Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

7 Apps that Pregnant Women Must Have in their Smartphones

Believe it or not, there are more than a thousand apps geared towards pregnant women. You can literary spend hours and hours researching which apps are the best, and how will they accommodate you. Well, to make things easier for you, here are 7 apps pregnant women simply must have on their smartphone devices.

  1. Pregnancy Sprout

This app is personal and customized. It gives info and images that adapt to your baby’s gender. It is easy to follow the development of a baby which is based on your due date. It will also allow you to scan your pregnancy at a glance, plus you can add your baby’s name as well. The app is easy and fun, and you can share your experience by posting images of your baby’s development with friends and family. Another great feature is that you can plan your doctor’s appointments, and record the answers given to you by your doctor. You can also get advice from obstetricians and mothers about all the things you will need while in a hospital.  The pregnancy sprout has a weight tracker, contraction timer, and a kick counter too.

  1. Wee Mail

Wee Mail app is here to give you the satisfaction of receiving messages from your unborn baby.  You might not realize it, but your unborn baby has a lot to say. The problem is, up till now there had not been a way to do that. You can set your due day so that the app corresponds to your week-by-week of pregnancy.

  1. My pregnancy today

This app follows you through the entire pregnancy with information which is evidence-based and accessible. If you enter your baby’s due date, my pregnancy app will turn your smartphone into an expert guide. It will give you an opportunity to see your baby grow with fetal images that were developed by medical illustrators.  You will also have access to a checklist which tells you what you need to do, and remind you of any possible appointments and more. The thing that is so special is that the app will give you a unique view of your uterus with 3-D videos.

  1. Full Term – Labor Contraction Timer

Full Term – Labor Contraction Timer is one of the better apps that track your labor contractions. If you wish to track when a contraction started and when it ended, you just have to tap, and the app will do the rest. It will keep track of duration, times, and frequency of the entire labor. The history of you labor contractions will be saved. You do not have to keep the app open the whole period. The app also gives you an opportunity to email the data to health care professionals.

  1. I’m expecting – Pregnancy app

This app will keep track of everything you or your baby are experiencing. It will give you weekly updates about the growth of your baby, and it will track any symptoms you might have and then compare them with the information of some other moms. That information can help you to get rid of some doubts or uncertainties you might had. It will also keep track of the changes you go through. If you take photos of your baby bump, you can easily upload them into the Baby Bump slideshow, and watch how your baby grows.

  1. Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson

It is a well-known fact that during pregnancy is hard sometimes to get a good night’s sleep. This app is designed not just for pregnant women, but for all those who have sleep deprivation . Just put on your headphones and drift away.  It has a calming and soothing effect. Just what a pregnant woman needs.

  1. Sleep Genius

This app promises to help people to fall asleep with some audio techniques. That probably sounds familiar but has a certain twist. It is more than just simple nature sounds. It utilizes composed sounds and music which at the end take advantage of scientific techniques which include “pink noise” and “binaural beats”. That’s the key toward relaxation and good night’s sleep. Pregnant women will see all the benefits this app provides. Even thought, it is not solely designed for pregnant women, it can be used by anyone with sleep disorders. It was developed by Fresh Consulting.

All these apps have one thing in common. They make people’s lives easier and add quality to our everyday routine.

10 best free project management software programs

1. Best free project management software: Trello

Trello utilises a project-management system developed by a former Toyota vice president, Taiichi Ohno. Every task is represented as a card, which allows you to create a visual representation of what is happening with a project. It is surprisingly effective And free if you can live with only 10MB of storage.


2. Best free project management software: Freedcamp

A more traditional type of project-management tool, Freedcamp is great for scaling up a business. It works perfectly well as a free tool for when you are starting a business, and costs very little to build on, with multiple paid-for bolt ons enabling new features as you go. It offers good admin tools, fleet management, and customer relationship management. Great for collaborating with colleagues and clients.


3. Best free project management software: Producteev

Producteev is rare in that it offers unlimited users and projects even on the free version. We can see no good reason to pay to upgrade, so if you want a long-term free project-management tool that is easy to use and flexible, look no further.


