When connecting Tradebox One with Sage 50 Accounts, you’ll have a choice to make regarding how to treat customer accounts within Sage.
Tradebox will always download customer information such as name, billing address, phone number and email address from the marketplace; this information is passed down with each order and Tradebox will use billing name and email address to determine whether the order applies to an existing customer in its own Contacts module.
When linking to Sage accounts, Tradebox can then either use this information to allocate all sales going through a sales channel to a single generic customer or to create unique individual customers in Sage. This setting is controlled within each sales channel, in Sage 50 > Customers > Customer Creation Options.
The vast majority of our users use generic customer accounts and this is what we'd advise unless there's a really good reason to use individual customer records. Sage advise staying below 2,000 customer records for optimal performance; to give some perspective if you were dealing with 100 unique online customers per month you'd reach that limit in less than 2 years.
If you drastically exceed this number then the likelihood of problems like slowdown and data corruption becomes greater and greater. If you need a CRM (customer relationship management) system to track more than name/address/phone/email and greatly in excess of 2,000 records, you should look into adding an additional system to serve this purpose alongside your Tradebox and Sage integration for order management.
If you choose to use a single default customer, Tradebox will allocate all sales to this customer account within Sage. The billing and shipping names and addresses of each order will still be present on the invoice or sales order within Sage and fields such as their email address and telephone number are still be included. This means from your customer’s point of view, there’ll be no difference even if you need to use Sage to generate your shipping labels or invoice documents. It also means you can easily use Sage's searches and filters within the invoice list (or sales order list in Sage 50 pro) to find orders from a given buyer within Sage.
When using generic customers, there is one further option to allow you to break sales down into a customer account per country. Selecting the Specify Customer For Countries button will allow you to choose a generic customer account per shipping country.
Advantages of Generic Customers
The biggest advantage of generic customers within Sage is that it’ll keep your Customers module in Sage from clogging up with lots of unnecessary records. In our experience, creating individual customer accounts is the biggest root cause of poor performance in Sage for our user base; the nature of online selling often means lots of non-repeat buyers and a high number of transactions. Sage can handle far more records on the products, invoices and transactions front than it can customers and suppliers.
It’s also instantly obvious from a glance at the account reference whether a transaction has been raised via Tradebox or not. This may be useful if for instance, you sell B2C via a webstore and also have wholesale orders which are entered into Sage manually.
Generic customers can also give different reporting options. If you set up one default contact for each sales channel, any 'per customer' reporting in Sage effectively becomes 'per sales channel' reporting, though any reports that run through the invoice list will still reflect individual orders.
Disadvantages of Generic Customers
Generic customer accounts will prevent you from completing certain tasks in Sage with the orders Tradebox handles. As customer name/address details are only held in the invoice, you wouldn’t be able to use Sage as CRM to keep track of customer details as effectively. This generally only applies to users who have lots of repeat online customers.
You also wouldn’t be able to use any of the specifics of the customer record for your online marketplace customers. The most relevant of these is probably the credit control tab; if you extend credit terms to your customers then you will be able to make far better use of Sage’s debt control features and reports like the Aged Debtors Analysis if you use individual customer accounts instead.
Other customer record features are used in different ways by Sage (e.g. VAT number validation will impact your ability to generate an EC sales list), so it's important to have an idea of which Sage features are useful to you.
Things to Consider
In general, if you don’t need to use Sage as a CRM database for the orders Tradebox will handle (beyond name, address, email and telephone), and don’t extend credit terms for your online sales, using generic customers will probably serve you better. And of course, this only applies for the orders that Tradebox is handling, there’s nothing stopping you from using customer records to their full potential for orders that your users are keying in manually. It's common practice for Tradebox users who sell B2B in person/via phone and B2C online to use a generic customer account for the web sales, and individual customer accounts for the trade sales.
If you are using generic customers, you’ll need to decide how many to use. At most, you can use one per sales channel in Tradebox, unless you want to use the Specify Customers Per Country option, which allows you to use more than one but only on the basis of shipping country. You may prefer to have all sales channels go through a single generic ‘web sales’ customer – though bear in mind if you sell in multiple currencies and use foreign trader in Sage, you’ll need at least one customer set up in each currency that Tradebox is handling.
Using Individual Customers
If you are using individual customer accounts, you’ll still need to choose a default customer in each sales channel. This will be used as a fallback where Tradebox cannot create a relevant customer in Sage (e.g. characters in the name that Sage doesn't support). For more detail on the options available when using customer accounts, see the Customers section of our Accounts Link setup guide.