Eliminating Double Data Entry with eCommerce, FileMaker and Accounting Integration

Are you a small business that uses FileMaker to run your business (Contacts, Invoices, Suppliers, Leads etc) but also have an online store and use another accounting software? Do you find yourself re-entering online orders multiple times in your FileMaker CRM then once again in your accounting software?

There is a better way – we know as we once were in that situation ourselves. Over the past five years we’ve introduced a number of new systems into our business operations, including:

  • 2 online stores for our main Databuzz site as well as for our fmSMS product both running WooCommerce
  • switched from a  desktop accounting software to the Xero Cloud accounting platform

We also use the FileMaker platform internally to run our business and like many of our customers we suddenly found ourselves in the position where we had to enter a new sales order multiple times in different systems. The workflow for a new order became:

  1. receive notification via email of a new online order
  2. create a new order in our FileMaker CRM and copy/paste the customer and order details from the email
  3. logon to Xero and create a new Customer and Invoice and enter the Payment manually via copy/paste from FileMaker

The online order was being manually typed twice in FileMaker and our accounting software, leading to data entry errors and wasted time handling the same order multiple times. At Databuzz we like to “eat out own dogfood”  and most of our Products have been the result of a need to solve a problem within our own business that we suspected other businesses would also have. With the help of our fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) solution as well as fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) and the power of webhooks we’ve been able to completely eliminate all data entry for our online orders.

The new streamlined process looks like this:

  1. a new order is created in one of our online stores which triggers a WooCommerce webhook to push that new Order to our internal version of fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition).
  2. this calls a FileMaker script which then pushes the online order to our internal version of fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition). It checks to see if the customer already exists, otherwise it creates a new one.
  3. a staff member does a quick sanity check to make sure everything looks correct and then clicks a button to upload the new Invoice and Payment to Xero.

We’ve managed to reduce this business process from 5-10 minutes to 5-10 seconds –  this has freed up time to be spent on more productive tasks instead of mindless double data entry. Whether you’re using WooCommerce or Shopify for your online store and Xero or MYOB AccountRight/Essentials for your accounting it is possible to integrate all of these with FileMaker in the middle so that new online orders flow directly into FileMaker and then into your accounting software without any more double data entry.

If you would like to discuss integrating your FileMaker solution with your eCommerce system please contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements. We also have a number of FileMaker integration solutions available if you would prefer to do the integration in-house:

Using Postman Environments and Tests with the FileMaker Data API

One of the new features of FileMaker Server 16 and FileMaker Cloud 1.16.0 is the FileMaker Data API – currently in trial mode which expires on September 27, 2018. The FileMaker Data API is an application programming interface (API) that allows web services to access data in hosted FileMaker solutions and conforms to Representational State Transfer (REST) architecture, making the FileMaker Data API a REST API.

You can use the Data API to integrate your FileMaker solutions with other applications and services – REST APIs are the current standard for integration and the Data API will be the replacement for the current XML and PHP APIs.

Your web service or application calls the FileMaker Data API to obtain an authentication token for access to a hosted solution, then uses that token in subsequent calls to create records, update records, delete records, and perform find requests.The FileMaker Data API returns data in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), another standard that is used with REST APIs for data formatting (and is also supported by FileMaker Pro v16).

A great tool to use when testing REST calls with the Data API is Postman, a free app for macOS, Windows and Linux (paid versions are also available). Postman allows you to make requests (GET, POST, PUT etc) to a REST API like the FileMaker Data API and inspect the response, including the headers. You can quickly make changes to the requests and headers that you send and compare the results – when working with REST APIs a tool like Postman is indispensable.

As mentioned above the FileMaker Data API requires you to obtain an authentication token when first accessing a FileMaker solution – the access token is valid until you log out of a solution or for 15 minutes after the last call that specified the token. While the token is valid, each call that specifies the token resets the session timeout counter to zero. To save you from having to manually copy and paste your token with each new request you can use some features of Postman to save your from having to manually update any variables in your requests manually, including the Data API access token.

