Retail Accounting

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Video: The CounterBooks Story




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PRESS RELEASE: CounterBooks Launches Newly Redesigned Interface

CounterBooks' Redesigned Interface

CounterBooks, a leading Online Retail Accounting Management Suite for the fuel, convenience and general retail industry, is pleased to announce today, the launch of the redesigned graphical interface of CounterBooks.

The focus of the redesign has been to improve the user experience from daily reconciliation through to real time reporting. This follows a series of exciting developments at CounterBooks including the introduction of the Retail Management Information System and the Billing Control System.

The same great features and benefits of CounterBooks have been maintained but navigation has improved with fewer clicks, easy to follow navigation (breadcrumbs), dynamic menus and enhanced drill down. The redesign is currently being rolled out to all CounterBooks’ fuel, convenience and general retail clients in the UK and across Europe.

John Roberts, Managing Director, CounterBooks said “Having launched the first cloud based version of CounterBooks in 2003 we started on a redesign in 2013 and I am delighted to be able to roll out the new system to all of our customers this autumn. With over 1000 files and 150 pages to modify, our IT team had their hands full and I’m pleased to say, they did a great job. Enjoyment and accounting systems use probably don’t go hand in hand, but I am sure our customers will love the improvements.”

To learn more about CounterBooks please visit

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.

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

Telephone: +44 207 099 1050

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Six questions every retail executive should ask about cloud computing

A very informative whitepaper from Accenture on cloud computing for retail.

What you will learn:

1. What cloud computing is and how it works.The cloud for retail

2. What benefits the cloud can bring to your retail business.

3. How the cloud can help address specific changes faced by your business.

4. Whether you can depend on the cloud to save money.

5. How the cloud will affect the way your business operates in the future.

6. About security and data privacy.

‘The retail industry’s migration to cloud: not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

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CounterBooks launches Billing Control System at 2014 NACS Insight Convenience Summit – Europe

CounterBooks' retail accounting management suiteCounterBooks, a leading retail accounting management suite for oil companies and convenience retailers, launched the Billing Control System as a new module of the CounterBooks suite at the 2014 NACS Insight Convenience Summit – Europe in London, UK.

The Billing Control System has been developed after working closely with leading brand owners such as major oil companies and convenience retailers, which operate distribution channels such as franchises, dealers and other partnership variations.

John Roberts, managing director, said: “Many brand owners operate complicated and highly multifaceted financial models with their channel partners, which involve thousands of transactions throughout the year. It is business critical for both the brand owners and the channel partners to ensure that all necessary transactions have been executed, on time, to the correct party, for the correct amount, for the correct items under the correct terms. One small error can become highly material if replicated over a large retail network.

“Due to the nature of the deployment of CounterBooks, the database holds both sides of the transaction, which allows CounterBooks to reconcile and match each transaction so that exceptions can be reported for further investigation. We have been working with several brand owners and already identified numerous areas which require enhanced controls within their billing processes and procedures – these initial trials already demonstrate scope for substantial cost savings which would deliver a high return on investment.”

The Billing Control System is an extension of the powerful CounterBooks’ Retail Management Information System, which provides in-depth and accurate management reporting for brand owners across their channel partners to improve performance and manage risk.

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Retail multi-site compliance & control

d&t and CounterBooks provide retail networks with a complete accounting and online system service.

Multi-site retailers are set to benefit from a recent affiliation between two established market leaders, CounterBooks and d&t Chartered Accountants. Providing a tailored retail accounting service and online system for each site within a network allows the head office to benchmark to better assign support to those who are underperforming against the network averages.

By putting all sites in a network on the same system ensures compliance whilst reduces the costs associated with the system, training and support. Examples of brands who have already benefited from CounterBooks include; the Post Office, Esso, BP, Shell, Esquires Coffee Houses and Scottish & Newcastle. d&t have been appointed as the network accountants by over 75 UK franchisors, with brands including; Café2U, MacTools, Snack in the Box and Dyno (Dyno-Rod).

Carl Reader, director at d&t commented, “We have created a modular approach that allows each network to have the right package of accounting and bookkeeping services for their franchisees or outlets. The services are bundled into a fixed monthly fee with a 100% satisfaction money back guarantee.”

The transition of a retail multi-site or franchise network to a shared system for both their accounting and bookkeeping can take a mix of time and careful presentation. Because the business models are already templated it makes perfect sense for all the systems to be shared by the network as well. Integrating new sites is the most simple as they can be setup with the network approved system. Established sites with a mix of providers and systems often need more convincing of the benefits, although this is an area the teams are used to dealing with and they find education and demonstration to the be the best solution.

