Spend Management
How 13 companies transformed their retail financial management

How 13 companies transformed their retail financial management

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Want to improve your retail financial management? Read on to get a quick overview of some key elements and best practices, then see how 13 companies overhauled their financial operations.

Key takeaways

Retail companies create financial strategies to meet operating needs in the short run and build healthy, scalable growth over the long run.

Tracking and improving KPIs are vital to successful financial planning and performance.

Retail teams are using new technology to help, including automation and AI applications.

What is retail financial management?

Strong financial management is key to the success of any retail business. In the short term, the goal of retail financial management is to make sure the company has the resources it needs to meet its operating costs, drive sales, and grow. Over the long term, the finance team is responsible for building a scalable financial model that signals stability, financial health, and profitable growth to lenders and investors.

7 key elements of retail financial management

Here's a quick overview of the seven essential elements that drive financial success in retail operations.

  1. Budgeting and forecasting: Like any other business, retailers need to make sure they aren't spending beyond their means. Budgeting provides a way to keep costs under control—but that becomes far more challenging as a company grows. Another way retailers control financial operations is to forecast metrics like sales, gross margin, inventory turnover, and so on, tracking actual results so they can identify deviations as early as possible.
  2. Inventory management: Inventory management is critical for retail operations. Buy too much, and you could end up with a glut of overstock you can't sell. Buy too little, and you risk losing sales and customers. Many retailers track and set goals for inventory turnover to make sure inventory is moving in and out at a healthy pace.
  3. Cash flow management: Like inventory management, cash flow management is also extremely important, making sure the company has what it needs to buy inventory, meet debt obligations, make payroll, and more. Forecasting cash inflows against upcoming needs is vital to the success of a retail organization.
  4. Pricing strategies: Retail finance teams often drive pricing strategies to make sure pricing tracks demand, covering costs and maximizing profits in a competitive landscape.
  5. Cost control and reduction: To drive profit margins higher, retail operations also strive to identify and reduce unnecessary expenses. This task goes hand in hand with budgeting.
  6. Profitability analysis: Strong financial management relies on tracking and analyzing profit margins as well as other key performance indicators (KPIs) to help optimize pricing and streamline costs.
  7. Risk management: The finance team also helps identify and mitigate business risks, from potential supply chain disruptions to emerging retail technologies.

Benefits of having a financial strategy for retail businesses

Your retail finance strategy brings all of these components together into a coherent plan that's designed to improve decision-making, increase profitability, maintain regulatory compliance, enhance risk management, and foster sustainable growth.

A sound strategy helps retailers adapt to market changes, optimize resources, and drive long-term success.

Retail financial management best practices

Follow these best practices when creating and implementing your financial strategy.

Be clear about your goals

Establishing clear goals provides a roadmap for decision-making and helps you align financial activities with business priorities.

Track your KPIs on a regular cadence

Monitoring key financial metrics, such as gross margin, operating margin, inventory turnover, and return on investment (ROI), can help your retail business assess financial performance and make strategic decisions.

Be purposeful in financial hiring

Building a strong financial team with defined roles and responsibilities ensures that the right expertise is in place to support your financial operations and strategic initiatives.

Implement risk management strategies

Developing a risk management plan can help protect your business from financial threats and ensure resilience in the face of challenges.

Remember that financial planning is a continuous process

Continuous improvement and innovation in financial processes can help your retail business stay ahead of the competition and adapt to changing market dynamics.

Implement technology solutions

Leveraging technology solutions like financial management software can streamline financial operations, enhance efficiency, and provide real-time insights for informed decision-making.

How 13 retail companies transformed their financial management

Many retail companies are turning to solutions like BILL Spend & Expense to streamline their financial management processes, categorize expenses more efficiently, provide employees with better visibility into budgets, simplify reporting, and more.

Here's how 13 companies have used BILL Spend & Expense technology to strengthen their financial management.

1. Golden Ratio

Like many business owners, Golden Ratio's leadership feels the pain of a never-ending to-do list—and a lot of moving parts. That's why the company relies on top technologies like BILL to streamline tedious back-office processes.

BILL Spend & Expense gives the company a real-time view of its spending and deeper insight into its budgets—all in one place. On-demand budget views free up the team's time to focus on compliance, timelines, and production schedules—all critical to a supply-chain-driven enterprise.