Postman lets you setup multiple “environments” that can contain multiple variables fore each environment, such as the host address URL. For example you might have a development environment and a production environment, each with their own host address and other variables. In Postman I would simply have a POST request URL like this:

https://{{server}}/fmi/rest/api/auth/Tasks

and in each Postman environment I would specify the value for the {{server}} variable. When you make your request by hitting the Send button in Postman it will insert the appropriate value for each variable you’ve specified. You can read all about setting up Postman environments and variables in the Postman docs.

As you can’t specify the Data API access token in advance you can use another great feature of Postman to dynamically create the token variable which is then used in subsequent API requests. Your initial request to authenticate/login will look like this:

{ "user":"admin", "password":"admin", "layout":"Tasks" }

and if successful the response will look like this:

{ "errorCode": "0", "layout": "Tasks", "token": "fdde29fa175eb1cc8347512ca327b191619fc32ed65efaab26d8" }

Using the Tests feature when making a Postman request you can execute some JavaScript code after the request is sent to dynamically create a token variable that you can use with your subsequent API calls without having to copy and paste the token each time. Here’s a screenshot of how you would set this up in Postman for the Data API authentication request:

The JavaScript code you can copy/paste is:

var data = JSON.parse(responseBody);
postman.setEnvironmentVariable("token", data.token)

Using Postman environments and Tests to update the token variable makes working with the FileMaker Data API much easier and should save you a lot of time.

fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) Updated for Purchase Orders

An updated version of fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) has just been released which now includes examples for working with Purchase Orders, which has been a popular request from our customers. fmAccounting Link shows you how you can use FileMaker to:

  • download Purchase Orders from MYOB to FileMaker (all Purchase Orders or filtered by Purchase Order Date)
  • create Purchase Orders in FileMaker and upload them to MYOB
  • update a single Purchase Order from MYOB

This is a free update for all existing customers. You can view the full release notes on our version history page.

Our next update will include examples for working with Bills in MYOB and FileMaker. We’re also planning an update that will be ‘plug-in free’ for FileMaker v16 users, allowing you to use the fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) solution natively under FileMaker Pro,  FileMaker Go and FileMaker WebDirect without having to install and manage plug-ins. The FileMaker v16 platform introduced some new cURL options and JSON functions which will allow us to perform the same functions as the plug-in provides when using FileMaker v16 – earlier versions of FileMaker will still need to use the plug-in functions.

If there are other features you would like to see in the core fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) file please get in touch and let us know.

Xero User Magazine Custom Integration Article

Issue 12 of the Xero User Magazine was released today in time for Xerocon London where Xero announced they have now surpassed a quarter of a million subscribers in the UK, contributing to the more one million subscribers in over 180 countries.

We’re pleased to report that this latest issue of XU Magazine includes an article by Andrew Duncan of Databuzz on ‘The Benefits of a Custom Xero Integration’. You can find the article on page 110 of Issue 12 – you can subscribe for free to the print and digital editions here. The article discusses the benefits of a custom Xero integration, particularly when there is no add-on in the Xero App Marketplace that meets you needs. We also mention examples of integrations we’ve done for customers over the past four years that have helped them eliminate double data entry, for both FileMaker solutions and other applications.

Earlier this year we were approached by an Australian Government agency that was using three different software applications to handle online sales, point of sale merchandise and ticket sales and needed to get the consolidated data into their internal financial accounting software. Xero was used to reconcile all financial data which was uploaded by Vend each night and we developed a custom web application which ran every 24 hours to download the Invoices from Xero and generate a custom XML file which was sent to the internal financial application. This has been running smoothly for many months now and the customer is very happy about the time saved from not having to do any manual re-entry of financial data.

If you would like to discuss a custom integration with Xero please get in touch.

