As we have entered the digital transformation era, new technologies are bound to improve business processes and boost productivity within organisations. The hospitality and retail industries are no different. In fact, keeping up with the latest tech trends and automating certain processes is essential, as these industries are extremely competitive. As a result, those who stop adapting can be quickly left behind.
What’s more, the need to adapt these days also stems from rising customer expectations. That’s precisely why most organisations involved in the modern hospitality and retail business concentrate on improving customer experience with things such as increased personalisation, the use of augmented and virtual reality, or paying attention to sustainability.
While all of the improvements mentioned before can help entrepreneurs win over their customers’ hearts, they also require some time, effort and resources in order to be implemented properly. Luckily, system integrations can effectively result in minimising all those resources: for example, when it comes to integrating accounting software, Amaka’s team came up with a solution that can help any business in the hospitality industry to take their operations to the next level.
Amaka evolved out of the growing need for businesses to rely on multiple software applications. In the past, a business may have relied on less than 5 different software applications but now it is very normal for this number to exceed 10. As the number of apps used in a business increases, so too does the need for financial information to be shared across them in an easy and manageable way.
Often it is the case that these apps have the ability to ‘talk’ to each other to exchange data, however there is often specialised knowledge and expertise required to do so. At Amaka, not only do we strive to provide the connections between apps, but we also strive to simplify the way these connections are managed – says Martin Chee, CFO and one of the Amaka founders.
Knowing the hospitality and retail industries inside out
Implementing changes to improve one’s business is always a big decision. Whenever you look for a suitable solution to transform yours, focus on the experience, added value, and the team behind the technology. To give you an example: Amaka was created by accounting professionals, with broad expertise in the hospitality and retail sectors. That’s the reason why we know how to develop and deliver tools for like-minded professionals out there.
Read on to find out how we strive to provide our end customers with the most resultful accounting integrations, and how our accounting background is crucial for completing this challenge.
1. Understanding the end customers’ needs.
As already mentioned – we know the industry inside out, which helps us recognize our customers’ pain points and eliminate them. First, we do our market research to identify the needs of our final customers – hospitality and retail business owners, accountants and bookkeepers. Our accounting background is invaluable when it comes to understanding which features make the integration useful in everyday work. Insightful research, on the other hand, enables designing customer-centric solutions that can boost accounting workflow in the long run.
As a foundation for assessing whether an accounting integration will be fit for purpose it is necessary to understand the accounting requirements of the business. It is necessary to understand the type of information and transactions that will be handled as well as the requirements regarding how this exchange of information should be configured. There can be serious implications if an accounting integration is setup incorrectly with regards to incorrect postings and incorrect mapping of taxes– mentions Martin.
2. Developing system integrations that work wonders.
During the next phase, we closely cooperate with our vendors, with whom we’ve been building the relationship for years. This is crucial for the development of new integrations based on external APIs, which is always a time-consuming task. That’s hardly surprising, given that operating on highly sensitive data has to be meticulous.
Why is it all worth the effort? To put it simply: The main goal behind the integration is to use the same data for more purposes. In order to make that happen, though, we have to go through documentation and the API itself, and slowly start connecting endpoints. There can be no errors while syncing financial data between the two systems – otherwise, the integration simply won’t work.
There can be a range of issues that give rise to complexity when attempting to setup and configure an accounting integration, including the types of sales transactions available, payment methods available, multiple tax rates and locations across different time zones – lists Martin.
Some POS systems for example only allow refunds of the same payment type, whereas others may allow for refunds of different payment types. Some may only permit refunds associated with an item, others may allow a refund generically against an order. Some systems may process transactions such as tips, surcharges and other transaction types, all of which require special consideration.
It is often the case now that businesses offer a wide variety of payment options to customers which also complexity in the way this information should be posted and reconciled within an accounting package. Payment methods can have different settlement periods as well as require entirely different processes and workflows, for example buy now pay later and digital currencies.
The handling of taxes by an integration is a very sensitive issue. It is important that care is taken so that taxes are accurately captured and reported for compliance purposes. There can be complexity around the number of taxes,taxes differing across locations as well as taxes being based on the type of transaction, e.g. dine-in or take away. An integration must be able to differentiate between transactions and recognise the correct taxes to apply in a given situation.
Businesses that exist across multiple time zones have the added challenge of having to consider all of the above issues interacting with each other – emphasizes Amaka’s CFO. For example different time zones may impact on payment settlement times which may require modification to the time frame that the integration captures data. Additionally, capturing multiple tax types from different locations may be challenging to accommodate within a single accounting file. There may also be a special configuration required to separate the data from different locations for reporting or compliance purposes.
3. Offering continuous testing and support.
Last, but definitely not least: testing and support are essential for the whole process, as they let us verify whether the first two stages were successful.
Once again, this is when the knowledge and expertise of accountants and bookkeepers are precious, which is why they form part of our Quality Assurance and Support departments. Their skills are inestimable when it comes to testing the integration in practice and offering assistance to other professionals whenever needed.
Accounting integrations tend to have high levels of complexity. As a result there is a strong need for support to assist, whether it be during the setup process, at times where business requirements may be changing or even at times where an application on either side may be temporarily down. Without support it can be difficult for a user to self-diagnose and correct issues. The user may also waste a considerable amount of time in doing so. It is important that support have the right accounting knowledge to assist businesses so that they avoid errors and mistakes.
Support that has an understanding of accounting concepts and accounting processes can also add a significant amount of value during the setup and configuration phase of an integration as they can provide insight on best practice as well as how the business can gain the most benefit out of a particular accounting integration – adds Martin.
Taking your business to the next level
There are plenty of trends that seem to affect the hospitality and retail industries nowadays. The one that is noticeable in particular, is definitely the need to focus on the processes automation. In order to improve it for your business, you should go through every part of the customer journey, identify the existing pain-points, and remove them once you’re at it. This, in turn, is much easier with the right set of tools.
As a matter of fact, dedicated software can easily get your business prepared for the challenges of the digital era. The only thing left for you to do is to connect the systems you use every day to seamlessly synchronise all your data and keep all your operations in one place.
POS system, for example, can not only speed up the order and payment processes in your organisation but also become a source of clients’ data. Once you integrate it with other tools, you can leverage all those insights to take your business to the next level.
Accounting integrations will continue to become more prevalent and increasingly important in the decision making process of businesses. While businesses within certain industries can hold many similarities, the internal processes and procedures can be vastly different. Additionally, there is a persistent requirement to accommodate new features offered by existing app providers as well as the emergence of new app providers in different markets.
Change is always constant and can occur within relatively short spaces of time. This gives rise to the need for Accounting integrations in particular to be flexible and highly adaptive to different circumstances – concludes Martin Chee.
At Amaka there is always special consideration given to building a system that can be easily scaled and expanded to meet these different demands.