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Jul 04

11 Unique Sales Promotion Examples to Help You Stand Out and Attract Foot Traffic

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Vend

These days, it seems like every retailer is running some sort of sales promotion. 25% off, $5 off a purchase of $50 or more, buy-one-get-one-free — these approaches are becoming so commonplace that it’s easy to get lost in the mix.

Some outside-the-box creative thinking can help you come up with unique ideas that will differentiate your sales promos from the rest. We’ve compiled 11 ideas to help get your creative juices flowing.

1. Collaborations

Partnering with other brands and/or local businesses is one way to expand your reach and leverage others’ resources and experiences (while sharing your own). Retailers can collaborate to execute unique sales promotions with a variety of angles.

One such example is City Workshop Men’s Supply Company, a menswear store in West Orange, N.J. They co-hosted a giveaway with ani ramen, a restaurant in the next town over, and the winner would receive $100 for a dinner date night.

Customers had to visit City Workshop to enter, and if they made a purchase, they’d be entered twice. “This introduced our people to the restaurant, and the restaurant introduced their people to our shop,” says Josefina Stevens, co-owner of the store. “This cross-promotion was a lot of fun, and people were excited about it. We had a lot of customers coming to enter and purchasing products.”

2. Do something good

Consumers are increasingly demanding more corporate social responsibility from brands. According to various studies and surveys, 90% of consumers want to see more “responsible” products from retailers, and more than half will pay more for those goods. So you can actually run a sales promotion without decreasing the price if you don’t want to.

Here are some ways your sales promos can give back:

  • Donate to a cause or organization for every in-store purchase made during your promo
  • Sell products made by local artisans
  • Host a pet adoption fair, during which time customers can shop your store too
  • Reward customers with a discount for proof of their doing good

Chick-fil-A and Amazon, for example, have both awarded me with $5 gift cards for donating blood to the American Red Cross.

3. Direct mail

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to forget about old-school methods of marketing and advertising. And that’s just as well, because that means that those businesses that do leverage traditional promotion tactics may have an opportunity to be more impressionable.

Chad Rubin, CEO at Skubana, also believes that direct mail is a largely untapped opportunity for retailers. “Direct marketing has been vastly underutilized, as companies have been transitioning to email,” he told us. “You may consider a postcard in the mail as a way to retarget 2nd-time buyers.”

Many grocery stores still use direct mail — in fact, my apartment building has an entire recycling bin next to the mailboxes dedicated to disposing of this stuff. However, I recently received a postcard from Blue Apron that was more eye-catching, and didn’t immediately end up in the bottom of the bin.

If you execute it well, on-brand and with the correct imagery and messaging, your direct mail campaign can drive lots of shoppers to your store. A well-designed invitation to shop could be all you need to reignite interest in your store.

4. Meet the maker

Consumers love to know what, and more importantly who, is behind your products. Nearly half of Millennials, for example, are more likely to purchase from your store if they know who made the merchandise. Meet the maker events are one unique sales promotion that can drive in-store sales.

We see this example frequently at book stores, which often host book signings with the authors. You can discount the products or not — regardless, you’re providing added value to your customers. They get an intimate and immersive product experience, plus a fancy signature to show off to their friends.

Retailers who don’t sell books can also take this approach. If you sell wine, bring in the guy who stomps the grapes at the winery to lead an educational session, followed by a tasting and free glass. Or maybe you bring in a designer from one of the clothing labels you carry so they can debut their new line and host a Q&A. Whatever your product, get creative and think about who made it come to life and how that’d be interesting to your audience.

5. Bag sale

This next unique sales promotion idea is also a really fun and sometimes challenging one: a whatever-you-can-fit-in-this-bag-is-a-single-price sale, for lack of a better word.

Here’s how it works: You provide a shopping bag, cart or other container for shoppers to use to hold their items while shopping. They can then purchase everything that fits inside said container for a single flat price. You’ll set this price based on the cost of your merchandise and how much you can afford to markdown (don’t forget to think about the size of your products, too).

Arc Thrift Stores has run this sales promotion before. Their items are very low-priced, many things even under $1. They sold the bag of items for a flat $5 to in-store shoppers.

6. Pop-up

Pop-up shops are a great way to build buzz and awareness, plus test new markets and products. It’s also a unique sales promo that you can use to spice up your run-of-the-mill sales.

There are two main ways that brick-and-mortar retailers can get involved in pop-ups:

  1. Host another brand’s pop-up with an in-store pop-up
  2. Open your own pop-up in a different location than your brick-and-mortar store

United By Blue is one retailer that has hosted brands that it sells for in-store pop-ups. For the Oxford Pennant pop-up that they hosted in April 2017, they drove 250 people to the event and increased month-over-month sales by 155%.

7. Used and returned product sale

When a customer returns a product, it can amount to more than just a single lost sale. Depending on the item and its condition, you might not be able to salvage and resell it — which means you’ve lost the initial sale and you’ve lost the capital invested in the product. Double bummer.

But one unique sales promotion idea that you can use to mitigate losses from returns or even damaged merchandise, you can host a used and returned product sale. Or, as outdoor goods retailer REI calls it, a garage sale.

The first time I went to an REI Garage Sale, I thought I had mistaken it for an Apple launch. There were tents outside with music, coffee (it was 7 am) and food — plus a line around the corner. The deep discounts draw hundreds (thousands?) of shoppers hoping to score a sweet deal, and it helps REI get rid of product that they otherwise might not be able to sell.

8. Put a twist on events and holidays

Robert Barrows runs R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations, where he does a lot of marketing and advertising promotional work with car dealerships. For him and his clients, putting a fun twist on events and holidays has proven to drive foot traffic to the showrooms.

For Father’s Day, for example, a San Jose, Calif.-based Dodge dealership hosted an ugly tie contest. Customers would bring in their ugliest tie which were then judged in-store, the winner receiving anywhere up to $500 in cash prizes. “The promotion was always a lot of fun, and it generated some good publicity, too,” says Barrow.

And on Halloween, the dealership put a spin on your standard costume contest and gave away a free car. They challenged shoppers to come to the dealership dressed as certain characters, the first five of each costume to receive prizes ranging from $5 to $20. They posted pictures of the participants in the showroom, where they hosted a drawing for the “Win the Pumpkin Car” raffle. The dealership painted a used car orange and gave it away free to one lucky winner.

9. Celebrate small milestones

The idea for this unique sales promo is rather broad, but it’s still relevant: The smallest milestones and events that happen at your store can be cause for celebration with a sale. Let’s explain this through a few hypotheticals:

  • You have a sales associate hitting their 10-year anniversary of employment — that’s a lifetime for hourly retail workers. To celebrate their dedication to your company, run a promotion where you discount their favorite product by 10% for the entire month.
  • You’ve recently upgraded your POS, and one new feature that you’re excited about is email receipts. Why not celebrate this upgrade with your customer base? For everyone who opts for an email receipt, they can get a discount or free gift.
  • Your local area is just getting through the rainy season, and sunshine is in the forecast for Friday. Welcome the sun and shoppers with a sales promotion to celebrate. Serve lemonade to in-store shoppers and discount sunglasses and sunscreen.

