Rareform cofounder Alec Avedissian is used to finding innovative solutions. He started the business as a way to reduce waste while making unique products, and the company takes upcycling to a new level. “We take freeway billboards from all over the country, we bring them in, and we repurpose them into one-of-a-kind bags and accessories,” Alec said.
The idea for Rareform came about when Alec was living in El Salvador. He was inspired by how the locals used old billboards as roofing for their houses. The durable, waterproof advertisements made the perfect material for the job. The billboards sparked an idea. Alec began wondering what else could be done with them.
From Billboards to Bags
Once Alec returned to the U.S., he began investigating other ways to repurpose billboards. After only 4-8 weeks on display, a typical billboard is sent to the landfill. While their durability makes them perfect for withstanding weather, it also means they take a very long time to decompose. Billboards are not recyclable in the usual sense either, but that didn’t stop Alec.
An avid surfer, Alec’s first project was to make a surfboard bag out of billboards. After that, he was hooked on the possibilities. In 2012, Alec and his brother started Rareform, producing bags, wallets, and accessories made out of billboards from across the country.
And these bags and accessories proved to be ultra popular. After appearing on the show Shark Tank, Rareform received the funds to produce their products for the masses. The brand now sells its products in 350 retail stores and online via Shopify.
An Ecommerce Accounting Stumbling Block
As Alec’s business grew, he ran into some ecommerce challenges. Despite Rareform’s ascent, Alec admits he didn’t know what the company’s sales were on any given day. He was using so many different apps and features to keep track of his inventory and sales, but nothing seemed to work quite right.
“At the end of every month,” Alec said, “we would do a one-time journal entry with all the sales and the processing fees, so we didn’t really know on a day-to-day basis where our sales were.” Alec had to switch between Excel, QuickBooks, and other apps just to align all of his figures.
Rareform hired an outside bookkeeping firm to help with the problem, but they cost the company thousands of dollars every month. Plus, Rareform had to teach the bookkeepers about Shopify and other ecommerce platforms they used. Accounting busywork was costing the company time, money, and energy.
Saving Time & Money with Ecommerce Automation
Rareform added Webgility’s automation software to seamlessly connect its accounting and ecommerce platforms. “Webgility was the software that allows me to now save so much time and energy,” Alec said.
According to Alec, setting up Webgility and starting to use it was simple. He cited three keys to Rareform’s success with Webgility:
- QuickBooks Expert
First, an expert in QuickBooks Online reached out to him to do a screen share and walk through the process.
- Account Management
Alec worked with a Webgility account manager to get the software set up. In fact, Alec and his original account manager have such a strong partnership that they still work together.
- Easily Accessible Tech Support
It was essential for Alec to have quick and easy access to someone on tech support who could help him whenever he needed it.
Innovative Ecommerce Tools for an Innovative Business
Since Rareform’s products are truly one-of-a-kind, Alec relies on Webgility for inventory management. “Webgility allows us to have access to see what we actually have in stock, how much more we need to reorder, and when we need to reorder. It is just key to our business.”
Now Rareform is reaping the benefits. With Webgility’s accounting automation software, Rareform has been able to cut the time spent on accounting in half, slice bookkeeping costs, and automate work for their bookkeepers and accountants.
Bottom line? “I’d recommend Webgility to anybody that’s using ecommerce,” Alec said. “It’s simple, you’re gonna save time, you’re gonna save money, and it’s super easy to use. Why wouldn’t you use it?”
By guest contributor Leah Allen-Manning