The Ecommerce Industry Needs Future-Ready Accountants

Due to overwhelming consumer demand accelerated by a global health crisis, the world of ecommerce is experiencing explosive growth. The industry—or at least those sellers who are successfully navigating it—is now powered by technology that allows online retailers to engage shoppers across multiple channels, on a variety of devices, and at a 24/7 pace.

And while most ecommerce entrepreneurs would agree that growth is good, they’ve also reported becoming easily overwhelmed by the staggering amount of transactional data that goes along with it. In response, they’re turning to both internal and external accounting professionals to help them navigate this brave new world and strategically set them up for financial success.

You know that’s you, right? A study by CPA Practice Advisor showed that 86% of small business owners viewed their accountant as a trusted business advisor. But head’s up: We’re not talking about your father’s CPA firm here. Coming to a close are the days when ecommerce accounting professionals could add value by simply reconciling the books each month. Today’s online retailers don’t need you to crunch the numbers; they’ve got automation for that. Instead they want accountants that understand the industry’s technological landscape, and can help them translate the data into a forward-looking profitability plan.

It doesn’t have to be daunting. On your mark. Get set. It’s time to embrace Advisory 2.0 (we’ll explain). And we’ve partnered with industry trailblazer, The Radical CPA, and Vice President of Strategy at Botkeeper Jody Padar to show you how.


What You’ll Learn from This Interactive Web Experience

If you’re an ecommerce accountant—or plan on building your expertise to include this fast-paced area—it’s time to up your technological game. Take a tour of the playing field in easily digestible chapters, which include insights on:

The Tech-Fueled Ecommerce Landscape
: Learn how ecommerce is leveraging technology to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands.
The Accounting Advisory 2.0 Model
: Find out why stepping up to the technological plate is no longer optional for ecommerce accountants, and how to leverage technological innovation to solidify your value prop.
The Ultimate Ecommerce Tech Stack
: Visualize how ecommerce and accounting software can be optimally integrated to benefit both retailers and their accounting advisors.
The Top KPIs for Long-Term Profitability
: Get the rundown on the key KPIs technology-forward accounting pros should use to boost client productivity, predictability, & profitability.
The Future of Ecommerce Accounting
: Take a peek at what ecommerce’s future looks like, and learn what’s in store for the ecosystem between businesses, their internal accounting pros, and third-party accounting firms.

Your Subject Matter Expert: Jody Padar, CPA

We’ve partnered with accounting industry trailblazer Jody Padar—The Radical CPA and Vice President of Strategy at Botkeeper— to deliver expert advice on the future of ecommerce accounting. For 14 years Jody served as CEO and Principal of New Vision CPA Group, a public accounting firm based in the Chicago area, where she learned through trial and error how to implement innovative best practices for processes and technology. These lessons paved the way for The Radical CPA, a movement that began with just a few forward-thinking accountants READ MORE . As a lecturer, coach, consultant, mentor, and author, Jody advocates for progress and innovation in the profession, heralding a new way of thinking about accountancy. She’s been listed on Accounting Today’s “Top 100 Most Influential People” list since 2011. Jody’s latest challenge is leading Botkeeper as its Vice President of Strategy, and helping to evolve, support, and promote CPA and accounting partner firms, now and in the future. She launches the Radical CPA Academy in June of 2021.


Why Ecommerce is a Tech-Fueled Landscape

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 10 years of
ecommerce growth happened in just 90 days.

- Shopify

It was like nothing the ecommerce industry had ever seen before: Rocked by a global pandemic, consumers turned to the web to make their purchases across a range of categories—resulting in an explosion of business for both new and established online retailers. Indeed, it was a mass behavioral shift that changed the course of ecommerce forever. Consumers had no other choice but to accelerate their learning and comfort with online shopping, which in turn forced businesses to do the same.