10. Scavenger hunt

In-store scavenger hunts are unique sales promo ideas that leverage gamification to encourage engagement with shoppers. Scavenger hunts can be executed in a variety of ways, ranging in degrees of complexity. And despite what you think, this tactic isn’t just for children’s stores.

Bloomingdale’s is one example of a retailer that has used scavenger hunts to drive in-store traffic and sales. Integrating social media, in-store associates and products into the experience, shoppers learned more about the brand and its story.

11. Exclusive sales

Everyone loves exclusivity. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a select group that has access to things that others don’t? When you host exclusive sales promotions, you make those customers feel special and valued. For example, REI’s Garage Sale that we mentioned before is only open to their customer loyalty program members. It’s one of the perks that members have come to love.

But exclusive sales also allows you to target and personalize your promotions to the group’s characteristics and interests. 64% of consumers want personalized offers from retailers, according to Salesforce, so it’s definitely worth experimenting.

You don’t need a customer loyalty program to run exclusive sales promotions either. Maybe you open your sale to a local group or organization. For instance, if you sell sports goods, perhaps you run a promotion for anyone who plays in the local soccer league. You can also get some cross-promotion from your partner organization, who can spread the word about your store to the members of their community.

Conclusion

Though these unique sales promotion ideas are vastly different, they have on key component in common: They add value to the customer. Whether through a monetary discount, free gift, enhanced experience or something else, the most effective promotions are the ones that provide added value.

Which unique sales promotions have you tried in your store? What worked and what didn’t work?


 


Jul 04

8 Reasons Why You Should Outsource

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by DebtorDaddy

Outsourcing ‘business as usual’ tasks can bring focus and efficiencies your business needs in order to succeed in today’s fast paced environment. A new level of agility and access to quality analytics and expertise can be brought into your business. To get ahead of the competition, consider outsourcing.

Drum roll… The benefits

1. Affordable access to experts

Specialists in companies offering outsourcing solutions are experts in what they do. They regularly deal with thousands of clients similar to you and can provide sound advice based on experience and trained expertise.

2. Peace of mind

Your mind can be at peace with an extended team member on the job. While there can be uncertainty around a new outsource partner, once a relationship is developed, and a contract negotiated, companies often feel a sense of relief and assurance that the job is getting done. Enjoy a new world that is more stress-free.

3. Employees can focus on core business

Free up time to focus on core business activities. Without having to run an accounting department or an IT operation with permanent staff, companies can direct their work effort toward what really matters, increasing productivity and enabling the team to finish projects faster. For example, a plumbing company would prefer to hire new employees who are plumbers. Office staff can be positioned to focus on bringing in a consistent flow of new work as this is what grows the business. What can be outsourced to increase the value of their time?

4. Improved service for your customers

By ensuring essential operational services are in care, you can focus on delivering value to your customers. Your extended outsource team can also help deliver a more professional service to your customers which is incredibly beneficial. Improved services help you develop a proactive, mutually beneficial relationship with your customers.

5. It is cheaper

Using well paid account managers or accounting staff on your team to do tasks that could be outsourced to experts who are more efficient, saves time and money. The experts also use the best tools of their trade to assist them. Gain access to these tools at a fraction of their cost. These experts can also provide game changing, unanticipated advice to improve your business.

6. Employees are happier

There are some routine tasks that smart employees don’t enjoy doing. They’re boring (to them) and time consuming. They are not expert at these tasks and procrastinate when they need priority. If the core team could outsource these tasks, it allows more time and resource to focus on the stuff they love. This is rewarding to the employee and provides greater job satisfaction.

For example, recruitment companies task their account managers with following up on overdue invoices. Is is this the best use of their time? Is it the best strategy for their relationship with the customer? Is this something they enjoy? Likely, the answer is no.

7. Easy to use APIs

Often outsource service providers build their own app, providing these smart tools as part of their service. The reporting and analytics that you need can be a few clicks away. These are specialised, curated tools, unlike your excel spreadsheet. These tools are developed with input from thousands of users. They have efficient user interfaces and are baked in best practice that has evolved over time.

8. Flexibility

With the uncertainty surrounding today’s global economy, companies need greater ability to expand or downsize quickly. Unfortunately, it is not always possible with the present employment law and lawsuits are prevalent. By outsourcing, companies remove that risk, allowing businesses to adapt quickly to the changing market dynamics.

Have you considered outsourcing your accounts receivable?

Many areas are now commonly outsourced including payroll, human resources, recruitment, health and safety, and meeting scheduling. Often an overlooked area that can be outsourced, is accounts receivable management. Afterall, good cashflow is what keeps an organisation afloat.

Receive expert support managing cashflow. It can be stress-free.

  • Have a dedicated, experienced receivables specialist working for you
  • Trust that cashflow is managed proactively in a way that is best practice
  • Have greater transparency, quickly get an overview on what’s happening and jump in when you want
  • Have control without hassle
  • Setup is fast – completed in a few clicks

Interested in outsourcing your account receivables and debt collection? Learn more at www.debtordaddy.com

Activity

Note down:

  • What are the core business tasks that help your organisation be the best in industry, worldwide?
  • What are the ‘business as usual’ tasks your organisation could outsource?

Why wouldn’t you? If not, you’re missing out.

How would you spend your extra time? It could be working on strategic activities that will motivate your team, increase sales or bring operational efficiencies. It could be more time with your family and friends, enjoying the fresh air.

Hire for the core, outsource the rest – gain the time to do what you do best.


 


Jul 04

9 Back to School Marketing Tips to Fuel Your Campaigns

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Vend

Students in the US won’t be flocking back to campuses until September, but for retailers, it’s high time to ramp up back to school (BTS) and back to college (BTC) marketing campaigns.

To help you capitalize on back to school (aka the second biggest shopping event of the year), we’ve compiled pointers and real-life examples of BTS and BTC marketing best practices you can use as inspiration.

Let’s dive in!

1. Start with the right products

First things first? Make sure your merchandise is on point. Your back to school campaigns won’t be effective if you’re marketing the wrong products. So before crafting your campaigns, be sure to figure out which items to highlight in your store and collateral.

There are two main ways to do this. First is to look at your historical data. Which items were popular during last year’s back to school season? What did people end up buying? You can usually find this information using your POS or retail management system.

In Vend, for example, you can quickly dig into historical reports by selecting a date range and pulling up the numbers for specific products or brands.

Another way to get product insights is to loom at trends in your market. Google has a free trends tools that can help you do this. Go to trends.google.com and explore trends in your area or niche. You can also enter specific products or brands to view search trends overtime.

