Want to help your clients weather a recession? Prepare for growth

Help customers recession-proof their business with a complete business system

All over the world, product sellers are worried that a recession is lurking just around the corner. And even without that fear, there’s no denying that times have got harder for many. Inflation is soaring, consumers are cutting back on spending, and supply chain crises continue to rock the globe.

How can you help your clients prepare for this uncertain future, while ensuring that your own business thrives? Ironically, the best way might be by equipping them with the same tools and mindset that you’d offer in more prosperous times.

“We’re living in a very dynamic world right now, where you’ve seen a huge shift from maybe typically retail-based businesses or wholesale-based businesses moving into the online sphere,” says Adam Wakeman, Cin7 Expert and Director of Halkin Business Partners. “And doing that on an old legacy ERP can potentially be a nightmare, but when you’ve got a flexible and agile IMS solution, it helps facilitate that change in quite a quick way. And we’ve seen some of those traditional businesses really benefit from that.”

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Your clients need a business system

We’ve talked to many different Cin7 customers and partners over the years, and one of the best things we’ve heard a customer call our software is a “business system.”

“Cin7 is a business system — it’s how we do business,” says Mindy Chisholm, founder of Australian jewelry brand Zafino. She credits Cin7 with powering an ecosystem that’s enabled their business to grow and thrive across multiple channels, and their Cin7 Expert partner SMB Consultants with implementing their software stack, and making sure that their business system continues to evolve with their needs.

“Businesses are starting to explore what off the shelf turnkey systems can do in terms of providing the same functionality as a legacy ERP, but then don’t have the burden of the big cost commitment and long delivery times to complete bespoke work,” says SMB Consultants founder Jeff Atizado.

This is exactly what Mindy means by a “business system.” Putting the right inventory management software at the core means other components — eCommerce like Shopify or WooCommerce, accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks Online, or fulfilment software like ShipStation — can be added when and if your client requires. “I think the biggest gain for most companies is consolidating their business into a system that can manage all of these different sales channels and fulfillment locations to give them a central point of truth,” Jeff adds.

A business system lets clients stay on top of costs and supply chains

In uncertain times, having a business system conveys a huge advantage. Systems that are typically used as growth engines also work as time and money-savers. The cost of a business system founded on Cin7 is typically much less than a legacy ERP, and the fact that its components are typically paid by subscription means that if a given component isn’t working, the client can (with your help!) simply turn it off, downgrade, or switch to a better one. This simply isn’t possible with a legacy ERP, which are highly inflexible. If one component is failing your client, they have to look at scrapping the whole thing — a huge waste of time and money.

“Some small businesses might say ‘Oh, it’s a lot of money to be spending on systems,’ but I keep adding more in,” Mindy says. She reckons that a business system with Cin7 at the core is well worth the cost. Typically, Cin7 does the work of several back-office employees. It gives your client choices — they can (as many Cin7 clients have!) give their existing people better-paying, more productive work in sales, marketing, or the like, or they may never have to hire in the first place!

Quantify the costs and benefits for more trust and happier clients

You’re uniquely qualified to help your clients make the right decision for their business by investing in a powerful business system. A powerful way to demonstrate the value of both a business system and the work that you do is to quantify the effect the system will have on your clients. It works for both existing clients and new ones. For new clients, you can work to understand the costs of their existing system — in terms of time and money — and use the experiences of your current clients to make estimates on savings. For existing clients, you can work out how much your services have saved them, or how much growth you’ve enabled since you started working together.

There are multiple ways to approach this quantification, and they all help foster a good working relationship with your clients. While it’s easy to quantify direct savings, such as not spending money on an expensive legacy ERP, other factors can be quantified too. Ask your clients: what would be their target for time saved, with the new system? And how much would that time be worth to them? What would it be worth to know exactly where their product was in the production cycles, or where it was in warehouses, or to know exactly where it was on its way to the customer, or on its way to you from the factory?

“When I was looking for an inventory management solution, I needed a good IT product that suited what we did and was great value for money,” says Cin7 customer Jennifer Xidias, of fashion brand Peta+Jain. “Cin7 is that product. It has seriously saved us about $130,000 this year alone, through not having to employ extra warehouse and admin staff. And when it comes to time, it saves hours every day not having to key in the data manually or create spreadsheets to import.”

When clients understand how much money a business system can (or is!) saving them, it’s a huge demonstration of both Cin7’s value, and yours, and an incredible showcase for how you can help them prepare for the bad times that might be around the corner — and the good times that might be coming right after that.

Merrell NZ: How to build a highly engaged customer base

This is a guest blog post written by Cin7 partner, Marsello. Learn more about our partner program.

Email marketing is a key sales tactic for retailers and product sellers, so it’s important to have an active, responsive database. That means consistent or growing engagement (open and click rates), a high repeat purchase rate, and growing average customer lifetime value.

In this article, we’ll look at how Cin7 and Marsello customer Merrell NZ builds their customer database, which boasts a 15% repeat purchase rate and an average purchase frequency of 3.5x.

Did you know? 50% of consumers buy from marketing emails at least once per month, and 59% say that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions (Salecycle, 2022).

How to build a highly engaged customer base

1. Collect high quality contacts

Merrell NZ use a clever tactic to ensure the best quality contacts are added to their database: They ask for more than just an email address.

This might seem contradictory — surely the more information you ask for, the fewer leads you get? But Merrell NZ know that their most valuable customers are those who are willing to give just a bit more information.

This pop-up has a 25% sign-up rate. That’s incredible.

Here’s why the pop-up works:

  • It gets to the point in the first two sentences.
  • It’s aligned with Merrell’s beautiful, down-to-earth brand.
  • It offers VIP rewards in return for contact information (and everyone knows giving your date of birth means birthday goodies!)

For a business that understands how valuable its database is, this tactic is perfect.

Top 3 Pop-Up Mistakes:

  • No offer, promise of value, or incentive
  • No obvious purpose (too wordy, or an unclear offer)
  • Poor user experience (for example, it’s hard to get the pop-up to close)

2. Leverage email automation

Merrell NZ is building even stronger relationships with their customers with automations. Triggered when customers take a specific action or meet certain criteria, automated emails help Merrell NZ deliver a highly personalized customer experience.

Marsello “gives us the opportunity to link customers from our retail and web stores, work around customer retention and automate email marketing flows in a really clever way,” says José Matiz, Retail Manager for Merrell NZ.

“For us, Marsello was a game-changer, we have been using it for over a year. We started with email marketing and now moved on to loyalty programs and several automations, it’s amazing,” says José.

Above: Merrell NZ’s abandoned cart automation, set up in Marsello.

Automated emails, triggered by a customer action, get 8 times more opens than manual, bulk emails. Here are two very effective automations you can set up in just a few clicks:

  • Welcome emails: More than 80% of consumers will open a welcome email, and these automated welcome emails see up to 10 times more clicks than other manual emails. You can deliver immediate value with a thank you discount or voucher to make a great first impression, introduce them to your brand, and encourage them to buy again.
  • Abandoned cart emails: Send a friendly reminder to customers if they abandon their cart. This reminds your customers to come back to your store and complete their purchase. On average, each abandoned cart email generates $5.64. In comparison, the average promotional email generates $0.02.

