Whilst navigating the world of e-commerce and growing a successful Shopify store can be exciting, it is also very complex. Whether you are new to Shopify or a seasoned Shopify merchant, at some stage you’re likely to find yourself challenged by the accounting and tax compliance challenges your e-commerce business will face. As an e-commerce business, would it not be a breath of fresh air to have an accountant who truly understood your business? At Elver E-Commerce accountants, we turn the complex world of e-commerce accounting in to a streamlined and efficient process so that we can deliver the information you need, when you need it.
Shopify Accounting Service
There’s no getting away from it – Shopify is complicated. You need to manage listings, customer service, refunds, fulfillment, order products, manage staff, etc. The last thing you need is to have to worry about the accounting and taxation implications. That’s where specialist accountants offering dedicated Shopify specific services can help.
You will most likely have several payment options on your website, whether Shopify payments, PayPal, Amazon Pay, or one of the 100+ credit card payment providers that work with Shopify. Combined with the fact that settlements will often be net of transaction charges this adds complexity to your accounting process.
You may of course not be restricted to Shopify and may sell on a variety of ecommerce marketplaces as well. This increases the complexity of your business and your accounting is no different in that respect. You will probably use an order management software like Linnworks or Expandly which will also impact your accounting process.
Our Accounting Partners
In order to deliver the best service possible to Shopify store owners, we have chosen to work with three specific apps that we believe provide the optimal accounting app stack for a Shopify business. The apps we choose to partner with:
Xero is at the core of our accounting work and is the cloud based accounting software that we use to maintain the bookkeeping records for Shopify businesses. We chose Xero specifically above other cloud accounting apps due to it’s user friendly interface. We find that in particular, non-accountant users find Xero to use and navigate when compared to the alternates. Having an easy to use and navigate accounting system is important for a successful Shopify business owner so that they can easily and comfortable get into the full detail behind their numbers as and when they need to. Xero is a cloud based system and we give you access to it so that you can access your numbers where and whenever you need to.
A2X is the application we use to extract the financial data from Shopify and push it through to Xero. It is widely regarded as the leading accounting app for e-commerce. We choose to work with A2X in particular as it summarises the Shopify finance data in such a way that makes it easier to reconcile it to the financial transactions. For example, many alternatives will send through data to Xero at an order level for all sales. This is unhelpful as this is not the way in which Shopify payouts as orders are grouped into daily payouts. In addition, Xero has transaction volume limits, by using the summarised data that A2X provides, we can be sure to remain within the transactional limits of A2X.
Another reason for choosing to partner with A2X is that they have a global support team and a team of developers fully focused on the product. This means that if something goes wrong, we are able to seek a fast resolution for you. Additionally, Shopify accounting is an ever changing landscape and product updates are often required to keep up with the way Shopify data is provided. Many e-commerce specialist accounting firms will choose to try to build their own alternative to A2X in house. However, the reality is that these accounting firms do not have the same level of resources as an app like A2X has to dedicate to the development of the product. In practice, they may just have one developer working on the connection. So if something goes wrong, there’s the risk that your business won’t be able to get the information it needs, when it needs it.
A2X also connect with a wide range of other e-commerce platforms and marketplaces. This means that if your business is selling through other channels, we’ll likely be able to connect them through to Xero using A2X too. This is important as it helps to keep all of your e-commerce data in one place. It also means that our teams can focus on using the one e-commerce accounting app in order to deliver the best service possible to Shopify business owners.
Finally, we are a Gold partner of A2X and therefore able to ensure priority support for our customers and team.
Dext Prepare is the application that we use to capture and process purchase invoices for customers. It uses optical character recognition software to capture the data from the receipts and purchase invoices that you upload. We then review that data, ensure that it’s categorised correctly and that the VAT treatment has been correctly applied and then push through that data to Xero. Using Dext Prepare ensures that we maintain an efficient process for processing purchase invoices and receipts. Dext Prepare enables Shopify business owners to upload their receipts in 3 different ways, ensuring that it is efficient and convenient to use. The upload methods available are through the mobile app, drag and drop through the desktop app and finally through a dedicated email inbox for your e-commerce business.
Why Hire a Shopify Accountant?
An E-commerce accountant operates differently from a standard accountant. The world of E-commerce accounting can be complicated and requires a unique level of specialist knowledge & understanding. A specialist Shopify E-Commerce accountant will ensure that the entire accounting process is streamlined and efficient by automating and integrating the key processes.
