How to Manage Your Accounting as an E-Commerce Business

Starting an e-commerce business can be lucrative but comes along with some challenges. For instance, e-commerce accounting and bookkeeping can be complex and tedious. But keep in mind that these activities are among the dominant pillars in the success of your e-commerce business. Managing your finances correctly will help dictate the future of your business.

E-commerce accounting and bookkeeping also help you keep track of your income and expenses. When you keep your financial house in order, you can explore and expand other business areas.

What Is E-Commerce Accounting?

E-Commerce accounting is the process of collecting, analysing, managing, and reporting financial data regarding business transactions and assets in an e-commerce business. E-commerce is like any other industry, and managing financial data is important in making financial decisions in your business.

Evaluating financial data helps determine whether the business is on track for success or headed for financial difficulty In addition, you will categorise your financial transactions to help determine income and expenses. Below are key terms used in e-commerce accounting:

Purchase Order

This is a legally binding document that states the quantity and type of items a client intends to purchase. It also indicates the prices for the items to be purchased. Remember that this is not a payment, but the payment details must be incorporated.

Sales Order

This document is a response to the purchase order prepared by the seller. It showcases all the details of a sale and should incorporate client information, type and quantity of goods, payment information, date, and delivery address.

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

COGS refers to the collective cost of production and distribution of the products. The cost of goods sold entails costs such as shipping, storage, and credit card fees, to name a few. It does not include payroll, office space, software licenses, or marketing costs.

Categories of E-Commerce Accounting

E-commerce accounting is like any other business accounting, which requires preparing and managing financial information and tax management. There are three main e-commerce accounting categories: bookkeeping, reporting, and submitting tax returns.


Bookkeeping is imperative in business planning and operations. It helps assess balance sheets, inventory management, income, and expenditure. When you do not track your bookkeeping properly, you can experience difficulties analysing sales, inventories, tax records, and expenses.

Submitting Tax Returns

Numerous mistakes can arise when lodging and interpreting tax requirements. This may seriously impact your business, but e-commerce accounting helps you plan and prepare for these taxes. You will be able to track and lodge all applicable federal and state taxes with ease.


After analysing your books and lodging required tax returns, reporting is essential in helping plan for growth. It is also the perfect instance for gathering all the necessary information required to scale your e-commerce business. This is important in defining your business goals as you have answers to questions such as:

  • The most profitable products and services for your business
  • Expenses that consume most of the expenditure
  • How to increase your profit over time
  • Other ideas that can be incorporated into your business to boost profit margins

When you have adequate data for your business progress, you will also decide whether to venture into new opportunities or rather improve current undertakings. 

Basics of Accounting in E-Commerce

1. Track Your Cash Flows

Watching your cash flow helps determine the direction that your e-commerce business is heading. It will help you determine whether your business is making a profit or loss. You should ensure that more money is coming in than going out. Additionally, have targets in the amount you intend to spend within a certain timeframe. A separate business bank account is critical to tracking your cash flow.

2. Purchase an Accounting Software

Most people will use tools such as a calculator and excel to execute e-commerce accounting. Accounting software is more reliable as it will help you track costs, sales, and inventories, with many now integrating with ecommerce platforms directly. There are many available accounting software tools in the market. Choose the one that aligns with your business needs and preferences to get the best results.

3. Compute All the Expenses

There are different expenses in an e-commerce business, such as the cost of goods sold, among other related costs. There are also others referred to as fixed expenses that do not go up when you make sales or decrease when the sales are low. These may be factors such as rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, and salaries. However, they must be factored in when calculating all the expenses. Understanding the costs incurred when running your business is important.

4. Monitor Your Sales and Profit Before Tax

Monitoring your sales before paying taxes will provide early indicators of any issue. It is also important in managing your money. In case there are any issues, you will have time to engage different strategies to ensure you steer towards your long term goals.

5. Plan for Your Tax Payments

Tax payments are determined by a number of different factors. Similarly, tax deductions can vary depending on your size, industry, location, and the type of work you complete. It’s always best to plan and prepare your taxes within the acceptable time frames to avoid hurting your business in the future due to fines or underestimated tax payments. Running a tax report will help you incorporate your taxes into your prices, should they be needed.

Bottom Line

E-Commerce accounting is an important element of your business model. This is because it helps you keep track of your business goals, fix any trouble areas and decide on further business expansion. You will also be able to manage your cash flow, expenses, and income seamlessly.

Visory helps your E-commerce business supercharge your business. They help you eradicate the daily spreadsheets and streamline your bookkeeping, accounts, and payroll services. This is vital in having a bigger picture of your business growth. 

