the Ecommerce Bookkeeper’s Level of Experience?
Whichever bookkeeping service you go with, you will want them to be experienced in your industry or specialized niche.
They should have significant experience in troubleshooting accounts if you have problems. Are they a cloud bookkeeping specialist and have experience over multi-platforms?
A good bookkeeper will be able to do the job, but a great bookkeeper will be able to distill information to you clearly and concisely and provide advice when required.
2) What is the Scope of the Services the Ecommerce Bookkeeper Provides?
What will you pay for and what services you will receive in return?
Work out what you want to be provided within the scope of the services early, it can save problems arising down the road.
This is the type of conversation we will be happy to have with you before you sign up for any virtual ecommerce bookkeeping service plan. We’ll follow up with an additional 30 minute 1-on-1 consultation call to understand your business and give you advice about what you need to maintain a solid account.
3) What Time Zone Does the E-commerce Bookkeeper Work In?
It’s always great not to have to wake up at 2am to jump on a call with your key staff… or wait until 5 pm to get a critical piece of info you needed right when your day started.
Make sure that they’re not far off your time zone or email you back quickly for speedy communication if there’s a problem.
With two offices on two different continents, Etail Express is able to ensure we are working at a time that suits you when answering questions about your account or our offshore bookkeeping services. Our main office is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with the second office in Seoul, South Korea.
4) Can You Contact Your Ecommerce Bookkeeper Easily?
Questions three and four go hand in hand.
Your time is important, and you have other matters to worry about, which is why you want someone easy to communicate with, and doesn’t take up your time unnecessarily.
It is good to ensure you know how your bookkeeper will communicate with you and vise versa. Will this be via email or over the phone? And, how often will you speak?
5) What Can You Expect With Regards to Turnaround and Delivery Times from your Ecommerce Bookkeeper?
We are happy to have discussions about how you would want to work with us, and you should be comfortable with this arrangement before going ahead.
This is a pretty basic requirement from any business service — they have to work to the rhythms of your business and not the other way around. A business support service is a…. support service. It’s there to support you, and should not get in your way.
For Etail Express, if you are not satisfied with our ecommerce bookkeeping service, we offer a free 1-month trial, no contracts, and a 6 month 100% refund guarantee.
6) Are You Hiring an Independent Ecommerce Bookkeeper or a Dedicated Bookkeeping Team?
Is this an independent bookkeeper or someone who is part of a larger team?
What would happen if they retired or no longer returned your calls after hiring a bookkeeper?
With a dedicated account manager to coordinate and several experienced bookkeepers on hand, Etail Express, for example, has a number of staff to take care of your requirements in case of emergency or in the unlikely event that a bookkeeper leaves.
What happens when your bookkeeper leaves? What’s in place to ensure that your support service is un-interrupted?
The more fires you have to put out, the more of a drain it is on your (very limited) time.
7) What are their Qualifications, and is the Ecommerce Bookkeeper Registered?
As is the case with any position within your company, they should be experienced and have the expected qualifications and registrations.
Our team has both the experience and qualifications to ensure you get the work required done correctly and on time. For more information, see our About Etail Express page.
8) What Are the Costs Associated With your Ecommerce Bookkeeper?
How will you be charged for the service?
Pay as you go, a monthly fixed fee, or is it on a per hour basis? Whichever way you pay, it is important to know what you are paying for and understand the outsourced bookkeeping rates involved.
It is true that “you get what you pay for” with low-cost services, so be careful and don’t trust your business to the cheapest option or only focus on price. While the price is a critical point, it could end up costing you more in the long run.
It is definitely worth paying for a niche service provider who will do the work required well.
Where To Hire An eCommerce Bookkeeping Expert
If you already have significant bookkeeping experience and want to manage another employee, you could post on a job board to advertise and start the recruitment process yourself.
Make sure if you do this that you are clear in what you are looking for, an eCommerce Bookkeeper as opposed to an eCommerce accountant. The two are completely different skills and costs, so be careful.
Alternatively, you could work with a recruiter, but this again would leave you with another employee to manage. Or post a job in your local newspaper if that is still a thing….
You could look to find a niche bookkeeping service or Amazon bookkeeper with a quick web search. Although, if you are reading this blog post, you’ve probably done that already.
Most people know of Upwork, so automatically visit the site when looking to hire someone. I’ve personally used them a number of times but have moved away from using them for some critical reasons.
First, Upwork wants everything done over their work platform and you can be booted from the site if they find out you’re communicating with your hire or paying your hire off-site.
Second, going through the tons of resumes and profiles is a major chore… and then you still don’t know if your pick will work out. Anyone can create a profile on the site, fake skills, fake experience, and make big promises while delivering poor quality work.
I’ve had that happen many times, and it’s a major pain in the …you know.
Third, again, you’re simply one contract, and most people on there are transient. Better to partner up with someone who is in it for the long haul, running a serious business, does good quality work, and has a family to support.
Our advice is to search for a bookkeeping service company online that specializes in your area of business. If you’re a construction firm, get a bookkeeper with experience there. If you’re in the restaurant business, find a bookkeeper that specializes. If you’re in ecommerce, find a great virtual ecommerce bookkeeping service.
Feel free to take a look around and contact us if you have any further questions because this is a major hiring decision.
How To Hire An eCommerce Bookkeeping Expert
This would depend on which of the above routes you take, but if you are to outsource to an eCommerce bookkeeping expert, it is important to get comfortable and ask the right questions.
The best advice is not to sign up right away, take your time, do your research, and see how each company responds to your questions and inquiries. Look over the sales pages to find out more about the firm and what’s on offer.
You could also drop them an email to their customer service team to get a clear understanding of who they are, note how long it takes them to respond and if they can answer all your questions.
Review the answers you get back and see if it is a good fit — it’s not all about price.
If you still have some reservations after all this, feel free to drop us an email with some questions.
And, if you do want to try us out, remember that we offer a free 1-month trial, no contracts, and a 6 month 100% refund guarantee. There really is no downside to giving it a go.
Ecommerce Bookkeeping Salaries
You might be asking at this point, is all of this worthwhile?
But…. only if you select a niche service with the appropriate eCommerce experience who can get the work off your plate.
Typical salaries and rates in North America for outsourced bookkeeping services range from $25 – $50 per hour if you bring someone in-house and manage them, and some services as high as $100 per hour for an experienced niche specialist.
If you think this seems expensive, wait until you’re forced through an IRS audit because you hired the wrong team or made mistakes doing it yourself. Outsourcing to a specialist is always worth it.