4. Best free project management software: GanttProject

Our first open-source project management tool, GanttProject offers all the features you could ever need, but has a reputation for being somewhat complex. You will never need to pay for it, however. And if you want project management software that can flex to your needs it comes recommended.


5. Best free project management software: Asana

Designed by Facebook founder Dustin Moskovitz, Asana benefits from a social-network-like level of untuition and ease. It is both simple, and effective, and offers a visual style that will help you get things done. Some users complain that it lacks the full feature set of some of the others mentioned here.


7. Best free project management software: 2-Plan Team

2-Plan offers great features for no cost, but navigating the way the software works can be tricky. In essence, get everyone working using 2-Plan Desktop, and then merge up the projects with 2-Plan Team. You won’t regret it.


8. Best free project management software: Bitrix24

Ideal for small businesses, Bitrix24 remains free forever, so long as you don’t exceed 12 users. Other great small- or home office features include the ability to communicate across multiple locations, and free cloud storage for your projects.


9. Best free project management software: BamBam!

Another tip for which we thank, BamBam! is free for up to 10 users, and allows unlimited projects and storage for those 10 users.

10. Best free project management software: Zoho Projects

Unlimited in terms of users and projects, the free version of Zoho Projects is limited to only 10MB of storage.

Know if your PC is infected with Viruses, Trojans or other Malware

The reason why most computer malware are so deadly is because many users fail to recognize whether they have been infected or not. Had they detected the infection at an earlier stage, the damage caused could have been greatly reduced. As each virus is programmed differently, it becomes difficult to identify a virus outbreak. However, there are some general symptoms that make it easy to detect an infected computer. Here are some of them:-

1) Programs won’t start or crash suddenly: If some system programs like the task manager or registry editor have suddenly stopped working or crash randomly without any visible reason, it is more than likely that your computer has got some form of worm that is attaching itself to various programs and thus, corrupting their code. A virus modifying registry entries to prevent these programs from running could also cause this.

2) Unusual Network Traffic: If even after closing your browser and other applications that may use the internet, you see that your computer is still downloading or uploading anything, then your computer is possibly infected with some form of spyware that is either downloading other viruses to your computer or is uploading your private information to a remote computer. In case you use a wifi connection, it is also possible that your neighbors are using your network. If that indeed is the case, you need to make sure that wireless network is properly secured.

3) Internet Connection not available or is slow: If suddenly, your internet connection has stopped working or has become extermely slow, it is possible that a malware is the cause. However, problems with your internet service provider could also be the cause of such issues.

4) Annoying Popups or Redirection to Strange Websites: If there has been an increase in the number of annoying popups while browsing the internet or your web browser redirects you to a different website from the one you wanted to visit, a virus or adware might be the cause.

5) Computer won’t boot: If your computer has suddenly stopped booting, it is possible that some malware has modified your computer’s system files. In such a situation, re-installing or repairing your operating system might be the only solution.

6) Slow Computer: Some viruses are designed specifically for this purpose. Malware programmers achieve this by designing viruses that increase your CPU’s usage level to 100%. If on running the Task Manager, you find that your CPU’s usage is constantly at 100% level, a malware might be the cause.

7) Programs start automatically: Some viruses and adware automatically start strange programs on your computer in order to show unwanted advertisements or simply to frustrate users.

8) Unusual File Associations: Some viruses change .exe or other file associations which prevents these files from opening. Some viruses also do this to automatically start themselves when a file of a particular type is started.

9) Security Software Disabled: Most malware disable antiviruses and firewalls to prevent themselves from being detected. If only a single software stops working, it might be a specific software failure issue. If it is a general trend and almost every security software is facing this issue, a virus infection is most likely.

10) Weird Behaviour: If your computer automatically starts sending emails or opens strange applications randomly or does things different from its “normal” behaviour, your computer is most likely compromised by malware.

Most malware infections can however be avoided by using a powerful antivirus software and following some best security practices.

