CASE STUDY

Learning Roots

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Learning Roots expands eCommerce network using A2X

Explore how this eCommerce business uses A2X to batch transfer Shopify sales data to Xero, saving hours of time (and money) every month. By automating that process, it’s been able to expand into new markets and other eCommerce channels.

Alongside complementary digital tools like Active Campaign, Facebook Advertising, Google (Sheets, Ads, Analytics) and UpWork, A2X has helped Learning Roots make a successful transition into the eCommerce world.

Providing quality Islamic learning resources for Muslim children

16 years ago, Zaheer Khatri was newly married with a baby on the way and working as a teacher. He noticed the quality of Islamic learning resources for children wasn’t the same as English or Mathematics, so within a month of starting his job, he quit – and started Learning Roots.

Since then, his business has been crafting empowering educational resources for Muslim children and their parents. What started primarily as wholesale has pivoted in recent years, with at least 65% of revenue now coming from online sales through their Shopify store.

“Moving into eCommerce has worked really well for us. We’re now in direct contact with our customers, we’ve got more control over our business and it’s where we see the most growth opportunities,” Zaheer says.

Peak season plus COVID led to sharp increase in sales

Shortly after COVID hit in the UK, it was Learning Roots’ peak season, which was amplified by the global pandemic sending their sales “through the roof.”

On average, the business was recording between 100 and 200 transactions a day, with sales hitting a never-before-seen 3000 per month target. With peak season now over (until next year, anyway), the business is still recording a significant number of monthly transactions, approximately 500 per month.

While that level of growth is enough to make any business owner fist-pump the air, it came at a price.

“I got a shock when I got my first bill from the bookkeepers, and they said, ‘This is how much time we spent doing your work’.

“I was just in awe because it was completely different to what we agreed.”

Before: manual processes costing precious time and money

Before the surge in sales, Zaheer started working with a bookkeeping company. It wasn’t long before the volume of transaction data became too much for the firm’s manual processes – and began costing Learning Roots more time and money.

“I was paying for our accounting system, a bookkeeping service and a freelancer to transfer the data from Shopify to QuickBooks, so my costs just spiralled out of control,” Zaheer explains.

This resulted in a significant number of ledger entries to “put band-aids on a bunch of discrepancies”, which left Zaheer less than confident with his numbers.

“I was very hung up on the idea of taxation as well. It’s ok if your product does or does not have VAT, but when you’re doing product bundles as we do with mixed tax rates, that adds another layer of complexity,” he says.

After: clean accounting slate leads to expansion

After some online sleuthing, Zaheer found A2X – and realised instantly the tool was exactly what he needed. He contracted a new bookkeeper who had experience using A2X and at the same time, made the move to Xero.

He was able to get up and running quickly, immediately eliminating “a couple of days work per month importing transaction data.”

Learning Roots has opened a Shopify US store and is also selling via Amazon. Zaheer says A2X has been a critical part of that growth journey.

“Most entrepreneurs probably say this, but I think the biggest thing A2X has given me is more freedom. It’s afforded me more time to focus on areas where my skill set can bring value – and where the business should be headed.”

A2X key part of eCommerce growth journey

Zaheer admits it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride. Over the past 16 years, he’s navigated the choppy waters of starting a new business from scratch and embraced eCommerce – which includes digitising the way he runs the business.

On the finance side of things, Xero and A2X for Shopify are his dynamic duo. He uses several upselling plugins which fit together in the Shopify ecosystem. That’s further complemented by Active Campaign, which is the brand’s CRM and email marketing software, as well as Facebook Advertising, Google Ads and Google Analytics. They haven’t quite figured out the right integration for their fulfilment centre (which runs on bespoke software) but Google Sheets are a good interim.

Zaheer is supported by a core team of seven employees, and when they’re working on a major project, he’ll recruit freelancers using UpWork.

Over time, Zaheer says he’s learned to “always be on the lookout for anything that brings something new to the table” purely because the opportunity cost is well worth it.

“Cost always used to be an issue for me, but I learned the hard way that the cost of doing things can be a lot more than a monthly subscription. It’s very much a bargain because you can’t put a price on a free mind – and that’s essentially what you’re paying for,” he adds.

That reason alone is enough for Zaheer to “absolutely” recommend A2X, but he says there are many other reasons too.

“It does a heck of a lot of heavy lifting that you don’t have to worry about in the backend, and it does it seamlessly. The A2X team also offers great support, although it’s so easy to use, you don’t really need it – and that’s a good thing,” Zaheer laughs.

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