 

fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) Update September 2017

Shopify, the leading multi-channel commerce platform, recently announced that it now powers more than 500,000 businesses in 175 countries around the world. The number of merchants of the Shopify platform is growing annually at an average rate of 74% and in the last 12 months 131 million people have bought from Shopify stores.

If you’re using Shopify for your online presence and FileMaker in your business check out fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition):

http://www.databuzz.com.au/fmecommerce-link-shopify-edition/

It has many examples for integrating FileMaker with Shopify, including the ability to upload Products from FileMaker and download Orders from Shopify at the click of a button – no more double data entry!

We’ve just released an update with a few minor changes, including an update to the downloading of filtered Orders by date range to now use your Shop’s timezone setting. We’ve also added a new example that allows you to delete a Product in Shopify from FileMaker. Contact us to if you have any questions or to request a free 14 day trial.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Update August 2017

We’ve just updated fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) – our solution for integrating FileMaker with WooCommerce – with a number of new features and bug fixes. We love getting requests from our existing customer base in many different countries and have included a few feature requests in the latest update, including:

  • Products: we added support for Grouped Products so you can now create and update these from FileMaker
  • Products: we added the ability to Delete a Product in WooCommerce from FileMaker
  • Products:  you can now view Product Images using a Webviewer (you no longer need to download Images into Container field to View them)

We’ve had a number of requests for the ability to create an Order in FileMaker and upload that to WooCommerce so it is available for customers to view when they login. We had been planning to add this in already so this will now be included in the next release – there’s quite a bit of work involved in ensuring the Order data is valid and gathering the correct line items, shipping lines, taxes etc, but we’re hoping to have this released in the next 4-6 weeks.

We’re also working on an update for FileMaker Pro v16 users to take advantage of the new JSON functions and cURL options in the FileMaker v16 platform – this will allow you to no longer need a plugin to communicate with the WooCommerce API, making it easier if you’re using FileMaker Go and FileMaker WebDirect and not having to use server side scripts.

This is a free update to all our existing customers – you can get the full details of the changes in the release notes for fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition). If you have any additional feature requests please get in touch.

Reduce No-Shows with SMS Appointment Reminders

If you’re running an appointment based business you’re probably painfully aware of the cost of no-shows and missed appointments. Whether you’re taking bookings for an office based business (doctor, dentist, hairdresser etc) or for onsite appointments (building inspections, electricians, plumbers etc) it’s important to have a system in place to remind your customers about the upcoming appointment in advance.

Integrating reminders into the daily workflow of your appointment based business has a number of important benefits:

  • decreases appointment no-shows. We’re all human and sometimes we just forget to enter the appointment into our diary, but being reminded helps prevent no-shows or gives customers a chance to cancel or reschedule. It also allows you to fill your calendar if someone cancels with other waitlisted customers
  • maximises the convenience to the customer by allowing them to receive reminders on their mobile phone which they generally have with them at most times. They can also choose to respond if necessary from their phone at a time of their choosing
  • reduce the number of outbound and inbound calls and staff playing telephone tag

SMS messaging has emerged to be a preferred channel for customer communication including appointment reminders. I personally receive SMS reminders for the majority of my appointments (everything from car repairs/servicing to dental appointments). There are a number of advantages of SMS appointment reminders including:

  • SMS/TXT messaging is available on every mobile phone – there’s no need to download an app. It will work just as well on a Nokia from the 1990s as it will on the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy and doesn’t require an Internet/data connection
  • sending txt messages is immediate and asynchoronous – it doesn’t require you and your customer to be talking to each other at the same time. You can send an appointment reminder to a customer and they can read the message and reply if needed at a time that is convenient to them
  • 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of being received and have a a 5X higher open rate than email
  • Cost effective – compared to a physical mail out or phone calls SMS appointment reminders are very cost effective

We’ve helped many small businesses implement an SMS based appointment reminder system into their daily workflows, including:

