Business boosters

How Kiwi companies are embracing digitalisation

Business Boosters

How Kiwi companies are embracing digitalisation

A sponsored content series with Xero

For any small business owner serious about driving growth and future success, digital transformation is pivotal. 

It’s not only a matter of keeping pace with competitors, who may already be offering a seamless digital experience to customers, it’s also about lifting your own productivity so every hour working is spent on what matters.

Transforming your business into a digital powerhouse may also prove good for your health. A Xero survey found four in five business owners report experiencing stress due to cash flow issues. But understanding your finances and knowing where the pain points are can ease the pressure.

The power of digitalisation 

Digitalisation is essentially the process of converting information from a physical format into a digital one to make many business processes more straightforward and less repetitive.

Whatever sector your business is in digitalisation can streamline many tasks such as inventory management and automated invoicing. 

Tools such as Xero Analytics Plus give small businesses real-time insights on their financial position, and can predict future cash flow scenarios so you can be prepared for the downtimes. 

The forecast engine, enabled by AI, lets small businesses predict future cash flow and a business snapshot gives a visual overview of key numbers, to help make better business decisions. 

Digital tools can also offer flexible payment options to make it easier to get paid. By accepting payments straight from an online invoice, businesses can give customers more ways to pay and get paid up to twice as fast - reducing time spent chasing late payments. 

Being able to track cash flow and manage budgets has been a godsend for us
- Pipi Learning co-founder Elizabeth Asbury

Why we wish we’d done it sooner

Pipi Learning

Friends Elizabeth Asbury, Emma Addington and Georgina Orsborn were all creating online tertiary education content when the first Covid lockdown hit and training providers became desperate for help to get their content online.

Georgina says they had the skills and experience to get good content up quickly, “so Pipi Learning was born”.

The trio now create online learning content for clients in business, industry, and education. 

While initially a side-hustle, it quickly grew.

The friends had limited business experience before starting Pipi Learning, but Emma says they knew the importance of keeping accurate records, and managed at first with spreadsheets and paper-based reporting. 

“However, as the business grew, it became harder to keep track.” 

Luckily a business advisor told them if they didn’t digitalise before the business took off, they wouldn’t have the time to learn how to use the tools effectively. 

“This was some of the best advice we ever received,” Elizabeth says.

Xero is the most important tool in Pipi Learning’s digital arsenal. 

“We no longer have to chase invoices (we love automation!), GST returns are a simple process and tax-time stress has decreased dramatically. 

“It even saved us money in accounting fees. Being able to track cash flow and manage budgets has been a godsend for us.”

It helps me make better decisions
Animal Kingdoms founder Sue Chadwick on Xero's 'lifesaving' software

Animal Kingdoms

Animal Kingdoms’ Sue Chadwick has always had a passion for animals and worked with them for many years, including at Auckland Zoo.

She set up Animal Kingdoms toy store after her daughter was born, with just $300 and second hand shelving.

Seven years on, the online supplier of specialist animal toys is thriving. Sue’s partner Cory Schollum now also works in the company full time.

Initially Sue used an Excel spreadsheet, but as the business grew she realised the need to see more clearly how it was performing.

While Xero was their first big move towards digital transformation, the couple introduced other processes as the business developed.

Sue says it’s been easier to digitalise as they go, actively thinking how to improve a particular process and looking ahead before the actual need for that solution occurs. 

The company’s point of difference is only stocking certain brands and stocking the full range of each brand. And with 4,500 SKUs, many of them small animal figures, they need a robust system. 

They streamlined their inventory, using an app Cory developed to pinpoint the exact product location, making it easier to pick and pack.

And other tools have also been a lifesaver. 

Sue says when ordering stock from offshore, Xero has meant she can see more clearly how the business is tracking and how the different brands are selling.

 “It helps me make better decisions.”

The team at Cobalt who worked to move online as a response to the pandemic

Myriad benefits

For Kiwi small businesses, digitalisation provides huge benefits in productivity and efficiency. 

Along with automated invoicing and online payments, upgrading to a digital inventory management system means managers can track stock levels easily, as they are automatically updated when orders are made.

By tracking projects business owners can quote, invoice and get paid for jobs, while keeping track of the costs and profitability.

GST also becomes painless with accurate GST returns prepared automatically.

Digitalisation can also help capture data for future business planning with copies of documents and key data stored automatically. 

Through analytical tools, managers can monitor cash flow, check financial health, and confidently plan for future developments.

Keeping a daily eye on finances is easy with an accounting dashboard showing bank balances, invoices and bills, avoiding nasty surprises.

The implementation misconception

One pressing issue some small business owners face is a lack of confidence in their own digital skills, feeling that any moves towards a digital transformation will be too complex, too expensive and take too much time.

However, digitalisation does not have to be complicated. The key to making the process of digital transformation smooth is having a step-by-step plan and the right support. The time and money saved through digitalisation pays for the implementation process many times over. 

Xero has developed its accounting solution specifically to be easy for any business owner to implement. It offers step-by-step guides across the whole digital journey, like this four-minute guide to tracking your profit.  

For any business struggling to digitalise, the Xero support team is also easily contactable, along with a community of customers, accountants and book-keepers. 

Struggling with your business cash flow? Check out Xero's cash flow resources to better manage your cash and get paid faster.