Blog B2B How to navigate the Unifying Operations stage of business growth
30 April, 2024

How to navigate the Unifying Operations stage of business growth

As a product seller, you went into business aiming to grow your company into a successful brand. However, for you to thrive, you need a strategic approach that fits each growth stage.

Every business goes through the four stages of business growth — Beyond Basics, Unifying Operations, Scaling Up, and Sustaining Success.

In our previous post, we covered the Beyond Basics stage, where your small business moves from a startup into a period where it needs more robust, automated solutions. 

Building on that foundation, we shift to the Unifying Operations stage, which comes with its own set of challenges — from juggling siloed systems to inventory inefficiencies caused by these systems. Yet, it’s also an opportunity to streamline and improve your business operations across the board. 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into what the Unifying Operations stage is, what to focus on, and how Cin7 can help set your business up for sustainable growth and success.

What is the Unifying Operations stage?

Unifying Operations (or unified business management) is the second stage of business growth. In this stage, you’ve grown beyond the basics. You’ve successfully hired new employees, increased your product offerings, and expanded sales across multiple channels.

Here are some of the key indicators that your business is in the second stage of growth:


Infographic for the unifying operations business stage

Operational growth

Your revenue and customer base continue to grow, which signals a thriving business environment. As a result, you may expand your product line and venture into new markets or sales channels. However, this expansion, while promising, makes your business operations more complex.

Siloed software systems

You rely on department-specific software that operates in silos. Your business might use Salesforce for customer relationship management (CRM), Xero for accounting, and Stripe for payments. 

These systems might function well individually but don’t automatically integrate with one another, which leads to fragmented data across sales, operations, and accounting. 

This results in inefficiencies, such as manual errors, as employees have to navigate between systems for tasks that should be straightforward.

Increased workforce

You hire new employees to handle the expanded scope of operations. This often involves bringing in specialists to handle various aspects of sales, operations, and accounting, depending on your company’s specific needs and growth rate.

Operational challenges

Your business has operational challenges that stem from disconnected systems. These issues may include having to utilize multiple sources to answer simple order fulfillment questions.

You may also experience:

  • Delays in getting orders out
  • Increased returns
  • Missed sales opportunities
  • Inventory shortages

As a result, there’s a clear need to centralize operations to run your business more efficiently. To reach the next stage, you must invest in inventory management software like Cin7 that reconciles data across all channels and systems, providing a single source of truth.

Priorities for the Unifying Operations stage

Let’s look at four crucial areas your business needs to focus on to move to the next level and set the stage for future success.

1. Centralize data across departments

According to a 2024 Forrester Report, 46% of businesses say their organizational and data silos prevent the free flow of information. These silos also hinder a unified view of customers.

To address the challenges these data silos pose, you should integrate your systems to create a unified platform that centralizes all your sales, operations, and accounting data. With a solution like Cin7, you can establish a single source of truth that streamlines information flow and eliminates the need for manual data entry or cross-referencing between systems.

As a result, you get accurate forecasting and simplified inventory management, which helps you make data-driven decisions and offer quality customer service.

2. Streamline operations for efficiency

Streamlining your operations is about making every business process smoother and more cost-effective. That means implementing automated workflows to reduce manual tasks, like stock replenishment and order fulfillment. 

Automation minimizes typos, speeds up operations, and frees up team members to focus on more strategic activities, such as investigating additional sales channels.

Moreover, you can form cross-functional teams that work together to ensure the smooth flow of information and processes across the entire business. This approach encourages collaboration and helps identify and address operational bottlenecks.

3. Maximize engagement through omni-channel

An omni-channel strategy — like integrating your online store, mobile app, and physical storefront — allows you to offer customers a unified brand experience across every touchpoint and stage of the customer journey. This enables you to create deep connections, building trust and loyalty and boosting your customer lifetime value (CLV). 

You don’t have to take our word for it! The Forrester Report shows that 46% of companies attributed a rise in their customer lifetime value to the depth of their omni-channel customer engagement.

To maximize engagement, you need to develop an omni-channel strategy that provides a cohesive customer experience across all sales channels while managing inventory effectively. A unified platform like Cin7 can offer real-time visibility into sales trends, inventory levels, and customer interactions across all channels.