3. Use segmentation

Customer segmentation is the process of dividing customers into groups, allowing retailers to do more targeted and effective marketing.

Segmentation is a powerful antidote to poor database engagement and low email open rates. According to research by Hubspot, 78% of marketers reported that segmenting their database is their most effective email marketing strategy. In an analysis of more than 100,000 emails, Hubspot found that segmented email lists had 12% higher click-through rates than emails sent to an entire database.

You can segment your database in any number of ways, allowing you to discover and create different cross-sections and niche subgroups within your database:

  • Demographics: Segment by common customer characteristics such as age, gender, or life stage.
  • Geography: Segment customers based on country, state, or city.
  • Behavior: Segment customers based on their activity at your stores such as last purchase data, repeat purchase rate, or the number of loyalty points earned.
  • RFM: Segment by Marsello’s RFM groups based on purchase recency, frequency, and spend. (most valuable customers, at-risk customers, window shoppers, and more).
  • Or any combination of the above.

 

Merrell NZ: Creating segments of your best customers

Merrell NZ’s average repeat purchase rate across the database is 15%, but some groups of their customers purchase more frequently than others. Merrell NZ uses loyalty program tiers to create segments of their most engaged customers for VIP marketing.

Above: Segment your marketing lists with Cin7 + Marsello.

Sending targeted marketing to your best customers, like this, is smart. Roughly 80% of a business’s profits will come from 20% of its customers—that is, your regulars. These customers are brand-aware, highly likely to engage with your emails, and are very unlikely to unsubscribe.

Retailers can also send more frequent messages to those who are loyal brand followers (although you’ll see your best engagement if you don’t send more than five emails per week).

Some customer database tips

  1. Email marketing is all about quality, not quantity. Sending targeted, considered emails to smaller groups will often outperform bulk emails to your entire database.
  2. Database hygiene will help engagement and reduce costs. From time to time, remove contacts from your lists if they haven’t responded to win-back campaigns, or haven’t opened emails in a long time.
  3. Get more granular, detailed customer data for better segmentation. Connect your online and in-store sales channels to your marketing platform for the best results.

Cin7 + Marsello

Powered by Cin7 and your e-commerce data, Marsello works seamlessly in-store and online to provide a true omnichannel customer experience.

  • Capture in-store and online customer details
  • Deliver personalized and timely automated marketing
  • Incentivize repeat purchases with email, SMS, a loyalty program, and more
  • Grow your average basket size with advanced product recommendations
  • Accurately track and attribute sales to your marketing activity

Book a demo with Marsello

Global DTC brands are opening more physical stores – here’s why

This is a guest blog post written by Cin7 partner, Marsello. Learn more about our partner program.

Content Summary

Multi-national, globally-renowned Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands are adapting to growing online competition. The cost of acquiring a customer online is increasingly expensive as brands compete for ad placement. In this article, we’ll dive into why this means it’s more important than ever to build customer relationships and collect customer data.

Across America, the death of the mall has been widely reported, with the pandemic touted to be the final nail in the coffin.

But at the same time, multi-national, globally-renowned DTC brands are opening bricks-and-mortar stores left, right, and center. Both Warby Parker and Allbirds, DTC giants, have plans to expand their physical presence to boost profits, and others are following suit.

Why are we seeing a return to bricks-and-mortar?

1. Digital advertising is no longer cheap.

When e-commerce was in its infancy, digital marketing and advertising were cheap, and getting good digital ‘real estate’ was much less competitive. At this point, it made complete sense to downsize your physical presence—why pay rent when you could spend that money on digital ads and make 10x or even 100x the sales?

But as a majority of retailers filled the online space, it became harder and more expensive to stand out from the crowd, and returns on ad spend diminished.

What’s more, digital ads become even more expensive as you scale. So much so, that it will eventually make more sense for a growing business to pay rent and get foot traffic than add that spend to a digital ad account.

“No digitally native brand has achieved a billion dollars in annual revenue without a store. You need those stores as a cost-effective customer acquisition channel at some point.”

—Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer, Publicis

In another interesting effect, a study by the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) found that when a retailer opens a new physical store, web traffic coming from that geographical market increases by an average of 37%. So not only does a physical store increase foot traffic, it also increases online traffic—and thus, online sales.

Bricks-and-mortar and e-commerce are no longer competing go-to-market strategies, they’re complementary channels. The “bricks-and-mortar is the past and online is the future” mindset is simply outdated. But at the same time, retailers who take an old-school approach to bricks-and-mortar will struggle.

2. We’re people, not robots.

As much as technology augments our lives, it cannot and will not replace our need for in-person interaction, at least not for a long time yet. The pandemic was a testament to this. Sure, we have the technology to work, shop, and socialize remotely, but we simply don’t want to live our whole lives on a screen (at least, not yet).

Workplaces are trying to attract people back to the office to increase morale and build back up that buzzing workplace atmosphere that has been lost to the waves of WiFi. And though we’re still on shaky ground, it’s clear that people have no desire to be holed up in their houses forever.

Getting out and about to wander the streets, browse shops, get coffee with friends, go out for dinner… it’s part of who we are. But when  we’re out shopping, we’re looking for that missing piece; the experience we don’t get when we’re online.

We are more discerning about in-store shopping experience than ever before, so retailers are using their physical stores as an opportunity to build community and create a deeper connection between customers and their brand.

Retailers are also realizing that their physical stores act as much as showrooms as points of sale. Consumers can go in and get a hyper-personalized experience: they can talk to an employee, browse the store, try on clothes or compare products in the flesh, and get authentic, in-person feedback.

While large multi-national retailers have the budget for extensive customer research, independent retailers still have the edge on customer experience.

Owner-operators are often behind the till, and staff are there because they are passionate about the products they sell. Where customers shopping at large retail chains will rarely connect with the same person twice, independent retailers know their regulars by name.

The experience that is delivered by independent retailers is the kind of personalization big box retailers strive for, and spend millions of dollars trying to recreate.

Apple’s Genius Bar is designed to bring customers into a ‘club’ and connect them with employees in person—all part of Apple’s exclusive, high-touch customer experience. Image source: Macworld

3. Better cross-channel data is more accessible.

A savvy retailer knows that e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar work in tandem. The experience must be seamless between the two.

A good in-store experience can lead to social follows, email sign-ups, website traffic—and more sales. A good online experience can likewise drive foot traffic, as people come to browse your store for inspiration, speak to a passionate expert, try in-store before they buy, or take advantage of click-and-collect convenience.

But an even savvier retailer collects customer data both in-store and online, so they can more accurately attribute all sales to their marketing channels and activities.

Let’s look at some examples of common frustrations.

  • EXAMPLE 1:
    You’re a fashion retailer. You send an email out to your customer database promoting this season’s new collection. While you see some direct sales on the online store, you’re not sure how many people shopping in-store have come in because they saw the email.
  • EXAMPLE 2:
    You’re an independent jewelry retailer, with a large following on Instagram. Some of your social media followers liked a post about a new necklace. Later that week, they come in-store and buy the necklace, but you can’t know that they saw the post, so you assume your social media isn’t very good at driving sales.

