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:

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Now Supports WooCommerce 3.0

Earlier this year we wrote about the upcoming release of WooCommerce 2.7 and how it would be introducing a new version of the REST API (v2) with a number of new API endpoints, particularly for Product Variations. Shortly after our post WooCommerce decided to re-version 2.7 to 3.0 to better reflect the significance of this update and push the release date to the 4th of April, 2017.

Since the release of WooCommerce 3.0 we’ve been busy working on an update to fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) to support the new v2 of the REST API and associated changes. We’re pleased to announce that v1.3 of fmEcommerce Link is now available as a free update for all existing customers (details have been sent via email about how to download this update). As v1 of the REST API has now been deprecated by WooCommerce we’ve decided to create 2 versions of the fmEcommerce Link file, one for each version of the REST API:

  • fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) REST API v1.fmp12
  • fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) REST API v2.fmp12

WooCommerce 3.0 is a major update and WooCommerce recommend that you ensure your store extensions and themes are compatible before upgrading, test on a staging site if you can, and make a backup for peace of mind. Since the 3.0 release on April 4th there have been 7 updates already fixing bugs with both WooCommerce and the REST API.

The major changes in fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) 1.3 include:

  • now supports the WooCommerce REST API v2 only
  • Product Variations are now stored in their own table to match the new Variations endpoint (you can now update Variations independently of their parent Product)
  • added support for additional fields exposed by the v2 API for existing endpoints
  • added new Meta Data tables which are included with most of the API endpoints (Customers, Orders, Products etc)
  • added support for new Payment Gateways endpoint
  • added support for new Shipping Methods endpoint
  • added support for new Shipping Zone Locations endpoint
  • added support for new Shipping Zone Methods endpoint
  • fixed issue when uploading a Product with no Images when Product previously contained images

WooCommerce 3.0 supports both v1 and v2 of the REST API so you can upgrade to WooCommerce 3.0 and continue to use your existing version or integration of fmEcommerce Link and everything will continue to work as it did with WooCommerce 2.6. If you wish to take advantage of the new API endpoints (e.g. the ability to upload Product Variations separately to the parent Product) you will need to switch to the new v2 API and make some changes to your existing scripts etc using the examples from the fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) REST API v2 file. If you are not planning to upgrade to WooCommerce 3.0 in the near future you do not need to make any changes.

All future development we now be focussed on the v2 REST API as that is the version that WooCommerce will continue to develop – we’ll certainly fix any bugs that arise with the v1 REST API. You can get the full details of all the change on the version history page.

PayPal launches PayPal Business in a Box (United States)

As part of National Small Business Week in the United States PayPal today announced PayPal Business in a Box aimed at U.S. small business owners who would like to take the leap into online sales. You might be just starting a business for the first time but you don’t have web design capabilities to develop an online store or know how to set up online or point of sale payment methods, or an established offline business looking to move online.

PayPal have partnered with two of our favourite companies WooCommerce and Xero to deliver a simple, integrated solution that gives you the tools you need to start an online business. If you’re using the FileMaker platform to run your existing business you can also take advantage of our solutions that integrate WooCommerce and Xero with FileMaker:

FileMaker, WooCommerce and Xero make a great combination when it comes to running your business – we should know as we’ve been using these platforms for many years to manage our business, online store and accounting needs. We’ll be publishing a new article shortly about the benefits of integrating FileMaker with WooCommerce and Xero and how you can save time and money and avoid unnecessary double data entry.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Updates

We’ve been busy in 2017 with updates to fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) – we’ve just released the 7th update this year. The latest update is mainly focussed on adding the ability to create and update records for some of the endpoints that you don’t frequently interact with, including:

  • Tax Rates
  • Attributes
  • Terms
  • Tax Classes
  • Product Tags
  • Product Categories
  • Shipping Classes

We already had examples for downloading from these endpoints but we now have examples for downloading an individual record as well as pushing up new and updated records from FileMaker to WooCommerce. We wanted to get these updates completed before WooCommerce 2.7 is released and fill in some of the missing gaps in the fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) file. We’ve also added the ability to update the Status of an Order from FileMaker.

Once again 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).

Getting Ready for WooCommerce 2.7

WooCommerce 2.7 is getting close to final candidate release – this promises to be a major release with lots of structural changes designed to improve performance. There will also be a number of changes to the WooCommerce REST API that our fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) FileMaker solution integrates with.

You can read about all the changes in WooCommerce 2.7 on the WooCommerce blog – at this stage it looks like they will introduce a v2 of the REST API and keep the current v1 functionality so products like fmEcommerce Link will continue to work. We’ve reported a number of bugs with v1 of the REST API which will be fixed in the v2 API – we’ll keep monitoring the status of the changes to the REST API and incorporate the changes in the v2 API in a free update to fmEcommerce Link for all our existing customers.