  • a removal business sends appointment reminders to both customers and truck drivers 2 days in advance confirming the upcoming appointment
  • a hairdresser automatically sends out appointment reminders 3 days before each appointment using a FileMaker Server scheduled script
  • a physiotherapist sends out birthday congratulations to all their customers automatically on their birthday with special offers using a FileMaker Server scheduled script

Appointment reminders can be sent by a staff member each day (for example to remind everyone about appointments tomorrow) or scheduled to be sent automatically by FileMaker Server. You can also take advantage of 2 way messaging to allow your customers to send a reply via SMS which is routed directly back into your FileMaker solution. One customer was able to replace a process that took 2 staff members over 90 minutes to contact all customers to confirm their appointments for the next day with an automated SMS reminder system that sends out hundreds of appointment reminders in under 5 minutes.

If you would like to discuss integrating SMS appointment reminders into your FileMaker solution please contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements. Our fmSMS solution is also available if you would like to have your existing in-house/external FileMaker developer perform an integration using our ready made solution.

 

The Benefits of eCommerce Integration with your FileMaker CRM

 

In Australia and other parts of the world this week marks the start of a new financial year, which is a great time to review your business processes and eliminate any inefficiencies that is costing your business time and money.

One of the most common businesses processes we see in many small- medium sized businesses is the double data entry of orders from online eCommerce systems into the FileMaker custom business application (and sometimes once more into the Accounting software). We work with many small businesses that have an online presence, selling products and services using online platforms such as WooCommerce and Shopify. Many of them are unaware they it is possible to automate the exchange of data between eCommerce systems and FileMaker using APIs (an API is an Application Programming Interface that a company makes available to other software developers to allow you to get your software – FileMaker in this case – talking to their software).

If you’re using FileMaker as your CRM (Customer relationship management) application to track your customers, sales, invoices and payments there are a number of advantages of integrating it with your eCommerce software, including:

  • no more double data entry in FileMaker. The order and customer details have already been entered by the customer in the eCommerce system – with the click of a button the order details can be downloaded to your FileMaker custom application in a few seconds
  • no more double data entry of Product details in your eCommerce system. If you’re using your FileMaker application as the central repository of product data you can push/upload data from FileMaker to your eCommerce system (including images) at the click of a button
  • less errors between your eCommerce system and your FileMaker custom application. Being able to download and upload data between your eCommerce system and your FileMaker application means there is less likelihood of data entry errors between the 2 systems
  • free up staff time for more productive work. Rather than having staff spend countless hours each week doing double data entry they can be freed up for more productive (and enjoyable) work, such as following up on sales leads, customer service, marketing etc.
  • it also allows staff to upload and download data to the eCommerce software without giving them direct access to the eCommerce software

We’ve helped customers save between 1-2 hours of time each day for staff that were previously manually entering online orders into their FileMaker application. Now they download all the orders in the morning for the previous day and the whole process takes under a minute. We’ve even helped some customers use the power of Webhooks to have new orders pushed directly to their FileMaker Server so they don’t have to download any new orders – they instantly appear seconds after being placed online.

If you would like to discuss integrating your FileMaker solution with your eCommerce system please contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements. We also have a number of products which allow you or your in-house/external FileMaker developer to do the integration yourself with the WooCommerce and Shopify eCommerce platforms:

Databuzz releases fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) – Integrate FileMaker Pro and Shopify

Sydney, Australia – June 13, 2017 – Databuzz today announced fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition), a FileMaker solution that integrates with the Shopify eCommerce platform.

fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) allows you to upload and download data between your FileMaker solution and Shopify, the leading cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Shopify currently powers hundreds of thousands of businesses in approximately 175 countries and is trusted by brands such as Tesla, Nestle, GE, Red Bull, Kylie Cosmetics, and many more.

fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) removes double data entry and human errors saving your company significant time, money and hassle by automating the exchange of data between FileMaker and Shopify. fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) is completely unlocked allowing you to integrate it into your FileMaker solution. You can copy and paste examples showing you how to authenticate with the Shopify API and download Customers, Orders, Products, Collections and more at the click of a button.

fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) features include:

  • works with FileMaker Pro v12, v13, v14, v15 and v16
  • works with Macintosh and Windows
  • completely unlocked for you to integrate into your own FileMaker solution
  • can be hosted by FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Server

“Many of our customers use FileMaker Pro to run their business and Shopify for their eCommerce platform,” said Andrew Duncan, CEO of Databuzz. “They don’t want to have to manually re-enter Customers and Orders in FileMaker, so we built fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) to streamline their business processes. With fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) you can push and pull data between FileMaker and Shopify at the click of a button.”

fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) includes examples for the following Shopify API endpoints:

  • Customers: download and upload Customers
  • Customers: download and upload Customers
  • Products: download and upload Products (including Options, Variants, Images and Metafields)
  • Orders: download Orders from Shopify (including Order line items)
  • Price Rules: download and upload Price Rules (Discounts)
  • Custom Collections: download and upload Custom Collections
  • Smart Collections: download and upload Smart Collections
  • Shipping Countries: download Shipping Countries from Shopify
  • Locations: download Locations from Shopify

Availability, Pricing, and Compatibility

fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) is available in a number of licenses: Company, Vertical Solution and Developer. It is available now from the Databuzz website at http://www.databuzz.com.au/fmecommerce-link-shopify-edition/. Company Licenses start at AUD $495.00. fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) requires FileMaker Pro v12, v13, v14, v15 or v16.

Media/Customer Contact:

Andrew Duncan

Phone: +61 418 468 103

sales@databuzz.com.au

About Databuzz: Databuzz is a long-standing member of the FileMaker Business Alliance. We have been developing and deploying FileMaker solutions for clients in Australia and internationally since 1999. Our clients are individuals, small-medium businesses, government agencies and multi-national corporations. Databuzz was founded by Andrew Duncan, a Certified FileMaker 15 Developer. For more information please visit our website at http://www.databuzz.com.au.

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Coming Soon – fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition)

Just over four months ago we released fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition), a FileMaker solution for integrating with WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a popular plugin for WordPress that powers over 39% of all online stores, including both the Databuzz Shop and the fmSMS Shop (you can read about how we came to develop fmEcommerce Link out of necessity here).

There are a number of other popular ecommerce platforms apart from WooCommerce, and we’ve had a number of requests to create a version of fmEcommerce Link for some of the more popular alternatives. Most of the requests were for a solution that integrates with Shopify, a leading cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses that is also popular with FileMaker users. Shopify currently powers over 400,000 businesses in approximately 175 countries and is trusted by brands such as Tesla, Red Bull, Nestle, GE, Kylie Cosmetics, and many more.

Shopify also has an established API that was suitable for integration with FileMaker, so it made sense for the next edition of fmEcommerce Link to work with Shopify. We’re in the final stages of development and testing but wanted to share some details of our latest product: fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition). You can subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when it’s released.

The initial release of fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) will have the following features:

  • download Customers, Products, Orders, Shipping Countries, Locations and Discounts from Shopify
  • update existing Customer, Product and Order records from Shopify to FileMaker
  • download Orders between 2 dates
  • create/update a Customer record from FileMaker to Shopify
  • create/update a Product record from FileMaker to Shopify

Like our other products it will also have these features:

  • will work with FileMaker Pro v12, 13, 14, 15 and 16
  • can be hosted by FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Server
  • works with Macintosh and Windows
  • 100% unlocked for you to integrate into your own FileMaker solution

Here’s some more screenshots showing Customers and Orders downloaded from Shopify and the details for an individual Order:

We’ve put together a short preview video showing fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) in action downloading Customers and Orders from Shopify to FileMaker. You can watch this below or via this link on YouTube: