The Regency Chess Company is the UK’s foremost retailer of high quality chess sets, chess boards, chess timers and backgammon sets.
Operating out of Frome, England, and under the wider umbrella company of JDS Toys & Games, The Regency Chess Company is the UK’s foremost retailer of high quality chess sets, chess pieces, chess boards, chess timers and backgammon sets.
Julian Deverell, Director of The Regency Chess Company has worked within this industry for many years. His work for a previous company gave him the push he needed to launch his own specialist chess company, and turn it into the hugely successful ecommerce business that it is today.
The company’s products are sold via their own semi-bespoke website (built on the Zen Cart platform), on Amazon and by phone; and they pride themselves in offering high quality products and those that have been created honestly and fairly without any exploitation of craftspeople.
We took some time out of Julian’s busy schedule to find out how Brightpearl has helped him in his retail journey so far, and how the partnership with their accounting firm, Zig Zag has been a winning combination for his business.
Prior to using Brightpearl, Julian and his team were trying to do what so many retailers do in the beginning: stitch together multiple siloed systems.
“We were using Tradegecko and Xero for our accounting,” Julian explains. “We’re not doing anything groundbreaking. We buy products and sell them across common ecommerce channels – our website, Amazon and by phone. We’re taking money and putting it into normal bank accounts. Which makes it astonishing just how bad those pieces of software were. We were trying for months to get them to integrate properly, and our accountants were battling with it. We were having to do so much manual work that we realized we needed something different.”
- Inadequate systems integration
- Too much manual work
- Accounting wasn’t integrated
- 6 months to obtain business performance information
As their accounting data was already in Xero, Julian was initially looking for back office software that could integrate with it. “Our initial point of reference was the Xero website,” Julian tells us. “We were looking at Veeqo and Xpandly, but again, those pieces of software were just so diabolically inadequate. They had huge holes in them, gaping holes, which meant we just couldn’t use them.”
“So I floated the idea with our accountant about using Brightpearl, which had its own accounting module and was nothing to do with Xero. We all realized it was going to be the best option,” Julian continues.
Although Brightpearl was new to both Julian and his accountants, Julian explains that it was Zig Zag’s innovativeness and forward thinking that enabled Julian to truly consider Brightpearl.
“Zig Zag are very forward thinking. They’re very keen to be using cloud-based solutions and technologies. It’s one of their philosophies. So they were quite keen to get involved, embrace it, learn it and integrate with it for two reasons. One: they’re just like that anyway, but two: they realized it was the only way they were going to get accurate, good, workable accounting data that wasn’t going to cause too much labor time for them,” Julian explains.
In fact, it’s this kind of approach that also led to another interesting development in the partnership between The Regency Chess Company, Zig Zag and Brightpearl.
Julian tells us: “The owner of Zig Zag, Gary, mentioned R&D tax reliefs to me, which was something I’d never heard of. Basically, the Government are trying to get businesses to invest in new technology, business systems and developments. So they’ve offered it as an incentive. This meant we could recoup our costs for Brightpearl.”
By offering the benefit of deducting an impressive 230% of their costs from their profit reports, Julian admits: “To any independent business owner, those sorts of figures make your eyes just light up, quite significantly. The only downside is that it’s very complicated to do an R&D claim. So the only way we could do it was with Zig Zag. The amount that it took off the corporation tax bill was something like £7-8k in the first year. But we’ll also be doing an R&D claim for the second year as well.”
- Built-in accounting
- Instant access to real-time business data
- Processes are much more efficient
- More time can be spent on growth and less on admin
As for the implementation of the Brightpearl software itself, Julian has seen some fundamental benefits for his business.
He tells us: “One massive benefit is being able to know exactly where we are in terms of sales and balance sheets. It’s all live information, so I can look up reports and business performance data really easily. That gives any business owner the ability to plan and move forward and know how well they’re doing. We’ve never had that before. We would only have that information sometimes 6 months later, after the accountants had collated all the data and presented it to us.”
“Brightpearl has also made a lot of our processes much faster and more efficient,” Julian continues. “It’s saved a huge amount of time with all sorts of things. What this has meant is that once the system was fully bedded into our company, we’ve been able to spend time on new developments, new products, new channels and all sorts of new initiatives because we’ve now got the time to do it.”
In fact, our data shows that their shipping and invoicing times have been significantly reduced, resulting in a time to invoice of 1.25 days, and a time to ship of just 0.88 days!
Aside from the core platform, the team are also using the Brightpearl Payments and Scurri apps. “The Brightpearl Payments app is extremely good. It streamlines taking payments over the phone, so whoever is taking the orders can just do it all in one screen; there’s no need to get the card machine out. It’s also more secure, and better for data protection. It just works nicely – we use it for putting payments on as well as assigning payments to orders. Scurri is also a really good system and saves hours every day of manual input,” Julian advises.
And if Julian were to leave us with just one last comment on Brightpearl as a solution, he’d sum up Brightpearl as “a brilliant, centralized system where your business can be monitored, run and thrive.”
When looking ahead to the future, Julian says: “Success is an increase in turnover, and therefore, profit – we’re aiming to hit £100k turnover per month. Success will also be having a higher proportion of those sales in countries outside of the EU, such as in the US.”
“Brightpearl is helping us by enabling us to focus on these things from a time management perspective. It also helps us to monitor the proportion of sales that are going to these different territories so we can spot new opportunities quickly,” Julian says.
“Previously, we would have had to dig through a lot of data in order to find this out, whereas now, we can find out immediately. Having access to this information is so valuable to us as it shows us where we need to go in order to grow,” Julian continues. “In fact, that’s one of the reasons why we’ve looked into selling in the US, which is now a huge market for us. Brightpearl is key in being able to facilitate that sort of growth.”
Time to ship
Time to invoice