I’ve been closely involved with the cloud accountants, bookkeepers and advisors community for the last decade. For many practices, the adoption of technology and automation of compliance has resulted in a significant increase in their client base. To adapt to these developments practices are tinkering with their pricing model, offering advisory services, and focusing on niches.
Popular marketing podcaster Tim Reid frequently says “niche an inch wide and a mile deep”.
There are several reasons why you should seriously consider niching. But let’s shortcut this story, and talk about niching specifically in the ecommerce space. I recently had the opportunity to spend time with the team at Neto talking to them about their new partner programme.
First up let me explain what Neto is. Neto is an all in one retail platform. From an operational perspective, it incorporates website, shopping cart, POS (point of sale), inventory management, fulfilment and it integrates with accounting solutions, and it even can print shipping labels. From a visual perspective, it’s your complete shopping experience – be that website, mobile devices, eBay and even via social media. Yes, people can even set up shops on Facebook. Furthermore, Neto works in retail stores – think of the fabric store Spotlight or the adventure store Anaconda. So bricks and mortar sales and online sales are all flowing through the same solution, and the customer has an integrated and consistent shopping experience. This is known as an omnichannel experience in that everything is seamlessly working together.
Let’s talk about what businesses are prepared to invest in.
Now before I dive deeper into Neto’s new free partner program, I want to mention something that I consider important to this discussion. Businesses are prepared to pay for ecommerce solutions because they can positively impact earning potential. To counter that I could say businesses begrudgingly pay for compliance work because – they don’t necessarily recognise the benefits of accurate numbers. But instead look around and see the prices website designers are charging; my experience is I see them charging ten times what I see the number nerds charging. My belief is they can charge higher rates because the business owner has the mindset that the website will positively impact earning potential.
Further to this, I’m sure I’m not the only accountant who has been asked to help a business reconcile their accounts from online sales, and it’s a hairball mess. The shopping cart doesn’t talk to the accounting solution, inventory is being managed manually with colourful post-it notes scattered across the office – but the website is alluring and makes customers want to open their wallet and buy!
My thoughts are if you’re a cloud accountant, bookkeeper or advisor and you’re feeling disrupted and know you need to do something but not sure exactly what – then seriously consider specialising in ecommerce. Do you like shopping – either bricks and mortar style or online with a chardonnay in hand style (or is that just me)? Thinking about it, even if you turned your focus to ecommerce, you could still narrow it down even further, niching down to gifting, toy & hobbies, electronics & Hi-Fi, the possibilities are endless. And the future ecommerce opportunities are flourishing. Do you think you could find an ecommerce niche that you would love working with?
Let’s talk about the marketing benefits of niching in ecommerce.
When people understand and have confidence in what you do they will refer work to you. You become the unique go-to expert because they know you’ll probably end up doing a better job than them – faster! So your network warmly introduces you to potential leads who could benefit from your services, and your marketing spend is reduced.
Further to this, clearly understanding your desired client, means you can minimise and target your advertising spend.
Of course, if you’re a cloud accountant, bookkeeper or advisor no-one expects you to create online websites (except your dog – your dog thinks you can do everything). A website designer or marketing agency will be responsible for the colours, graphics and copy. You’d be responsible for organising and importing inventory, overseeing how the data feeds through the solution, connecting the ecommerce side to the accounting solution and providing training on how to use the financial side of the business platform. Plus and here is a big plus, if you do a good job you’d organically develop a deep working relationship with the marketing team assisting with the implementation. This potentially leads to further referrals, and potentially access to their entire database – who need your amazing number skills!
The Neto Partner Program includes a Partner Welcome Pack to help your clients understand Neto. There are pdf brochures that you could attach to emails, logos and graphics of various sizes that you can add to websites, emails, or share via social media.
Let’s talk about the operational benefits of niching.
A clear understanding of your business’s objectives simplifies many decisions you need to make. For instance, when you’re contemplating where to invest your valuable time – you could try to learn everything, or learn a solution for a one-off implementation and/or keep ahead of all the technology, industry and compliance changes. Or you can use your time wisely and concentrate on areas that will help the business serve its target market.
Plus the average cost of training decreases, while the benefits from learning for customers increases when businesses work within and learn a specific niche.
The Neto Partner Program learning portal includes an introduction and self-learning options, with focused learning tracks that include everything from point of sale and eBay to name a few.
Working within a niche leads to a deeper understanding of nuances to be aware of, so the quality and efficiency of support offered excels exponentially. For example, you will know when a client contacts you about an issue, that experience of this issue is X, Y or Z and you can quickly handle the query. Every query does not lead to a black time-consuming hole killing your earning potential – like it seems to do when you explore a new solution!
The Neto Partner Program gives you access to a 1300 priority support number, and partner email and additional partner resources. After referring a client – Neto takes care of their support – so you don’t need to worry about finding the capacity to answer Neto support queries. There’s also an independent Facebook Neto user group you can join.
Finally, there are bottom line benefits from focusing on ecommerce. Because you’re bringing a wealth of knowledge of both numbers and ecommerce to the project you can increase your project rate. Once familiar with the solution, and with processes and procedures in place you’ll naturally streamline the work, reducing expenses. Plus there are new customer referral income opportunities. Overall there are some ways to increase bottom line profits by adopting an e-commerce niche and joining a supportive partner program.
The Neto Partner Program gives you access to a partner portal, from where you can pass details about potential clients and Neto will introduce themselves, or a unique referral link, or a customisable email, that you can send out yourself. You can assist with clients with a full implementation or Neto can provide a full suite of implementation services. Further to this Neto pays you as a partner $500 for every referral that converts into a Neto client.