As a result, less client input is needed which means more time for them to focus on their Shopify website.
Benefits of Using Specialist Shopify Accountants
By using apps and integrations to pull the data through from your Shopify store. Without the specialist e-commerce knowledge that we have, many accountants will try to manually reconcile the Shopify data by pulling reports from the store, then trying to understand how these reports tie in to the cash received into your bank. It’s likely that they will ask you to regularly download these reports and send them to you.
As a specialist accounting firm with an in-depth knowledge in Shopify, we request Collaborator access to your Shopify store. This means that if we ever have any reconciliation queries on your Shopify data, we are able to resolve them ourselves through the access we have. By requesting collaborator access, we are also not taking up a user license on your Shopify subscription.
An Accountant That Understands Your Business
Standard accountants will usually only have a general understanding of E-commerce accounting. Specialist E-commerce Shopify financial advisors are very experienced in this subject and have a more in-depth understanding of your business and accounting needs. They will be able to guide you and ask fewer questions along the way, ensuring that you have more time to spend on your business.
Getting Your Accounting for Your Platform and Marketplace Payouts Right
E-commerce accounting specialists use specific accounting apps such as A2X and understand the ins and outs of marketplace and platform payouts. With potentially thousands of transitions taking place within a single payout and sales being made worldwide a specialist E-Commerce accountant will ensure that payouts are done are accounted for correctly.
Guiding You On VAT/GST Registrations in Other Countries
The majority of other businesses won’t be required to register for VAT outside of the UK. However, if your business is selling to other countries then VAT/GST registration maybe required. As an e-commerce business, this is much more likely than for other businesses. Elver E-Commerce Accountants are experienced in this area and can assist with VAT registrations and filing requirements in other countries.
At Elver Consultancy we work with Shopify Accounts on a daily basis and use applications like Xero and A2X to streamline the Shopify accounting process. If you would like to know more, please give us a call.
Shopify Accounting Basics
As a Shopify business owner, it can be useful to understand the basics of accounting and how they apply to your e-commerce business. Whether you choose to maintain your own bookkeeping records and hand them over to a specialist e-commerce accountant like us, having an understanding of these basic accounting concepts can help you make more informed decisions about the successfully running of your e-commerce business.
1. Recognition of Shopify Revenue
Revenue should be recognised not when an order is taken from a customer but when the risk and reward of the product being provided has been transferred over to the customer. In practice, for e-commerce business owners this usually means when the goods have been delivered to the customer. However the reality is that most e-commerce stores have e-commerce short lead times and therefore the time lag and therefore accounting difference between when a customer makes the payment and when an order is delivered is minimal. When reconciling revenue for e-commerce businesses, we therefore typically use the date of payment as the point of revenue recognition. This is because the data in respect of payment is more readily available and ties in with the amounts charged to the customer. This in turn enables a quicker and more accurate month end close process so that we can provide your e-commerce business with accurate but timely information. If the store has longer lead times and there may be a material difference between the revenue recognised if done on a payment date basis rather than an order delivered date basis, then we would recommend making an adjustment in your accounts at year end to ensure that the statutory accounts reflect this difference. However, for management account purposes, we wouldn’t recommend doing this as the time taken to prepare this adjustment is likely to outweigh the benefit gained.
2. Cost of Goods Sold
Cost of goods sold refers to the cost of purchasing or producing the goods sold as well as the cost of getting the goods to the customer. If you are an e-commerce business owner manufacturing your own products, the cost of production should also take account of the labour cost involved as well as the energy costs in respect of the production process. However, for many SME e-commerce businesses it is common to outsource production to a manufacturer, in which case your primary COGS will be the cost of stock purchased form the manufacturer. An accurate monthly COGS figure is essential to understanding the overall profitability of your e-commerce business.
3. Inventory Management
Inventory is directly linked to cost of goods sold in that it in the accounts of an e-commerce business, the month end closing inventory will be equal to the cost of goods sold for the stock held that hasn’t yet been sold. We can advise on inventory management systems that will integrate with your e-commerce platforms in order to keep a good handle on the value of your inventory held at any point in time.
Overheads refers to all others costs in the business that do not directly relate to the production or purchase of the goods that your Shopify store is selling. It is important to accurately track overheads in order that you can prepare accurate financial statements for your business and track its’ profitability.
