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The accounting market for retail is surprisingly complex for such a straightforward application. The primary reason for the complexity is due to vendor saturation among both vertically-oriented software vendors and horizontally-oriented accounting vendors. Companies approaching the market from both angles have developed a large number of accounting programs for every type and size of business, creating a complex and confusing market for buyers. This guide should help buyers understand how best to approach the retail accounting market and identify the right vendors for their needs.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
“How much money is this business making?” is a difficult question to answer for a surprising number of retailers. If you have trouble answering this question, you may be in need of an accounting system. On the most basic level, a formal accounting program will track payables, receivables, the current value of inventory on hand, and depreciation of assets. The primary goal of accounting applications is to centralize all accounting-related data in one system and provide owners with accurate figures. By truly knowing their key metrics, owners can make data-driven decisions to improve the business.
Retailers will have two choices when implementing an accounting program: implementing a standalone accounting program like QuickBooks, or implementing a suite of applications that include modules for accounting, point of sale (POS), inventory control, and more. The decision will be based primarily on the size of the business and the extensiveness of the company’s needs.
You will want to focus on accounting programs that are designed for the buyer category you fall into. We have found that almost all businesses belong in one of the following three categories:
Buyers should find the retail accounting software market much more navigable when approaching it with their buyer category in mind.
|This type of buyer...||Should evaluate these systems|
|Small buyers||Peachtree, QuickBooks|
|Enterprise best-of-breed buyers||Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, NetSuite, Sage MAS 90/200/500|
|Enterprise integrated suite buyers||Epicor, Cybex, Jesta Vision|
Various software trends are impacting the retail accounting software market. The primary trends include the following:
The benefits of implementing a formal accounting system are fairly straightforward but surprisingly difficult to attain without a proper system. Most adopters should expect the following benefits:
When selecting an accounting system, buyers should ensure that the system will integrate with their existing POS or inventory control software. Many buyers will find that simply exporting sales data into a .CSV file and then uploading it to the accounting package is sufficient. Bigger buyers with more data will likely require true integration though.
Buyers should note that there is a large price difference between smaller packages such as QuickBooks or Peachtree and larger tools like Microsoft Dynamics GP. As a result, most buyers will stick with a small program until the business has grown large or complex enough to justify the investment.