Over the last two years, the forecourt and wider retail sectors have seen an increased demand for convenience shopping as consumers change their habits to shop locally. In response, retailers have evolved their business models and back-office accounting to better manage the increase in their sales and customer bases and, crucially, to remain competitive in the market.

A major trend is the move to retail automation, and in particular new methods of automating the capture, integration and reporting of real-time accounting information to allow administrative overheads savings and business performance wins.

The trend towards digital transformation is happening right across the retail sector as businesses scramble for advantage, all driving demand for new retail technologies.

Digital transformation to streamline business operations

Like many other sectors, the forecourt space has seen a huge increase in the need for digital transformation to streamline business operations, improve efficiency and drive higher profits. To facilitate this, Envisage developed Connections, an integrated software solution to help retailers manage time-consuming, manual back-office accounting and reporting tasks more swiftly and efficiently.

As the software streamlines the accounts process by improving accounting efficiency and data accuracy using automation, it especially well-suited to forecourts, convenience stores, franchises, and multi-store businesses with high stock turnover. It enables them to better manage large volumes of purchase, delivery and other accounting data.

Achieving greater visibility of business performance

Connections sits between Sage 50cloud or Sage 200 accounting software and the EPoS system, enabling sales, cash, and delivery data to flow seamlessly between the stores and the accounting system. This allows for far better visibility of business performance, with profit and loss statements broken down by department making them easily available for management to review, and providing in-depth financial reports based on real-time data. This equips retailers with the vital information needed to expand and scale their businesses.

Jos Richardson & Son is a family run group of companies that have been in business since 1892. The group operates a network of petrol stations and convenience stores in East, West and North Yorkshire and serves thousands of loyal customers on a daily basis. It works closely with partners who have established recognisable brands including SPAR, Shell, Jet, Gulf, Texaco and Subway. Its ambition is to lead in all aspects of business including achieving the best possible financial performance in forecourt retailing.

And over the past few years, Jos Richardson & Son has been expanding its business across Yorkshire, growing both its fuel retail business and convenience retail offering. Yet with this expansion comes increased administrative and accounting tasks for head office, which takes up significant management and administrative time and resources.

To tackle this, Jos Richardson & Son sought an integrated software solution to help ease the burden of those time-consuming manual tasks and automate data entry. The end goal was to streamline data from eight different forecourt sites into one central location.

To meet these needs, the group partnered with Sage Partner and Developer, Envisage, to implement its Connections software, and since its installation, the group has seen significant time-saving benefits, increased efficiency, and improved data accuracy.

With the new software, tasks that were previously done manually, such as inputting sales transactions, matching purchase invoices with deliveries and completing bank reconciliations have all been automated.

These, along with the planned introduction of an integrated document management solution, will enable a huge increase in efficiencies as well as time and cost savings. It will ultimately enable it to continue to scale while keeping accounting costs in check.

The integration with Envisage’s Connections software and Sage 200 has also provided the group with additional benefits such as easy access to more accurate financial reports and statements. Other management reports, such as margin analysis, which were time consuming to prepare accurately are now instantly available. And category reporting using sales and cost of sales information are automatically aligned and integrated, which allows the group to make better and more informed management decisions.

Karen Marshall, finance director, Jos Richardson & Son, says adoption of the solution has been transformational for them: “Having implemented the Connections system in eight of our stores, we have seen significant time-saving benefits that free up time to focus on other key tasks,” says Marshall. “So much so that the system paid for itself within months.

“Tasks such as posting specific supplier purchase invoices, which previously took three hours per store, now only take 10 minutes. With so many stores, the time saving is considerable, and we can be confident that the data is always correct.”

“The software has also provided more accurate insights into margin analysis, with better financial reporting across all our sites,” she adds. “As a result, we can now make more informed management decisions which will greatly benefit us as we continue to grow.”

About Envisage

Envisage, part of the Noledge Group, is a leading Sage 200 partner and software developer. The company provides implementation, development, and support services for Sage 200, helping its customers across the UK and Ireland to streamline their internal systems and processes.

When it comes to retail, Envisage knows and understands the challenges that retailers face with managing and growing a business. The company focuses on delivering solutions for the Convenience and Forecourt sectors as well as for retailers and franchises with multiple stores and high transaction volumes.

The Connections application was born out of the frustration that retailers experienced in having to contend with paperwork, slow and inefficient processes, and lack of real-time reporting.

This technology gives forecourts and convenience retailers the competitive edge by facilitating increased efficiency and productivity, while improving data accuracy and data visibility.

Envisage is continuing to partner with EPoS and wholesalers to expand this innovative solution to convenience and forecourt retailers across the UK.

Ray Ryan, Managing Director said: “Retail businesses are looking to technology to drive productivity and ensure they are doing things in the most efficient way possible to maintain profit margins. Through automation, Connections enables retailers to do exactly that.

“Using document management and other technologies, Connections truly revolutionises data entry and provides forecourt operators and management with in-depth insights into the financial data needed to make positive business changes. That is why we have invested years in building strong relationships with EPoS providers and wholesalers ensure retailers can avail of these benefits.”

Envisage will be showcasing its Connections solution at the National Convenience Show (stand C69).

And to learn more about Envisage, visit: Envisagecloud.co.uk/connections or email: sales@envisagecloud.co.uk