What if you could get visibility over which channels drove sales in each of these examples? What if you had the data to know when an in-store sale was generated by an email or even a social media post?

Integrated data is one of the most powerful tools an omnichannel retailer can possess. It’s simple. When you know what works, you can do more of it.

Brands who succeed in the new world of bricks-and-mortar…

✔ Build customer relationships.

First and foremost, you need to know who your customers are. Collect customer details at every possible opportunity—through promotions, at POS, from QR codes in marketing or at events or launches, through a loyalty program, et cetera. Learn from them—understand who your core customer is, and what messages they resonate with. Then, build genuine connections and grow with them. Engage with them on social media, greet them in-store, send your top customers access codes to pre-release products.

✔ Build an authentic brand experience.

Stay true to your brand’s vision, mission, and values. Live and breathe them. Hire people who believe in what you do, and who share your values too. If you have a purpose or desire to make an impact on the world, be loud about it. Get really creative, build an in-store experience around what your brand stands for, then use your digital channels as a ‘window’ through which to showcase the in-store experience.

✔ Do smarter marketing.

Know where your in-store sales are coming from, and which channels and activities get the best results. It can be difficult to know what the sales impact of opening a new store is, so be data-driven and methodical as best you can. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do something unexpected—like a big PR stunt—but track it. Connect your POS, marketing, inventory, and e-commerce data. Test, measure, rinse and repeat.

Cin7 + Marsello

Powered by Cin7 and your e-commerce data, Marsello works seamlessly in-store and online to provide a true omnichannel customer experience.

  • Capture in-store and online customer details
  • Deliver personalized and timely automated marketing
  • Incentivize repeat purchases with email, SMS, a loyalty program, and more
  • Grow your average basket size with advanced product recommendations
  • Accurately track and attribute sales to your marketing activity

Book a demo with Marsello

4 crucial things to consider when choosing a software implementation expert

Cin7 Experts are specialized consultants who are vetted by Cin7 and are committed to providing resources to help brands, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers with a wide range of business needs. Experts can handle anything from data migration, technical training, ecommerce, process development and automation, and financial planning.

Since the Cin7 Expert directory went live, UK software integration company Bluehub has zoomed to the top of the rankings, spurred on by five-star reviews from enthused customers. We asked them how they ended up as the top-reviewed Cin7 Expert, and what customers should look out for when choosing a software implementation partner to help them on their inventory management software journey.

Here’s what they told us.

  1. Take the time to understand where your customers are at
  2. Specialize in top inventory management apps
  3. The best experts hire from industry
  4. Top experts build custom integrations and make use of APIs

Bluehub began as a Xero ecosystem consultancy and custom software development house, helping customers identify which apps would be right for their business, setting up those apps, and then providing ongoing support. But after a couple of years, they realized that the customers who needed the most help were almost always product-based businesses looking for an inventory solution — so they pivoted hard into that space.

“Over the last six years, we’ve been solely focused on helping product-based businesses,” says Bluehub founder Guy Earnshaw. “We help customers either build on a foundation of an existing cloud system — like Xero or QuickBooks — or we help people who are on legacy, server-based systems take that first step into the cloud with online accounting, plus one of the inventory apps.”

#1 Top Experts take the time to understand where customers are in their journey

Most of Bluehub’s clients fall into one of two categories. The first is established businesses that are looking to move online — to migrate from an existing ERP, or an offline inventory management solution (such as Sage, or even spreadsheets.) Others are those who have already begun their cloud journey, with accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks Online. Bluehub says it’s vital for Experts to understand where a customer is on their journey, what their current level of expertise is, and where they want to go.

“All the clients that we speak to have already started their own journey of looking at software,” Guy says. “So they’re coming to this with some level of education of what they want to do, the sort of problems they’re trying to fix and what their options might be in this space. So the way we describe ourselves to those people is that we are software consultants and developers who specialize in product based businesses going through this transition.”

From a platform of mutual understanding, Bluehub is well placed to help their clients transform their businesses for the better.

“We help with system selection and implementation, which includes everything like training, data migration, and a bit of support,” Guy says. “And then we have ongoing relationships with our clients where we provide basic user support to big integrations, too. So we’re an end-to-end service for businesses just like theirs looking to make exactly this transition.”

#2 The most effective Experts focus on just one or two inventory apps

Early in their journey, Bluehub supported all the inventory software solutions they could. But now they do most of their inventory management consulting work with just two apps: Cin7 and DEAR Systems. Why is that? Zeroing in on just a couple of best-of-breed apps means you can provide better services to customers, faster. There’s less overhead, and fewer learning requirements. You can just get on with the job, confident in the knowledge that your clients are on the best possible system for their needs.

“A big part of that shift is we’re working with more and more complex and larger businesses. From an accounting and a production perspective, DEAR is really quite advanced for products in this range,” Guy says.

Bluehub reckons that the partnership with DEAR is what helps drive great outcomes with their clients.

“This partnership gives us an incredible product that we get to sell to our clients and build on that.
Guy says. “And your service can only be as good as the system that you are implementing. Thankfully DEAR gives us a whole heap of tools in our hands that satisfy our clients — we have so many ‘wow’ moments when we’re giving demos or even when we’re working with clients during consultancy.”

#3 The best Experts hire staff from industry

All over the accounting, bookkeeping, software-coaching and implementation world, Experts are finding that one of the best ways to support customers in a particular industry is to hire from that industry. Hiring from industry confers a huge advantage for Experts — it builds credibility amongst their customer base, and enables them to either double down on support for a particular niche, or easily expand to related industries.

“In recent years we’ve hired more people that actually worked in our client’s industries,” Guy says. “We’re taking people out of the manufacturing sector, out of the wholesale and distribution sectors, who’ve worked in industry for over a decade.”

Usually, the industry professionals Bluehub has been hiring have experience in working with large, bespoke ERP implementations. This experience has proved invaluable, as they’re now able to help companies implement a much more nimble and yet highly extensible and inexpensive ERP, in the form of DEAR Systems.

“We’ve brought them into our team to help our clients transition their processes and really fully adapt to the system,” Guy says.

#4 High-performing Experts don’t implement unwieldy ERPs. Instead, they build bespoke integrations and make use of APIs

Top software implementation experts know that the best way to help small and medium businesses thrive is to get them online as soon as possible. For companies that ship physical products, inventory management software is a must-have. But even for SMEs with specialist requirements, they don’t recommend high-maintenance, expensive legacy ERPs.

Instead, they say to get on software like Cin7 or DEAR Systems, as a good Expert partner will be able to make use of APIs to build all the bespoke integrations and app bridges they could ever need.

Bluehub began as a software development house first and foremost, and that legacy comes to the fore when a customer needs something custom-built.

“We still have development at our core, and we build a lot of integrations — often with third party logistics (3PL) companies, but also with eCommerce websites, and a few custom apps for people who have unique requirements,” Guy says.