Get started with Visory today to reap the rewards of convenient e-commerce bookkeeping and accounting.

7 of the Most Common Bookkeeping Mistakes

You’re motivated, savvy, on the move… and incredibly time-starved. Between growing your client base and seeking new investors, it’s common for day-to-day tasks to fall to the wayside. Just don’t let bookkeeping be one of them. Small bookkeeping errors add up to a major landslide. A few missed financial transactions here and there can throw off entire financial reports, or even lead to tax implications. Here are seven common bookkeeping mistakes you can avoid with the right bookkeeping help. 

7 of the most common bookkeeping mistakes and how to avoid them

Businesses of all sizes experience bookkeeping errors. From undocumented expenses to unfiled taxes, accounting mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. You could face not only unexpected losses, but government penalties if you fall into one of these seven avoidable traps. 

1. Mixing business and personal

The best financial practice for any business — even a small- or medium-size organisation — is to separate personal and business transactions. When you’re trying to calculate tax deductions and reconcile your end-of-year reports later on, blended finances are a headache. You will have less to untangle later if you use a designated business account now. 

2. Using accounting software incorrectly

Popular accounting software programs can do a lot of heavy lifting. But they are still subject to human error. In other words: You can’t skip taking the tutorial. Do an annual check-in with your accounting software and ask yourself: Am I using the most up-to-date version of this software? Can this software handle the scale of my bookkeeping needs? Is this software updated with the latest tax rates?

3. Falling behind in bookkeeping

Another of the most common bookkeeping mistakes is simply falling behind. Even a month of missed reports stops you from accurately understanding your cash flow and current debts. Keeping a daily general ledger the right way means staying on top of every single transaction that comes in and out of your accounts. 

4. Tossing your records too early

Did you know the government requires your business to keep certain financial records for a set period of time? It turns out you can’t just send everything to the shredder when tax time is over for the year. In Australia, you should keep written evidence of your financial reports for five years after you lodge your tax return. In New Zealand, financial records should be kept on hand for seven years after you lodge the year’s taxes. This includes everything from invoices and receipts to wage books and vehicle log books. 

5. Incorrectly paying employees

If you have a full-time employee classified as a casual worker, the mistake could cost you thousands. You may be held responsible for back wages plus interest, and face legal penalties. What might seem like a small formality is in fact a major decision. Familiarise yourself with employee classification in Australia and New Zealand to avoid this costly mistake.  

6. Inaccurately reporting payroll and sales tax

A major part of keeping accurate business finances is paying the proper tax rate. Since payroll taxes vary across states and territories, you may need some help sorting out how to set up your payroll system the right way. In this case, it is always better to triple check than risk a hefty penalty at the end of the year. 

You must also make sure your point-of-sale systems are set up with the right sales tax (10% in most cases in Australia and 15% for most goods and services in New Zealand). Rest assured, if you don’t pay enough in taxes now, you will end up paying for it later. 

7. Hiring an inexperienced bookkeeper

Many of the above errors trace back to one common misstep: hiring a bookkeeper who is not able to keep up with your evolving bookkeeping needs. Someone with more experience can manage financial reports, prepare an accurate balance sheet, and stay on top of tax requirements. If you keep running into inaccuracies, it may be time to enlist a more robust bookkeeping team to round out your back office and keep things in line. 

If you’re a growing business in need of additional help, enlisting an outsource bookkeeping service may be the answer. Visory can help your organisation avoid these mistakes. You will be connected with a team of experts who know your industry inside and out, and you will have 24/7 access to your financial reports. Contact Visory today to learn more about our suite of account services that support your back office and help you avoid common bookkeeping errors.

Cash vs. accrual accounting: What’s best for your business?

There are two primary accounting methods: cash and accrual accounting. The accounting method you choose will affect many aspects of your business, including how you report on business income and expenses. 

Small organisations can choose between accrual and cash basis accounting. However, publicly traded companies must use accrual. 

Additionally, once your business revenue reaches $10 million, you’ll need to use accrual accounting and calculate your goods and services tax (GST). Small businesses with large inventories may also benefit from it.

Let’s talk more about cash vs. accrual accounting and how to get help if you don’t know how to make the change. 

Table of contents

  • What is accrual basis accounting?
  • How does accrual accounting work?
  • What is cash basis accounting?
  • How cash basis accounting works
  • What are the main differences between accrual and cash basis accounting?
  • Accrual accounting or cash: Which one is best for my business?

What is accrual accounting?

With accrual accounting, you track your income and expenses when they take place, regardless of when you pay bills or receive payments. For example, you’d record an invoice when you send it, even if your client hasn’t paid yet. 