“Both organisations have worked informally together for years so it made complete sense to work more closely and provide a joined up accounting and systems solution for multi-site retailers and franchise networks,” commented Alex King CounterBooks Commercial Director.


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WALMART Asda tests fully automated checkout in UK

Asda is testing a fully automated Wincor Nixdorf checkout in York. The machine – dubbed Rapid Scan – can read barcodes on a conveyor belt using image recognition even if the barcode is placed flat.

Asda test Wincor Nixdorf checkout

According to the retailer, items can be scanned in less than one second each – or 100 per minute. This is three times faster than scanning by hand, Asda says.

The Walmart-owned UK retailer’s new solution uses a split conveyor belt, allowing two people to bag shopping simultaneously. Once one shopper’s items have gone through the system to the bagging and payment area, the next can immediately load groceries on to the belt. When each person’s purchases have been scanned, staff push a control button to authorise a chip and PIN card reader to display the bill and take payment.

In Europe, retailers such as Rewe Group, Dia and ICA Gruppen have already been testing fully automated scanners since 2011. In the US, Kroger has been piloting its in-house fully-automated tunnel scanner, first developed in 2010.

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Lessons from a seasoned franchisor – build your franchise on solid technological foundations

Franchise FoundationsTime and time again, I speak with soon-to-be franchisors in the early stages of setting up and not investing in the right technology. In the mid 2000s, with the help of a great team, we built a franchise network from conception to national brand within 4 years, we introduced many initiatives and the toughest ones, without a doubt, were IT projects.

It is absolute critical from the outset to have a robust and scalable technology platform prior to recruiting franchisees. Maybe 10 years ago, franchisors could argue that the costs involved in IT projects were prohibitive, however with the availability of cloud deployed technology – there is no excuse. Cloud deployed software is highly scalable due to the pay-as-you-go subscription model (typically per user or per company) and requires minimal capex/upfront investment.

In my humble opinion, executives very often get caught up in the more exciting aspects of franchising, recruitment, marketing and attending franchisees launches. Those of you which have written a full Request for Proposal (RFP), can probably relate, it is a horrendous task.

However it can have profound implications on the franchise system if the appropriate systems and processes are not in place from conception.

Here are some reasons why, now is better than tomorrow (or even three to five years time) to introduce the right systems:-

1.    Changing later is a pain

Every time a franchisor recruits a franchisee without the right systems, they are compounding the complications which lay ahead. People rarely like change, and introducing a new IT system even less. Newly launched franchisees should be focused on building their business, not have their time and attention being diverted for the launch of a new IT system – this can have repercussions which can lead to conflict and difficulties early on within the honeymoon period of the franchise relationship.

A new IT project will present the franchisee with additional costs. They might be at the early stages of their growth and might not yet see or understand the logic for the project as they are yet to experience the “challenge” the new system intends to solve – therefore making it more challenging to introduce the system.

Introducing new systems in a wholly owned company can be awkward, when introducing a new system in a franchise network, it presents an additional layer of complexity. You will need to engage with the franchise network, explain the issues, consult with the network as a whole (and/or the franchise council), draft a specification, engage again with the franchise network for user acceptance testing, arrange training, and ensure effective roll out. All of which can be avoided.

So all in, it costs more, consumes time from the franchisee and franchisor and can be a challenge which will involve project management and change management skills.

 2.    Helps control and manage innovation in the early stages of growth

Many IT projects are reactive, they are intended to solve a problem which has already presented itself and the business has “felt the pain”. For example, if there is an increase in the franchisee failure rate, this is because the franchisor has an inadequate management information system to effectively monitor franchise performance.

With hindsight, had the franchisor introduced a cloud based “Management Information System” at the early stages of growth, they would have potentially avoided the failure of those franchisees, whilst having the opportunity to monitor franchisees through this critical growth stage to refine the model and provide better support.

 3.    Provides competitive advantage

Having technological competencies can deliver dual competitive advantage. A highly automated accounting back office can deliver competitive advantages through reduced costs and time, therefore allowing the franchisee to focus on delivering a better service and invest in the business. This competitive advantage provides the franchisor with an improved customer experience which can attract talented franchisees.

So prior to developing a franchise channel, a franchisor should give consideration to the three points below:-

  1. Are all systems suitable for franchisees?
  2. What other systems will be required to support the franchise management team and the franchisees?
  3. Can the systems scale in line with your growth objectives?

We would love for you to share some of your experiences, good and bad.