Convert PDF to Word and Word to PDF with Free Software

PDF and Word (.doc and .docx) are two document formats most computer users encounter on a frequent basis. PDF files have advantages of being platform independent, hard to edit and smaller in size. Word documents on the other hand are easy to edit, format and read on devices that support them. While both of these formats have their advantages, many users have felt the need to convert one to the other to take advantage of the other’s features.

There are many paid software and tools that support this conversion, but most of them are too expensive. There are many free online conversion tools as well but either they result in low quality conversion with lots of missing resources or take too much time due to server limitations. Most of these online tools limit the size of files you can convert. Also, many people are not comfortable with uploading their personal files on a third party server.

In this situation, the only solution to obtain high quality conversion from one format to the other and that too quickly is using a program installed on your PC. There are many free software that support this but the problem with most of them is that they do not offer high quality conversion and result in lots of missing resources. However, there are certain free products that offer quick and high quality conversion from PDF to Word and vice versa. This article contains some such software.

In this article:
1. Convert PDF to Word
2. Convert Word to PDF

Convert PDF to Word

Open Office
The basic version of Open Office that you download from lacks PDF operability. To add PDF functionality to Open Office, you will need to install the PDF Import extension. If you have older versions of Open Office, you can use the older version of this extension. LibreOffice, an office suite descended from Open Office has this extension included by default.
While Open Office does not support direct conversion of PDF files to Word documents, you can use an indirect method to achieve this conversion. To do this, open any PDF document in Open Office Draw and copy all its elements with Ctrl+A followed by Ctrl+C. Now open Open Office Writer and press Ctrl+V and then save the file as a Word document. In this way, you can get a Word document of your PDF file with remarkable accuracy.

You can also directly edit the PDF file with Open Office Draw just as easily as a Word document.

UniPDF is a small free utility that lets you convert PDF files to Word documents with speed and accuracy. It also offers conversion of PDF files to RTF, JPEG, PNG, GIF, HTML and plain text. While it lacks a plethora of features, it is good at what it promises to do; convert PDF files.

Both of these programs run on Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. It is interesting to note that PDF to word conversion is possible only if the PDF file is not a scanned image and was created as a text document.

Online Tools
While the above mentioned offline tools will be enough for most conversion needs, it is always good to have a few options. These online tools provide accurate and fast conversion from PDF to Word.

ConvertFiles: Limits the file size to 250 MB. Offers high quality conversion with OCR support.
ConvertOnlineFree: Limits the file size to 30 MB. Is a good option but lacks OCR support.

Convert Word to PDF

Open Office can be effectively used for this purpose. Just open a Word Document in Open Office Writer and use its Export as PDF option to immediately get a PDF version. Similarly, you can use Open Office to convert XLS and PPT files to PDF as well.

How to Edit PDF Files: Free Online & Offline Tools

PDF, or the Portable Document Format is one of the most popular format for document sharing. Its popularity is mainly because PDF files are multi-platform (can be run on most devices without any change in formatting), smaller in size, can be opened on most devices with free software and are difficult to edit as they are “read only”.

Despite PDF files being “read only” by default, there are certain tools and software you can use to change the contents of a PDF file for free without resorting to paid software like Adobe Acrobat.

Free Tools To Edit PDF files

Edit PDF Files Online
If you are looking for basic PDF editing (changing bits of text to hide your personal information or simply filling a form), you can try PDFEscape to edit PDF files right in your browser. It allows you to modify text, images and add annotations with the help of custom shapes and arrows. One of PDF Escape’s great feature is its ability to password protect PDF files. It also allows you to hide text with its white out tool (this is different from deleting it). It even lets you edit password protected PDF files and add hyperlinks to web addresses. To use PDF Escape, all you need is a JavaScript enabled web browser.

2 step PDF Editing

This basically involves converting PDF files into another format and then editing the converted PDF file. After editing, you can use a PDF writer to reconvert the edited file back to PDF.

