Retail Accounting

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Migrating To The Cloud Isn’t As Complicated As You Think

cloud migrationThe cloud is growing in popularity but CIOs still have a number of concerns regarding system migration. A recent survey showed 56% felt that the migration process would be too complex and 81% were concerned about security. Many fear that moving to the cloud could cost into the millions, that the risks are too high and that the process is too time consuming. However, whilst justified, these fears are not reflective of the true picture.

In fact, the cloud brings numerous benefits to the company as a whole, the most notable being cost savings. For example CounterBooks’ cloud-based system automates 80-90% of the accounting process saving companies thousands. This automation also increases accuracy, thereby improving overall performance.

Data from traditional systems is easily migrated to the cloud and does not consume vast amounts of time or money. It’s also highly secure, for example with CounterBooks all data is encrypted, fully backed up and stored in servers with 24/7 maintenance.

Furthermore, the cloud provides an excellent platform to suit the growing trend of on-the-go flexible working, providing staff with the information they need whenever and wherever they need it.


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Three ways to improve working capital through inventory efficiencies

Do you need to improve your working capital? Carrying out a detailed inventory review can generate surprising working capital benefits. Here’s how to do it…

Most FDs will be well aware of the improvements that can be made to working capital by refocusing their efforts around cash, debtors and creditors. However, a sustainable reduction in inventory can also unlock significant working capital – while delivering other associated business benefits, such as lower transport and warehouse costs, in the process.

The biggest benefits will be felt by businesses that overstock the wrong products and don’t always have the right products to meet customer demand; those that have a surplus of obsolete or marked-down stock on hand; those which experience stock-outs and back orders on popular products; those that stock a large number of products to meet the needs of few customers; or those that have a number of customers that place small or irregular orders.

For organisations where inventory is a significant contributor to working capital, a structured and detailed approach to reviewing inventory is vital to avoid compromising levels of customer service. Our approach comprises the following three key steps.


1. Inventory analysis at SKU level

An in-depth analysis of current raw material, work in progress and finished goods inventory at SKU (stock keeping unit) level is an essential first step to drive inventory efficiencies. This analysis helps businesses understand the value and level of inventory, as well as the coverage costs for each SKU against historical and future demand.

It is critical that this analysis is carried out at SKU level – not at the more aggregate category level. A category level analysis can be flawed as individual SKU under or overstocking issues can remain hidden among category averages.

2. Identifying key drivers for inefficiency

The inventory analysis at SKU level is the base reference from which to pinpoint the causes of inefficiencies and to start identifying solutions. To do this the key drivers for individual under or overstocking issues need to be identified:

• Key driver: Product proliferation

Product proliferation is a common factor behind large imbalances in inventory coverage. As such the inventory value and coverage for each SKU should be overlaid against its gross margin contribution. This provides the basis to justify product rationalisation.

Dealing with product proliferation issues:

  • Identify those SKUs that contribute the lowest gross margin contribution in value per annum.
  • Compare gross margin contribution against average inventory value, cover and cost.
  • Establish all SKUs and customers with a high inventory cover relative to demand and contribution.
  • Establish robust metrics and processes to deal with new product introduction, product promotions and de-listings.

The greater the number of SKUs, the more complex and costlier it is to sell, plan, track, manufacture, ship and deliver those units.

• Key driver: Customer proliferation

Having too many customers with unique products can result in excessive inventory costs, so it is important to evaluate the net impact of each customer on both the business and the inventory.

Dealing with customer proliferation issues:

  • Analyse customer sales history to understand the order frequency, the number and range of SKUs purchased and the average order size.
  • Identify those customers with the lowest gross margin contribution and highest conversion and distribution cost.

• Key driver: Internal planning systems and processes

Robust demand, supply and inventory planning processes are key. However, we often find that the planning function is underinvested and not aligned to the needs of the business. Often, a realignment of people skills, systems and processes to the business model is necessary.

More effective demand and inventory planning enables enhanced communication with suppliers. This aids the negotiation and implementation of consigned or vendor, managed inventory as part of the inventory reduction solution.

• Key driver: Sourcing model/supply chain

The sourcing model and supply chain have a significant impact on inventory, not all of them positive. For example, supply-chain efficiencies often drive companies to overseas suppliers with longer lead times.