Accrual accounting uses a double-entry system, meaning that you track twice, once for debits and another for credits. Double-entry can help prevent fraud and give you a more realistic view of your cash flow. 

Organisations of any size can use it. It provides a more complete financial picture, even when you don’t get paid right away for your products or services.

Here are the key pros and cons of the accrual accounting method:

Pros  Cons
It’s helpful when tracking a variety of accounts and large amounts of revenue and expenses.  It’s more complicated because you have to track actual cash on hand plus outstanding income and costs. 
Making financial projects and planning for the future is easier. Financial reports may need adjustments for as-yet-unpaid amounts when discussing current balances.
By logging cash flow with double entries, it’s simpler to catch mistakes or fraud. Bookkeeping and accounting may be more time-consuming.
It meets acceptable accounting practices and is the standard for public companies.  You could end up paying taxes on income that clients and customers haven’t paid you yet.

How does accrual accounting work? 

Accrual-based accounting is an accounting method that tracks all outstanding credits and debts as if they have already happened. 

If you complete a service, you report it as though you’ve already been paid in your books. Then you debit any invoice totals even if you have not cut a cheque yet. You can see all of your transactions—including long-term, future ones—in one place.

What is cash basis accounting?

Businesses that have an aggregate turnover of less than $10 million may use cash basis accounting to calculate goods and services tax (GST). 

Your internal finance team will only include transactions in tax reporting when money changes hands. In other words, when you make a sale, you don’t have to record revenue until you actually get paid. 

Regardless of annual GST, approved government schools, charitable institutions, and gift-deductible entities can use cash basis.

Here are some pros and cons to consider: 

Pros Cons
It works best for small companies that don’t have long payment cycles. Cash basis accounting can’t show you the debts that are outstanding, and accounts receivable payments that you haven’t settled. 
Cash accounting helps you track cash flow and determine what is in your bank accounts. You may not be prepared for incoming invoices from vendors or suppliers.
It’s simple because you only record transactions at the time they occur. Not all businesses can use cash accounting. 

How cash basis accounting works

With cash basis, you only track transactions when they happen. Each time your company makes a profit, you add to your total revenue. 

When you receive an invoice, you subtract. What it can’t show you is upcoming debts. These may include monthly accounts receivable cheques or recurring bills. 

What are the main differences between cash and accrual basis accounting?

Cash vs. accrual accounting differs primarily in the way you keep records and detail your cash flow. 

It’s easier to track with cash accounting because you only track funds when they come in and go out. However, it doesn’t show the full picture of your financial health. Your cash flow may look favourable, but you could have thousands in unpaid costs that are not readily visible. 

Accrual is more complex but also gives you a more accurate picture of your finances. You’re not tracking only actual funds, but also expected income and costs. If you have a floor installation business, for instance, you would report the project when it’s done — even if the final invoice is outstanding.

Cash or accrual accounting: Which is best for your business?

Either method works for small businesses, but large businesses should stick with accrual. Your internal finance team may need an online bookkeeping service to help with accrual accounting. 

When to use cash basis accounting When to use accrual accounting
You have a simple revenue stream with little time between invoices and payments You have complex revenue and cash flow
You value short-term cash flow over long-term projections You need to know your cash flow total including future projections
You generate less than $10 million a year You generate more than $10 million a year

Small businesses can choose between the two accounting methods. Larger companies must use accrual basis accounting in Australia by law. But even if you don’t meet the mandatory threshold, you might want to switch to accrual to get a better picture of your business finances.

Connect with Visory today, and our team of internal finance experts will get to know your business and which accounting method is right for you. You’ll partner with a team dedicated to your accounting needs and be able to access your books in real-time.


Advances in technology influencing small business

How will this impact us in the future?

Small businesses need to consider the rapid shifts in consumer expectations and how they can harness technology to remain competitive.

A prevailing theme of modern society is instant gratification. This has largely been attributed to significant advances in technology. We are now able to access services and interact with others instantly, from wherever we are.

As consumer expectation shifts, it’s important for small businesses to harness technology to ensure their business offering is in line with their customer’s needs and expectation.

It’s not only the consumer that benefits from new technology – savvy businesses are using it to increase efficiencies within their own business.

We’ve taken a look at a few of the big technology changes currently influencing the small business world and speculate how this might impact the world down the track.

Off in the clouds

In simple terms, cloud accounting involves accessing accounting solutions online. Some well-known cloud accounting providers include Xero and MYOB. These systems have become extremely popular with small businesses due to their ease of use and ability to decrease administration hassles.