When a Bluehub client gets set up on DEAR, they end up with a fully-customized system, purpose-built for them out of off-the-shelf components. This app stack often beats the capability of a legacy ERP, at a fraction of the cost.

About Bluehub

Bluehub is a top-ranking software implementation company and DEAR Expert partner. They  provide innovative system integrations and solutions that support their client’s businesses operations and growth. From initial discovery into client needs, to set-up, training and roll-out, Bluehub provides a fully managed service from start to finish. 

About Cin7 Experts

Cin7 Experts experienced with DEAR are an essential part of the Cin7 inventory and order management community. No matter what kind of product business you’re running, where you’re located, or what you’re trying to achieve, there’s a Cin7 Expert on DEAR who can help you achieve your ambition while saving your money and time.

Supply chain resilience strategy: build and measure

It is no secret that COVID-19 damaged the modern-day supply chain. From silicon shortage to toilet paper stockouts, the marketplace has seen it all. According to a survey from the Institute for Supply Management, 95% of the businesses had to endure operational troubles during the initial pandemic days in April 2020.

While businesses cannot prevent such disruptions, they can prepare themselves to persevere through them.

The Cin7 team has compiled a list of strategies to build a resilient supply chain for your business and help gain an edge over the competition.

 

What is supply chain resilience?

The origins of the supply chain resilience concept can be traced back to the work of C.S. Holling, an ecologist who coined the term “ecological resilience.” It refers to the ability of an ecosystem to maintain normal patterns despite being subjected to the damage arising from ecological disruptions.

Supply chain resilience is defined as an organization’s ability to recover from unexpected supply chain disruptions using its “ecosystem’s” existing capabilities, ensuring that the operations run smoothly and the customers remain satisfied.

 

Challenges and risks in building successful supply chains

The pandemic disrupted nearly every stage of an organization’s supply chain. The effect was global and prolonged.

As bad as the pandemic was and continues to be, it is just one of the many factors that disrupt the smooth functioning of the supply chain. Here are some scenarios that pose risks to the supply chain:

#1 Operational risks

Operational risks occur because of breakdowns in normal working operations. Both technical and non-technical reasons can pose this risk.

Example: Machine failure due to poor maintenance (technical) and mismanagement (non-technical). This risk can be classified as internal risk, i.e., it can be fully controlled and avoided by the organization.

#2 Financial risks

Delays from the supplier can cause delays in your production process. This type of risk emerges due to shortcomings in the suppliers’ finances and revenue.

Example: The supplier reduces the production of your raw materials due to their own financial woes or files for bankruptcy. To combat such a scenario, either extend them a line of credit or search for an alternative supplier.

#3 Legal risks

Legal risks arise when organizations are slapped with lawsuits, whether they are frivolous or not. Fighting lawsuits takes a toll on your time, money, and resources. Severe cases can also tarnish your reputation, leading to a loss in revenue and business development.

Example: If a lawsuit for an intellectual property violation is filed against your company or you are fined for breaking environmental laws, any suppliers who get trapped in either scenario can catastrophically disrupt the supply chain of your business.

#4 Geopolitical risks

Globalization has converted the entire world into a connected village, where consumers are no longer dependent on geographical boundaries to purchase items.

Producers benefit from globalization, as they are no longer restricted to sourcing their raw materials from the same region. Faster connectivity ensures that they can order from any corner of the world at a price that fits their budget.

Global connectivity also comes with its challenges. While businesses operate under the trade and commerce laws of their nation, working with partners from various countries adds various layers of complexity.

Situations like political turbulence, governmental policy changes, and war outbreaks can hinder your suppliers’ capacity to make timely delivery.

Example: The US-China trade war and Brexit are classic examples of geopolitical risks.

#5 Natural disasters

Hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters have been disrupting the supply chain for ages. Such disasters can be classified as external risks, as they are not in the control of the business. Regardless of the classification of risk, these calamities lead to port closures and cargo flight cancellations, in addition to creating capacity constraints and supply shortages.

Even climate change affects the operations of businesses. Research from the

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) suggests that rising temperatures could lead to adverse effects on the workers.

According to the UNDP, climate change’s economic impact on labor productivity could reach $2.5 trillion in global losses by 2030.

Example: In 2017, Hurricane Harvey and Irma—fueled by symptoms of climate change—hit the gulf coast in a span of two weeks. These hurricanes left a trail of physical and economic destruction, including a severe disruption to the regional supply chain.

#6 Cyberattacks

The rise of digitalization has also given rise to cyber security attacks. In fact, cyberattacks have become a leading cause of supply chain vulnerability.

The supply chain becomes a tempting target for hackers as vendors often possess sensitive data about companies or have enough access to allow for privilege escalation.

As attacks of such nature become more common, manufacturers must invest in cybersecurity proactively. This is for safeguarding them as well as their clientele’s data.

Example: Airbus is one of the world’s largest airline manufacturers, and they were subjected to a series of cyberattacks in 2018. The hackers gained access to the confidential documents containing the schematics for classified military transport planes through the attack.

 

Strategies to build a resilient supply chain

A robust supply chain resilience strategy requires two complementary supply chain pillars: resistance and recovery capacity.

Resistance capacity is the ability of a supply chain system to minimize the overall impact caused by disruption. It can be done in two ways:

  • Evasion: Entirely avoiding the factor causing disruption in the supply chain.
  • Containment: Minimizing the period between an event and the time when the supply chain starts to recover from the effects.

Recovery capacity is a supply chain’s ability to restore itself to the level prior to its disruption.

For organizations to achieve true supply chain resilience, they need to be prepared to confront obstacles before they cause any considerable damage.

There are seven distinct strategies to build strong resilience and ensure quick recovery.

#1 Creating buffers

Manufacturers should create buffers to build resilience against minor operational risks like employees calling out sick or shop floor machines breaking down. Building buffers and making them a part of your operational process reduces your dependence on the supply chain working at full capacity.

According to one survey, 21% of the supply chain experts consider maintaining buffer stock as a solid indicator of resilience. The challenge of maintaining high buffer stock can increase your carrying costs, so the optimal buffers need to be strategically planned.

#2 Optimized inventory control

If you are relying on a single warehouse for storing your inventory, consider the option to spread your inventory across different locations.

A natural disaster damaging the warehouse or a virus outbreak among warehouse employees would undoubtedly lead to fulfillment delays.

Splitting the inventory helps minimize the risk and helps expand your customer reach by reducing shipping costs and speeding the shipping time.

Another way to build resilience is to invest in technology that provides real-time visibility into your supply chain. It helps monitor your supply chain performance and identify any and all bottlenecks. Inventory management software assists you to make better inventory decisions and set up reorder points to ensure that you never run out of stock.

Investing in an integrated warehouse management system helps you with better inventory management while reducing the number of errors. Successful organizations devise strategies to manage the longer lead times and methods to counter the unexpected surge in demand, while building replenishment models to ensure that the goods are available when needed.

#3 Investing in human resources

Human resources are necessary to complete the work but having experienced supply chain managers with market knowledge helps navigate through unexpected disruptions.

Merely hiring exceptional people is not enough—the business also needs systems built and SOPs to establish production infrastructure. Your team should have personnel dedicated to fostering better supplier relationships and for commodity management.