For example, if you sell back packs in your shop, you could enter a term like “Herschel Supply Co.” or “Jansport” to gain insights into consumer interest. You can then use that info to determine what to stock and which items to promote in-store and online. (Note: in both cases, search volume has gone up around July to August for the last five years, indicating that consumers do search for these terms around the back to school and back to college shopping periods.

2. Boost sales by demonstrating how your products fit into people’s school lives.

So you’ve stocked up on trendy and useful back to school merchandise. That’s great, but how are you planning to entice shoppers to buy? If your answer is to simply put your products on a shelf or rack, then you’re not going to stand out from the many merchants doing the same thing.

Instead of just putting products out there, showcase your merchandise so they appeal specifically to back to school shoppers. A good way to do this is to point out how people can use your products in school.

If you’re selling say, pens and notepads, consider setting up a desk in your store and show off those products together with other school supplies. If you’re selling furniture, why not showcase your products in a dorm room setting?

If you can’t build an actual dorm room or desk display in-store, then photograph your products in back to school settings and use the images in your marketing collateral.

Here’s a great example from Staples. To market their “classroom essentials,” Staples went beyond displaying their merchandise as standalone products. Instead, the photographed different items together with school props so customers can see how the products can be used in a classroom setting.

Screenshot 2016-07-25 11.12.48

Or check out apparel store Buckle is doing. Rather than just displaying photos of their clothes with generic captions, they’re showcasing back to school outfits to appeal to relevant shoppers.

Screenshot 2016-07-25 13.41.53

Apply the same thinking to your back to school campaigns. Figure out how your products fit into people’s school lives, and use that as your marketing angle.

3. Make your back to school marketing more relevant to the hottest trends.

What are kids (or even parents) crazy about these days? Think about the latest trends or events that your customers care about and incorporate them into your back to school marketing.

For example, back in 2015, Pokemon Go took both the app world and real world by storm. In response, many retailers rode the Pokemon Go wave to drive sales to stay relevant. 

Screenshot 2016-07-31 12.44.18

Check out what The School Box did. The retailer launched a Pokemon Go Back to School series where they showed off educational Pokemon-like creatures that they created.

When planning your back to school campaigns, consider incorporating a hot trend to grab people’s attention. Again, you can do some digging on Google Trends to see the latest trending topics. If you’d like to explore the trends and popularity of specific products, you can use Think with Google’s Shopping Insights tool.

4. Make campaigns more compelling by getting the kids involved.

Back to school is about kids, so it makes perfect sense to get them involved in whatever it is you’re doing for the season. This could be as simple as you asking kids and teens what they want to buy for the coming school year, or if you’re serious about involving the kids, why not seek their help in executing your campaigns.

That’s what Target did, and the results were tremendous. For its back to school effort in 2016, the retailer decided to let kids carry out the entire campaign. Children and teens did everything, from writing and directing Target’s ad to creating props and starring in the commercial.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at what happened.

 

5. Reach more shoppers by marketing on digital channels.

Shoppers are increasingly using online channels to shop for back to school products. Create a unique banner promoting your back to school campaign. And if you can manage it, set up a back to school section on your website, so you have a dedicated space for all your back to school merchandise.

Expect site traffic to increase this season (and continue to do so til the holidays). If you haven’t done so yet, fix any issues that could be causing your site to slow down. These could include unnecessary plugins, images that aren’t optimized, or too much above-the-fold content.

Do note that back to school shopping won’t just take place in-store and online. Mobile shopping is also on the rise this season. A study from The Rubicon Project found that 60% of parents surveyed are “planning to use mobile devices for some back to school shopping” and “30 percent plan to do at least a quarter of their total shopping on mobile devices.”

Needless to say, you need to ensure that you’re providing a superb mobile shopping experience to your customers. Optimize your website, keep an eye out for shortcomings, and strive to provide a seamless experience across channels.

6. Generate buzz through giveaways.

Having a giveaway could be an effective way to generate buzz and excitement around back to school. If you have the time and means to do so, consider running a giveaway that you can promote on social media or even in-store.

You can use the contest to gain buzz and PR, or even to capture people’s information (especially if you’re using raffle tickets or online forms).

Perhaps you could put together a pack consisting of your top back to school products and give it away to people who engage with your brand. Get creative. There are plenty of seasonal giveaways going on right now, use them as inspiration for what to do (or what not to do) in your store.

And to further promote your contest, partner up with social media influencers and brands. Find ways to tap into their audience so you can generate excitement, awareness, and ultimately traffic and sales.

Take a look at what Boogie Wipes did. In 2015, the company teamed up with other brands and bloggers to offer a huge back to school giveaway. Winners took home a backpack filled with school supplies, gift cards, Boogie Wipes products, and more.

7. Team up with mom bloggers or influencers

Speaking of which, teaming up with influencers or bloggers could be a great move for your business.

Back to school season is a great time to get into influencer marketing because parents and kids alike are on the lookout for shopping ideas and you can bet that they turn (at least in part) to influencers. In 2016, a Rakuten Marketing study found that “Almost a third (30%) of parents are willing to spend more on an item of clothing for their child if it has been endorsed by an online influencer” and more than a quarter (27%) “of parents have bought an item after seeing a celebrity’s child wearing it.”

Want to get started with influencer marketing? Do some research into teen influencers that your students are following then see if you can strike up a partnership. Could they wear some of your products and show off some photos to their followers? Would they be willing to collaborate on social media stories and posts? If you’re targeting moms, there’s no shortage of mom bloggers and influencers in the market, so search around a bit and see what you find.

IKEA is one retailer that leveraged influencer marketing for back to school. Last year, the furniture retailer teamed up Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying (of Superfruit and Pentatonix) and launched a Snapchat campaign featuring their dorm room products.

EcommerceGuide.com offers some helpful tips on influencer marketing that you could apply to your campaign:

  • Start with your existing customers
  • Tap into micro-influencers
  • Use influencer tools such as Peg, Reachbird, Scrunch, etc.
  • Build relationships
  • Respect the fact that some influencers need to be paid

8. Don’t just push your products, offer something customers could use.

Your campaigns shouldn’t just be about getting people to buy; you should also make it a point to help your customers.

In addition to showcasing your products, find ways to become a helpful resource for back to school consumers. A simple way to do this is to put together back to school tips. Perhaps you can offer a campus survival guide to students. If you’re trying to reach moms, you could offer advice to help them get their kids ready for school faster.

One merchant doing a great job at his is ALDI. The food market has a back to school section on its website that features recipes to help moms save time on busy weekday mornings.

Screenshot 2016-07-25 11.26.03

Besides tips and information, you could also provide tools. Why not provide calendars, planners, or templates that people can use in school or at home? Offer them as incentives to add value to each sale, or use them as giveaways.