If your PDF file can be suitably edited as a Word document, you can use a PDF to Word converter for instant conversion. Edit the converted file and then, you can use any free PDF writer to recreate a PDF file. If you have Open Office, you can use its export as PDF feature to create a PDF file from almost any printable document.

Multivalent Browser: Multivalent browser offers minimal PDF editing in the form of allowing to add annotations. It also contains several command line tools which allow for merging and compressing PDF files.

Edit Meta data of PDF files
Meta Data is the information that is associated with a PDF file. If you wish to change this information, you can use the free PDFMetaEdit to edit information like title, author name, bookmarks and other creation data of a PDF document. PDFMetaEdit can also be used to remove and add passwords (encrypt) to PDF files.

Advanced PDF Editors (editing text, images etc.)

The freeware tools mentioned above will be useful for most users with basic PDF editing requirements. However, if you have advanced PDF editing needs, the above tools will not be that useful. There are some advanced PDF editing tools available that are as good as most paid products.

Open Office Draw

The open source alternative to Microsoft Office can also be used as an alternative to Adobe Acrobat. All you need is the PDF Import extension (older version here). Then you can use Open Office Draw to easily and quickly edit PDF files. With Open Office Draw’s inline editing features, you can edit any PDF document as easily as you can edit a Word document. It also supports adding and replacing images, changing font size and color, replacing default font-family, adding annotations, charts, shapes, tables all through an easy to use interface.

To load the PDF Import extension in Open Office, just open Extension Manager from the Tools Menu, click on Add and then select the location of the downloaded extension. For those of you who want a PDF Editor without any initial setup, LibreOffice, an Office suite descended from Open Office, has this extension included by default. If you don’t mind the download size, Open Office Draw is simply the best free PDF editor available.

Inkscape: Inkscape is a vector graphics editor that allows you import and export PDF files. You can use Inkscape to select text, image or any other object on a PDF file and then change its position or even delete it. It also lets you do free hand drawing on PDF files and add annotations. While Inkscape offers some really good features, its complex interface makes it difficult for users to use it. Moreover, it only allows you to edit only a single page at a time. You can, however, convert these to a single PDF file using a PDF combiner.

PDFTools: PDFTools is a PDF management application that supports encrypting, decrypting (remove password), joining and splitting PDF files. Its Stamp feature can be used to add text and images over a PDF file. You can stamp to the location of your choice using the X and Y co-ordinates. It includes a PDF creator which can be used to create a PDF file from any XML document. It also supports re-arranging pages in a PDF file.

GIMP: GIMP or the GNU Image Manipulation Program can also be used as a PDF editor. Just import any PDF file as an image or a layer, then edit it, and then use its export function to get a PDF file. The only downside is that like Inkscape, GIMP also allows you to edit only a single page at a time. You can, however, easily combine these to get a single PDF file using free software like the above mentioned PDFTools.

PDF-XChange Viewer: The free version of PDF-XChange viewer can be used to directly type text on PDF files. This makes this software a good PDF form filler. Its image stamp feature can be used to insert images directly on any PDF document.

PDFEdit: PDFEdit is a full fledged PDF editor for Unix-Like operating systems. Its downside is that it does not support editing protected or encrypted PDF files. PDFEdit has a beta version for Windows, but it didn’t work for me.

How To Easily Build Your Own Website (Even If You Are Not Techy)!

Nowadays, you don’t have to be a tech wiz in order to build a website. In fact, you don’t even have to be tech-savvy. Website building is no longer reserved for the technology experts who know the ins and outs of computers and can write code. There are easy to use website builders such as with ready made templates. With drag and drop editors, and endless choices of templates and functions, anyone can create a professional and great-looking website within minutes. If you can fill out a form, you can build your own beautiful and functional website exactly to your taste!

In the past, professionals and individuals looking to create a website have been forced to hire expensive professional graphic designers and computer programmers to do all of the work for them. Not any more! Building your own site is simple, and will save you tons of money. You won’t even have to install any programs onto your computer, because most website building companies are accessible via web browser.