2. Red Aspen

As a self-funded startup, Red Aspen had been cautious about spending since day one—frugality was one of its strengths. Then, as the company grew, it needed to spend more to fuel its marketing strategy, but teams weren't sure how much they had at their disposal. That made them hesitant to spend what they needed to.  

BILL Spend & Expense gave them the structure and controls they needed to promote good spending. In the words of their CFO, Matthew Kuzio, "The whole process changed from a permission-based structure to ‘I have a budget and I can spend it on what will move the business forward.’”

The fact that Kuzio now saves 20-30 hours a month in accounting tasks is icing on the cake.

3. Pillow Cube

Pillow Cube’s main objective is to spread the word about its awesome pillows, so most of its spending goes toward marketing efforts and digital ads. Before BILL Spend & Expense, the company was using a single card to cover the cost of running those ads 24/7.

Their leadership team had to monitor the card day and night, making quick payments to keep it from maxing out and turning off all their ads. Now, the CMO has one overarching budget that he can divide into as many virtual cards as he wants—and they're all getting more sleep.

For Pillow Cube, BILL Spend & Expense makes it really easy to manage spending and created a more streamlined approach to their spend so they don’t have to be a watchdog trying to manage all their accounts at once.

4. Repurpose

Busy start-ups know how important it is to save time anywhere you can. For Repurpose, the most important benefit of Spend & Expense is that it's easy for employees to use, so they have more time to focus on their jobs.

According to Sarah Sanders, Vice President of Accounting at Repurpose, BILL's AI capability has saved the finance team two days out of every work week—that's about 100 days each year.

“The AI pulls all the information for you and it makes it so much easier,” says Sanders. “You just review. It's easier to cross-reference than to actually key everything in."

5. Vermont Flannel

When one of Vermont Flannel's six brick-and-mortar retail stores needed seasonal decorations, the central office would write a check to the store. An employee would then cash it and use the cash for whatever they needed.

“From an accounting standpoint, that's just a black hole,” says CFO Colin King. “There wasn’t a good record of where the money actually went. We just had little sheets of paper where everybody would write the amounts they had spent.”

To make expense management cleaner, Vermont Flannel adopted BILL spend & Expense. Now, each store gets its own card for buying supplies, and every purchase is tracked automatically. 

“I think BILL Spend & Expense is the best expense tracking system I have ever used. It makes assigning spend to categories fun (if you can believe it!) and easy. I've used a few very tedious systems in my past and it took hours to finish an expense report. I would dread the deadline every time,”  says Michelle Vincent, Director of Merchandising and Inventory.

6. Glamnetic

For a start-up, explosive growth is a fantastic problem to have, but the financial side of success can be tough to keep up with. As a bootstrapped business with millions of dollars constantly tied up in inventory and accounts receivable, Glamnetic needed to get organized.

Since adopting BILL Spend & Expense in April 2022, the Glamnetic finance team knows exactly how much the company has spent and how much they have available. Adds Mayra Jimenez, Assistant Controller, “[BILL Spend & Expense] also tells us when our payments are coming up, which we can plug into our cash flow model.”

“Being able to track your spend, create budgets for departments or team members, get instant notifications about expenses and transactions, and upload receipts all on BILL Spend & Expense keeps things really organized,” Jimenez said. “It just really makes for an organized cash-spending platform.”

7. Gardyn

Like many start-ups, Gardyn dedicates a large portion of its budget to advertising. With BILL Spend & Expense, they no longer have to prefund their expense account and worry about tedious wire transfers when making large advertising payments.

They have a $2.5 million line of credit, with a 25-day payment period, all automated by BILL Spend & Expense.

8. AboutGolf

Founded in 1996, AboutGolf was acquired in 2018 and ended up using multiple financial systems that didn’t sync well together. Because those systems required duplicative work, data entry was a time-consuming task that often resulted in human error.

AboutGolf switched to BILL for one coherent system that could automate its financial operations. With unlimited virtual cards and automated expense reports from BILL Spend & Expense, the staff were able to get back to proactive, strategic finance work.

9. Polystone Planters

PolyStone Planters was also looking to automate expense reporting. They use a combination of physical and virtual cards from BILL to help manage spend—staying on top of expenses with automated reporting and syncing across multiple systems.

“We've got our audit trail all there, and it's nice and tidy and thoroughly documented. I feel like we are able to very cleanly track all the expenses that we have,” says Bert Stouffer, CEO and Managing Partner.