9. Not selling back to school products? Use “change” as a marketing theme.

Just because you’re not selling traditional BTS products like school supplies, doesn’t mean you can’t use run BTS campaigns.

As retail expert Bob Phibbs says, back to school “is a transition time that brings a harbinger of change. It’s a time of new beginnings, changes in the weather and changes in the way we see ourselves.”

Bob notes that retailers who aren’t selling back to school products can piggyback on this theme by figuring out what this season of change means for their customers. He gives some excellent examples of how stores can use back to school to their advantage.

Consider the following:

  • Back to school time for a music store means… time for anyone to learn a new instrument.
  • Back to school time for a home improvement center means… time to fix up that forgotten spare room.

These are just a couple of examples. Be sure to check out Bob’s full blog post to learn more about how you can position your store during this season.

Over to you.

We’ve offered several pointers to help you capitalize on this year’s back to school season. Now we’d like to hear from you. How will you engage parents and students who are stocking up for the upcoming school year? 


 


Jul 04

A Bookkeeping Revolution

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Float

The world of accounting and bookkeeping is changing. It was a decade ago that I decided to upgrade our small business from spreadsheets and Word documents to a proper accounting system.

Thankfully, cloud accounting had just become a thing, and companies like FreeAgent and Xero were coming of age. Ten years ago it was perfectly normal for small businesses to hand over a shoebox full of receipts, invoices and bills to their accountant at the end of the year. Our faithful accountant would take them away, then come back with a report that we never looked at. It always felt slightly wrong to me. So much work went into producing something that was essentially just for compliance so we could pay our taxes.

Surely there was more value to be garnered from this great data source?

Being a process person, I was frustrated by the inefficiencies of our financial reporting. But the reward for changing to a better process was never clear. We’d still get historical data that we probably wouldn’t look at. In the early days of running a business, cash, in my opinion, is the only financial metric that really matters.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a successful small business based in Glasgow that works with an established accountancy firm in Scotland. They told me that at the end of the month they send over a spreadsheet to their accountants, who enter everything into their cloud accounting system. Meanwhile, they maintain a spreadsheet to figure out who to pay, and who to chase for payment. A lot of work is required to maintain this spreadsheet, and consequently, there are two sources of truth, the client spreadsheet, and the accounting software.

Ten years in and cloud accounting software is now mainstream. Even Sage, who dragged their heels for so long, have relaunched their “Sage Business Cloud”. Cloud accounting has become table stakes.

Businesses are now looking for integrated solutions and real-time reporting. They’re looking for accountants and bookkeepers who really understand technology and how to deploy it effectively. They need trusted advisors to educate their clients on what an efficient system should look like. They need to introduce bookkeeping practices, and bookkeepers, that can make their clients’ financial processes run simply and efficiently, with one source of truth and complete visibility on cash flow.

Welcome to the future

A well run business needs good data, and financial data is a huge part of that. Good data needs to be two things: accurate and timely.

For too long financial data has been one, but not the other. It has been accurate, but not timely. The key way for this to change is to start with bookkeeping.

It used to be OK to reconcile the bank transactions every month or even every quarter, but now it’s just not enough. Weekly, or even daily, reconciliation is the new normal.

What has changed?

Bookkeeping software has been a huge help in bringing about this change, and that’s been made possible by the advancement of text recognition software and the fact that everyone has a camera on their smartphone. Tools like Receipt Bank and AutoEntry have led the way to become a platform that all bookkeeping can be managed from. With more and more invoices being sent via email, it’s easier than ever to forward them on to the bookkeeping software of choice. This software then imports the data, down to line item detail, and sends it on to the accounting software of choice.

But life can be made even easier. With the addition of tools like HubDoc, which logs in to your suppliers’ website to grab your bills and automatically save you time.

Beyond that, the world of expense reporting is also changing. Expensify makes handling and submitting expense claims as easy as just taking a picture – no other data entry required! In the US they are even reimbursing claims automatically within 24 hours!

The next stage of this lies in tools like Pleo, Expend and Curve, which all give even more control to the budgeting and management of expenses. These tools issue employees dedicated cards, with software to track all the expenditure, budgets, and receipts.

What does this mean for bookkeepers?

It’s an incredible opportunity!

Tell your clients you’re moving on. Give them a choice to come with you.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is a great time to do this.

Speak to your customers and ask them what they really want. Show them what is possible.

Become an advisor, or work with someone who can help with this.

What does it mean for businesses?

Don’t stand for less. If your bookkeeper is holding you back, find one that wants to embrace all the technology required to generate the up-to-date reports you need.

Real-time financial reporting (especially around cash flow and cash management) is something you should have access to.

You’ll also have happier employees from an expense claim point of view. No one likes filling in arduous expense claims.

Start the budgeting process, and track budgets to actuals each month.

Use a reporting tool like Fathom or Spotlight if you need to take the insight further.

Summary

Solid bookkeeping is the cornerstone of your financial data. If you don’t have up-to-date data you can make decisions on, then you’re not taking advantage of all that the cloud accounting revolution brings.

Finding the right bookkeeper and accountant is crucial to help connect the dots and build the software solution you need to grow and manage your business.


 


Jul 04

Combining Digital with Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Unleashed

The shopping habits of consumers has changed significantly over the past 10 years and will continue to change over the next decade too.

The use of smart phones and the radical increase of online stores has been an industry game changer for traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores. With the ability to purchase at the buyer’s convenience in one click, secured payment methods and short delivery times has had many traditional brick-and-mortar stores fearful about their place in the retail industry. However, combining digital with the in-store experience is having huge effects on the future of retail. Here we look at some interesting game changers that many retailers are implementing to simplify the way we find and buy products in stores, revolutionising the shopping experience.

The Internet of Things

Almost 60% of the American population own a smartphone device, and out of those, 80% use it for purchases online. However, there is still a need for consumers to go to brick-and-mortar stores for reasons such as trying before you buy. Mobile connectivity changes shopping habits. Some people will use their phone in-store to check out product reviews, or share a picture of their outfit with friends to see if it suits them. Consequently, retailers are incorporating the Internet of Things to enhance the shopping experience. For example, consumers can download a store-specific app and based on their activities they will be sent notifications about relevant products or specific deals. Another example of using the Internet of Things in store is scanning a QR code and directly get information about that product, such as where it was made, features and also showing people who purchased this product other items also purchased. This has seen to lead to an increase in sales.

Robots and Artificial Intelligence

A major challenge for store owners is keeping shelves well stocked and having inventory in the right place. Now retailers such as Lowe’s are using robots to do this work. The device, by Fellow Robots, rolls through the aisles checking for misplaced items and empty shelf space. If it sees, for instance, that a store is running low on an item, it will alert employees to reorder inventory. By connecting to their inventory management system, this robot helps them save time and money, allowing employees to focus on more difficult and creative tasks. Robots can also answer shoppers’ questions and help them find what they’re looking for, creating a shopping experience like no other.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have opportunities to leverage the distinct benefits of traditional, in-person shopping. Retail winners will be those who are able to blend the digital world into their stores in a manner that delights customers, builds loyalty and generates brand value. The way in which data can be collected can directly impact marketing communications in a relevant way that supports a personalised and positive shopping experience.