Commodity managers monitor the market to scout for new products in demand, price changes, and the latest supply chain developments. This information helps ensure staying on top of market trends and aids in better cost management and decision making.

Helpful hint: The pandemic has been a catalyst to the remote working environment. Such work environmental changes affect the wellbeing of the workers, both physically and psychologically.

The mental well-being of the workers must not be overlooked. “Emotional resilience” is every bit as important as supply chain resilience.

#4 Having multiple supply partners

The concept of partnering with multiple suppliers for procurement is referred to as multisourcing.

One piece of famous investment advice is “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Similarly, relying on a single partner for procuring materials is filled with risk, so partnering with multiple vendors will ensure that your proverbial eggs are placed in several baskets.

Multisourcing ensures that your supply chain does not get disrupted when your primary supplier fails to deliver on time, as you can source it from someone else. It also helps with incentivizing competitive pricing among suppliers so that you get the best returns.

The pandemic demonstrated that diversification is an integral part of building supply chain resilience. For example, China is lauded as one of the world’s leading raw materials suppliers but had production grind to a halt due to Covid-19. When the lockdown was imposed in 2020, manufacturers sought and partnered with different countries like Mexico and Vietnam to expand their network.

Helpful hint: While working with multiple suppliers, you should have a dedicated team for supplier relationships. The supplier relationship manager focuses on developing deeper relationships with suppliers by understanding their core strategies and approaching them with mutually beneficial opportunities. If the supplier is working on limited capacity, there is a good chance they will prioritize the business that has built better relations with them.

#5 Effective communication

Managing supply chains requires a cross-functional effort from all the departments. Businesses need to be agile and loosen the silo structure, which inhibits the flow of information.

As the trend for hybrid working increases, companies should allocate the necessary IT resources for smooth operations and orient them with the relevant tools for communication. Managing virtual teams is very different from conventional teams, so provide managers adequate training to lead them.

Helpful hint: Keep your employees and suppliers in the loop during any periods of disruption. Provide them with relevant company information to help them make informed decisions and minimize errors.

#6 Planning and forecasting

When introducing a new product to the marketplace, it takes approximately two to three years for product development, and the lead time takes approximately 25 to 40 weeks.

It means that to deliver a product during the holidays, a business must start the plan in March. However, businesses forecast demands using their historical data, yet no demand forecasting plan would have predicted that a pandemic would be declared in March, leading to lockdowns and drastically changing customer preferences.

A feasible way to combat such forecasting issues is to invest heavily in analytics and upgrade supply chain technology. A business continuity plan identifies all the potential risks, quantifies them, and then devises a plan to deal with them, while keeping the organization running concurrently.

#7 Developing ecosystem partnerships

Many eCommerce businesses lack the supply chain infrastructure to manage the inbound and outbound logistics. This is where third-party logistics (3PLs) come to the rescue.

Partnering with 3PLs can offer reduced costs, a warehousing facility, and access to a better transportation network. This can help streamline the fulfillment process and diversify the fulfillment process so that manufacturers can prioritize their core competence.

Third-party logistics partners also bring their years of experience to the table, helping you optimize your solid supply chain infrastructure and build resilience.

 

Measuring supply chain resilience

To test the efficacy of your planning, McKinsey recommends a stress test model. This model quantifies the supply chain resilience against five factors:

  • Industry attractiveness
  • Customer exposure
  • Operations exposure
  • Corporate resilience
  • Supply chain exposure

Apart from the stress test model, there are three core metrics that help in evaluating supply chain resilience.

#1 Time to survive

This metric refers to the time to resume business operations after a disruption.

For instance, the time to survive metric for some factories in China was nearly three weeks. It reflects how long it takes to establish the necessary safety measures (like offering personal protective equipment kits) and obtain clearance from the government.

In this phase, the companies need to answer some key questions around:

  • Compensating the people
  • Bringing people back to the workplace
  • Taking corrective measures to reopen their premises

In a nutshell, time to survive answers the question, “How long does it take to reopen the business?”

#2 Time to recover

Recovery time is how long it takes to return your business to the capacity it had before the disruption.

Even though the Chinese factories started to function again after the Covid-19 outbreak, they were only running at a fraction of their standard capacity. This occurred due to a lack of workers and loss of production time. It took an additional three to four months to recover.

Prepare and protect your business by examining how long it would take to get operations back in working order.

#3 Time to thrive

The time to thrive arrives after the recovery phase, but only after an evaluation of how the business confronted the crisis.

It juxtaposes the state of business before and after the crisis and determines if and how the company learned any lessons from the disruption and improved.

Regardless of what analysis emerges during this phase, businesses should be ready to pivot their offerings to match what the market demands now. For instance, many restaurants now offer home delivery or pick-up due to the consumers’ behavioral change caused by the lockdown.

Once a company determines how it has or hasn’t improved after facing the crisis, the time to thrive is not far off.

 

In summary

Businesses need to be agile and flexible enough to adapt to the changes caused by disruptions.

Building a resilient supply chain mitigates the risk and boosts operational efficiency. Companies that invest in supply chain resilience often see shorter product development cycles than those that overlook it, which can be a competitive advantage.

By partnering with Cin7, you can automate your workflow as well as get better analytics and insights about your inventory, which helps in data-driven decision making. You can also partner with the best 3PLs through our integrations.

The experts at Cin7 can help you build a resilient supply chain for your business. Book a call now to discover more!

A detailed guide to preventing inventory shrinkage

What is inventory shrinkage?

If you own a retail business, you’ve likely experienced inventory losses. Unplanned inventory loss, known as inventory shrinkage, results from a myriad of causes including theft, shoplifting, and damage both in-store and in-warehouse.

For example, Rio Shoes, Ltd., had 4820 pairs of shoes, but, upon a physical count, the inventory was only 3980.

According to the 2020 Retail Security Survey published by the National Retail Foundation, inventory shrinkage cost the retail industry $61.7 billion in 2020. Retailers need to take steps to prevent unwanted loss that results in decreased profitability.

“In a business where we only make a penny on every dollar that comes in, it is especially important that we control our shrinkage.”

Fred Klein, VP Loss Prevention, Big V Supermarkets

Here, we will learn why it’s important to calculate inventory shrinkage rate, how to calculate the rate, and how to prevent or reduce inventory shrinkage.

What are the leading causes of inventory shrinkage?

There are several reasons that contribute to inventory shrinkage. However, the top reasons include shoplifting, employee theft, administrative and paperwork errors, and vendor fraud or error.

According to the 2021 Retail Security Survey, participating retailers indicated that these loss risks and threats have become more of a priority for their organization over the last five years:

Why is calculating inventory shrinkage important?

It is well-known that physical inventory in the retail business consumes an enormous amount of working capital.

Inventory is money that is stashed in your warehouse. 

This only highlights the importance of identifying the sources of inventory loss and stopping or decreasing the causes.

A certain amount of inventory loss will be attributed to damaged goods. However, concerted efforts and corrective actions must be taken to eliminate unethical reasons such as theft.

“Not controlling shrinkage is taking a shortcut to bankruptcy.”

