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Made to measure
Vend is a software company with a mission to replace the clunky old cash register. Its point-of-sale (POS) software can work on an iPad or iPhone and is able to share customer information with various marketing and loyalty programs. Further, by automatically sending information to third-party software, Vend reduces data entry and related errors.
NZ-based bespoke tailoring firm, Crane Brothers
, had long avoided using a cash register because it would have clashed with the “gentleman’s club” aesthetic of its showrooms.
“They resisted a POS for many years because it was so ugly and they didn’t want a counter,” says Vend marketing director, Nick Houldsworth.
After the tailor’s owner, Murray Crane, installed Vend, alongside online accounting program Xero, he found he could save more than 40 hours a week in typing up spreadsheets – the equivalent of one full-time salary.
Vend’s cloud-based POS pushes customer and sales data seamlessly into Xero, in turn cutting down data entry errors. Vend can also email customers an electronic receipt – instead of having to issue a paper one – while the address can be automatically pushed to electronic marketing programs such as Campaign Monitor and MailChimp.
“If your POS is not integrated, someone has to type out receipts at the end of the day and then type them into a computer,” Houldsworth says.
“There’s always going to be a margin of error.”
Sharing data between different programs can also generate valuable insights into a business’s operations.
Vend can push through sales data to another cloud program called Deputy, which calculates employee rosters based on availability and performance. Over the course of a week Deputy displays sales through Vend to show when the business was busy or quiet, which staff members made the most sales and whether everyone was occupied.
“It may seem crazy to put four people on at 11am, but if you’re missing out on sales at that time then it might make sense,” Houldsworth says.
Indeed, Deputy goes further by suggesting a roster that prioritises the most productive employees.
“Giving people business analytics is one thing, but telling them what to do about it is where it’s at,” Houldsworth says.
“It can get you to a point where the stuff that would normally cause you headaches just happens.”
One for all
Of the many companies looking to reinvent the accounting practice, one of the most interesting is NZ start-up Common Ledger
. Although still in Beta, the web platform aims to solve problems caused by the deep fragmentation of the Australasian accounting software market, which currently boasts about eight different applications for SMEs.
The objective of Common Ledger is to transform accounting firms by acting as a clearing house for transactional data derived from all accounting programs.
For example, if a MYOB-based practice had a client that insisted on Xero, the client could connect its cloud accounting app to Common Ledger, which would then send the data directly to MYOB Accountants Office or Accountants Enterprise.
By liberating data from accounting programs, Common Ledger gives back choice to businesses and accountants, says CEO Vince Warnock.
“Whatever accounting provider the business is using, accountants can deal with it,” Warnock says.
“An accountant can take on any client without having to change internal processes or tools.”
As such, time is saved that would otherwise have been spent on establishing and learning an unfamiliar system for a single client. In addition, it becomes possible to take on a much wider client portfolio, regardless of the preferred accounting solution.
Common Ledger is unusual in that it’s a cloud technology that extends the life of desktop accounting software by pulling transactional data for reconciliation and reporting in the accountant’s own systems, in real time.
“It’s elongating those [desktop] ecosystems,” Warnock says.
“Sometimes clients are happy using desktop and we’re enabling them to make that choice. We’re allowing accountants with legacy systems to move forward into the cloud.”
Common Ledger starts trials in July 2014 with a limited number of firms and will launch in October for Xero, MYOB AccountRight (Live and version 17 Plus) and Essentials, QuickBooks Online and Reckon Accounts (formerly QuickBooks desktop software).
So, whether driving trucks, selling suits or reconciling accounts, cloud technology can offer a plethora of new opportunities to businesses looking to lift their everyday performance.
Key benefits of cloud accounting:
• Opportunity for multi-faceted cost efficiencies
• Greater regulatory compliance
• Reduced margin for data entry errors
• Less labour-intense than legacy systems
• Seamless integration with electronic marketing programs
• New business perspectives
• Clients with square pegs can still fit