 


Jul 04

Dream big: Making it easier to reach your financial goals

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Employment Hero

Over 2,000 years ago, Aristotle said “ First, have a definite, clear and practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”


We all have dreams, goals, objectives but more often than not, we struggle with the means and adjusting those means – particularly when one of those means is money.

Without a plan in place to adjust your means, it’s all too easy to see your money eaten up by small expenses, nights out and the odd treat. On their own these may not seem like big purchases at the time, but they can quickly add up to make a dent in your ability to save.

Over the next three blog posts, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to help you get there starting with the motivation for saving. Here are three tips on how to set your financial goal:

Make your goal big

If you’re going to dream, why not dream big? We’re not going to lie, there are times when saving is hard so make sure it’s something that you really want to save for. We’ve all heard of S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) but don’t forget to include a little bit of magic to make it worth it.

Make your goal personal

When it comes to financial goals, having a lump sum in the bank is great but giving yourself a reason makes it real. When you know what you’re savings for, it can help reinforce your willpower and motivation.

Change your focus from just saving a number each week to “getting debt free” or “holiday to Bali – travelling business class”. The more real and important you can make it, the better.

Write your goal down

According to a Dominican University of California study, people who wrote their goals down and did weekly updates were more likely to achieve them then those who kept their goals to themselves.

Writing your goals down makes them real and is the easiest thing you can do to get yourself started. Not into writing? No problem. Why not make a dream board to visualise what you want to achieve? Whether you chose words or pictures, stating a goal and visualising the end result can be a huge motivator.

Use simple tools to bring your goals to life – whether it’s your dream house, the trip of a lifetime or the latest iPhone – will help set you up with the motivation you need to start saving. In the next post, we’ll show you to start to form up your budget to get you there.


 


Jul 04

How Strategic Planning Can Help Your Business In The Long Run

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Float

Strategic planning is the blueprint for your business. It’s an aspirational and practical plan for your future that can give you an exact outline of where your business is, and where it should be.

The ultimate goal of strategic planning is to create a reasonable path to both short-term and long-term successful growth.

Five steps to creating a strategic plan

Determine Where You Are

Putting together a plan, without first understanding where you are and what options are available to you, is the same as putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Carrying out a SWOT analysis of your business can help to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A deeper understanding of your current business position means that you’ll be better equipped to plan for your future.

Decide What’s Important

Deciding where to go means that you know what’s important to you.

Thinking about your values, as well as looking at annual and quarterly goals, can help to define the way you plan for your business. Taking into consideration non-financial metrics such as company culture, staff morale, and customer satisfaction, is important to creating the right plan for you and your business.

Define Goals

Having defined goals means that you have an end in mind when you begin to plan. After all, you can’t work towards something that isn’t there.

For instance, if gaining more customers is important to your business model then perhaps you’ll want to increase your advertising budget. Defining your goals allows you to understand what you want to achieve with the plans you put in place.

A popular way of defining your goals is to follow the S.M.A.R.T. method. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals will help you to create efficient and productive plans.

Create Plans

Once you have the bigger picture (your objective), you can begin to work on the detail of your plans.

Defining the steps necessary to achieve your goals can help to create a more flexible, goal-oriented, business model. Break down your objective into smaller goals, or key performance indicators (KPIs), and think about all the individual actions you or your team could execute in order to reach your targets. It can be helpful to create this in a document where each KPI sits alongside the relevant actions, as well as when you plan to make them happen.

Refine and Review

Taking time to adjust plans may fall to the wayside when you’re focusing on more pressing issues. But, putting aside time every week to review the roadmap of your business is just as important.

If you don’t achieve certain steps, why? If you can’t execute others, why not?

Continuous improvement, and the cycle of PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) will enable you to control your business plans and continually develop them.

By reviewing your plans, on a very granular level, you will deepen your understanding of your business.

Using software to plan for you

Cloud Accounting

Strategic planning in the cloud can make everything more simple, collaborative, and manageable.

Cloud-based apps like ProWorkflow, Bizplan, and LivePlan can help you to create workable plans for your business. Spending less time mentally managing your plans can allow you to focus your time and energy on actioning them instead.

Using Float for Scenario Planning

Scenario planning can be used to test out your strategic plans. Whilst strategic planning looks at the whole picture of a business and works backwards to move forwards, scenario planning focuses on the future.

Because scenario planning outlines what lies ahead, it helps you understand any barriers to overcome in order to move forward.

Building scenarios is easier than ever with cash flow forecasting software like Float. With a built-in scenario feature, Float produces alternate roadmaps for your business in no time at all. Strategic planning is the method of creating actionable and practical plans for your business, whilst scenario planning is a tool to grant you more insight into your plans. One can be used without the other but both will be more powerful if used together.

Understanding your business’s present and future can mean that you’re more capable of making better decisions now.


 


Jul 04

How to Increase Your Profit Margins: 8 Proven Tips for Retailers

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Vend

Your profit margin is a metric that should always be on your radar, and for good reason: it answers critical questions about your business, like whether or not you’re making money or if you’re pricing your products correctly.

It’s important to note, though, that your profit margin isn’t just something you should measure; it’s a metric that you should continuously improve. As author Doug Hall said, “If your profit margins aren’t rising, chances are your company isn’t thriving.”

What is the average profit margin in retail?

In our study of 13,000+ retailers, we found that the average gross profit margin in retail is 50.96%. Comparing the data across regions, we didn’t find a lot of variances in profit margins, though the UK leads slightly at 53.12%.

That said, differences in margins were much more pronounced when we compared the data across multiple industries. Beverage manufacturers, cosmetics, and jewelry stores had some of the highest profit margins, with 60.68%, 57.94%, and 56.80%, respectively. Meanwhile, alcoholic beverages, electronics, and sporting goods stores had some of the lowest margins at 38.91%, 39.31%, and 42.09% respectively.

How to Increase Your Profit Margins

Now that you have a better idea of the amount of profit that retailers are taking in, it’s time to look at the specific ways that you can increase your profit margins.

Here are 8 things you can try:

1. Avoid markdowns by improving inventory visibility

Markdowns are notorious profit-killers, so avoid them whenever possible. How do you do that? Start by improving how you manage your inventory. You should always have a handle on the merchandise you have on hand, as well as what your fast and slow-movers are. This will help you make better decisions around purchasing, sales, and marketing, allowing you to sell more products and reduce the need for markdowns.

