A2X: turns to Google Cloud Platform to help eliminate accounting complexity for Amazon sellers

About A2X

A2X provides software that simplifies accounting for Amazon sellers, saving them and their accountants a great deal of time every month. It achieves this by importing Amazon marketplace transactions and posting summarized journals to their accounting system, giving Amazon sellers reconciled accrual accounting for Amazon marketplace sales, matched to financial periods.

Industries: Technology
Location: New Zealand

Using GCP, A2X has delivered a software-as-a-service product that simplifies complex accounting processes for Amazon sellers. Innovative use of GCP has positioned A2X to scale to support accounting for thousands of the largest Amazon sellers worldwide.

Google Cloud Results

  • Supported $NZD1 billion in gross merchandise value per year from several million Amazon orders per month.
  • Reduced engineering costs with no system administrator or database administrator needed to manage database, environment and servers.
  • Recorded average latency of about 15 milliseconds for United States customers.

Aiming for 10,000+ businesses with six-plus sales figures a year

Founded in 2014 as a division of the New Zealand-headquartered ExportX e-commerce business, A2X provides software that simplifies accounting for Amazon sellers. ExportX created the division when its business – that sells products from Australian and New Zealand companies into markets such as Europe, the United States and Canada – decided to build software to account for its own use of the Amazon marketplace.

“Once we created the software, we found that lots of other businesses had the same challenges with Amazon accounting that we’d encountered,” explains Ashley Schroder, Head Software Engineer, A2X. “These issues included managing spreadsheets with thousands of rows of transaction data for businesses that sell in large volumes, and managing the data in accordance with standard accounting practices such as month-end reconciliations and booking net sales. Processing and formatting this data for entry into accounting systems manually can take hours to complete.”

A2X sells its software as a service on a monthly subscription basis. The software connects to Amazon and automatically fetches settlement files each time the marketplace generates them. A2X then ‘crunches’ the data and summarises revenue, expenses and other transactions. Businesses are able to summarise sales by SKU, product type, group or country. The software then generates invoices or journals from each settlement and posts them to cloud accounting systems. The business can choose the ledger and tax rate that applies to each transaction and reconcile settlement totals with bank deposits from Amazon. A2X has partnered with QuickBooks Online and Xero to provide seamless integration with whatever accounting system the Amazon merchant prefers.

As A2X developed its software in late 2014 and 2015 for public release, Schroder and his team reviewed cloud services that could support its requirements. “We decided to build and deploy A2X on Google App Engine in Google Cloud Platform (GCP),” Schroder says. “The biggest differentiator for us was our existing experience and comfort with Google App Engine – we had a previous software application running on the platform, so we had the technical expertise to deploy and run A2X in a similar environment.

“In a lot of ways, G Suite is what enables companies like ours to operate effectively. The A2X team members base themselves far and wide, and we like it that way. The Google collaboration tools are really powerful for us.”

Paul Grey, Software Director, A2X

“We also knew the platform would meet our needs in critical areas such as scalability,” he adds. “We needed it to support the data processing requirements of several million orders per month from Amazon – including events such as hundreds of new users signing up or one or two large users who may do north of 100,000 orders per month and immediately want their last 12 months sales history.”

Schroder led the development of A2X in Google App Engine and GCP. The business uses three tiers of storage – Google Cloud Storage, Google Cloud Datastore, and the Google App Engine memcache service – to manage data below the A2X web tier. Google App Engine operates as a task queue system to break down and process large data volumes before feeding them back into the app. “The beauty of Google App Engine is that if it registers that the queue is busy and lots of tasks are coming up, it automatically starts up more instances to process them,” Schroder says.

A2X’s user profile generally reflects Amazon’s footprint in mature markets. A2X has 70% of its users based in the United States and 30% in the United Kingdom and Europe. The business expects to gain traction in Australia and New Zealand with Amazon’s arrival into the Australian market.

The business is operating its GCP environment in the United States to remain close to its user base and is achieving latency of less than 15 milliseconds.

The simplicity and ease of use of GCP means A2X has only needed to contact Google infrequently for support. “We do refer to support documentation on a weekly basis because there are always things we need to learn,” Schroder says. Furthermore, GCP did not require his team members to spend hours managing services and environments. “For me, it was really important to focus on building software that is important to the business and not worry so much about how it is running,” Schroder adds.

Handling $NZD1 billion in gross merchandise value

With GCP, A2X scales seamlessly to support massive data processing requirements. Schroder estimates that A2X currently handles $NZD1 billion in gross merchandise value per year – meaning the software has to pull the data from several million orders per month from Amazon, transfer it into appropriate formats and send it on to cloud accounting services.

“Amazon has more than 2 million sellers on its platform – for businesses that do six figures in sales and recognise the need for reliable, accurate accounting, A2X is ideal. That gives us a potential market north of 10,000 Amazon sellers. I like the way Google Cloud Platform scales and I’m confident the platform can get us there.”

Ashley Schroder, Head Software Engineer, A2X

No full time infrastructure administrator needed

Using GCP has also ensured that A2X does not have to employ a full-time specialist to manage its database, environment and servers.” Google App Engine manages itself, so it saves you at least a person,” Schroder says. “This helps us maintain a pretty lean operation and enables us to direct more expenditure to the platform and A2X itself.” GCP has also enabled A2X to align its processing costs with the charges levied on customers – the more orders processed, the higher the charge.

A2X complements the use of GCP and Google App Engine with G Suite intelligent applications to boost productivity and operate a distributed business model. “We recently signed up for A2X as a separate domain and we are heavy users of products like Gmail, Google Docs and Google Sheets,” Schroder says.

“In a lot of ways, G Suite is what enables companies like ours to exist,” says Paul Grey, Software Director, A2X, adds. “The A2X team members base themselves far and wide, and we like it that way. The Google collaboration tools are really, powerful for us.”

With the business soundly established on G Suite, GCP and Google App Engine in particular, A2X is now positioned for growth. “Amazon has more than 2 million sellers on its platform – for businesses that do six figures in sales and recognise the need for reliable, accurate accounting, A2X is ideal,” Schroder says. “That gives us a potential market north of 10,000 Amazon sellers. I like the way Google Cloud scales and I’m confident the platform can get us there.”

About A2X

A2X provides software that simplifies accounting for Amazon sellers, saving them and their accountants a great deal of time every month. It achieves this by importing Amazon marketplace transactions and posting summarized journals to their accounting system, giving Amazon sellers reconciled accrual accounting for Amazon marketplace sales, matched to financial periods.

Industries: Technology
Location: New Zealand
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