How Xero helps this online beauty business

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How Xero helps this online beauty business

Even if you don't use makeup, you've probably heard of Bellabox. It's quite a simple idea: for $15 a month (plus delivery, but with a discount if you pay a year in advance) you get a box containing at least five samples - sometimes full-sized - of beauty products. Some are from well-known brands, others are more obscure.

Started by twin sisters Sarah and Emily Hamilton in 2011, Bellabox has grown to more than 50,000 subscribers with 20 full-time employees in Australia and Singapore.

The company's accounting chores were outsourced to a firm in Singapore, but the Excel-based reporting wasn't satisfactory. Sarah heard Xero Australia's managing director Chris Ridd being interviewed on Qantas's Talking Business inflight program, and realised she needed to take her business to a local firm - and all the accountants she approached insisted on using Xero.

So Bellabox picked an accountant, switched to Xero, "and hasn't looked back," she said. 

Xero "brings common sense to accounting," is "super easy to use," and presents the most important information.

As it is a cloud system, multiple people can be given access to the company's books and this provides transparency for Bellabox's investors - they can easily see how much cash is coming in and how that compares with previous periods, said Sarah.

She also likes the way "great add-ons" supplement Xero's capabilities as required. Bellabox uses Spotlight Reporting's products to produce better reports and forecasts in less time. The company is also evaluating ExpenseCheck (a service that compares invoices you have received with offers from other suppliers in areas such as energy, telecoms, office supplies and IT services) and plans to adopt one of the services that automatically feed invoices into Xero.

The time saved by using Xero is approaching the equivalent of a full-time person, Sarah said. Importantly, the tasks that have been eliminated are those that people don't want to do and that Bellabox doesn't want to pay them to do. The company can't afford staff that are engaged in transactional activities, she explained, it needs them to concentrate on tasks that add value. Similarly, staff want work that is challenging and exciting, not boring and repetitive.

Bellabox has just had "a very soft launch" in China, in association with Australia Post and Alibaba's Tmall business-to-consumer web site. It is focussing on Australian suppliers, which are regarded favourably in China and thus provide Bellabox with a point of difference. Xero's "multi-currency [support] is excellent," Sarah said.

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