For the love of tech
After 15 years working as an accountant, Philip Oakley decided it was time for a change. He took the part of his job he loved the most – the tech – and started helping businesses find the right cloud solutions to sell their products and services online.
Fast-forward 13 years and OutserveWeb has partnered with some of the biggest names in cloud tech including Shopify and Unleashed. It’s also one of only four UK businesses to officially earn its Xero app integrator badge.
Today, OutserveWeb is a team of 15 who love nothing more than using innovative tech to help clients improve their systems, and ultimately grow their businesses.
Partnering with ecommerce sellers and their accountants
Over the past two years, Philip has witnessed the large-scale migration to eCommerce as businesses pivot in the wake of COVID. For some, there’s been a rapid increase in sales, which has left them scrambling to keep up. It’s a huge opportunity, Philip says, but one that requires “efficient systems and automation if you’re to have any real competitive edge.”
With many clients selling across multiple marketplaces in the UK and internationally, Philip says most don’t just come looking for a solution for “today’s volume” – they want a plan for the next two to five years of volume, and that’s where tools like A2X come in.
Before: volume often the greatest problem
Nearly all OutserveWeb’s clients are fast-scaling businesses – they’ve got to a certain limit where they’re doing well, so their focus is now on future growth. But with rapid growth comes volume – and that can become a big problem.
Philip says that while some manage to hobble along with manual reconciliations, “it ends up taking a lot of time and they’re probably doing it incorrectly.” In his experience, that can only lead to one thing – slow systems that stop you from achieving your business goals.
“The number of people we’ve had come in where we’re looking at Xero with 20,000 contacts because they’ve pulled all their Shopify customers in or, for one recent customer, 100,000 transactions in one month! We love Xero greatly, but if you do that, you’re going to get the Xero white screen of death, and you won’t be able to run the reports you need.”
After: systems longevity for fast-scaling businesses
In Philip’s opinion, A2X “is one of the most important parts” of any eCommerce tech-stack, but it’s often the magic solution people don’t realise they need.
“People come to us wanting to integrate Shopify and Amazon with Xero and Unleashed. We say, ‘They’ll work great for you, but not if you integrate them automatically without A2X.’”
Philip says he could talk about tech all day long, but really, “it’s about people and processes.” He adds that A2X helps clients navigate the complexities of volume “without spending all day trying to reconcile sales payouts from multiple marketplaces” and, more importantly, they can build a scalable back-end system. It keeps your accountant or bookkeeper happy too, he laughs.
“With A2X, our clients can use products like Xero and Unleashed for as long as possible, and with the right add-ons, you can implement systems that will grow with you.”
Choosing the right digital tools for your eCommerce business
OutserveWeb’s main goal is to help its clients thrive by making sure they can benefit from awesome technology. But as Philip says, to do that, “we need to thrive ourselves”, and just like clients, they use lots of technology.
It’s not surprising that OutserveWeb uses Xero as its accounting system. Alongside that, it also uses Click Up and Trello (project management tools), Slack and Zoom (for communication), Notion (for notetaking), Coder (for software development), Zendesk (CRM and customer service) as well as Vimeo and Loom (for video content).
With over a decade of experience in eCommerce, Philip and his team have seen their fair share of tech mistakes.
“Sometimes you try things and they don’t work,” he says. “That’s where you want to fail and fail fast.
“We see a lot of eCommerce income that’s not recorded accurately. That can lead to tax issues and that makes people nervous.
“You want to use tools that give you confidence that your numbers are right.”
He adds that it’s also important to consider your ideal future state when choosing systems to implement in your business.
“Look at the time, risks and benefits – you want something that solves your problems today and also the problems you’re likely to encounter in the next three to five years.”