So what does the future hold for cloud accounting?

“Soon using the cloud will just be the norm. Just like email overtook faxes, it will soon become adopted on a widespread level as people get used to it,” said Mary O’Driscoll, Findex cloud accounting expert.

“Real time data obtained from cloud accounting will also help businesses gain a deeper insight into their financials,” Ms O’Driscoll said.

Moving forward, businesses could be driven to a deep degree by cloud related data, which will enable them to implement improvements, create efficiencies and find new ways to engage customers.


Will robots one day handle product delivery to and from your business? As technology for autonomous vehicles as well as affordable drones advances, this is a very real possibility.

In 2016 we’ve already seen some amazing concepts showing this idea off domestically. Domino’s have announced plans to launch a pizza delivery droid in early-2017, which can zip around cities at 20 km/h, while Australia Post trialled the use of parcel delivery drones in April and Singapore recently launched self-driving taxis.

As this technology advances, there is great potential for businesses to significantly reduce the costs and time associated with product delivery in the long-term.

A cashless society?

The use of physical currency is becoming increasingly less common and necessary, with convenient technology solutions able to facilitate payment more efficiently.

Contactless payments have simplified the use of cards for small transactions, while cheap and easy to use point-of-sale systems have allowed businesses to craft a better way for clients to pay.

Earlier this year, there was significant media coverage about a Brisbane cafe doing away with cash. Customers could pay only via card or by purchasing a special refillable coffee cup with an embedded chip linked to a credit card.

Breaking the bank – how much will we rely on them in the future?

Meanwhile, the way we bank could also undergo a shake-up, with companies like Uber showing how technology enables businesses to run without banks.

In the US, around a third of Uber drivers joined the company with no existing bank account. To get around this, Uber themselves have made signing up for a debit card and account a part of the application process, making the company the largest acquirer of small business bank accounts in the US.

Citing this case, Findex innovation program manager Andrew Lai said that “one day down the track, rather than being tied to a traditional bank, your finances could well be managed through seamless integrations with Google or Facebook accounts.”

What does it all mean?

Despite the hype of automated processes, the key element of business will always remain the people, according to Mary O’Driscoll.

“People still like dealing with people. The key will be making the back end work while ensuring the customer has a strong personal touchpoint,” O’Driscoll said.

While the future will see systems develop in a way that will enable them to process information and tasks in a more efficient manner than ever, at the end of the day, the best businesses will still need to focus on how they engage with their customer one-on-one.

Harnessing the Cloud: If cash is King, data is its Queen

A recent study found nearly half of Australian businesses are looking to increase cloud infrastructure spending in 2020, and 59 per cent now have ‘cloud first’ policies when it comes to making new investments[1].

Cloud accounting allows your business, its administration employees and advisers to access its financial information live from online servers, anywhere at any time, which helps your business make better choices as it can use ‘real time’ information to assist its decision making.

The power of data lies in both its timeliness and its ability to be tailored to the individual business. Raw data by itself is difficult, if not impossible to utilise effectively. However, by using integrated systems such as optical recognition, live bank feeds, and industry specific software that is linked to the core application, your business can start to approach the detail and data integrity of larger organisations.

By increasing your business’ level of data accuracy, you’re not only better positioned to meet your day to day compliance needs accurately and efficiently, but you’re also setting up your business to take advantage of the data at its disposal by summarising and presenting the data in ways that are specific and useful to your business.

The key to making the most of the data available to you is to delve into the key drivers of your business and the industry it operates in. The lead indicators of a coffee shop will differ to the lead indicators of a freight business, so it’s critical to narrow in on the data points that really make a difference in your business.

Once decisions have been made about the core drivers of your business’s success, most cloud systems will allow you to tailor reports to focus on selected data points, either from the core platform or from a linked industry-specific application.

Undertaking an analysis of the key trends you have identified across these data points can then be developed into a set of visual management reports that allow you to have a finger on the pulse of your business on a day to day and week to week basis.

Identifying the key business drivers and the underlying data flow that reports on them is a great foundation for building a reporting pack that helps you as a business owner analyse current trends and make solid decisions about future direction, quickly and accurately.

To maximise the return on investment in your cloud data, diarise time each week, and each month to review the reports that your cloud system produces for you to assess your performance against current goals and re-set goals and actions for the next period.

Lastly, never forget the maxim, ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’. Good data quality should not be taken for granted in the world of data integration.

For assistance identifying your key business drivers and implementing cloud solutions, please get in touch with our team.

[1] Australian IAAS Market Soars Beyond $1.3BN