Dealing with sourcing model/supplier issues:

  • Identify the inventory items that are overstocked because of supplier location, lead time, minimum order size or replenishment frequency.
  • For suppliers with long lead times, robust inventory planning will be needed, in particular for SKUs with low/high volatility or seasonal demand.
  • Align sourcing and inventory planning to reduce coverage costs.
  • Work with customers to provide accurate demand forecasts.

• Key driver: Production processes

Vertically integrated manufacturing companies face a major challenge in supply chain management: driving economies of scale in production while maximising inventory efficiency. For some businesses this may be straightforward. However, complications arise in cases of high product proliferation and low order volumes.

To balance these conflicting requirements:

  • Improve the planning process.
  • Improve the efficiency and responsiveness of production.
  • Differentiate service level by product and sales channel.
  • Determine target inventory levels as a result of the desired service level.

3. Pulling it all together

Once the SKU inventory analysis is complete and the key drivers for inefficiencies have been identified, finance directors and CFOs should prioritise solutions that will maximise inventory efficiencies and reduce working capital.

It is common for organisations to encounter significant push-back at this stage, eg, sales teams may not want to let go of products for fear of losing customers and sourcing professionals who have painstakingly built up an overseas sourcing model may feel threatened.

Therefore, independent advisers are often better placed to demonstrate the true impact that inventory inefficiencies have on the business, and to support management teams in the implementation of the necessary changes.

– See more at:

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PRESS RELEASE: CounterBooks was shortlisted for the Association of Convenience Stores’ “Technology Showcase” event

CounterBooks, a leading Online Retail Accounting Management Suite for the fuel, convenience and general retail industry, is delighted to announce that they were shortlisted and presented at the Association of Convenience Stores’ “Technology Showcase” in Westminster, London.

The “Technology Showcase” was part of the Association of Convenience Stores’ ‘Heart of the Community Conference 2014’ which attracted convenience retailers, Members of Parliament and ministers from across the country who discussed various issues faced by the convenience industry.

Along with four other innovative technology suppliers, CounterBooks shared how it uses cutting edge technology to assist convenience retailers to reduce cost, improve performance and manage risk. The audience included members of the Association of Convenience Stores’ Independent Board and other highly experienced and knowledgeable convenience retailers.

The CounterBooks' Story

John Roberts, Managing Director, CounterBooks said ‘We were delighted to have been shortlisted for the “Technology Showcase”. The event was a great opportunity for convenience retailers and suppliers to discuss how to utilise technology. We really enjoyed contributing to the discussion.’

ACS Chief Executive James Lowman said: ‘Our Technology Showcase is a great opportunity for retailers and suppliers to share new ideas that are being developed for the convenience sector. We are delighted that CounterBooks was part of the event and able to share their innovations with those in attendance.’

To learn more about CounterBooks please visit

About CounterBooks

CounterBooks was developed in 2001 and launched on 1st January 2003 as the world’s first online full ledger accounting management suite designed specifically for retailers. It was originally developed by a frustrated computer-programmer-turned-retailer who struggled with traditional accounting systems which were not developed for retail businesses. His aim was to provide an easy to use system suitable for a retailer with no accountancy experience while still providing full easily understandable data reporting.

For further information about CounterBooks, including case studies, images or interviews, please contact, Laura Shafer – Marketing Assistant:-

Telephone: (+44) 0207 099 1050



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Oil and Gas: Mergers and Acquisitions Report

Oil and gas M&A activity in 2014 has centred on rationalising property mixes rather than expanding asset bases.Oil and Gas M&A

This free whitepaper from Deloitte takes an in-depth look at what’s affecting merger and acquisition activity.

In this whitepaper you will learn:

1. What’s causing the decrease in M&A in the oilfield sector

2. Which were the largest M&A deals for 2014

3. What’s driving an increase in M&A in refining and marketing

4. How the economic recovery has affected M&A

Access the whitepaper here.