John L. Pagliaro, President of Dana Associates

How to calculate inventory shrinkage

Inventory shrinkage and rate are determined for a specified period, such as the fiscal quarter or year. Inventory shrinkage is calculated by subtracting actual inventory value by recorded inventory value. The shrinkage rate is calculated by dividing inventory losses by the amount of inventory you should have, and multiplying that number by 100 to determine the rate.

To calculate the rate, you’ll need to determine the following:

  • A physical count of actual inventory and its value.
  • The recorded inventory, or inventory you should have, and its value.
  • Deduct the value of actual inventory from the recorded value to determine inventory loss (inventory shrinkage).
  • To calculate the rate, divide inventory loss (inventory shrinkage) by the recorded inventory and multiply by 100.

Inventory shrinkage = recorded inventory value – actual inventory value

Inventory shrinkage rate = inventory shrinkage / recorded inventory value * 100

For example: Joe’s Accessories has $5200 mobile accessories. After conducting an actual inventory count, they determine the value on hand is only $4900. Joe’s Accessories realized inventory shrinkage of $300 with a rate of 5.7% over a specified period (fiscal quarter or year).

Inventory Shrinkage = $300 ($5200 [recorded inventory] – $4900 [physical inventory])

Rate = 5.7% ($300 [inventory shrinkage] / $5200 [recorded inventory] * 100)

How to prevent inventory shrinkage

A combination of safety measures can be implemented to reduce or prevent inventory shrinkage. Some of those include:

1. Implement a two-person checks and balances system

A checks and balances system is a system that can be implemented at crucial inventory management stages like signing invoices, accepting stock, and recording stock.

Having a second person verify records prevents inaccuracies and omissions. It can identify loopholes contributing to stock shrinkage so that measures can be implemented to control fraud.

2. Safeguard expensive inventory

Inventory shrinkage is measured in terms of value. Safeguard expensive items by assigning employees with special privileges to handle that inventory, or store expensive items under lock and key in a separate location.

3. Prevent vendor and purchase order fraud

Follow-up with vendors to ensure your purchase manager isn’t involved in transactions that are questionable or unethical in nature. Double-check damaged goods that are filtered from purchase orders. Employ inventory management software like Cin7 that provides trackbacks and purchase order history.

4. Eliminate loopholes and improvise process

Identifying loopholes to prevent employees from exploiting inventory can significantly reduce inventory shrinkage.

5. Increase pre-employment screening

Small items such as truffles, caviar, gemstones, and small electronic devices are high value and easy to steal. Boost pre-employment screening to include:

  • Background checks
  • Criminal history
  • Credit history
  • Education verification
  • Past employment history

6. Employee training and incentives

Proper loss prevention training will reduce shrinkage. In addition to loss prevention training, employee incentives. Create a strong company culture that fosters honesty and integrity.

7. Invest in a security system

A lot of hardware systems with software support are available on the market to safeguard inventory from being stolen. These systems include CCTV cameras, intrusion detection, door auto lock systems, and door access control.

Alternatively, you can install a custom system according to your needs and budget to reduce theft as well as unauthorized access to your warehouse.

8. Track your inventory

Using the latest technology business owners can track inventory as it moves from procurement to sale. Examples of tracking devices include radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging and bar codes.

9. Invest in an inventory management system

The role of an inventory management system is to monitor movement of products from procurement through production to sale. A good system will allow you to track inventory to a specific location whether that is a bin in a warehouse or a store shelf.

An inventory management system ensures that you have enough inventory (stock) to meet demand without overstocking.

What if inventory shrinkage goes unnoticed?

Missing inventory will adversely affect your profits.

“Shrinkage is the single greatest threat to profitability in our industry.”

Alasdair McKichan, President, Retail Council of Canada.

Here’s an example: Joe’s Accessories sells accessories at a 20% profit. When inventory valued at $1000 is missing (inventory shrinkage), his profit loss is $1200 ($1000 + 20%). Joe’s Accessories loses the actual value of the inventory ($1000) plus the profits that would have been earned by selling the lost inventory (20%).

Ultimately, shrinkage will need to be reconciled in your books. These are recorded as business losses. Significant inventory shrinkage is a monetary loss. Inventory has value – even stock that has been sitting around a while or was acquired through trade or barter.

Final thoughts

Inventory shrinkage can affect your bottom line – at the very least. It can also have deleterious effects on business and employee relations. To boost profits, business owners need to lower their inventory shrinkage rate. The most efficient way to do so is to use the latest and most efficient method of inventory management.

With the use of software systems like Cin7, inventory shrinkage is readily caught and resolved efficiently.

Book your demo now.

4 factors to choosing a high-performing software implementation expert

Cin7 Experts are specialized consultants who are vetted by Cin7 and are committed to providing resources to help brands, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers with a wide range of business needs. Experts can handle anything from data migration, technical training, ecommerce, process development and automation, and financial planning.

Since the Cin7 Expert directory went live, UK software integration company Bluehub has zoomed to the top of the rankings, spurred on by five-star reviews from enthused customers. We asked them how they ended up as the top-reviewed Cin7 Expert, and what customers should look out for when choosing a software implementation partner to help them on their inventory management software journey.

Here’s what they told us:

  • Take the time to understand where your customers are at
  • Specialize in top inventory management apps
  • The best experts hire from industry
  • Top experts build custom integrations and make use of APIs

Bluehub began as a Xero ecosystem consultancy and custom software development house, helping customers identify which apps would be right for their business, setting up those apps, and then providing ongoing support. But after a couple of years, they realized that the customers who needed the most help were almost always product-based businesses looking for an inventory solution — so they pivoted hard into that space.

“Over the last six years, we’ve been solely focused on helping product-based businesses,” says Bluehub founder Guy Earnshaw. “We help customers either build on a foundation of an existing cloud system — like Xero or QuickBooks — or we help people who are on legacy, server-based systems take that first step into the cloud with online accounting, plus one of the inventory apps.”

#1 Top Experts take the time to understand where customers are in their journey

Most of Bluehub’s clients fall into one of two categories. The first is established businesses that are looking to move online — to migrate from an existing ERP, or an offline inventory management solution (such as Sage, or even spreadsheets.) Others are those who have already begun their cloud journey, with accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks Online. Bluehub says it’s vital for Experts to understand where a customer is on their journey, what their current level of expertise is, and where they want to go.

“All the clients that we speak to have already started their own journey of looking at software,” Guy says. “So they’re coming to this with some level of education of what they want to do, the sort of problems they’re trying to fix and what their options might be in this space. So the way we describe ourselves to those people is that we are software consultants and developers who specialize in product based businesses going through this transition.”

From a platform of mutual understanding, Bluehub is well placed to help their clients transform their businesses for the better.

“We help with system selection and implementation, which includes everything like training, data migration, and a bit of support,” Guy says. “And then we have ongoing relationships with our clients where we provide basic user support to big integrations, too. So we’re an end-to-end service for businesses just like theirs looking to make exactly this transition.”

