Retail Accounting

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Daily Monitoring of Sales for convenience retailers – German case study

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Daily business information is essential to optimize the management of a shop. It allows the performance of the business to be estimated and changes made to improve the operation. What does the CounterBooks bookkeeping system offer the user?

Christine Walter does not want to imagine having to do her bookkeeping again without CounterBooks. The operator of a franchise site in Hagen-Hohenlimburg, she intends to build up a network of around 40 sites with Bald Mineralölvertriebs GmbH (BMV). Several months ago she changed from another well known bookkeeping system to the online retail accounting system – CounterBooks. Looking back this has been a cost effective and time saving decision.

The principle: As soon as a supplier has made his delivery all invoices are entered directly into CounterBooks at the site by sales group, Groceries, Drinks, Confectionery, etc. Mrs Walter rarely enters the data herself but has it entered by a trusted employee. Similarly the daily sales entries are also regularly booked online.

Mrs. Walter describes the time needed, “In the morning a Daily Report is received and when someone has time they sit at the computer and the work is completed in five minutes”.

“Previously our tax advisor was also doing part of this work. This was costly and we only received the first overview a long time later”. A delay in seeing the business performance is now a thing of the past in Hagen-Hohenlimburg.

True to the Online-Principle the performance of the business can quickly be viewed either as a whole or broken down into different sales categories/groups of products. As soon as the data has been entered in the system it can be analysed in different ways. Stock levels can be seen as well as the shop sales and margins for different categories.

High transparency instead of “flying blind”

Mrs Walter explained that she did not have such a convenient way of viewing things before. In many cases she did not receive a profit analysis until the 20th of the following month. For site managers operating a business like this is like “flying blind” as they are not aware of the actual liquidity of the shop.

The online retail accounting system makes the display of this information possible. The online retail accounting system does not need to be installed on your own PC and does not require any accounting knowledge. The input screens are designed to be user friendly and the navigation easy to use. Using a personal login the data can be accessed from any PC – from the office, as well as from home, or on the move. The number of different software programs required to manipulate the same data can therefore be reduced to a minimum.

Today, especially for medium sized companies, there is no choice but to process the same data in parallel in different software programs. Tax related items are often processed by external tax advisors using their own software. At the same time, for the reasons explained above, many site managers use standard bookkeeping programs themselves, sometimes supplemented by other specialised solutions.

The crux of the matter: So far there has been no possibility to compare the information in the individual systems with each other. CounterBooks, by contrast, combines the requirements in one software package which satisfies all financial, tax and legal reporting requirements.

The system was launched on the German market about four years ago. Since then around 150 medium-sized sites have started using the online retail accounting software. “In addition we are in discussion with some significant medium sized companies,” says Markus Stille, Diplom-Kaufmann and Tax Adviser, from the Contax Group, a network of advisors, which specializes, amongst other things, in providing a tax advisory service to petrol station managers thanks to CounterBooks.

“And even Esso takes advantage of our offer”, adds Stille.

This is not without reason as the accounting software can do much more. A further benefit is, for example, the low rate of false data entry, claims Mrs. Walter. This sounds plausible. The staff entering the data have the knowledge required to book the different products against the correct category groups. This level of accuracy could not be achieved by external tax advisor offices where the employees enter the documents at a later date and without any depth of knowledge, explains Mrs. Walter.

The electronic data processing is not only of interest for the single convenience retailer. Group managers or small networks can also benefit from the high level of transparency they get when viewing the business performance.

For example: There is a big difference in the sales of tobacco between three sites but the monthly average sale of fuel is similar, this would indicate that a closer investigation is required.

Perhaps the difference in sales can be explained by local factors. Maybe it is the result of a gap in the range of products, incorrect placement in the shop, or less attractive presentation. The high sales might be the result of a new promotion. To better asses profitability of a particular site the system provides a comparison with average industry data.

It can often help to identify low turnover products faster than before. “If, for example, you have a freezer in your shop but you sell only one pizza per day for 3,89 € you should ask yourself if it would be better to substitute it with a more attractive and higher turnover product” says Mrs. Walter. “Thanks to the detailed information available you develop a much better feel for the optimal management of your business”. Mistakes in the ordering of products are also immediately obvious. For example, if there are only sporadic sales of engine oil but a new order for €3,000 you would spot this inconsistency immediately and the order can then be quickly corrected.

Monthly Fees from 470 to 580 Euro

Users of the retail accounting system can be supported in their tax issues throughout Germany by the offices of the Contax Group. The monthly basic fee is between €470 and €580 +VAT. This includes the year end finalisation, tax declaration, access to CounterBooks, assistance with the bookkeeping during the first few months, and an average of three on-site visits per year.

Mrs. Walter comments that, “If you add up the monthly fees for the whole year and compare this figure with other solutions you will quickly realise that you can save several thousand Euros”.

CounterBooks can be quickly set up or a new user. “If a prospective client calls in the morning he can usually have the system ready to use in the evening”, remarks Mr. Stille of the Contax group.

The categories that need to be set up can be agreed over the telephone and the input screens modified. Afterwards an individual login will be created and, if required, different logins for the staff. A Contax advisor will visit the site to train the new user and the system can be adapted to meet any local requirements.

If you are interested in finding out more about CounterBooks, please visit, www.counterbooks.com

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Author: retailaccounting

CounterBooks is an online retail accounting management suite which is used by retailers across the world.

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