5. Profit and Loss
The Profit and Loss Statement (also commonly referred to as the Income Statement), is a financial report that pulls together the revenue, cost of goods sold and overheads over a specific period in order to calculate the profitability of the business during that period. It’s important for e-commerce business owners to have an accurate P&L at least monthly in order that they can accurately track the impact of the decisions that they are making and to monitor the profitability of the business as it increases.
6. Sales Tax
As a Shopify seller, you’re likely to have to deal with the implications of sales tax, this may be VAT and GST depending upon the regions that you are selling to. It’s really important to understand your sales tax obligations right from the start. Depending on the planned business model for your e-commerce business, it may be that you require registrations before you can even start selling.
7. Cash flow
Many businesses fail not because they weren’t profitable but because they weren’t generating cash. Profit doesn’t necessarily result in cash in the bank for an e-commerce business. For example, if an e-commerce business is ordering their inventory in bulk and holding inventory, then at any point in time they will likely have a significant amount of cash tied up in inventory. If cash flow is of concern, then it’s important to consider how the cash tied up in inventory can be minimised. For example, this could be achieved by placing more frequent orders or arranging faster delivery times with the business’ suppliers.
Industry specific experience
Having an accountant with industry-specific experience can be transformational for your business. Elver E-Commerce Accountants offers exactly that – we have a deep understanding of all accounting aspects of the Shopify platform as well as other marketplaces your e-commerce business might be selling on, offering an edge that non-specialist accounting services won’t be able to match. Here are some of the key ways in which your e-commerce business can leverage our experience:
1. Revenue reconciliation: reconciling the revenue generated to the cash received into your business bank account can be complicated. Taking the example of a Shopify payout, the business will receive a payout that potential represents several hundred different orders. If you are selling a variety of products with varying VAT rates or selling internationally, then the VAT treatment of the sales within one individual payout will also vary. There are then Shopify fees deducted from the payout to be accounted for separately. In practice, revenue reconciliation for most Shopify stores is likely be more complicated due to the use of other payment gateways such as Paypal, Klarna, Stripe etc. We use A2X to make this process efficient and smooth. Your only required involvement in this process is approving the initial connection to the Shopify API.
2. Inventory expertise: Managing inventory is a key part of running your e-commerce business but it also plays an important role in ensuring accurate financial information. That’s why we’re fully versed on the accurate calculation of inventory valuation. A common additional complexity for e-commerce businesses in respect of inventory is that many manufacturers will require a 30% deposit on order and a 70% balance payment on shipment. We can put processes in place within Xero to ensure that these payments are dealt with correctly and that they don’t skew your cost of goods sold.
3. E-commerce mergers and acquisitions: for many e-commerce business owners, the long term plan is to build value into the business so that it can be sold in the future. We know what acquirers are looking to see in terms of financial information and can ensure you have the appropriate financial systems in place to ensure a smooth sale. In addition, we have contacts at many e-commerce acquirers that we can introduce you to when you are ready to move forward with the sale of your business. It may also that you want to expand your e-commerce empire by acquiring another e-commerce business. Should that be the case, we can assist with the due diligence on any businesses you’re looking to acquire.
4. Meaningful KPIs our management reporting packs include meaningful KPIs with trend analysis that are relevant to your e-commerce business. We can help you to analyse your vital KPIs like converse rates and average order value.
Expertise in International Tax and Accounting
At Elver E-Commerce Accountants, we know that e-commerce is inherently global. Whether you’re already selling products internationally or considering expanding beyond UK borders, understanding and navigating the labyrinth of international tax and accounting requirements is crucial. It’s important to get advice on this matter before you start trading internationally as any mistakes could be costly.
Our expertise in this area sets us apart:
1. VAT/GST Compliance: Selling to customers abroad often brings Value Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST) obligations. Our team is experienced in understanding these intricate regulations across different countries. We can assist with registration, filing requirements, and ensuring you’re collecting the correct amount of tax on each sale, no matter where your customer is located.
2. Double Taxation Agreements: We can help you understand the UK’s extensive network of double taxation treaties to avoid or mitigate being taxed twice on the same income.
3. Understanding the Digital Services Tax: Some countries have implemented a Digital Services Tax (DST) that affects e-commerce businesses. Our team is well-versed in these regulations and can help ensure your business stays compliant while exploring ways to optimise your tax situation.
4. Cross-Border E-Commerce Accounting: International transactions can add layers of complexity to your accounting processes. Our familiarity with these complexities means we can help streamline your processes, reconcile multi-currency transactions, and provide clear, accurate financial reporting.