With its roots in digital culture, the ecommerce industry has always been an early adopter of technology. However, the exponential growth stemming from recent events has resulted in online retailers of all sizes harnessing the power of technology to:

  • Save time
  • Increase accuracy
  • Enhance the customer experience
  • Boost performance analytics and business insights
  • Maximize profitability and sustainably scale

There are more than 500 ecommerce technology platforms—and counting. Do you have to be proficient in all of them to be a top-notch ecommerce accounting advisor? No way! But you do need to come to the table with a curious mind, a willingness to learn, and an appreciation for how technology is minimizing the grunt work so you can focus on strategic business insights.

laptop-500-plus 500+

Current # of ecommerce platforms in the marketplace 1


The percentage of retail ecommerce execs who said ecommerce platforms are among their top 3 technology budget priorities 2


The percentage of ecommerce professionals who said they planned to increase spending on ecommerce technology in the next year 3


Advisory 2.0 is the Future of Accounting

Whether you’re with an accounting firm that serves ecommerce clients or sit on-staff at an online retail business, opening up your mind to technology is now crucial to your long-term success. Think grabbing this technological bull by the horns sounds scary? It’s not, with the right resources and a willingness to evolve to a consulting style Jody Padar calls “Advisory 2.0.”

At its heart, Advisory 2.0 addresses the fact that if you’re solely in the business of accounting to crunch numbers, you’re facing some stiff competition from the latest automated technology. But if you use technology to your advantage instead of fighting it, you can level-up your practice to one that is focused on building customer relationships and providing data-driven insights that help clients sustainably scale. This is true in any industry, but particularly relevant to ecommerce.

Get on the Advisory 2.0 train folks, Padar says, because it’s almost out of the station.

If we don’t learn how to do these advisory skills, we’re not going to be profitable, because the value of compliance-driven work is going to go down due to automation.
Jody Padar
VP of Strategy
If you’re a CPA or an accountant, do you really want to do that grunt work for the rest of your life? Or do you want to say, ‘Look, I went to school, I learned how to really interpret those numbers, let me spend my time doing that, and helping and really adding value to the business.’
Jody Padar
VP of Strategy
If we don’t learn how to do these advisory skills, we’re not going to be profitable, because the value of compliance-driven work is going to go down due to automation.
Jody Padar
VP of Strategy
Accountants have to upskill their game. We know that automation is going to be doing a lot of what accountants have traditionally done in the past. But we can utilize automation and technology to do the grunt work. Then we focus on what we do best: The relationship building, the business analysis and growth strategies, and all the other things that we typically want to do, but haven’t been able to before because we got stuck in the weeds.
Jody Padar
VP of Strategy


How Technology Advances Advisory 2.0

Still on the fence about whether technology is really the driving force behind future-proofing your accounting firm or in-house practice and successfully advising ecommerce clients? Jody Padar offers up these benefits to upgrading your tech chops:

ic-overcome-ecommerce-data-normal ic-overcome-ecommerce-data-active

It will help you overcome ecommerce data chaos

ic-build-better-client-normal ic-build-better-client-active

It will give you time to build better client relationships

ic-single-source-accounting-normal ic-single-source-accounting-active

It will let you build a single source of accounting truth

Online retailers deal in massive sums of transactional data stemming from multiple channels. Without a technology stack that seamlessly integrates data between ecommerce channels and accounting platforms, accounting professionals and their clients can quickly fall into the weeds. Even worse, they fall prey to inaccuracies due to human error, data silos, and even data loss. You can’t offer highly strategic, Advisory 2.0-style services on bad data. What’s worse, inaccuracies could not only undermine your clients’ profitability, but also put them at risk for compliance issues.


I’m not sure if everybody understands how obnoxious the amount of ecommerce data is. And guess what? If you put garbage in, you’re going to get garbage out.

- Jody Padar of Botkeeper

Why should an accounting professional spend valuable (and for the online retailer, expensive) time handling manual data when they could instead be demonstrating their true value as a strategic business advisor? Take advantage of technology to put a seller’s data syncs on autopilot. You’ll benefit from greater accuracy, close to real-time availability, and the ability to form a partnership with your internal or external client as you digest data together on the fly.


“Everyone’s like, ‘Oh automation, my job!’ We don’t have enough people to do the work as it is today. So, let automation do that work, let [accounting professionals] do the higher value-add items. Let’s embrace technology and figure out how it can help us evolve as professionals.”

