How/why is payment reconciliation a great problem to solve?
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“E-retail revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion US dollars in 2021 worldwide”, claims an eMarketer study.
With such a rapid growth, eCommerce marketplaces are no longer a channel of choice for sellers, but a strategic imperative to scale their businesses.
With the availability of multiple eCommerce software solutions, it has become very easy for the sellers to onboard marketplaces and start selling.
But, receiving and tracking online payments is a major challenge that many of the sellers still face today. The immediate question then comes to our mind is that – Are sellers on marketplaces really making money?
Each marketplace has its own commission structure, payment terms, fees, return policies, penalties, and other charges. It becomes overwhelming for a seller to keep track of multiple things at multiple marketplaces, especially deductions that marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart make before paying their sellers.
Types of deductions made by marketplaces
- Commission fee – It is the fee charged by marketplaces for marketing and selling the product of a seller
- Closing fee – It is an additional fee charged on each product sold
- Shipping fee – It is the shipping charge that is deducted from the payment if the seller opts for the shipping services provided by the marketplaces
- Warehousing fee – It is the storage fee charged in case the seller avails the warehousing and storage services of the marketplaces
- Discounts – The discounts which are offered by the sellers directly, or by the marketplaces are deducted from the final payment
Service level agreement breach and Penalties
Another important cost that marketplaces impose on the sellers is ‘Penalty’.
A seller enters into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with marketplaces where a service is formally defined vis-à-vis procurement time, delivery time, responsibilities of both parties etc.
If a seller does not adhere to the service standards as per SLA, then marketplaces have the right to penalize them.
For example, on Amazon, if an order is cancelled by a seller for any reason other than buyer request then the seller will be penalized 8.5% of the value of items as a cancellation charge for seller fulfilled orders.
Though SLA is crucial in setting good service standards, explaining liabilities and responsibilities and managing expectations of all the stakeholders, the issue emerges when the seller is not at fault and still he gets charged with a penalty.
For example, if a seller confirms and packs the product on time but the logistics partner forgets to update the status on his system after picking it, then also it would be considered an SLA breach and the marketplace will penalize the seller.
In such a scenario, it becomes crucial for a seller to keep track of all the proofs so that he can claim for a refund.
Without an effective payment management system, it is easy to lose track of payments given the enormous transactional volumes, complexities of shipments and not to forget, returns. Due to this, there are huge losses that the sellers accrue without knowing the reason. Scary right?
Methods of Payment Reconciliation
So what options do sellers have to keep their best interest at heart? Let’s take a look at some ways through which eCommerce payments can be reconciled:
1. Marketplace Seller Dashboard
Each marketplace provides its sellers with a seller panel which records all the information vis-à-vis the items sold and the payments received.
This type of eCommerce payment system is efficient only when a seller is present in a single marketplace.
When the business grows, the seller onboards multiple marketplaces due to which the number of dashboards increase, making the whole process of tracking payments cumbersome.
2. Manual Recording in Excel Sheets
While spreadsheets are an excellent tool for organizing data and making critical analysis, it may not be the best tool for eCommerce payment reconciliation.
If you are a small seller with limited products on few marketplaces then an excel sheet might work but if you are a growing business then a spreadsheet may not prove to be an efficient tool for you in a long run.
3. Payment Reconciliation System
A marketplace payment reconciliation software helps sellers to easily track their payments for each order received.
It allows sellers to take control, drive cost savings, increase efficiency, and have greater insights into their financial data without any manual labor with excel sheets.
Following payments/deductions can be easily tracked by a typical eCommerce payment reconciliation system:
- Commission Overcharged
It depends upon the product’s category and is calculated using a percentage of a unit’s total price. The products in different categories have a per-item minimum referral fee.
The system helps you identify the commissions that are charged incorrectly and provide information for the same
- Shipping Overcharged
Marketplaces charge fees for shipping the order from the warehouse to the Buyer’s address, based on the dimension, weight of the product and the location of the delivery.
They decide on the category of shipping (Small, Standard, Over-size, etc.) depending on the dimension of the product.
In an event where a shipping category is wrongly recorded, the system helps identify & reconcile such overcharged shipping fees
- Pick-Pack Overcharges
This fee includes the cost of physical retrieval, packaging and shipping of the item.
The system provides a report for all those orders for which marketplaces capture wrong dimensions and hence are charged incorrectly
- Inventory Missing without Reimbursement
In some cases of reverse logistics, though a purchased item may be returned by the customer, a marketplace may refund the buyer but inventory is not returned to the fulfillment center.
For the same item, the seller should be able to track & claim reimbursement – but can’t.
The system helps provide real-time information for such orders against which a return is created, identify their status & help claim both payments & missing inventory
- Carrier Damaged without Reimbursement
The marketplaces have to reimburse the sellers for any damage that has occurred during transportation of the product through their partnered carrier.
In case this does not happen, you can raise cases and claim reimbursement using the report provided by the system
- Replacement without Reimbursement
The seller may not receive payments for all the items dispatched as part of an order or for replacement order made by the customer.
The system records all such transactions and provides a report for such orders against which the seller has received less or no payment
eCommerce is a very demanding & vulnerable business and eCommerce payment reconciliation is highly critical.
Vinculum has partnered with Market Reconciliation experts to allow you to take control, drive cost savings, increase efficiency, and have greater insight into your financial data at a click of a button.
See how you can track your payments with our payment reconciliation system.
*Got questions or feedback? Please use this comment box*
An MBA marketing graduate from IIM, Akash Jain works at Vinculum group, where he manages product marketing, content and social media marketing. An ardent learner of new things, he is passionate about scaling up marketing operations, implementing new-age marketing automation and customer psyche.
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