“One way to maximize margins which also has other significant benefits is to have 100% visibility of inventory. By doing so, this minimizes markdowns and thus margin erosion. Zara are a particularly good example of this,” says Andrew Busby, Founder & CEO at Retail Reflections.

He adds, “Another way to maximize margins is to have an effective Product Information Management (PIM) system. With multiple channels and especially given the rapid rise of fast fashion — for example, ASOS adds around 5,000 new products each week to its website — giving the entire enterprise full, consistent visibility of product inventory means being agile and able to respond rapidly to shifting trends and constant changes in demand.”

Key takeaways:

  • Improve your inventory management practices. Get a handle on your data and always know what you have on hand, what’s selling, and what’s not moving.
  • Use those inventory insights to make decisions around purchasing, sales, and marketing.

2. Elevate your brand and increase the perceived value of your merchandise

It’s interesting to see that cosmetics retailers have some of the best margins in retail. According to experts, one reason behind this is the fact beauty and cosmetics brands excel at creating personal and emotional connections with customers.

Beauty is a category on fire…The price value equation is quite good, cosmetics make people feel better about themselves and foster strong customer loyalty, and the merchandising creates a sense of exploration…”

– Laura Heller, Editor, Retail Dive

She continues, “We ran a story earlier this year titled “Why beauty will continue to rule retail in 2018” that outlines some of the reasons behind this trend. The product category creates a kind of personal connection with shoppers, unlike many other consumer goods. The price value equation is quite good, cosmetics make people feel better about themselves and foster strong customer loyalty, and the merchandising creates a sense of exploration — something the off-price retailers have also done quite well. Depending on the brand, packaging, and marketing attached, the profit on each small item can be really high.”

Chris Guillot, Instructional Designer of Merchant Math and Founder of Merchant Method, offers a similar view, saying that “cosmetics brands do a great job with brand management, playing to their customer base at an emotional level — status and lifestyle.”

According to Guillot, “Retailers of all sizes and stages of growth can focus on their unique brand positioning as a way to differentiate from their competitors and increase perceived value.”

Key takeaways:

  • Find ways to increase the perceived value of your brand. You can do this by focusing on the emotional and lifestyle values that your merchandise can offer.
  • For example, can your products make people feel better about themselves? Can they elevate the lifestyle of your customers? Brands that are able to these things can often charge a premium for their products. 

3. Streamline your operations and reduce operating expenses

“Retailers often focus on pricing strategies when searching for ways to increase profits, but most should try to start with streamlining operations,” says Krista Fabregas, a retail analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com

“First, cut overtime and excess staffing as much as possible, then focus on areas of waste. Minimize supply: spend as little as possible, and ditch the fancy printed shopping bags, tissue fill, and excess packaging wherever possible. If you’re not using an efficient point-of-sale to tie inventory, sales, and marketing under one system, consider making a switch to a low-cost system. This makes your entire store and staff run more efficiently.”

Another great way to streamline your operations is to automate specific tasks in your business. By putting repetitive activities on autopilot, you can reduce the time, manpower, and operating expenses required to run your business.

Go through all the tasks that you and your employees complete day-to-day, and see if you can automate any of them. Are there cumbersome activities that are eating chunks of your time? Do you have to re-enter any data or perform certain steps more than once? Look for solutions that can take care of them for you.

Take, for instance, Crane Brothers, a contemporary menswear retailer. To save time and operating expenses, Murray Crane decided to automate the task of transferring sales data to his accounting software. Rather than manually plugging the numbers into the program, he integrated his point-of-sale system (Vend) with his accounting software (Xero). He got the two tools talking to each other so that information is automatically transferred from one program to the next.

The result? Murray was able to free up time so he and his staff could devote more energy to helping customers. He also estimates that the automated system in his store saves him forty to eighty hours a week — or one to two full-time employees.

Data entry isn’t the only thing you can automate. These days, there’s (usually) an app for most of the tedious administrative tasks in your store.

If you regularly make appointments with customers, for example, consider using an app such as Timely, which streamlines bookings and sales, and even sends automatic appointment reminders to your customers. Do you spend a lot of time managing employee shifts? Check out Deputy, which lets you and your staff coordinate schedules from your mobile devices and sends shift changes and notifications for you.

Key takeaways:

  • Lower your overhead by reducing wasteful spending and by using less expensive supplies (as long as you don’t compromise quality).
  • Automate repetitive tasks to save time and further reduce your expenses.
  • If you’re using Vend, visit our add-ons page and find tools that can help you automate tasks in your business.

4. Increase your average order value

Increasing the basket size or average order value (AOV) from shoppers already in your store is a great way to improve your profits. You’ve already invested in getting them to your location; now go and find ways to maximize their spend.

Start with upselling and cross-selling. As Matthew de Noronha, Head of SEO at Eastside Co., puts it, “someone who makes a purchase from you has already been qualified. They have engaged with your brand and, while it may sound obvious, they are significantly more receptive to offers and product advertising. For that reason, it makes complete sense to encourage them to spend more.”

Matthew says that you can start by finding products likely to be purchased together. Then, after a user has committed to purchasing a product, encourage increased spending by recommending relevant items.

Strategic product placement in-store can also increase AOV. Adam Watson, director of Decorelo, recommends putting “your most profitable products in the shop window and in the best area customers naturally go to in the store so as many eyeballs see them as possible.” Doing so will help you sell your most profitable items, contributing more to your bottom line.

Another tactic is to “put your best sellers and upsells near the counter for impulse buys to increase average order value,” says Adam.

Key takeaways:

  • Increase basket size through suggestive selling.
  • Find your most profitable products and position them high-traffic areas of your store.
  • Promote impulse buys at the checkout counter.

5. Implement savvier purchasing practices

Whether you’re at a trade show looking at new products or at the negotiating table with your suppliers, make sure you’re always finding ways to lower costs.

Think about the final cost

One of the best ways to do this, according to business coach Lindsay Anvik, is to “approach products by factoring in the final cost (i.e., wholesale cost, taxes, shipping, etc.). Once you have that final figure, ask yourself, ‘Would I pay X for this?’. If you wouldn’t, you need to find a way to lower the cost or move on from the product.”

Ask for vendor discounts or offers

Lindsay also recommends asking for discounts (e.g., free shipping) or other offers (e.g., throwing in a couple of extra products for free). This works particularly well when you’re buying in bulk.

Lindsay, for example, once helped her client “negotiate $2 off of every garment they ordered. The client was a top customer, paid on time and was easy to work with. The vendor was happy to give this discount because it didn’t hurt his bottom line too much. And because my client was a good customer, he was willing to negotiate to keep her happy.”

Increase order quantities

Let’s say you need to up your order quantities for a particular item to lower its price. In this case, you could look at your inventory data and determine if you can afford to order certain items in bulk. If not, would it be possible for you to consolidate orders for other items (or with other purchasers) to increase your buying power?

This is something that many large retailers have been doing for quite some time now. A few years ago, for example, Walmart sought out joint purchasers for raw materials, so they can consolidate purchases and get more buying clout.

Explore your options and run them by your suppliers to see if you can negotiate better deals. If they don’t budge, then check out other vendors to find out if they can offer you more favorable terms. (And make sure your existing suppliers are aware of this — they could end up giving you better rates.)

Key takeaways:

  • Before finalizing an order, always consider the final cost by factoring in taxes, shipping expenses, and more.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your vendor to give you a discount or throw in a few extra units.
  • “Buy with other stores,” says Lindsay. “Get together with another store owner (or owners) and buy together. This way you can ask for a bigger discount from wholesalers.

6. Increase your prices

Raising your prices will enable you to make more money on each sale, thus widening your margins and improving your bottom line. Many retailers, however, balk at the prospect of increasing their prices out of fear that they’ll lose customers.

We wish we could give you hard and fast rules when it comes to pricing, but the fact is, this decision depends on each company’s products, margins, and customers. The best thing to do is to look into your own business, run the numbers, and figure out your pricing sweet spot.

On top of considering basic pricing components like your costs and margins, look at external factors such as competitor pricing, the state of the economy, and the price sensitivity of your customers.

And consider what types of customers you want to attract. Do you want to sell to shoppers would take their business elsewhere just because they could get an item for less, or would you rather attract customers who don’t base their purchase decisions solely on price?

You’d be surprised to find that majority of consumers (though this may vary from one industry to the next) may actually belong to the latter group. A study by Defaqto has found that “55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.

Take all these things into consideration; do the math, and once you come up with a price increase, test it on a few select products then gauge customer reaction and sales from there. If the results are positive, roll out the increase across all your products.

Be creative with your price increases

You may also want to consider implementing creative or psychological tactics when coming up with your prices, to make them more appealing. You can, for instance, incorporate tiered pricing into your strategy.

Check out what shoe retailer Footzyfolds did. To combat cheaper knock-offs of its merchandise (they were selling them for $25, while Target had them for $10) the store decided to revamp its prices — but not in the way you might think.

Instead of lowering prices across the board, Footzyfolds introduced a high-end category for their products. With the new pricing format, they lowered the price of their everyday products to $20 a pair, but introduced a new “Lux” category for $30 a pair.

Owner Sarah Caplan told the New York Times that this move helped them increase profits. “We actually have had the most interest in our higher-priced shoes,” she said to the publication and reported that after launching the high-end line in the summer of 2010, they saw revenues increase by 100%.

Key takeaways:

  • If it makes sense for your business, go ahead and raise your prices. Krista recommends that you start with your top sellers. “Do you have a lot of competition, or do your products stand alone? If so, raise your prices on these products.”
  • Be creative with your prices. Factor in psychology or use methods like tiered pricing.
  • To learn more about tiered pricing and other strategies, check out our post on the secrets to irresistible pricing.

7. Optimize vendor relationships

Earlier in this post, we talked about negotiating better contracts with your suppliers to reduce the costs of goods and widen your margins. If you want to take things a step further, consider building stronger relationships by working more closely with them.

Engage in Joint Business Planning

Daniel Duty, co-founder and CEO of Conlego, says that retailers should engage in Joint Business Planning with vendors. “This is a collaborative tool whereby profit goals are agreed to, and initiatives are developed to help reach those goals. In other words, both sides help each other become more profitable,” he shares.

Reduce supply chain costs and inefficiencies

“The supply chain — or the process of getting a product from the factory to the store floor — is always full of inefficiencies and huge costs,” adds Daniel.

“Retailers should study their supply chain to figure out where there are unnecessary costs. For instance, shipping product in less than a full truckload is more costly than when it is full. Making many deliveries each week to a store is more expensive than just one. Retailers should ask their suppliers if they are doing anything that is adding to costs to the supply chain that could be stopped.”

It helps to have a discussion with your vendors to see if there’s anything you can do to make things easier or more cost-effective. 

That’s what photo digitization service ScanMyPhotos.com did. President and CEO Mitch Goldstone says that collaborating closely with their vendors enabled them to enhance their business processes. “We invite our vendors to think of us as a partner. The better we do, the better they do. The process is simple, just ask vendors to help improve your workflow.”

Mitch shares that they even invited one of their vendors, the United States Postal Service, to visit their headquarters. “We asked them to study our entire shipping operation and the technology that drives our fulfillment services. Many, many elements we thought helped streamline the business, were all wrong and the USPS marketing team became our best partner to reinvent everything.”

See if you can do the same thing in your business. Strengthen your relationships with vendors and determine how you can work better together. Doing so could help you identify ways to reduce product costs and operating expenses. Or, at the very least, it could improve your workflow and productivity.

Key takeaways:

  • Have a collaborative relationship with your vendors. Engage in Joint Business Planning and figure out how you can both improve profitability.
  • Identify inefficiencies in your supply chain and find ways to reduce them.

8. If you *must* discount your products, be smart about it.

While discounting typically goes against traditional advice on profitability, it could work to your advantage if you do it right.

Consider personalized offers

For instance, you could try to provide tailored offers. Remember that not all customers are wired the same way. Some people may need a 20% off incentive to convert, while others don’t really require a lot of convincing.

Instead of killing your profits with large, one-size-fits-all offers, identify how big of a discount is necessary to convert each customer.

Case in point: Online bicycle retailer BikeBerry.com. The e-tailer sought the help of big data company Retention Science to analyze customer behavior and gather intel on their customers’ past purchases, browsing history, and more. This allowed them to get to know their customers and figure out the most cost-effective way to convert each one.

They then created a series of email campaigns with five different discount offers tailored to each individual. Customers received one of the following offers in their inbox: Free Shipping (which is huge because shipping costs can run high for bikes and other accessories), 5% off, 10% off, 15% off, and $30 off new products.

The campaigns ran for two months and within that period, BikeBerry not only increased sales, but they were able to widen their profit margins by not offering discounts that are too big to customers who would convert at a lower threshold.

See if you can do something similar in your business. Instead of offering blanket discounts, go through the purchase histories of your customers, then personalize your offers based on their behavior and preferences. Doing so won’t just increase the chances of conversion (people are more likely to respond to an offer if it’s relevant to them), it’ll also help you maximize your margins.

Time them right

Timing is also critical. As M. Pope Anthony, president and buyer at Anthony’s Ladies Apparel, notes, “there is a fine line between too soon and too late. If you hold on to items too long, you will eventually have to sell them at a much deeper discount. 

Good historical information and experience are crucial. Being overstocked on old, undesirable inventory will tie up your dollars and prevent you from buying new products. Eventually, your volume will decline, rendering you with fewer margin dollars.

Be sensible about your discounts

“Profit margins can be improved through sensible couponing,” says Matthew. “I’ve worked with many retailers who see the increased number of orders from promotions and sales.