The basic premise of these website builders is easy-use for the average Joe. These companies have recognized that more and more people without the skill to build sites are interested in doing so, and they’ve provided the solution. These new site builders are as simple as the word processor that you use at home. They make use of pre-set templates that you can choose, which immediately give you a general outline for your desired website. You can start with a basic template and then just follow the simple instructions to customize the design of your site to your taste. You control everything, including the backgrounds, colors as well as interesting textures. A simple site can literally be done in a matter of minutes! Here’s the:

Simple Step-By-Step Process:

  • Choose a template
  • Choose images
  • Upload your text and multi-media
  • Customize it

It’s really that easy. These easy to use website builders will provide you with all of the technological advancements and options that an expensive professional would charge you a small fortune for. And that is not all! Nowadays it is estimated that people spend up to 40% of their Internet time on their mobile devices. The leading Website building company even gives you the ability to make your site mobile compatible, giving you the best of all worlds. That’s certainly not a market you want to miss out on and a feature that professional site builders will charge extra for.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t be intimidated. Head over to and find out for yourself how easy and simple building your dream website can be!

Integrate Magento to NetSuite: 5 Commonly Missed Requirements

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, the pairing of Magento and NetSuite for ecommerce and back office is one of the best dollar-for-dollar business systems investments a company can make. Magento (Magento Enterprise in particular) provides enterprise quality features to maximize the value you can achieve from each site visitor. NetSuite provides a robust and flexible suite of tools for managing all of the events that happen after the sale, as well as, insights into your customers and business operations to continually evolve and improve the business. Whether your business is B2B or B2C focused, this combination can provide an excellent foundation for business growth.

The main stumbling block companies tend to encounter when using this combination is actually integrating the two systems. A common mistake when implementing one or both of these systems is to overlook the actual business requirements for what you want to accomplish by connecting the two systems, and precisely how these two systems need to communicate to accomplish those goals. There are a number of approaches, ranging from purely manual to fully automated, and the best approach for your business will depend on a number of factors. Beyond the B2B vs. B2C distinction (a big distinction as you consider integration options), other factors such as order volume, number of SKUs, and frequency of changes to data are all factors that should play into the decision. Knowing specifically what experience you want to create for your customers, and the information your business needs to successfully operate, are critical steps in planning your integration.

Assuming your business needs some degree of automation, the options break down into two categories:

  1. Integration “connectors” can be a quick solution to get up and running. They’re often programmed to sufficiently meet the most common 70% of business use cases, and are generally priced as a “monthly” fee, which spreads the cash flow over time (assuming you’re actually allowed to pay monthly). As a general rule of thumb, consider pre-built connectors as a small house with a low mortgage payment: If your requirements fit in that house, it’s a nice cozy home you can afford on a tight budget. If your requirements fall somewhat outside that home, it can be inconvenient, uncomfortable, or simply not a good fit at all, regardless of how cheap it is to maintain. The decision on whether or not to stay in that home becomes a factor of just how much pain it introduces to your life versus the benefit it provides.
  2. Custom Built Integrations generally take longer to develop, and are thus more costly up front. However, they are tailored to your specific business requirements, which means they accomplish 100% of what you need to meet your business goals. Rather than living on a vendor’s servers, they can co-exist on the same server as your Magento installation because you own the code base. To continue the analogy, a custom built integration is the home you’ve always wanted, where every room has a purpose and you’ve left yourself plenty of room for expansion on a big piece of property. The catch is that you had to pay for your house up front, but in exchange you own your home outright– there’s no monthly mortgage. The decision on whether or not to have the home of your dreams is similarly a factor of how much pain it alleviates as compared to the cost of alleviating that pain.

There are hundreds of factors to be considered in determining the business requirements surrounding a NetSuite Magento Integration. I’ve selected five below that are both common among ecommerce businesses and tend to be more tricky than they might appear at first blush.

