RFDM Developer Cathleen Melendez shares her perspective on the many challenges of integrating your Shopify store with Zoho Inventory

Shopify is a clean, straightforward Ecommerce software that thousands of businesses utilize to grow and manage their sales. Zoho Inventory is a great addition to a company operating through Shopify for better stock control, order fulfillment, and inventory management. Fortunately, these two tools can be integrated to make your business even more powerful and productive. The Shopify Zoho Inventory integration is an awesome tool when configured properly. Avoid complications by setting up the integration correctly, and you’ll have an easy-to-use, efficient system of managing your Shopify store’s inventory as well as processing orders. Here are 9 things to keep in mind when setting up your Shopify store sync with Zoho Inventory to ensure a smooth setup:

9 Shopify Zoho Inventory Integration Tips

SKUs Are the (Primary) Key

The first thing to understand about Shopify and Zoho Inventory is that they call the same thing by different names. Let’s say you sell surfboards. In Shopify, your Big Kahuna Surfboard would be a ‘Product’ and the 2018 Big Kahuna Board in Teal Green would be a ‘Product Variant’, whereas in Zoho Inventory these would be an ‘Item Group’ and ‘Item’, respectively. SKUs are the primary key with which Zoho Inventory is able to match Shopify Products to its parallel categories of Items and Item Groups. Ensure each product variant in your Shopify store has a unique assigned SKU before syncing any products to Zoho Inventory. This will save you a lot of hassle later on as, without SKUs, Zoho Inventory will not be able to properly match stock changes with Shopify or match Shopify Orders with Zoho Inventory Sales Orders (again, same thing, different name).

Each Product Name in Shopify Must Be Unique

Each product name will be converted to an Item Group in Zoho Inventory. If two product names are the same, their variants will become merged under one Item Group in Zoho Inventory. Especially keep this in mind if you have products that recur every year. In this case, you can distinguish the products simply by adding the year in parentheses behind the name.

Don’t Force-Fulfill Orders in Shopify – Use Zoho Inventory’s Order Processing and Shipping Tools

Fulfilling orders within Shopify seems to prevent Zoho Inventory from syncing them. Force-fulfilling in Shopify is also unnecessary as orders may easily be fulfilled in Zoho Inventory by creating packages and shipments from sales orders and using shipping carrier integrations to quickly purchase and print shipment labels. This is especially useful if you want to centralize your online inventory management with your wholesale inventory management process. In other words, by using Zoho Inventory to process and ship online and offline orders, you are able to bring stock, order, and shipping management all within one app. This will save you a ton of time, and avoid problems of manual reconciliation between online and offline stock.

Unlink Items Before Deleting Them in Zoho Inventory

This is something that is not readily obvious but quickly learned through the mistake of not doing it. One might expect that deleting an item from Zoho Inventory would also unlink the item from Shopify, but this is not the case. Unlinking is very important since neglecting to unlink an item before deletion in Zoho Inventory will confuse the sync and prevent any re-syncs of that item from Shopify. If you do happen to delete an item without unlinking, the only way to re-sync the item is by modifying the item description in Shopify.

Stock Syncing Is Immediate and Bidirectional

New products and sales orders from Shopify are synced periodically to Zoho Inventory based on the period you’ve set up in your integration (between every 30 minutes to every 4 hours). However, any change in Zoho Inventory’s stock updates the stock available in Shopify within minutes and vice versa. This provides a safeguard against items being over-sold.

Items and Sales Order Syncs Are Unidirectional

Item and Sales Order syncs are one-way. So be sure to make all non-stock-related updates to your products through Shopify, and deal with refunds and exchanges through Shopify as well. Items and Sales Orders created directly in Zoho Inventory will not be synced to Shopify.

Know the Difference Between Shopify ‘Orders’ and Zoho Inventory ‘Sales Orders’

When properly synced, Shopify orders show up in Zoho Inventory as ‘Sales Orders’. It’s important to understand that in Zoho’s world, a ‘Sales Order’ is NOT a completed sale. Rather, a Sales Order for Zoho (this is true for Zoho Inventory, CRM, Books, and others), is confirmation that a customer has ordered something, but has yet to pay for it (https://www.zoho.com/ca/inventory/help/sales-orders/sales-orders-overview.html). Because Zoho has traditionally focused on business to business sales (B2B), a sale is not final until an ‘Invoice‘ has been created from the Sales Order, and a Payment has been recorded. For the average online retailer, this a bit baffling because in the online sales world, 99% of the time payment is processed at the time the sale is confirmed.

Shopify Sales Orders Will Not Automatically Generate Invoices Required for Shipping Packages or Recording Payments – You Need to Write a Custom Deluge Function For This

With the previous point in mind, it’s important to note that you need to generate an Invoice from a Sales Order before you can take the next two steps in fulfilling and order: (1) Shipping; and (2) Recording a Payment. Unfortunately, with the standard Shopify Zoho Inventory Integration, you will need to manually do this for every single order. As an alternative, we created a custom Deluge Script function for our client that will automatically create an invoice from sales order.

Shopify will not Automatically Import State or Provincial Sales Tax from Shopify – You Need to Write a Custom Deluge Function For This

One final point has to do with sales tax: Zoho Inventory imports the sales tax on all orders in a lump as a line item called “Shopify Sales Tax”. This is obviously maddeningly unhelpful, and can lead to a lot of manual reconciliation of sales tax on each individual Sales Order. Like the Sales Order to Invoice problem, we wrote a custom Deluge function for our client that would automatically apply the correct State/Provincial sales tax to the order based on the billing address.

Final Thoughts on Shopify Zoho Inventory Integration

Zoho Inventory has a lot of offer in regards to efficiently running your Shopify store. You can also create automations and custom functions for additional needs, such as automatically creating invoices from sales orders or associating a sales tax with a new contact based on billing information. Please feel free to contact us if you’d like any assistance with setting up the Shopify Zoho Inventory integration, or developing custom deluge functions. If you keep the 9 tips above in mind, you will be well on your way to successfully managing your Shopify store with Zoho Inventory.
 

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