You can also use data analytics and reporting tools like Easy Insight or Inventoro for insights into operational efficiency, sales performance, and customer behavior. These findings can inform strategic decisions, optimize inventory management, and enhance customer experiences.

4. Offer positive customer experiences

Customers typically have a lot of options when it comes to buying products. That means a positive experience can be the difference between a one-time buyer and a lifelong customer. 

A 2024 Consumer Trends Report by Qualtrics shows that businesses with a positive reputation for providing excellent experiences are more likely to influence customers’ purchasing decisions.

With that in mind, optimize your order fulfillment process to ensure timely delivery, minimize returns, and improve customer satisfaction. Accurate inventory management will play a key role here, and you also need to have efficient logistics and clear communication with customers.

You can also implement strategies like surveys, interviews, and social media engagement to collect and act on customer feedback. Understanding your customers’ needs and promptly addressing their concerns can help you improve your product offerings, which boosts loyalty and repeat business.

How Cin7 helps with unified business management

Connected Inventory Performance is Cin7’s unified approach to inventory management. It boosts efficiency, enhances visibility, and ensures traceability across the entire inventory lifecycle through integration and automation.

Here’s how Cin7 helps businesses in the Unifying Operations stage:

  • Seamless integration with 700+ business tools: One of the primary barriers to unified business management is the different tools used across various departments. Cin7 integrates with hundreds of applications, including e-commerce, accounting, and supply chain planning. This allows data to flow smoothly between systems, creating a unified operational framework.
  • Data integrity: Cin7’s solution ensures accurate and consistent data across all platforms. This is crucial in the Unifying Operations stage, as it allows for more informed decision-making and better coordination across departments.
  • Streamlined operations: Cin7’s platform centralizes data and processes, allowing for smoother internal workflows. Your employees no longer need to switch between systems to complete their tasks. As a result, they fulfill orders faster, reduce the risk of returns, and maximize sales opportunities.
  • Traceability and real-time insights: Cin7 offers a clear view of supplier costs, stock-keeping unit (SKU) performance, and demand forecasting. It helps you optimize your inventory levels, reduce wastage, and anticipate customer needs more effectively.

How Cin7 helped AQ Outdoors in the Unifying Operations stage

AQ Outdoors faced several issues before implementing Cin7 Core, including:

  • Trouble reconciling stock numbers across different locations and channels
  • Supply chain and operational difficulties during the 2020 pandemic
  • Point-of-sale (POS) system incompatibilities

Clearly, AQ Outdoors needed a better solution, and Cin7 Core stepped in as the missing piece of the puzzle. Cin7 Core provided a comprehensive solution that allowed AQ Outdoors to effectively manage stock across multiple locations and channels. This included the brand’s brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce platforms.

Cin7 Core’s native integration with Shopify and other software streamlined AQ Outdoors’ operations even further. Details from in-store and e-commerce transactions were directly transferred to QuickBooks Online. This helped the team maintain up-to-date financial records and compliance.

With help from Waypoint, a Cin7 partner, AQ Outdoors transitioned to Cin7 Core’s native POS system. That move resolved the previous incompatibility issues and significantly reduced the time spent on sales, shipping, and inventory management. This made processes “infinitely easier” and less prone to errors.

Thanks to Cin7 Core, AQ Outdoors was able to scale its operations rapidly. The system’s efficient inventory and order management capabilities helped the company grow its annual online revenue by 100% for two consecutive years. The company also saw a 25% overall increase in top-line revenue.

All these backend improvements Cin7 facilitated ultimately improved the brand’s customer experience. Now, AQ Outdoors can manage inventory more efficiently, prevent accidental errors, and fulfill orders promptly. 

Unify your business operations with Cin7

As you move into the Unifying Operations stage, you need a comprehensive business solution to help you centralize data, streamline operations, and enhance visibility across channels. 

With Cin7, you not only address these needs but also pave the way for your company to overcome operational hurdles and focus on future growth.

Get a glimpse of how Cin7 can boost your business’s growth and help you succeed by scheduling a free demo today.

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