#2 The most effective Experts focus on just one or two inventory apps

Early in their journey, Bluehub supported all the inventory software solutions they could. But now they do most of their inventory management consulting work with just two apps: Cin7 and DEAR Systems. Why is that? Zeroing in on just a couple of best-of-breed apps means you can provide better services to customers, faster. There’s less overhead, and fewer learning requirements. You can just get on with the job, confident in the knowledge that your clients are on the best possible system for their needs.

“A big part of that shift is we’re working with more and more complex and larger businesses. From an accounting and a production perspective, DEAR is really quite advanced for products in this range,” Guy says.

Bluehub reckons that the partnership with DEAR is what helps drive great outcomes with their clients.

“[Partnership] gives us an incredible product that we get to sell to our clients and build on that.
Guy says. “And your service can only be as good as the system that you are implementing. Thankfully DEAR gives us a whole heap of tools in our hands that satisfy our clients — we have so many ‘wow’ moments when we’re giving demos or even when we’re working with clients during consultancy.”

#3 The best Experts hire staff from industry

All over the accounting, bookkeeping, software-coaching and implementation world, Experts are finding that one of the best ways to support customers in a particular industry is to hire from that industry. Hiring from industry confers a huge advantage for Experts — it builds credibility amongst their customer base, and enables them to either double down on support for a particular niche, or easily expand to related industries.

“In recent years we’ve hired more people that actually worked in our client’s industries,” Guy says. “We’re taking people out of the manufacturing sector, out of the wholesale and distribution sectors, who’ve worked in industry for over a decade.”

Usually, the industry professionals Bluehub has been hiring have experience in working with large, bespoke ERP implementations. This experience has proved invaluable, as they’re now able to help companies implement a much more nimble and yet highly extensible and inexpensive ERP, in the form of DEAR Systems.

“We’ve brought them into our team to help our clients transition their processes and really fully adapt to the system,” Guy says.

#4 High-performing Experts don’t implement unwieldy ERPs. Instead, they build bespoke integrations and make use of APIs

Top software implementation experts know that the best way to help small and medium businesses thrive is to get them online as soon as possible. For companies that ship physical products, inventory management software is a must-have. But even for SMEs with specialist requirements, they don’t recommend high-maintenance, expensive legacy ERPs.

Instead, they say to get on software like Cin7 or DEAR Systems, as a good Expert partner will be able to make use of APIs to build all the bespoke integrations and app bridges they could ever need.

Bluehub began as a software development house first and foremost, and that legacy comes to the fore when a customer needs something custom-built.

“We still have development at our core, and we build a lot of integrations — often with third party logistics (3PL) companies, but also with eCommerce websites, and a few custom apps for people who have unique requirements,” Guy says.

When a Bluehub client gets set up on DEAR, they end up with a fully-customized system, purpose-built for them out of off-the-shelf components. This app stack often beats the capability of a legacy ERP, at a fraction of the cost.

About Bluehub

Bluehub is a top-ranking software implementation company and DEAR Expert partner. They  provide innovative system integrations and solutions that support their client’s businesses operations and growth. From initial discovery into client needs, to set-up, training and roll-out, Bluehub provides a fully managed service from start to finish. 

About Cin7 Experts

Cin7 Experts experienced with DEAR are an essential part of the Cin7 inventory and order management community. No matter what kind of product business you’re running, where you’re located, or what you’re trying to achieve, there’s a Cin7 Expert on DEAR who can help you achieve your ambition while saving your money and time. 

Thanks to Intuit, your move to the cloud is easier, more rewarding, and costs less

What do product sellers feel when they move from desktop-based accounting and inventory management software to the cloud? Most business owners say they feel happiness and relief, but the next most common emotion reported is regret — that they didn’t do it sooner!

Happily, DEAR Systems and Intuit have worked together to make it easier than ever for product businesses to move online. Thanks to Intuit CEO Sasan K. Goodarzi’s commitment to moving product based businesses to the cloud, we’ve entered a close collaboration. We share a passion for solving product sellers’ most challenging and important problems. After working closely with Intuit’s QuickBooks’ leadership team for six months, we released our DEAR Advanced subscription plan on April 13th 2022.

The DEAR Advanced plan is a perfect pairing of DEAR and Intuit’s QuickBooks Online Advanced Edition in an all-inclusive, easily-affordable DEAR Advanced plan subscription.

The reason behind offering this bundle is simple. For more than 10 years, we’ve helped thousands of product sellers move their operations online. They run their businesses more efficiently, add new sales channels more easily, and eliminate costly operational mistakes. The happiness they experience is contagious, and it inspires our mission to make it easier than ever before for thousands of desktop-bound product sellers to start enjoying the benefits of modern accounting and inventory management software. The most rewarding thing? The gains are substantial, wide- reaching, customer-pleasing, and happen very quickly.

A sharp reduction in errors is the first big gain from moving to the cloud

Product sellers who move to online accounting and inventory management tell us it’s a huge leap from where they were pre-DEAR, when they tracked all pre-orders on a spreadsheet. Both the time to complete tasks and human error are vastly reduced. Automations and filters catch any issues that would have otherwise slipped through and are automatically flagged for attention from the right, responsible manager.

Simon Coward, at outdoor equipment retailer  AQ Outdoors, puts it this way: “Today, all the information is live, and all staff have access to it, and that’s been fantastic. In the last six weeks, there has been more progress in operating our business in the last nine or ten years combined. It’s pretty sick,” Simon grins.

“DEAR is a fully featured inventory software that’s simple to use – and with the right partnerships, it’s easy to make work for your particular use case,” Simon says. “Overall, the time that it saves you is way more than the price. It simplifies work processes, it automates things that otherwise can’t be automated, it reduces errors, and it’s simple for staff to use.” Simon learned a lot from moving to the cloud, and we’ve captured it for you to read.

Check out Simon’s AQ Outdoor story.

Seeing the big picture enables growth: the second big win from moving to the cloud

“Before DEAR, I was always just guessing – the number of boxes in front of me, what’s going to be used for production that day,” Hannah, co-founder of Royal Essence, says.

“After DEAR, the instant win for us was we were able to see the big picture. You can definitely see the movement of the raw materials, and I was able to do our reorders in time. That’s a really big thing for a small business, especially because during that time we were growing so fast.”

After Royal Essence migrated from spreadsheets and made sure their starting inventory information was correct and in sync with their online accounting, Royal Essence immediately gained confidence and efficiency. Things that had been excruciatingly difficult — like reordering in time for the next batch of production — were suddenly easy. With DEAR implemented and day-to-day inventory tracking enabled, things improved all across their business.

What’s more, Royal Essence could track their product through every stage of production and sales: from manufacturing, to freighting and landing, to selling and shipping. The increased transparency and reduced workload meant they could grow — and so they did.

To learn more about their process and the benefits of moving to the cloud, check out the Royal Essence story.

Leaving inefficient, time-consuming, manual inventory management behind: The third big gain from moving to the cloud

Before adopting DEAR Systems, Ovira had no effective inventory control. They had multiple sources of truth, relying on spreadsheets, warehousing partners, and emails to track inventory. “We were literally sending emails to order stock. We were manually tracking orders and spreadsheets. Everything was very much manual, in terms of the accounting backend as well. We were managing inventory in the most shallow way you possibly could,” Tyron Gyde, supply chain manager for Ovira, said.