Plus, PolyStone Planters reduced the time they spent processing advertising expenses by 75%.


Before switching to BILL Spend & Expense, iROCKER used a Mastercard expense management system through its local bank. “I’d personally waste 10 or 20 hours a week trying to manage the system," said Jeri Behnam, Controller. “Adding users and getting cards were both really challenging processes. There were no virtual cards—if you wanted one, you would order a physical card and someone would hide it in their desk. It wasn’t very safe or controlled but there was no other option.”

Since BILL Spend & Expense, the iROCKER team is getting back to the reason they started the company—to have fun.

“It’s easy to turn a card on in a flash,” Behnam says. “It’s easy to turn it off. It’s easy to assign budgets. It’s easy to sync to NetSuite. I have no complaints. We’re very, very happy with BILL Spend & Expense. And we're obviously saving all that time that I would waste on the old system—maybe 20 or 30 hours trying to handle the backend.”

11. Enlightened Equipment

Like many ecommerce and manufacturing businesses, Enlightened Equipment has a fairly complex web of relationships with vendors. Before BILL Spend & Expense, the company's exposure to potential fraud was high.

“We had so many issues with fraud because of our wide range of vendors. And a lot of our transactions are online,” explained Jessica Sonnek, director of finance. “There are just so many holes and so many people who have access to that credit card information.”

And when a debit card was compromised, canceling and replacing it was a time-consuming hassle. “We had to cancel the debit card, order another one, wait for it to come in the mail,” Sonnek recalls. "Even just canceling the card was a 20-minute phone call.”

With BILL Spend & Expense, everything changed. “In two keystrokes, it's done. We went from 20 minutes to only seconds to process a dispute with BILL.”

Plus, they have a designated virtual card for each vendor to limit their exposure. “When there is a problem, it only takes me 30 seconds to set up a new BILL card for one vendor, instead of having to get a new card number out to 50 different vendors.”

12. Tower 28 Beauty

Tower 28 Beauty uses BILL Spend & Expense to empower employee spending. Coming from a social circle of entrepreneurs, the company's leadership had heard horror stories about employees falsifying receipts. Tower 28 wanted to give its employees the trust they needed to do their jobs without sacrificing control or visibility. 

“The BILL Spend & Expense solution ended up being so fantastic, because as we onboarded people, we could give them virtual cards or physical cards,” says Amy Liu, founder and CEO. “We would set limits based on their level of responsibility. A lot of our employee spending concerns were immediately alleviated, because you could control the amount of spending. You could look at the budgets and receipts at any time, on a real time basis.”

Victor Liu, CFO, likes the combination of comfort, flexibility, real-time updates, and mobility. "We’ve approved payments from meetings, from airports, from conventions—basically everywhere.”

13. Marine Layer

Before BILL, Marine Layer used corporate cards for expenses, but employees didn't always report their expenses right away. To close, the Finance team had to wait until everyone had submitted their expense through Expensify—sometimes for weeks.

By contrast, payments hit BILL Spend and Expense immediately, and the software syncs daily with the company's accounting software. “BILL gives us more up-to-date expense reporting,” says Kelly Ransom, Financial Accountant at Marine Layer. “And it automatically codes to the accounts that we want, so I don't have to check and code each expense to make sure it's going to the right place.”

Thanks to BILL Spend and Expense, the team is saving at least three to four hours per week on expense management. And Ransom doesn't have to bug people about expense reports.

“BILL is just a real time saver overall and it definitely speeds up our financial close,” says Ransom.

A guide to financial operations automation for retail and ecommerce
Learn more from our guide on retail financial operations automation

See how BILL Spend & Expense could transform your retail finances

Want to see how BILL Spend & Expense could transform your financial operations? Visit our retail page at

Retail financial management FAQs

What are emerging trends in retail financial management?

Emerging trends in retail financial management include the use of data analytics for decision-making, the integration of technology solutions for automation, and a focus on risk management to protect against financial threats.

How can a retail business prepare for the future of retail finance?

Retail businesses can prepare for the future of retail finance by implementing agile financial strategies, leveraging technology solutions, and staying up to date with industry regulations and compliance requirements.

What impact does effective retail financial management have on the sustainability and growth of a business?

Effective retail financial management can improve the sustainability and growth of a business by optimizing costs, increasing profitability, and enabling informed decision-making. By managing finances efficiently, retailers can plan for long-term success and adapt to changing market conditions.

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