Knowledge of Third-Party Integrations
In order for Shopify sellers’ bookkeeping records to be maintained efficiently and accurately, it’s important to have your Shopify store seamlessly connected with your accounting system. Whether you’re using Shopify Payments, PayPal, Amazon Pay, or any of the numerous payment gateways, we’re adept at handling the complexities these payment gateways introduce to your accounting process. We know how to reconcile the net settlements and transaction fees so you have an accurate view of your business’ performance. You can read more about selecting the best Shopify integrator for your store here.
Financial Reporting for Shopify Stores
Translating the rich stream of data flowing from your Shopify store and associated integrations into meaningful financial reports is no easy feat, and it’s where Elver E-Commerce Accountants truly shines. Our team is well-versed in the specific nuances and intricacies of financial reporting for e-commerce businesses, especially those operating on Shopify.
1. Tailored Financial Reports: We understand that your business is unique, and thus, your reporting needs are unique. We design and generate financial reports tailored to your business, providing you with the insights you need to make informed decisions. From revenue reports that break down your sales by product, channel or region, to expense reports that track your cost of goods sold (COGS), shipping costs, and marketing expenditure, we’ve got you covered.
2. Inventory Valuation: We can help you manage and report on your inventory value, an essential factor in determining your business’s profitability. By considering aspects such as unsold stock, returned items, and goods in transit, we ensure your inventory valuation is always accurate.
3. Cash Flow Forecasting: Accurate cash flow forecasting is critical for any e-commerce business, and even more so for Shopify businesses dealing with suppliers where bulk orders are needed. We leverage the data from your Shopify store to generate detailed cash flow forecasts, helping you anticipate future cash needs and make better financial decisions.
4. Year-End Statutory Financial Statements: We prepare year-end financial statements including a balance sheet, income statement and all necessary supporting notes. These reports are prepared in accordance with UK GAAP and are designed to meet the needs of shareholders, creditors, and regulatory agencies.
In the dynamic and ever-evolving world of e-commerce, growth is not just a goal – it’s a necessity. Understanding this, we at Elver E-Commerce Accountants are dedicated not only to keeping your books balanced and your taxes in order, but also to helping your Shopify business reach its fullest potential.
1. Financial Forecasting: In order to grow, you need a roadmap. That’s why we offer financial forecasting services. By taking into account your Shopify store’s historical data, current trends, and future goals, we can provide you with detailed projections of your future revenue, expenses, and net income. We will also work with you to understand your plans for the business and build them into the forecasts. This not only helps you prepare for what’s ahead but also identifies opportunities and threats in your path.
2. Profitability Analysis: Growth is not just about boosting sales; it’s about improving profitability. Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity. We can carry out a detailed profitability analysis to identify your most and least profitable products, customer segments, or regions, allowing you to focus your resources on areas that deliver the most profit.
3. Cash Flow Management: Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and managing it effectively is critical to sustaining growth. Our team can help you implement strategies to improve cash flow, from delaying payables to more effective stock management, ensuring your Shopify store has the liquidity to seize growth opportunities when they arise.
4. Strategic Advisory: We are not just accountants; we are business advisors. Our experience with e-commerce businesses enables us to provide strategic advice to help you navigate growth challenges, whether it’s entering new markets, launching new products, or integrating new technology.
5. Financing Support: Growing businesses often need additional financing. We can help you prepare financial statements and business plans to present to potential investors or lenders. Plus, we can guide you through the different financing options available to find one that suits your needs.
Running a successful Shopify business is no small feat, involving numerous complexities that demand time, attention, and expertise. As you continue on this exciting journey, consider a partnership that can streamline the intricacies and give you back the freedom to focus on what you do best – growing your business.
At Elver E-Commerce Accountants, we have cultivated a unique blend of e-commerce accounting expertise, understanding of international tax laws, proficiency with third-party integrations, and a commitment to delivering comprehensive financial reports tailored to your needs. It’s not just about numbers and balance sheets for us – it’s about being a strategic partner in your business’s growth journey.
With the insights and guidance we provide, you’ll be better equipped to navigate financial challenges, maximize profitability, and make informed business decisions. But our role doesn’t stop there. We are dedicated to understanding your business and working alongside you to realise its full potential.
As you consider the future of your Shopify business, we invite you to explore how our specialist Shopify accounting services can help you. Allow us to turn the complexities of e-commerce accounting into opportunities for growth and success. Reach out to us today, let’s start a conversation about how we can transform your financial management process, enabling you to spend less time on accounting and more time steering your business towards greater heights.