Data to Move Between NetSuite and Magento

When most people look to integrate their website to their accounting system, they think of three things:

  • New Customers should flow from Magento to NetSuite;
  • Item Quantities should flow from NetSuite to Magento, and update as orders are placed in Magento; and
  • Orders placed in Magento should flow into NetSuite, tied to the customer, referencing the items purchased.

While these certainly represent the core types of data, it leaves very large gaps both on the Magento side and on the NetSuite side. For example: If your customers are able to login and see their order history, should that history include any orders they placed via the phone directly with a support rep? If so, then you likely need an integration to push Order data from NetSuite to Magento, but only when that customer exists in both systems. Understanding the points at which you interact with your customers, and how you want your customers to experience those touch points, is very important to planning a successful integration.

As a best practice, I generally recommend starting by listing the different transaction and data types that are tied to a customer. In the B2C world, for example, Invoices may not apply but Return Authorizations may be heavily used. Similarly, in the B2B world, many customers won’t check out with or store credit card information, whereas B2C customers may expect this functionality. Fundamentally, these decisions pivot on a detailed understanding of the experience you are trying to provide your customers, and making a plan that ensures they have the ability to create, access, and send data that makes their transaction with you as frictionless as possible.

As discussed above, pre-built connectors tend to be targeted at the most common business requirements. But each business has (and SHOULD have) a unique formula for customer interactions, transaction policies, and the ways in which they strive to make an excellent customer experience. Understanding and planning for the business goals driving your Magento NetSuite integration will serve as an excellent litmus test for evaluating whether a connector can be used or a custom integration is required.

How and When to Capture Funds

Working with credit cards can be fraught with complications. Leaving aside security concerns for the moment, think through the chain of events that are required to checkout with a credit card: The user inputs their card information to your site; your site transmits that card information via payment gateway to a merchant account; that merchant account facilitates communication with the issuing bank of the customer’s credit card, ensuring funds move from their account to your account; the response from the customer’s bank flows back up the chain to the merchant account, to the gateway, and to your website, where a success or rejection response is provided to the customer. All this happens nearly instantly.

Credit card security (generally lumped into the category of PCI Compliance) adds another dimension. Not only must we pass data across multiple links in this chain, but it must be done securely, and the timing and information must conform to particular guidelines.

In a typical ecommerce flow, the customer’s credit card is authorized at the time the order is placed. This Authorization ensures the card is valid and has sufficient funds for the transaction, and generally places a “hold” on those funds. The key here is that authorizations are valid for a finite number of days, for a fixed dollar amount, and are tied to a specific authorization token. This is all in place to help prevent fraudulent activities.

But what if your business doesn’t conform exactly to traditional ecommerce processes?

Scenario 1: A company sells customized furniture online, which generally has an 8-10 week build time. By the time the furniture is ready to ship, the authorization would have long since expired. As a result, the company’s process needs to be different in that they both authorize AND capture funds from the Customer credit card at the time of purchase. This mitigates the risk of the customer placing an order for custom furniture and then refusing to pay 8 weeks later when it’s complete.

In this scenario, Magento needs to initiate both the authorization and funds capture. The data pushed via your integration to NetSuite will contain a slightly different set of information. Additionally, there are settings on the sales order that must be set to prevent NetSuite from attempting to re-charge the card on fulfillment.

Free tip: In this case, the “Get Authorization” field must be set to FALSE and the Credit Card Approved field set to TRUE on the Sales Order. When the Sales Order is billed and transformed to a Cash Sale to record the accounting impact of the revenue, this combination will tell the system to set the “Charge Credit Card” field on the Cash Sale to FALSE, and the Credit Card Approved field to TRUE, and ensure the system merely posts the Cash Sale as Revenue, and does not attempt to recharge the customer credit card.

Scenario 2: Some businesses need to store credit card information for subsequent transactions. It could be the business will ship an order in multiple installments, only charging the card when items have shipped. If they are performing funds capture as the items ship over time, likely the original authorization has expired, requiring they have the card on-file to charge the next increment. Alternatively, a company may sell a product that also has a recurring subscription component. This may involve a recurring monthly charge for months or years into the future, which requires the card to be stored and accessible. This second scenario introduces data integration questions regarding both the secure passing and storage of credit card data.