- Jody Padar of Botkeeper

Instead of constantly looking backward and giving your clients a static snapshot of how they did, embracing technology will allow you to centralize incredibly large volumes of data into one hub (in close to real time). From there you can help online retailers fuel productivity by proactively offering business insights and forecasts based off of product margins, marketing spend, inventory, and more.


“A really good, proactive advisory accountant is working on a forecast with the client on a monthly or quarterly basis. Technology makes real-time advisory possible, so you can offer clients much more tangible insights. You end up taking on a kind of incremental CFO role, where you’re helping the [online retailer] figure out what the business drivers are and helping them grow the business.”

- Jody Padar of Botkeeper


of CPAs said they are
not future ready 4


of accountants said their role was likely to change due to technology in the next 10 years 5


Your Ultimate Ecommerce Tech Stack

With more than 500 ecommerce platforms on the market, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But if you choose your tech stack wisely based on best-in-breed platforms, you can lessen the learning curve and avoid getting burned. Keep in mind:

You’ll be learning on the job:
“A lot of people get freaked out and think, ‘Oh, I’m not there, I can’t do this,” Padar says. “Stop right there. As an advisor you’re learning on the job. You learn by having conversations and evolving with your customer as well.”
Free or freemium tech comes at a cost:
Be wary of trying to save a few bucks by plopping a free or freemium platform into your tech stack. While it may save you money up front, you’ll often “pay” in the end due to add-on costs, decreased functionality, or service outages. “When thinking about costs, consider time saved and the related labor costs you’ll pay for grunt work,” Padar says. “Don’t forget to add in payroll taxes, benefits, and other labor burdens. The win comes from reducing labor costs, not the cost of other technologies.”
Battle technology bloat:
Avoiding a ragtag crew of free or freemium apps also allows you to focus on the core platforms you really need to best serve your client. “It’s critical that your systems “play nice” together, seamlessly integrating data for optimal productivity and accuracy,” Padar says. “After all, what’s the point of building a tech stack if your software is going to fight?”
Scalability and collaboration is key:
Look for platforms that will grow with an online retailer’s business, from startup to omnichannel seller. Accounting advisors often pull double duty as technology consultants for bigger clients; it’s crucial to listen to your internal or external customers’ goals in order to build the right tech stack. “Don’t feel like you have to know it all,” Padar advises. “Do some research and reach out to app specialists or other accounting professionals for referrals. That’s how you’ll select the right products.”

While each online retailer has different needs, here’s a model of a well-crafted ecommerce tech stack:


Productivity + Predictability = Profitability

But let’s get real. At the end of the day, we all know that your internal or external client doesn’t care how amazing the tech stack is. What they want are results, and in the case of accounting professionals, a relationship built on strategic business insights that allow them to achieve the best results.

But that’s the beautiful thing about leveraging a shrewdly built ecommerce tech stack. Traditionally, accountants spent 80% of their time in the weeds compiling data, and 20% of their time in advisory mode. Enter automation, which helps accounting professionals flip that ratio on its head. They can:


Increase productivity:

By saving time previously spent on manual data entry


Power-up predictability:

By accessing powerful business insights in one centralized location


Boost profitability:

By leveraging performance analytics to increase online retailers’ bottom lines

A great tech stack can put the following core ecommerce KPIs on autopilot:
  • Conversion rate
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Customer Retention Rate
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  • Average Order Value (AOV)
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)
  • Order Volume
  • Cart Abandonment Rate
  • Net Profit
So that accounting professionals can focus their time on providing advisory value that can’t be automated:
  • Tax advisory
  • Real time cash-flow management
  • In-depth customer sales analysis
  • A/R Forecasting
  • Monthly KPI insights

When it comes to ecommerce KPIs, “If you want to specialize in e-commerce, you really need to understand what [the industry’s] key metrics are, how to get them, and what they mean so that you can help your client achieve their goals,” Padar says.

But remember: It’s a learning curve, a journey you’re taking with your internal or external client. “Your client is not necessarily asking you to have the be-all-end-all answer,” Padar explains. “With niche-specific advisory services like ecommerce, your job is to walk alongside your business partner and help them make sense of the information they’re digesting. You don’t necessarily need to know the right answer, but you do need to understand the drivers and how it all fits together.”