There will be a number of changes to the REST API endpoints with the WooCommerce 2.7 release so we’ll need to make some associated changes and do a lot of testing to make sure all the existing functionality continues to work. Most of the changes related to Products and Variations which are the most complex endpoints to integrate with, so we’re looking forward to a more simplified way of creating and updating Product Variations.

The updated version of fmEcommerce Link will then only support WooCommerce 2.7 or later going forward (v2 of the REST API) – we’ll let everyone know when the new version is available once we’ve completed our development and testing.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Update

We’ve just released our first update to fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) for 2017 – this release provides an alternative method for handling authentication for some servers that may not parse the Authorization header correctly, as well as making the process of working with Product Variations much easier.

The WooCommerce REST API docs mention that some servers may not parse the Authorization header correctly – we’ve never encountered this during the testing and development of fmEcommerce Link but recently a customer contacted us after having trouble getting started with fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition). Upon further investigation we noticed that were receiving the same error each time they attempted to download data from WooCommerce:

{
 "code": "woocommerce_rest_cannot_view", 
 "data": {
 "status": 401
 }, 
 "message": "Sorry, you cannot list resources."
}

After many hours of frustration we stumbled across the suggestion to switch from using HTTP Basic Auth and implemented a change to test this and had immediate success. We’ve decided to add a toggle that users can switch on/off in case anyone else in the future encounters this issue:

We’ve also made it easier to download, update, create and view Product Variations in the fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) file:

and also show which variations were selected when viewing an Order:

This is a free update to all our existing customers – we have a number of items on the list to add, including Refunds (create a Refund in FileMaker and upload to WooCommerce) and download Reviews. If there’s any examples that we don’t currently have that you would like to see please get in touch and let us know.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) and Webhooks

When we released fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) last week there was one feature that we wanted to include that wasn’t quite ready: Order Webhooks. The initial release of fmEcommerce Link lets you download orders from WooCommerce, either all at once or within a specified date range. For many users that will be sufficient as they might only need to download all orders from the previous day.

Some customers would prefer to be notified immediately the order was placed and have it automatically download into FileMaker – you could setup a server side schedule that ran every x minutes that checked for new orders since a specified timestamp, but it’s much more efficient to leverage Webhooks if they are available. A Webhook is simply a way of having WooCommerce send a notification to another service at a nominated URL when a particular event is triggered.

Webhooks were introduced in WooCommerce 2.2 and can trigger events each time you add, edit or delete orders, products, coupons or customers. New orders seemed the logical place to start – wouldn’t it be great if upon receiving a new order in WooCommerce it could be pushed to the fmAccounting Link FileMaker file automatically without you having to do anything?

We’ll be releasing a free update to fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) in the next couple of days which will include support for Webhooks when a new Order is created. You will need to setup a Webhook and install the supplied PHP file on your FileMaker Server (you will need to enable Custom Web Publishing/PHP in your FileMaker Server Admin Console), and once this in place anytime a new Order is received in WooCommerce it will automatically be pushed to the fmEcommerce Link file, typically within a few seconds.

This was a feature that we wanted for ourselves to completely streamline the order entry process for our business – there’s nothing better than waking up in the morning and seeing new overnight orders already in the fmEcommerce Link file. Here’s a short video demonstrating this in action (you can also watch this on YouTube here):

 

 

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

Sydney, Australia – December 14, 2016 – Databuzz today announced fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition), a FileMaker solution that integrates with the WooCommerce eCommerce platform.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) allows you to upload and download data between your FileMaker solution and WooCommerce, the popular plugin for WordPress that powers over 39% of all online stores. fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce 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 WooCommerce.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce 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 WooCommerce API and download Customers, Orders, Products, Coupons and more at the click of a button.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) features include:

  • works with FileMaker Pro v12, v13, v14 and v15
  • works with Macintosh and Windows
  • completely unlocked
  • can be hosted by FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Server
  • works with WooCommerce v2.6 or later (HTTPS required)

“Like many of our customers we use FileMaker Pro to run our business and WooCommerce for our eCommerce platform,” said Andrew Duncan, CEO of Databuzz. “We didn’t want to have to manually re-enter Customers and Orders in FileMaker, so we built fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) to streamline our business and now we’re making it available for everyone. With fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) you can push and pull data between FileMaker and WooCommerce at the click of a button.”

