A2X, Amazon, and the future of accounting with HPC
A case study with HPC Accounting and A2X HPC Accounting is something of a trendsetter among US accounting firms. The business started in 2011, and unlike most firms at the time, focused on providing value-based services, rather than charging clients hourly rates. Since 2016, they have abandoned time tracking altogether, preferring to give their clients personalised service and in-depth advice. As Accounting Manager Catherine Fogarty explains, HPC was also an early American adopter of Xero. More recently, they discovered A2X, and now use it and Xero with every ecommerce client – it has become a standard part of their service. Catherine puts it like this: “I’ll be honest: when we have clients on Amazon and we’re really involved and doing the bookkeeping, we just set them up on A2X and add it into our pricing.” HPC values A2X for a number of reasons – it saves time, gives them access to in-depth data, and integrates seamlessly with other apps and software programmes. It’s so useful that Catherine calls it one of her ‘no-brainer’ tools. In-depth insights One of the factors that makes ecommerce – and Amazon sales in particular – complicated is the sheer volume of data involved. For HPC, the fact that A2X makes that data accessible is a real drawcard. The app breaks Amazon’s monthly reports down, so sellers can see exactly where their money is going.
“We love A2X for a few reasons, one of which is the in-depth view of the expenses that Amazon is charging. We love that we can actually see what makes up those fees, because Amazon does take so much.”
– Catherine Fogarty They also find A2X’s inventory feature extremely valuable when it comes to sorting out tax issues in different states. A2X allows the seller or accountant to pull a report showing where inventory is located at any one time. In the US, this information is essential, because storing inventory in some states triggers the need for a sales tax return, income tax return, and in some cases, both. Having an up-to-date overview of country-wide inventory helps HPC and their clients deal with this complexity. Saving time – and stress Breaking complex data into digestible reports helps with insight – and it’s also a time-saver. Catherine explains that before using A2X, dealing with Amazon sales and fee reports was time consuming and frustrating. “Just the booking of Amazon sales and fees, from a bookkeeper’s perspective, is extremely time consuming, and if you’re trying to split sales between months it’s nearly impossible without heavy Excel manipulation.” A2X does the work for them, saving the HPC team an estimated 2-3 hours per month, per accounting client. The new COGS feature, which gives the client a breakdown of the cost of goods sold, also makes a big difference. This feature allows clients to better manage their own purchasing. Catherine explains: “A lot of Amazon sellers don’t keep a true idea of what their cost of goods are. They often expense things as they buy them, but really what they should be doing is once the sale goes through, it should be expensed. Having that right, as long as the costing is right, has saved countless hours.” Seamless support Of course, A2X isn’t the only ‘no-brainer’ app the HPC team use . One of the factors that makes it so valuable is its ability to integrate with other software programs – in particular Xero and QuickBooks. While HPC tends to focus on Xero, many companies in the US rely on QuickBooks, and A2X is able to integrate with both. This is another time-saver, as it means they no longer spend time working with Excel or plugging numbers into spreadsheets manually. A2X translates the complicated and often confusing data generated by Amazon and feeds it into Xero, so Catherine and her clients have all the information they need in one place. As Catherine explains, they have also been pleasantly surprised by using A2X with other programmes, including inventory management systems like DEAR. She explains that her team still use A2X with these clients, using data from the inventory system rather than directly from Amazon. The future of accounting As a market leading accounting firm, HPC is always looking to the future of accounting. Catherine says that as apps and software programmes like A2X become more and more powerful and efficient, accounting will be increasingly focused on interpreting and analysing data, rather than just plugging in the numbers. She puts it like this: “I would say within 10 years, we won’t be dealing with data input, we’ll be on the other side of the data, interpreting and helping clients strategise on that data and move forward. Xero is going to do what bookkeepers are doing now.” She sees ecommerce as a huge area of growth, with sales platforms like Amazon giving even small operators the chance to establish a sales business and grow, without the need for infrastructure. But she cautions that accountants looking to get into ecommerce need to “do their homework” and make sure they have the tools and knowledge to serve their clients. Ecommerce sales can generate a huge amount of data, which can be incredibly time consuming when you don’t know what you’re doing. Making a difference at HPC A2X has been a game-changer for HPC. They tested it on one client, then decided to expand to others after just one day’s trial. As Catherine explains, it has given them consistent, reliable service from day one. It helps them save time, which means they’re able to give clients more personalised, strategic support. She’s now a true believer in A2X – and she’s not afraid to say so.
“A2X definitely blew our minds. We had issues with Amazon and other tools that connect, where they can’t keep that API up – but we’ve had no issues with A2X, it’s never broken down on us. I gush over A2X because it’s so great for us.”
Benefits for HPC: ● 2-3 hours saved per client, per month ● Reliable, accurate data transfer from Amazon to Xero ● Inventory reports help to comply with US tax system ● In-depth insight into Amazon fees and charges
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