How E-Commerce Enterprises and Accountants can Help Each Other Succeed

If you were to make a list of all of the successful companies in the world—whether they conduct business in the e-commerce space or elsewhere—you would quickly realize that few (if any) businesses were able to successfully establish themselves on their own. Being a successful business requires the ability to forge productive partnerships and carefully tend to these partnerships over time.

One of the partnerships that your e-commerce business may consistently be ignoring is the partnership you have with your specialized accountant. Though e-commerce accountants (as well as traditional accountants) primarily work in the world of numbers, this does not remove the need to create productive relationships with their clients as well. Both parties rely on each other in order to achieve their independent goals. Forging a relationship between accountants and e-commerce enterprises is something that is undeniably important.

Fortunately, there are many actions that both parties involved can take in order to assure that the relationship between them is as productive as possible. Though taking the time to effectively communicate with your e-commerce accounting specialist may often be something you forget about, you will be glad you did once you realize the advantages that good communications can provide. In this article, we will briefly review the keys to a productive relationship between these two parties and how to assure the relationship evolves in a healthy way.

Identify Why You Are Working Together

Though seemingly all e-commerce enterprises will need to hire an accounting specialist at some point in time, not all relationships between these businesses and their accountants can be expected to necessarily be the same. In fact, as is the case with most relationships, the dynamics of these exchanges will be highly personal and specific to your unique situation.

In order to make sure that you have the most productive relationship possible, you should identify why you are working together. For example, while some e-commerce firms are simply looking for advice for someone with experience in their space, others will rely on their accountant to manage their financial books entirely.

Similarly, your e-commerce accounting specialist should also identify what they will need in order to have a productive relationship with you. They should let you know the financial information they will require in order to properly manage your books, how often this information will need to be reported, and any necessary forms that you will be required to fill out. Once the purpose and requisites for working together have been clearly identified, you will have a much easier time moving forward.

Make a List of Mutual Objectives

In addition to identifying what you and your e-commerce accounting partner hope to accomplish in the status quo, you should also declare what you both hope to accomplish over time. Without declaring your long-term objectives, you may be willing overlooking opportunities for growth or operational excellence. An e-commerce accountant is not just someone who reports previous transactions—they are also someone who can help you prepare for the future.

There are many common objectives that an experienced accountant can help you achieve. Filing your taxes correctly and on time, creating functional budgets and forecasts, and developing an effective inventory strategy are just a few of the objectives you may be hoping to eventually accomplish. Additionally, you may be looking to restructure your business, minimize the amount of taxes that you have due, and also implement software (your e-commerce platform) that allows your business to operate more smoothly.

Recognize Ways Your Accountant can Help You Evolve

Even if you already have a solid, air-tight business plan, that doesn’t mean the role of your e-commerce accountant should be diminished to a single dimension. For example, though your company already may have a specific accounting software that they plan on using (such as Quickbooks), you may still need guidance when it comes to implementing this software into your ongoing business operations.

Your business may also run into various “obstacles” over time that will require the assistance of someone with more extensive accounting experience. One of the most frequently overlooked accounting issues is chargebacks. Chargebacks occur when you have had a customer (or client) charged for something that they later dispute. This can come from instances where merchandise was never received, merchandise was incorrect, or a mistake was made. Developing a plan for chargebacks and other similar issues will make things much easier for both you and your accountant once they inevitably arise.

Focus on Communication and Transparency

As this article will undoubtedly suggest—and as every experienced e-commerce accountant will surely tell you—the importance of communication between an online enterprise and their accountant cannot be overstated. In fact, it seems that the overwhelming majority of issues that occur between these parties could have been avoided if one of them was able to communicate better.

The “terms” of your communication will obviously depend on the specific nature of your business. You may want your accountant to have immediate access to all of your business’ financial information or you may prefer for them to only use the information on an as-needed basis. Regardless, this is certainly something that is better to clarify sooner, rather than later.

Other communication details that will need to be clarified include the mediums through which you prefer to communicate (phone, fax, email, skype, etc.) and the specific details that will need to be communicated. All communications should be conducted in a reliable, open, and honest manner—lying to your accountant (even if you are embarrassed or unsure about your financial situation) is one of the least productive things that an emerging e-commerce enterprise can do.

Plan for Growth as a Team

Lastly, in order to assure that both you and your e-commerce accounting specialist are able to have the most productive relationship that you possibly can, you will also need to be planning for growth as a team. As your enterprise evolves, both your accounting and operational needs will undeniably change. Changing cash flows (both regarding sources and amounts), inventory needs, tax obligations, and bookkeeping dynamics make it even more important for you and your accountant to be on the same page.

The best e-commerce accountants are the ones who are not only familiar with the growth process, they are also able to clearly communicate any of the metrics you may find useful along the way. Your accountant shouldn’t just focus on profit margins, inventory systems, marginal costs, or earnings figures—they need to be focusing on all of these things at once. Again, by developing a productive avenue of communications, you will be less likely to run into future sources of conflict.


Despite the fact that many e-commerce enterprises view their accounting service provider as a “numbers” person, the role that an e-commerce accounting specialist can have is surprisingly complex. Though this person will likely be your go-to source for bookkeeping and tax preparation, they can also be a useful resource for long-term planning and specific types of advice. By taking the time to ensure clear, positive communication and a firm understanding of the accounting process, your business will be in a position to achieve lasting success.