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

  • Customers: download and upload Customers
  • Products: download and upload Products
  • Orders: download Orders from WooCommerce (including Order line items)
  • Coupons: download and upload Coupons
  • Tax Rates: download Tax Rates from WooCommerce
  • Tax Classes: download Tax Classes from WooCommerce
  • Categories: download Categories from WooCommerce
  • Attributes: download Product Attributes from WooCommerce
  • Shipping Classes: download Product Shipping Classes from WooCommerce
  • Tags: download Product Tags from WooCommerce

 Availability, Pricing, and Compatibility

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce 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-woocommerce-edition/. As part of the Databuzz End of Year Xmas Sale all Licenses are 20% until December 31, 2016. Company Licenses start at AUD $495.00. fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) requires FileMaker Pro v12, v13, v14 or v15 and WooCommerce v2.6 or later using HTTPS.

Media/Customer Contact:

Andrew Duncan

Phone: +61 418 468 103

sales@databuzz.com.au

http://www.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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FileMaker is a trademark of FileMaker, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Preview Video

Last week we announced the upcoming release of our latest FileMaker integration solution – fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) – and included some screenshots. We’re in the final stages of testing and working on the website product pages etc but I can confirm that v1.0 will have the following features:

  • download Customers, Products, Orders, Tax Rates, Tax Classes, Categories, Attributes, Shipping Classes and Tags from WooCommerce
  • download all Product Details, including Images
  • update existing Customer, Product and Order records from WooCommerce to FileMaker
  • download Orders between 2 dates
  • create/update a Customer record from FileMaker to WooCommerce

Like our other products it will also have these features:

  • will work with FileMaker Pro v12, 13, 14 and 15
  • 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

I’ve put together a short preview video showing fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) in action downloading Products, Orders and Customer data from WooCommerce to FileMaker. You can watch this below or via this link on YouTube:

Coming Soon – fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition)

Earlier this year we published a series of articles about FileMaker and eCommerce Integration, highlighting our use of External SQL Data Sources (ESS) to make our online store orders visible in our internal FileMaker CRM. We’ve been using this method of integration successfully for many years and it has saved us countless hours by not having to manually re-enter online orders in our main FileMaker business app and our accounting software (Xero).

That was until recently when we started getting this error message every time we navigated to the online orders layouts:odbc-error

Suddenly we could no longer see our online order records! Everything was still working on the website and orders were still being submitted successfully (we receive an email for each order) so we started troubleshooting this to try and get to the bottom of it. After many frustrating hours we still could not establish the ODBC connection to our server, so we made contact with our web host and opened a ticket explaining our issue and describing how this had previously worked fine for many years. We were then informed that they had disabled remote MySQL access for security reasons and there were no exceptions – talk about a great way to annoy your customers by switching off access and not informing your customers about this!

It was still possible to connect but you had to create an SSH tunnel first – we then wasted another couple of days setting up the SSH tunnel which would work but then drop out, and we had issues with automating this so it could run when the server wasn’t logged in. After many days of frustration and lost productivity I decided to abandon the SSH tunnel efforts as it was proving too unreliable and too look at other options. Databuzz specialises in FileMaker integration and having recently written an article on working with eCommerce APIs and Webhooks I revisited my article and knew what needed to be done.

Our website stores are built with WooCommerce, a popular plugin for WordPress that powers over 39% of all online stores. WooCommerce offer both a push and pull API so you can have new orders automatically pushed to a server, and also download new orders on demand (e.g. get all new Orders today). The push option is the more complicated of the two options as it requires FileMaker Server, Customer Web Publishing, PHP pages and Webhooks to be setup, so we decided to focus initially on the WooCommerce REST API as that allows us to query WooCommerce for any new Orders and download the data directly into FileMaker. This can be run regardless of whether the file is hosted with FileMaker Server or just using FileMaker Pro, and we can also setup server side schedules to run each night and download new data. The REST API also allows us to push data from FileMaker to WooCommerce, such as Product updates, which is something customers have requested in the past.

Fast forward a few months and we are in the final stages of development and testing of our latest product – fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition):

preview-home

fmEcommerce Link is our solution to connecting FileMaker to WooCommerce when you can’t make a direct ESS/ODBC connection – you use the fmEcommerce Link file to query your WooCommerce store for new orders, product inventory changes, new customers and also to push data back to WooCommerce such as new Products. You can link the fmEcommerce Link file to your existing FileMaker solution to push orders from WooCommerce into your main FileMaker business app, or recreate the same functionality inside your FileMaker business app as the fmEcommerce Link will be 100% unlocked for you to explore.

Here’s some screenshots showing data that we have downloaded from our test WooCommerce site:

preview-order-details

preview-orders-list

preview-products-list

I’ll be posting some videos demonstrating the core functionality of fmEcommerce Link over the coming days and would love to hear any feedback from existing FileMaker/WooCommerce users about any features you would like to see in the product – just leave a comment below.