Don’t Miss Your Opportunity in Ecommerce

Think ecommerce is just a niche industry, or a flash in the pan that will fade as the world returns to a post-pandemic “new normal”? Experts say think again. While retailers were forced to move most of their operations online during the COVID-19 crisis, the surge in online shopping is here to stay. And presented with an extraordinarily competitive marketplace, businesses now face a near-daily challenge to optimize their online experiences.

What’s more, ecommerce operations are quickly making their way into brands that were previously never associated with the practice. “Every single business is going to be an ecommerce business,” Padar predicts. In a global world, every business will have at least an ecommerce function to it, highly tied into the latest technology to better integrate data and serve customers. The question, says Padar, is how are you going to help all your clients connect to that ecommerce piece?

The good news: There are tools and resources out there that can help you, and you don’t have to learn them all on day one. “There are accountants who say they don’t want to touch ecommerce because they have no idea how the technology works and don’t want to get involved,” Padar says. “But they’re missing the boat because there’s a lot of ecommerce advisory they can do at a lower level that will allow them to gain the experience they need to perform at a higher level. In reality, 80% of [the accounting practices] you do every day apply to ecommerce as well. There’s only the 20% piece you need to learn.”

We wish you all the best in your Advisory 2.0 journey.


Digging Into Some Tech Terms

Marketplaces: A website on which multiple sellers offer their products under a single web address. The primary advantage of using marketplaces is that the store setup is very easy and they have a large, built-in customer base.

Online Stores: A software component or extension that creates items and sells those items within its interface on any website, used when selling from one’s own website. Considered a cost-effective solution for new sellers.

POS: A point of sale system, or POS, is where customers make payments for products or services at a brick-and-mortar store. It used to refer to the cash register but now can be totally digital.

Shipping Solutions: Shipping solutions, also known as shipping carriers, are the parties responsible for transporting goods from one location to another.

Payment Processors: Payment processors act as the mediator between the merchant and the financial institution(s) involved in a credit card transaction process.

CRM/CMS: Customer relationship management (CRM) technology helps manage a company’s relationships and interactions with customers and prospects, functioning much like a digital Rolodex with additional features.

Accounting software: Accounting software is a digital application that assists accounting professionals in recording and reporting a business’ financial transactions.

Sales Tax Automation: Sales tax automation software accurately calculates rates, assesses use taxes, files returns on time, keeps exemption certificates up to date and accessible, and registers a business in the right locations.

Payroll tools: Payroll tools manage, organize, and automate employee payments, tracking all transactions and maintaining payment records.

Accounts Payable solution: Accounts Payable solutions use automation to streamline the accounts payable process, in the process boosting efficiency and decreasing costs.

Analytics Tools: Analytics tools retrieve data from one or more business systems and aggregate it into a centralized repository for easy review and analysis.


Kick Busywork to the Curb with Webgility & Botkeeper

Ready to take your advisory practice to the next level? Webgility and Botkeeper’s award-winning platforms help you put your accounting busywork on autopilot, so you can focus on offering strategic insights that boost profitability instead.


Webgility is empowering businesses to thrive in the world of ecommerce. The company’s ecommerce accounting automation platform offers users a single source truth—one that helps high-growth online retailers and their accounting professionals collaborate to drive insights and profitability. The number one accounting automation software for ecommerce brands and accountants using QuickBooks, Webgility seamlessly integrates with over 50 of the world’s top ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, and garners a 99 percent customer satisfaction score.


Botkeeper is a human-assisted artificial intelligence (AI) platform that automates bookkeeping, purpose-built for accounting firms. It combines AI and machine learning technology with high-quality skilled accountants to deliver a full-suite bookkeeping and pre-accounting solution that increases capacity, accuracy, and efficiency. Accounting firms and their clients receive 24/7 accounting and support, as well as incredible insight into financials with beautiful dashboards and unlimited reporting.

Find out why Webgility is the ecommerce accounting automation platform trusted by more than 5,000 businesses and accounting professionals:

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