At its first partner event in the US in over three years, Xero took to the keynote state to advocate partner commitments and share new products.
In a market it has long been challenged in, Xero has built what one would describe as a loyal following, one that appears to be growing. Xero executives on the first full day of its Xerocon US event reiterated its commitment to its accountant partners –a relationship that at times had been strained–by offering product improvments, some new partnerships of its own, and…a promise.
“We know that change is the only constant that we can rely on, also know digital transformation is not going to stop. Innovation in financial services offers new opportunities…as well as compliance and government,” said Xero CEO Steve Vamos. “We are here because we share a common purposse, making life better for small businesses and their advisors. We will continue to invest in enhancing the product, building partnerships and of course acquisitions in North America.”
Since coming to North America over 10 years ago, Vamos, as well as its current US Country Manager Ben Richmond, respectively recognized that the brand has been challenged, but has made progress and, moreover, Xero plans to keep its committment to grow in this market. Currently, Xero’s global subscriber base sits at 3.3 million, 336,000 of which reside in North America. The North America subscribership is up 19 percent from a year ago.
“People want to see us win, we’re not just talking the talk. We are helping small businesses succeed, which is such a noble purpose and never more significant than right now,” said Xero’s Chief Growth Officer, Chris O’Neill. “At the end of the day, we are a partnership company and we will lean into that more in this region.”
One key vendor partnership announcement Xero made was with global sales tax automation company Avalara. Essentially, Xero and Avalara are teaming up with the goal of helping simplify sales tax for small businesses and their advisors. The partnership is US-user focused(for now). Users will get automatic sales tax calculations, see how much they may owe, and prepare for filing – all in within the Xero app, at no extra cost.
Other product offerings were highlighted on the keynote stage as well.
Xero Business Insights
announced the launch of its Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) program which includes quarterly updates on the small business economy for the United States and Canada, based on aggregated and anonymized data from tens of thousands of Xero customers. It also launched a special XSBI report: Small business snapshot: United States and Canada which provides insights on business performance and the impact inflation is having on US small businesses.
The report found that, while small business growth seemed to be nearly double the pre-pandemic average, this was largely due to higher prices rather than an increase in the amount of goods and services sold. In short, it was likely due to inflation and small businesses increasing their prices to solve for market conditions.
Enhancing Inventory Management
Following the acquisition of LOCATE Inventory in 2021, Xero unveiled plans to launch a new inventory solution which will be available to the US market first. Xerocon attendees were able to register their expression of interest for more information and beta opportunities.
Xero’s inventory management tools are designed to help small businesses easily track and manage inventory in real-time across multiple locations, save time reconciling inventory data, and provide a clear overview of financial performance. The solution will also help streamline workflows so customers can manage inventory, get quotes, print labels and fulfill orders.
Bank Statement Extraction
Customers can now instantly import and reconcile bank statement data with the new Hubdoc Bank Statement Extraction feature. This tool makes it easier to extract transaction data from digital PDF bank statements and import this data into Xero for year-end bookkeeping. The feature is available for several US banks listed here with more to come.
Improved Reporting Features for US Customers
Xero announced new reports that include updated features that will help accountants and bookkeepers get quick access to answers and streamline their financial analysis. Xero also announced a pilot which is now live in North America displaying a chart in the Expenses by Contact report, and will soon release Global Settings which will allow reporting preferences like Cash Basis to be universally set, making it faster and easier to report on how a business is performing.
Finally, during a conversation with accountant and chief Xero advocate(and also critic) Amanda Aguillard, CPA, Ben Richmond and Canada Country Manager Faye Pang, Richmond was asked directly if he foresaw competing directly with any of its accountant partners through, perhaps, a “live” product offering. Richmond doubled down on Xero’s commitment to never competing with its partner base.
He and Pang also noted that many of its accountant partner frustrations come from bank feeds, which they are continually looking to improve.
“If you think about high-quality bank data it’s the number one imported field and it’s a priority for us,” said Richmond. “We have achieved and built major bank feeds as a challenger brand in the market. But we know we still have many gaps.”
Pang followed by stating “the bank feed issue is multi-faceted. The promised land is direct (feeds) and we need to bring the banks along on the journey to get there.”