How Integrated Cloud Apps Help Retailers Hit it for Six

A few years ago most people thought apps were largely for entertainment — games, news sites and social network apps downloaded onto your smartphone. But the industry has changed, both for apps and for retail. An increasing number of retailers, both online and bricks and mortar, are now turning to cutting-edge business apps for more cost-effective and efficient ways to run their stores.

The retail sector has seen an explosion of cloud-based app services that meet growing customer demands for faster and more mobile ways to shop. But the key to making the most of these new technologies is integration — apps that talk to each other create a far better experience than those that don’t. Integrated apps can have a huge impact on the long-term success of a business, offering a single view of your operations from staff, product and sales, through to profitability and performance. For Melbourne-based retailer and self-confessed accounting amateurs, TNF Cricket (Tails Never Fails), what seemed like a simple point-of-sale and accounting integration has been transformative.

No longer stumped by bookwork

When TNF Cricket launched its direct-to-consumer cricket brand in 2011, it had big goals, and has been growing ever since. Now also providing a bespoke leisure facility, cricket coaching and ‘glow cricket’ experiences under UV lights, it quickly discovered it needed a better system for managing its sales and profits.

“We started Tails Never Fails because we love the game of cricket. We’re no good at admin and no good at accounting,” says Michael Sheedy, co-founder and managing director at TNF Cricket.

TNF Cricket runs a truly omnichannel business with an online store, a physical store in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, and agents across the country who are out selling to local cricket clubs and cricketers. The company not only needed an efficient point-of-sale system that worked across all platforms and was easy for staff to use, it also needed more confidence in balancing the books. After investigating various systems, the company selected Vend which allows its remote sales staff to run off an iPad and take sales from anywhere, and easily lets TNF track all sales and products.

“All transactions have to go through a register and that has to talk to our back-end books to understand where we’re making money, what we’re not so much making money on, and where we should concentrate in order to make better profit margins. And making sure we attribute the cost of goods to everything we do has been a wonderful marker for us to understand how we’re actually tracking against what we budgeted for,” said Sheedy.


Bringing your accountant in to bat

What really made a difference to TNF’s business was Vend’s integration with sophisticated payroll and accounting software, Xero.

“With the handy work of Xero on the back-end, it makes it a whole lot easier to control products and services,” said Sheedy.

Vend and Xero recently launched a number of updates to their integration, including tracking of stock margins (cost-of-goods), which allows business owners to make better decisions on how to increase cash-flow and profitability. All sales, customer and cash-flow data is shared in real-time between the two systems, which reduces the overheads and administration required to run a small business.
“The wonderful part about Xero is the fact it talks to Vend, the integration is seamless making it a lot easier for us to be able to talk to our accountants when analysing data, and make sure that everything is up to date at the end of financial year,” said Sheedy.

Staying ahead of the game

With the retail sector evolving so rapidly, TNF has realised the enormous difference its new processes will have on its future business.

“A good product is only half the battle. Retailers come and go based on how quickly they can adapt to their customers, and that means making the most of the technology at our disposal,” said Sheedy.

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