Xero Accounting with Unleashed Inventory Management & Multi-Sales Platforms
Working with a diverse range of businesses requires acute adaptability and often quick learning on the job to be able to work with whatever current systems and processes are in place as well as to explore new possibilities, approaches and methods. The consistent desired outcome being, the increase in efficiency, ease of work flow, and production of accurate output; all contributing to a smoother running company, able to focus on and measure profitability. Building up valuable expertise in this sector requires constant research, extensive trial and error and lots of repurposing and adaptation of templates, systems and work arounds. Some more extensive operational projects become meticulous when dealing with multiple live systems which are relied upon for sales functions and accounting.
In this case study we detail how we tackled a relatively complex, multi-platform integration project to deliver an automated inventory tracking and accounting system robust enough to carry an already very profitable business into it’s next growth phase and beyond.
Our brief was to explore the extent to which we could automate the recording of accurate accounting within Xero & deliver a bespoke P&L template by feeding in three separate streams of revenue, recording the corresponding cost of goods sold (COGS) and allowing for live inventory tracking & stock control.
The client had researched, selected & invested in online POS platform ‘Vend’ (to use in their physical retail premises) and advanced inventory management software, ‘Unleashed’ (to manage all warehouse stock movements). They also currently sold wholesale items through an online Shopify store and retail items through an online WooCommerce store.
Being a multi-platform retailer, it was important to be able to manage profitability over the different revenue streams to enable for future sound financial & growth planning. At this stage, the business was not recording its actual cost of sales and so although a general profit and loss figure could be deduced through sales vrs purchases value, profit margins and areas of weakness were near impossible to identify. Our goal was to be able to record the value of Retail, Wholesale and Online sales and show the corresponding direct cost of these sales by recording the unit cost of each product sold in separate accounting lines in the P&L within the Xero accounting system. E.g.
Less Operating Expenses
Cost of Goods Sold -Retail
Cost of Goods Sold -Online
Cost of Goods Sold -Wholesale
The inventory software (Unleashed) would then be capable of detailing in further depth the performance of individual products, keeping a record of their profitability, demand and supply.
On a consultancy level, the enthusiasm for this outcome enabled us to push the client into properly recording and calculating cost pricing for all inventory, components and ingredients, something that was crucial to this move into tighter stock management, ordering processing, control over wastage and proper recording of profits.
After a full stock evaluation, the eventual result was a well organised inventory database in Unleashed with consistent, intuitive coding, opening stock balances, correct platform pricing and unit costs. From this point we could design the automated integration structure which would in turn feed sales from the 3 platforms; Vend (for retail instore sales), WooCommerce (for online sales) and Shopify (for wholesales) into Unleashed for the recording of stock movements and the added value of customer detail records. Subsequently sales and COGS figure would populate in Xero through automated integration with both Unleashed and Vend.
The integration was more complex than perhaps appears due to us dealing with essentially only two inventory price lists (wholesale products and retail products) and yet having to record three lots of sales and costs. Wholesale items didn’t pose much problem since they were entirely separate inventory; normally larger volumes and bulk packs. These products could be assigned to a single sales and cost account code (Wholesales and Cost of Goods Sold -Wholesale). The retail items for sale instore through Vend and online through WooCommerce were less straight forward in the sense that they required the same item to be account coded twice with Retail Sales/ COGS-Retail for instore items and Online Sales/ COGS-Online for online WooCommerce versions of those items. Setting up two inventory items per product in this case was the only way to proceed. We were cautious though not to lose inventory tracking capability and so engaged the use Unleashed’s product grouping function so that both the online and instore versions can be tracked and stock managed as a single unit.
Our integration strategy was set out as follows:
Despite most online applications’ ability to integrate in some way with one or more other apps, not all are designed with this initial intention. Fortunately, there are many affordable work arounds in the form of ‘connectors’ such as Zapier and OneSaas; apps which are specifically designed to bridge the gaps between software and allow for easy data sharing amongst almost any applications. Due to WooCommerce’s incapacity to integrate direct with Unleashed, we used one of these applications to easily allow the desired information to be shared through bespoke configuration. Integrations like this work due to Xero’s ability to resist duplication of entries. Retail sales can be push both into Unleashed and into Xero without Xero picking up the same invoices from both applications and duplicating the accounting.
This integration project has proved successful and we have since been able to add ‘Timely’ appointment scheduling application to the daisy chain. Timely now syncs with Vend so payments for appointments can be taken through the Vend interface in the same way retail products can be sold. The sale items (services) are listed as products and account coded to an additional sales line in Xero P&L.
The result of the project has enabled the client a much better understanding of their profitability, areas for improvement and a tighter control over stock. The interfaces also save huge amounts of time spent doing manual calculations, lengthy bookkeeping, and reporting. Sales now happen quickly, with ease, in-store and online. Orders are controlled from a centralised inventory database and a huge chunk of the monthly accounting is now automated. Users can login to the sales and inventory platforms from anywhere and the company can expand without issue, adding further inventory and even additional outlets with minimum effort.