Last month I reported that getting Morning Flight invoices into QuickBooks ranked high on most users' wish list. I also said that because Intuit had abandoned the old IIF import format in favor of a more reliable SDK, we were taking another stab at it. We did, and within days had the link working.
As newsworthy as that may be, the big story this month is the SkyPricer. On July 22, I was granted a provisional patent for a "Method for Managing Prices and Descriptions of Products on a Shopping Web Site." Not just for printed products, but for any type of merchandise, even cars and T-Shirts. Which makes the SkyPricer kind of a big deal.
After spending nearly a year developing the prototype and, on a parallel track, writing a patent for it, I can finally release some details about the nature of this exciting new pricing tool. Frankly, it was killing me not to. If you're unfamiliar with patents, spilling the beans about how your invention works before it's officially "Patent Pending" instantly turns your brainchild into prior art - an idea no longer new, ergo no longer patentable.
So now we have two new projects waiting in the hangar. I can see where we'll be working crazy hours until we launch both of them. After we celebrate a little.
Unitac International Inc.
Importing Morning Flight Invoices into QuickBooks
It's hard to find a small business that doesn't use QuickBooks to generate its invoices. The Gold and Pixelblitz editions of Morning Flight also generate invoices but won't track receivables. For that you need a full-blown accounting program, and with Intuit's market share topping 80%, chances are good it will be QuickBooks.
Given all that, small wonder that requests for a Morning Flight / QuickBooks link have been jamming our suggestion box. That link will enter beta testing in just a couple of weeks. When the finished product is announced in our next FlyBy, here is what you'll need:
1. An updated version of the Gold or digital-only Pixelblitz edition. Why only those two editions? None of the others generate invoices. The Gold and Pixelblitz will include an enhanced Flight Engineer that can punch out CSV import files in the QuickBooks format.
2. A commercial import utility such as the Transaction Pro Importer from Baystate. We tested a number of these and found the Baystate product the most functional and trouble-free. The program supports 28 different QB import types in addition to customers and invoices. Baystate advertises an installed user base of 15,000 and has been certified as a Gold Developer by Intuit.
Current users of Morning Flight Gold and Pixelblitz will be offered updated versions at no charge when they're released. "Current User" means the order was placed before we released the update. The Transaction Pro 5 Importer is available directly from Baystate and sells for 199.95 with a perpetual use license. A trial version can be downloaded from the Baystate website.
Read more: Transaction Pro Importer 5
The SkyPricer in a Nutshell
Thinking about putting up a webstore? Nothing to it. Sign up with a Shopping Cart Vendor like BigCommerce (29.95/month - no contract), pick a theme, decide what products you want to offer, and start putting those products up on your shelves. Of course, you need to price those products before you can upload them, but any Morning Flight edition can help you with that.
Let's start with a simple flyer, printed digitally on 70 lb. white Text in quantities of 250, 500, 1,000, 2,500, 5,000, 7,500, 10,000, and 20,000. So eight prices for black then, eight for color, sixteen altogether, yes? OK, we're good. Let's run with that.
Wait a second! Shouldn't we offer a choice of paper, say 70 lb. colored Text and 80 lb. white Coated? Good point. Forty-eight prices to fill in then, sixteen times three. Let's call it a wrap. Except, and I hate to bring it up at this hour, but somebody is bound to want them folded ... Oh, phooey! Ninety-six prices? You're sure? For a stupid flyer?
You can see where this is going. Ninety-six happens to be on the low side. Up the quantity or paper options and the count will go higher. Price the flyer for offset and you can end up with hundreds. Welcome to the black hole of pricing for Web2Print. Stocking online shelves with "products with variations" (which all printed products are by virtue of being offered in different quantities) is hardly fun. It's tedious, mind-numbing work. Weeks and weeks of it.
I became aware of that a year ago when I sat in on a Web2Print webinar. Managers from two large Chicago outfits conceded that it took them six months from the time they had their store up and running to where they had products on the shelf and could open their doors.
Which also gave me the idea for the SkyPricer. There isn't enough space in a FlyBy to cover all the details, so we'll either add a special section on the morningflight.com website or put up a new site dedicated to the SkyPricer. We have a lot to talk about.
All that pricing I alluded to earlier? You won't have to deal with any of that. The SkyPricer will do it for you, using your existing Morning Flight rates. When you're ready, it will generate a CSV file of all your online products that you can then import into a variety of shopping cart software.
Tip of the Month
Exporting customers out of Morning Flight is much easier than importing them from software we're not familiar with. Why? Because in Morning Flight, contacts are stored in their own file, whereas QuickBooks and most other accounting software include them in the customer file. With our approach there's no limit to the number of contacts you can assign. Their approach makes them easier to transfer.
The question doesn't come up all that often. The customer rolls of our users rarely exceed one or two thousand. With the 80/20 rule in play (where 20% of your customers account for 80% of your sales), and considering that the best time to clean house is when you're changing software, most new users enter their 100 or so best customers up front, then add others as needed.
The up front part is where you need a power tool. Go to File > Add Customers on the main menu bar and you'll see the window above. What's unique about this window is that when you click OK, the customer data is saved, but the window stays open, ready to accept the next customer. To close the window, click the Exit door.