A business cannot assume that either a pre-built connector or a custom integration will simply be setup to do these types of activities. These are generally detailed conversations in the solution planning phase of a project to ensure the underlying business requirements are well defined, the spectrum of data to be passed related to credit cards is well understood, a secure method of transmission and storage is in place, and the configurations of NetSuite are such that they will support the ongoing nature of these transactions.

Handling Sales Discounts and Promotion Codes

For all the things NetSuite does really well, Promotion Codes and Sales Discounts have not traditionally been included in that list. NetSuite’s promotion codes are stored at the header level of the Sales Order transaction. The promotion code contains rules for when it will or will not apply, and is tied to a discount item that actually dictates the dollar or percent discount to be applied to the order. This model has some limitations:

  • There is only ONE field for tracking the Promotion Code used, meaning a customer cannot use multiple promotion codes on the same order.
  • The application of a promotion code is limited by the rules specified by NetSuite. If your rules involve discounts for some items, BOGOs for others, or are linked by other relationship logic, NetSuite’s promo codes may not natively work.

Most integration connectors assume your use of Promotion Codes in Magento follows one of two approaches:

  1. You will limit your use of Magento to match the capabilities of NetSuite, meaning less robust capabilities for customer discounts in your webstore; OR
  2. You will only pass the net transaction amount (original less the discount to be applied) into NetSuite. In this scenario, you can do whatever you want for promotion codes in Magento, but you have to live with less reporting visibility in NetSuite when those discount codes are applied.

Obviously both of these are undesirable options. Part of the reason companies implement Magento is to leverage the more sophisticated toolset it provides. Similarly, passing only the net transaction amounts negates much of the reporting natively found in NetSuite when using promotion codes and discount items. It’s important, therefore, to build a detailed understanding of both sides of this fence before planning your integration so that you maintain flexibility in your use of Promotion Codes in Magento without risking a loss of reporting data and visibility into customer behaviors in NetSuite.

Handling Sales Tax

Beyond being a boring subject, Sales Tax collection has the additional distinction of being a very difficult subject. The landscape is complex, and is currently in a state of flux. As of the writing of this entry, there are changes taking place at both the state and federal levels to attempt to restructure the ways in which sales tax is collected on internet sales.

Limiting our discussion here to purely domestic (US) ecommerce, most states have a patchwork of tax rules by jurisdiction, generally rolling up separate district, city, county, and state tax rates into a combined “rate” for a particular address. Unfortunately, the details determining which rate to use are often more granular than zip code or state, sometimes changing house-by-house in some jurisdictions. Strict compliance is challenging to say the least, and businesses often need to make a materiality decision on how best to approach the problem. Moreover, a business likely does not have a tax nexus in every state. As a VERY general rule (please please please consult your CPA) an operational presence in a state, such as an office, remote employees based in that state, or a distribution center, will establish a nexus in that state. Businesses beware: As mentioned above, this environment is changing. Washington State, for example, has in the past few years become very aggressive in determining a business has a nexus in their state. One of my clients participated once a year in a 4-day consumer show held at a Washington State fairground. The state of Washington determined this established a business nexus in the state at the same level as having a physical store in the state, and demanded they remit sales tax for ALL orders they had shipped to Washington State via their ecommerce site (not just sales from the show) for all the years they had participated in the show, resulting in a tax bill of tens of thousands of dollars.

Magento’s out-of-the-box tax calculation rules are fairly straightforward, and as a result are not generally sophisticated enough to meet actual statutory regulations. They simply aim to get close and make a good faith effort. Additional add-on services are available to attempt to make this more accurate, but they typically are no more accurate than capabilities in NetSuite. However, NetSuite by no means makes the solution easy. There are three separate tax configurations in NetSuite (Tax, Advanced Taxes, Per-Line Tax) that build on each other to provide increasingly specific levels of control. At the end of the day, the tax is still only calculated to the Zip Code level of granularity, meaning jurisdictions with more fine-grain tax rules will still be inaccurate.

