Spreadsheets are a go-to tool for countless teams and companies. You might even be using one right now. But is it actually the best tool for storing, managing, and visualizing your business’s data? It’s time that we seriously weighed the advantages and disadvantages of using Google Sheets for your eCommerce business.
Spreadsheets are free.
For most businesses, spreadsheet software is readily available and often free. Whether your company uses Microsoft Excel or runs on Google Workspace’s Google Sheets, most people with an internet connection can access a spreadsheet.
Spreadsheets require minimal training.
Whether you’ve used a spreadsheet to manage your personal finances, or have spent countless hours building pivot tables for previous roles; chances are you’ve had some hands-on experience using spreadsheets. Outside of building complicated formulas, recording information in spreadsheets is fairly intuitive and does not require intensive training to get the hang of. This makes spreadsheets an accessible option for teams that are scaling fast and don’t have time to train new employees to use complicated software.
Spreadsheets are customizable.
Spreadsheets are highly customizable, especially if you know how to use their multitude of formulas and functions. You can create any type of document with a spreadsheet, even a calendar.
Because they’re so customizable, they can also be intimidating to use. You’re not even sure where to begin unless there’s a spreadsheet template available for what you want to do. So if you do want to use spreadsheets for business, it’s important that at least one of your team members knows how to customize a spreadsheet to streamline a business process.
Spreadsheets can be more collaborative than other tools.
Most business tools these days provide some collaboration features. For instance, Trello allows teams to manage projects in one interface. But no tool provides the same amount of visibility as a spreadsheet.
Spreadsheets can be freely edited by anyone on the team, so there’s an automatic increase in collaboration. While other tools may bar some permissions based on team members’ titles or managerial levels; there are no such restrictions with spreadsheets (unless you purposefully restrict permissions).
Do note that this is only true for online tools such as Google Sheets. A tool that’s downloaded on your local drive, like Excel, wouldn’t be as collaborative, because the file is only available on your laptop.
Spreadsheets are not secure.
As opposed to a dedicated system that requires access to log in, spreadsheets can be disseminated to anyone, anywhere with the simple send of an email. This makes it easy for a disgruntled or dishonest employee to share leads and customer data with external contacts (read: your competitors).
It’s hard to tell who edited the spreadsheet
While spreadsheets are excellent collaborative tools that allow anyone in your team to add information, it’s hard to tell who edited a cell. This can make it difficult to pinpoint the appropriate party if an error happens or if something else goes amiss with the sheet.
In sales specifically, establishing an orderly system to divide up leads and customers when you’re working from spreadsheets is tough. Unless you train your reps to take meticulous notes and follow a rigorous documentation process, there’s no indication of who last reached out to a customer or prospect, what the content of the message was, and when the interaction took place.
There will be multiple versions of the truth
Everyone might start out working from the same data … but it probably won’t stay that way for long. Every time a rep makes a change to the master spreadsheet, they’ll need to upload it to a central repository for the edits to be communicated to the rest of the team.
And if they forget to do that, you’ll have several versions of the “single” spreadsheet — all with slightly different data. How will you know which one is right? That’s a sure recipe for creating a messy sales process.
Spreadsheets are prone to errors
With so many people having their hands on a single spreadsheet, and with so many edits and calculations happening at once, it’s natural that spreadsheets will contain some type of error. If you’re hoping for accuracy, don’t expect to get it from spreadsheets. That’s why it’s wise to invest in a database software that can quickly and accurately resolve errors on its own, or flag them to you for fixing them. Because the worst part about spreadsheets, especially large ones, is that it’s easy to miss errors unless you’re continuously combing it row-by-row.
The advantages and disadvantages of using Google Sheets for your eCommerce business comes down to two main factors. They’re free (with a Microsoft Office or Google Workspace implementation), and they don’t require training.
These are certainly valid reasons — especially for a small company without cash to burn or training resources. But a database tool, such as the HubSpot CRM, is a much better fit for most teams. And the best part? A CRM can be just as low-cost as a spreadsheet. Ditch the spreadsheets along with all of their various problems, and get a CRM to effectively grow your team and your company.
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