But Matthew stresses the importance of analyzing your promotions to ensure that they’re not harming your margins.

According to him, you need to ask key questions such as, “How many more orders has a promotion brought in (compared to the average number of sales)? How much revenue did your promotion bring in, and how does this compare to average after your overheads and the discount has been taken into account?”

He adds, “One effective way to find this out is through A/B testing, offer your promotion to half your users (either through emails, targeted ads, onsite, etc.). This test may need to be run a few times to become significant. But very quickly you’ll be able to compare the profit made between the two groups — identifying whether your promotions are actually cannibalizing your returns.”

Key takeaways

  • Personalize offers so you’re not giving away too big of a discount to people who would convert at a lower threshold
  • Test different types of promotions to see which ones are really making you money

Bottom line

You don’t always have to make drastic changes in your business to significantly improve your bottom line. As this post has shown, sometimes a simple tweak in your pricing or a phone call to your vendor can pave the way for wider margins.


 


Jul 04

It's time to consolidate in the Cloud

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Spotlight Reporting

As businesses grow, it is often inevitable that additional entities will be needed. Typically these will arise from international expansion into new markets or for legal and risk mitigation.

Accounting for multi-entity operations requires a lot of stitching together of the various entities’ Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet information. This can be especially tricky if multiple currencies are involved.

Consolidation can be a full-time job or a nasty recurring chore for someone in Finance, possibly handled in an Excel Circle of Hell replete with manual transposition risk and outdated reporting options. The usability of the outputs can be less relevant with this approach than the sheer effort to piece together the data each and every month.

Consolidation should be:

  • Regular – stakeholders should see regular, up to date and accurate information for decision-making.
  • Achievable – if consolidated accounting was less time intensive, it would be both cost effective and a win-win for preparer and consumer.
  • Scalable – as entities or currencies are added, they should be able to be easily folded into the existing Reporting framework.

Fast creation of advanced consolidated reports

Spotlight Reporting was developed to not only provide faster creation of advanced management reports – great for the CFO, CEO Board and/or Advisor – but to present beautiful, understandable outputs. For those needing consolidation functionality, Spotlight Reporting offers ease of use, speed and clarity.

Spotlight Reporting allows you to consolidate up to 50 of related entities – unparalleled functionality in the small and medium-sized business sector. Our seamless imports from Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks products (both cloud and desktop) allow you to get entity data quickly and effectively. With over 50 currencies available in Spotlight, most international operations are covered.

Spotlight Reporting also facilitates:

  1. Eliminations of intercompany transactions
  2. Categorisation of organisations in a group
  3. Filtered reports by group organisation

Eliminations of intercompany transactions are a necessary step in many consolidated reporting processes. Spotlight Reporting can handle these too, automatically eliminating but also allowing you to create additional elimination debits and credits transparently and easily.

Aggregation and benchmarking

Aggregation and benchmarking does not have to be a costly, slow and manual process. It should be useful, efficient and transparent.

We have a specialist product called Spotlight Multi that can handle aggregation and benchmarking for up to five hundred entities. Spotlight Multi facilitates:

  1. Effective, clear reporting at head office, franchisor or accountant/CFO level
  2. Shareable, understandable reports for franchisees,branches or individual entities
  3. Specific, actionable benchmarking, exception reporting and rankings across various KPI’s
  4. Cross-border multi-currency conversion
  5. Narrative observations, highlights and recommendations for open dialogue on performance improvement.

These are just a few highlights that Spotlight Multi can help franchisors and their franchisees with. To see how our franchise clients benefit from Multi, please view our case study from The Cheesecake Shop, a large franchise organisation with 200+ shops across Australia and New Zealand.


 


Jul 04

Multi-Channel Retailing: A Quick Guide for SMEs

Posted by Axis CPA Group on Wednesday, July 04, 2018


 
 


Guest Post by Unleashed

As traditional retail channels dwindle in popularity, more businesses are turning to multi-channel retailing to provide an extra income stream and keep business ticking over.

If you're interested in knowing more about diversified retail, this guide is for you.

Multi-channel retailing

As with any business term, multi-channel means different things to different people. So, what do we mean by multi-channel retailing?

Multi-channel retailing is when a company provides numerous ways for customers to purchase goods and services at all touch points throughout the buying process. For example, many retailers have a traditional, brick-and-mortar store where customers can come and purchase their goods and services. To accompany this, many now also have an online website where customers can purchase the same goods and services from the comfort of their own home. These are just two channels (of the possibly hundreds channels) available to businesses to reach their customers. Increasingly in recent times, businesses will use social media, like Facebook or Instagram, to also sell their products. In essence, a multi-channel retailing strategy is a selling strategy allowing their customers to purchase their offerings through every possible channel, often partnered with online inventory management software to result in a near fully automated process.

Omni-channel retailing

But isn't this the same concept as omni-channel marketing? Not quite. Omni-channel sales takes a multi-channel approach to sales but with an emphasis on providing a seamless shopping experience, whether customers are in a brick-and-mortar store, shopping online, on Facebook or through email. Like a multi-channel retailer, an omni-channel strategy can be increasingly effective when partnered with online inventory management software to act as a centralised sales hub across all channels.

Whilst a multi-channel strategy basically entails serving and interacting with customers on numerous channels, an omni-channel strategy seeks to create a seamless integration for the customer. It is much more customer focused as opposed to product-focused, merging the various channels available to business owners. Websites, email, social media, brick-and-mortar stores, display advertising and retargeting advertising are all used in tandem with one another to create a seamless, personalised and fully integrated experience for the customer.

Which approach is right for my business?

After comparing a multi-channel and omni-channel retail strategy, businesses often think an omni-channel strategy is better and more “joined up”. This seamless experience is a major advantage of an omni-channel approach.

The major downside of implementing an omni-channel retail strategy is the significant technological investment it takes to ensure everything is working as it should. Often, an in-house IT team is required to implement an effective omni-channel strategy and with them, a fairly complex vision, skill set and strategy are required to correctly implement.

By contrast, a multi-channel strategy is often much more effective for retailers simply because of the comparatively simple nature. All that is really needed is an understanding of what platforms and channels your customers are on and an understanding of said platform/channel. For most small to medium retailers, starting with a multi-channel strategy may be appropriate.

Why take advantage of multi-channel retail?

Many studies have shown the increased sales businesses can experience by investing in a comprehensive digital sales strategy (whether it be multi-channel or omni-channel). For example, in 2015, an analysis was performed revealing that retailers who sold through two channels averaged double the revenue of retailers who only sold through one. Another study shows that 47% of consumers who come into contact with a business across 10+ channels purchased from them once a week whilst only 21% that come into contact with businesses across one to four channels a week say the same. It is clear that operating across multiple channels is great for business and, when used in tandem with online inventory management software, the entire digital sales process can be near fully automated resulting in more sales done more simply.