There are many approaches to solving these problems. Some common approaches include integrating to NetSuite’s tax tables to augment Magento and get a much more accurate (but still imprecise) calculation; always charge the highest tax rate per jurisdiction to be “safe,” knowing you will overpay by a fraction of a percent but avoid legal issues; or integrating to more sophisticated third party software that better manages tax liability.

Obviously, all three of these approaches will impact your integration plans. If, for example, the business decides to leverage the tools it has and integrate NetSuite Advanced Tax tables to Magento, most likely the pre-built connector does not have a pre-built solution for this data set, and Magneto’s tax tables will need to be augmented to accommodate the richer data set from NetSuite. Suddenly the goal of saving money by avoiding a third party service means paying for one integration, custom building a second integration, modifying Magento, and still having a less than perfect solution to tax. Similarly, integrating to a third party service means there is an additional data call to an external source that has to take place as a part of checkout, which means orchestrating two integration services around the same checkout action.

It’s not an easy problem to solve, and, as mentioned above, there is a cost-benefit analysis on the materiality of just how precise one needs to be, as the additional cost of precise compliance may exceed the benefits of achieving compliance. But understanding the legal and business framework in which your ecommerce site is going to operate is an incredibly important step on the path to a successful NetSuite Magento integration.

Impact of Specific Magento or NetSuite Configurations

NetSuite and Magento are two sophisticated platforms. They offer a wide range of features that are more configuration than customization, allowing the tools to be molded to your business, rather than molding your business to fit the tools. An unintended consequence of this flexibility is that settings between systems can be setup to conflict with each other, and sometimes pre-built integration connectors aren’t capable of resolving the conflict or gracefully failing in a way that allows you to resolve the issue.

Given the depth and breadth of both systems, I’ll limit the discussion here to just a couple common issues:

  1. Multi-Location Inventory: This is an easy one, since most pre-built connectors WILL have a configuration option to accommodate. Multi-Location Inventory in NetSuite (MLI) allows the business to track items in different Locations, typically representing physical warehouses. The attribute is configured just like Departments or Classes, but has a more ubiquitous impact on the system in that every transaction requires a Location designation. For an integrated ecommerce site, this means making sure the integration is looking at the proper location (or locations) when determining available inventory quantities, and submitting the order to the appropriate location for fulfillment.
  2. NetSuite Custom Form Configurations: NetSuite allows users to configure different forms for different purposes. For example, a Customer Support Sales Order form may have basic order details, but not allow edits and hide credit card information. Custom forms can be configured such that fields are required or disabled when using that form, but are enabled and optional when using other forms, and vice versa. When integrating customer and order data from Magento to NetSuite, it’s important to understand your NetSuite configurations and how they may impact the successful transmission of data to the system. If a field is required or disabled on the UI form in NetSuite, but the integration has not been setup to capture and pass that info, submitting that record may fail.
  3. Workflows (SuiteFlow): The SuiteFlow/Workflows tool is an excellent mechanism for users to create custom business rules and processes without the need to write code. However, these will often include rules setup for users operating through the NetSuite User Interface, and not be configured to operate for orders being created via an integration with Magento. Ensuring the execution context is either limited to the user interface, or includes web services integrations (based on whether or not you want the Workflows to execute on Magento-originating data) is an important review step in successfully integrating the two systems.

Integrating two systems is a complicated business. Different software is built by different teams, with different goals, and under differing levels of planning. Fortunately, NetSuite and Magento are both built on a foundation that assumes they will be integrating with other systems. As such, the bulk of time spent in an integration between these two systems should be spend in mapping the business processes and touch points between the two systems to ensure the two end points can successfully communicate. While there are certainly challenges, and a long list of potential gotchas to avoid, it’s not a unique problem, and it has been solved for many businesses in the past. The key is understanding your business requirements and understanding the deep capabilities and features of these two systems.

November 2017
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