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How can fuels retailers remain competitive?

by Zahra Bahroloumi

Retail trends are consistently pointing toward consumers’ hunger for a consistent, relevant and convenient customer experience. The time-constrained and tech-savvy social media-tuned consumer is driving consumption patterns in line with their lifestyle and daily working routines. Fuels retailers cannot afford to fall short in delivering basic customer needs, particularly when the leading hypermarkets can mobilize and respond to customer demand in increasingly sophisticated ways. Accenture believes fuels retailers should focus on three key aspects of their service to maintain their competitiveness in an ever-competitive industry:
  • Customer focus, to understand what a convenient and relevant offer looks like at every site in the network
  • Excellence in customer service provision, delivered at every site in the network, to confirm a consistent customer experience
  • Speed to market, to maintain relevance across the retail portfolio.
How can fuels retailers go the distance?
Rebuilding market share requires strategic planning and the ability to implement change. Accenture believes that providing greater value to customers means acknowledging environmental and internal blockers, and understanding how to manage them. The following graphic describes some of the key factors fuels retails must navigate to remain competitive:
The following graphic describes some of the key factors fuels retails must navigate to remain competitive
Highlights include:
  • Orientate toward the customer and understand how they can influence your brand. Put the customer at the heart of every business decision. Simplicity, ease and convenience are priorities in the era of digitization, smartphones and social media. Retailers can make the most of increasingly rich sources of data—information on sales, inventory, energy and space utilization, and customer through-flow—to gain new insights into ways to improve the business.
  • Use technology to augment the customer experience and capitalize on the need for convenience. Adopt agile architecture and leverage supplier relationships to support fast-changing customer needs and enhance business capabilities.
  • Pay attention to real estate. A strong physical presence, effective store layout and real estate analytics can drive savvy investment decisions and an appealing customer experience.

Business leaders need to identify the right combination that provides the greatest return on investment for their business and customer mix.

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PRESS RELEASE: CounterBooks and RCS Announce Partnership

CounterBooks and RCS (Retail Consulting Services) Announce Partnership
Experts in fuel and convenience retail accounting

CounterBooks, a leading online retail accounting management suite for the fuel and convenience industry, announced today that it is partnering with RCS. RCS is one of the UK’s leading accountancy service providers to the fuel and convenience industry. This partnership brings two market leading firms together, who are committed to helping fuel and convenience retailers thrive across the UK.

RCS has a nationwide team of senior accountants with extensive industry experience who cover the length and breadth of the UK, from Scotland to the Channel Islands. The CounterBooks’ cloud based system allows for improved communication and collaboration between RCS and their clients, as the system can be accessed from anywhere with an internet enabled device such as a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. This reinforces RCS’s focus on developing meaningful relationships with their clients which plays a crucial role in helping to improve the retailer’s performance.

CounterBooks’ online retail accounting management suite strongly supports RCS’s value of improving retailer performance. This is implemented through automating the accounting process (EPOS and electronic invoices) and in providing accurate, business specific and real time reporting. These features allow retailers, with the support of RCS, to make informed decisions, thereby driving the performance of their fuel and convenience businesses.

This cooperation will offer fuel and convenience retailers the combined benefit of a local and highly experienced retail accountant with immediate online access to the CounterBooks’ market leading retail accounting management suite which is specifically designed for fuel and convenience retailers.

John Roberts, Managing Director, CounterBooks said ‘We are very excited about our partnership with RCS and look forward to working with them to support fuel and convenience retailers in improving business performance. Our first joint project includes an interface from the Micros Prism 2 BOS and I am sure this will be the first of many that we will do together.’

Mark Royle, RCS said “We are delighted to form this collaboration with Counterbooks. Quality Information is key to the successful retail operation and with the seamless flow of data from EPOS through to the Accounting System helps to make this information available in a timely fashion and leaves the retailer free for operational decisions. CounterBooks together with the expert accounting knowledge of RCS can only add value to a business”

To learn more about CounterBooks and RCS, please visit and

About RCS
Retail Consulting Services (RCS) are one of the UK’s leading accountant consultancy service providers to the forecourt, convenience and hospitality sectors. RCS work with owners, operators (such as HKS Retail Limited) and EPOS companies in fuel and convenience retail. They provide accounting and consultancy services across the UK and help clients to manage a seamless flow of information from EPOS through to the accounting system.

About CounterBooks
CounterBooks was developed in 2001 – 2002 and launched on 1st January 2003 as the world’s first on-line full ledger accounting system designed specifically for retailers. CounterBooks was originally developed as a Pro-Retail MS DOS system by a frustrated computer-programmer-turned-retailer who struggled with traditional accounting systems which were not developed for retail businesses. His aim was to provide an easy to use system suitable for a retailer with no accountancy experience while still providing full easily understandable data reporting. Last month, Counterbooks was shortlisted in The Association of Convenience Stores Technology Showcase.

For further information about CounterBooks, including case studies, images or interviews, please contact, Laura Shafer – Marketing Assistant:-

Telephone: +44 207 099 1050