CASE STUDY

Using digital tools brings about new business opportunities for Elver Ecommerce Accounting

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From humble beginnings to specialists in eCommerce

Around eight years ago, Steve Blackmore was working from home in the UK – he’d just started his own accounting practice. He admits the first six months were a steep learning curve, with new clients slowly trickling in, but it wasn’t long before it became his full-time gig. 

Over time, the growth led to leasing an office and hiring more staff, including his son Oliver. Along the way, the firm made one very important decision – to pivot its focus to eCommerce.

Keeping online businesses “in-line”

Today, Elver Ecommerce Accounting is a rapidly growing firm of chartered accountants, focused on supporting eCommerce clients selling on 15 different marketplaces and platforms. 

Their tagline – “Helping to keep your online business in-line” – is a nod to both tax compliance in different jurisdictions and keeping an eCommerce business in line with its goals and aspirations. 

That requires maximising the use of technology to automate bookkeeping tasks, minimising not just the effort required from us, but also the amount of data and documentation our clients are required to provide, Steve explains. 

Before: manual, labour-intensive processes

Currently, online businesses make up approximately a third of the firm’s client list, “but the time we spend on them far outweighs that,” Steve says. That’s because every marketplace or platform works differently and, without the right tools, requires a lot of manual processes. 

“Previously, the process of reconciling and accounting for Amazon sales would have been manual and labour-intensive – downloading reports and spending far too much time analysing Excel spreadsheets,” Steve adds.

After: lean team, deeper business insights

Fortunately, Steve and Oliver found A2X quite early on in their journey.

“With the number of eCommerce clients that we have, we couldn’t manage without A2X. We would undoubtedly need more staff – and an extra two staff members would cost us a lot more,” Oliver says. 

Steve says that what sets A2X apart from other eCommerce apps is it “covers a wider variety of marketplaces than others and has a more global support network.”

“A2X has been our favoured eCommerce accounting app for several years now. We like how it automates the flow of sales data from the various marketplaces and platforms. It easily enables additional analysis of sales by product category, country or marketplace.” 

Best-in-market setup brings new business opportunities

Recently, one of the firm’s clients decided to sell its online business, and “A2X was a key component of that process.”

Not only did A2X enable clear visibility of the business’ financial performance, and therefore true sale value, it presented a new opportunity for Elver Accounting.

“Usually, our expectation is once a business has sold, we would no longer be acting as accountants for that business."

“However, during the due diligence process, the buyers (who are a group that acquires Amazon businesses) obviously looked at the accounts and the management reporting closely." 

“They were sufficiently impressed, and now we manage the books for all of their Amazon companies,” Steve explains. 

He adds that A2X was a key reason they were able to achieve that partnership, along with a well-connected digital setup that includes Xero, Dext Prepare (for processing invoices and receipts), Futrli (management reporting and forecasting), Brightpay and Citrus HR (payroll and HR), Inform Direct (company secretarial) and Accountancy Manager (CRM). 

“As a firm, we’re constantly trying to find new, better digital solutions so that we can automate more and more of our processes. We also regularly attend accountancy and ecommerce trade shows to learn about the latest apps on the market and make sure we’re delivering the most digitalised service possible to our clients,” Oliver says.

Their advice to those considering using A2X?

“Think of the time you’re spending on your current processes (like manual reconciliation) and imagine what you could spend that time doing instead.”

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