After only three months with DEAR, Ovira assessed their operations were 75 percent more efficient as a result of DEAR’s automations and ability to be the definitive single-source-of-truth. And, thanks to DEAR’s accurate inventory control, Ovira has supercharged its growth ambitions. They’ve launched into the UK market with a new warehousing presence there, and at the same time, they’ve been able to launch a micro-fulfilment model in the US that offers same-day delivery. “If you’re a customer in central New York, we can get you your product within two hours,” Tyron says. “There’s a lot of other really valuable initiatives we’ve been able to really dedicate time to, just from the extra time we’ve got back from using DEAR.”

To learn more about removing inefficient manual work by moving to the cloud, check out Tyron’s Ovira story.

The fourth big gain from moving to the cloud: Everything is integrated, from shipping to payments to accounting

Before adopting DEAR Systems, Intalite was facing rapidly escalating supply change troubles and struggling to add new product lines and connect their systems.

“We didn’t have an ERP system at all, really — just an accounting program that we used pretty much to the limit of what it was able to do. And the vast majority of the actual business processes were all paperwork. So for every sales order we received, we then had an invoice pad, we wrote the invoice out and had a blind carbon copy to it,” says Luke Gaffey, IT Manager at Instalite UK.

Anywhere there was an inventory process, there was duplication of effort, multiple errors, and tedious manual labor at every step. “At one point, we had more people working in accounts than working in sales,” Luke said.

This sort of approach is far from uncommon at long-established companies, but it meant Intalite were operating at their limit. Just keeping up with the day-to-day was hard enough, let alone planning for the future. To make matters worse, their desktop accounting could not integrate with their online Shopify store or any of their other online solutions they needed to run their business. As a result, their operations were manual, time-consuming, and error-prone.

Like many other businesses moving from desktop to online, Intalite soon discovered that DEAR has comprehensive native cloud integrations for everything they needed. They also found that  DEAR is customizable to a remarkable degree, thanks to its comprehensive APIs.

Once DEAR was in place, Intalite hired a consultant to use DEAR’s APIs to create a script that completely automated a previously difficult and costly job. “We were able to automate that job, and save hours and hours and hours. It was someone’s full-time job at one point, just converting this particular manufacturer’s purchase orders.

Intalite many large positive impacts on the bottom line in their move online from desktop. To learn from Intalite and Luke’s experiences, check out Luke’s Intalite story.

With so much to gain from moving to the cloud, why do product sellers still use desktop accounting and outdated inventory management?

Many product sellers are fearful of change. They dread replacing their systems so much that they live on with painful, inefficient, outdated, and non-competitive ways of working. It’s only when confidence in the large gains from moving to modern online inventory management and online accounting outweigh the perceived costs of changing systems that people start moving to better technology.

As a result, for Intuit and Cin7 to help product-based businesses to experience the dramatic benefits — even life-changing benefits – of modern accounting and inventory management, we‘ve teamed up to:

  1. Make it easier to pick the best online solution to move to, and
  2. Increase awareness and confidence in the benefits of moving from desktop to online.

First, we need to reduce the perceived difficulty, uncertainty, and costs of moving to the cloud. Our collaboration with Intuit on the new DEAR Advanced plan provides a large step forward — by demonstrating DEAR and QuickBooks Online are so closely and well integrated that a bundle is a natural approach.

As one accountant said recently, “DEAR’s Advanced plan is like buying a car. Naturally, you expect a car to have tires. Before this DEAR + QuickBooks Advanced plan, people had to decide on which online accounting to use (which tires to buy) and what online inventory management to use (which car chassis to pick). It took weeks to make two separate decisions and increased the fear of something not working well. Now, DEAR and QuickBooks Online are together in one offering. One smart decision to move to the cloud which involves very little risk given the leading products and brands are together in the DEAR Advanced Plan.”

Second, we need to educate desktop-using product sellers about everyone who is already thriving, thanks to running their business on cloud accounting and online inventory management. The product seller comments in this blog are illustrative of what’s happening in the marketplace. We’re inspired by the success stories we hear everyday and will be doing more to share these desktop to cloud transformation success stories.

Who is the new DEAR Advanced plan for

The new DEAR Advanced plan is available for all product sellers in the United States interested in quickly boosting the success of their business. It’s available to anyone eager to try us or to jump in to get started moving to the cloud right away. Presently, the new DEAR Advanced with QuickBooks Online Advanced edition is not available outside the United States. Many product sellers outside the US are asking for it and we are collaborating with Intuit to make it available in the future.

What should product sellers outside of the United States do if they want to move to the cloud

You should move to the cloud now. You can easily do this by subscribing to QuickBooks Online or Xero. Then, sign up for DEAR or Cin7 separately. It’s that easy. We also have incredible DEAR Experts all over the world who can help you seamlessly move your operations online. Nearly 8,000 product sellers are already enjoying the many benefits of running their business in the cloud. Don’t hesitate — join the many successful product sellers who’ve already made the move today.

The story behind the DEAR Advanced plan and the expanded intuit relationship

Cin7, DEAR Systems, and Intuit share a vision — helping product businesses thrive by moving them to the cloud. We’re passionate about innovating to solve product sellers’ most challenging and important problems.

After working closely with Intuit’s QuickBooks’ leadership team for six months, we’re proud to release the DEAR Advanced subscription plan which includes a complete QuickBooks Online Advanced edition subscription.

New DEAR Advanced plan includes QuickBooks Online Advanced edition

Last week, we announced a new level to our collaboration with Intuit and unveiled the DEAR Advanced plan.  This plan offers multichannel inventory management and QuickBooks Online Advanced Edition all in one system — at a fraction of the cost of an ERP. (At this time, the DEAR Advanced plan is only available in the United States.)

What’s the motivation for this new DEAR + QuickBooks bundle

We are seeing increasing numbers of product businesses moving from desktop accounting and out-dated applications, like Fishbowl, to pure online solutions — like DEAR or Cin7 + QuickBooks Online or Xero. But we know from research and experience that a big factor holding product sellers back from moving to the cloud is the perceived risk of changing systems, and unfamiliarity with online accounting and multichannel inventory management.

The problem is, this  fear of change and hesitancy to move to the cloud is keeping hundreds of thousands of product based businesses from thriving. . With this first-of-its-kind bundle, we’re showing product sellers that DEAR and QuickBooks Online work very well together. Equally importantly, product sellers seeing two leading brands coming together in close collaboration can replace a fear of moving to the cloud with confidence in the software, services, and support of these highly regarded brands.

We want all product sellers to experience incredible gains from moving from desktop to the cloud

Product sellers who move from desktop accounting and desktop inventory applications to online accounting and online inventory management often regret that they didn’t make the move  years earlier, once they’ve experienced the difference.

Several of the amazing gains from moving to desktop to cloud frequently described in detail by our customers include:

  • Sharply reducing errors which are common in spreadsheets, emails, and manual legacy processes that have built up over the years. After moving online, the sharp reduction in manual errors leads to happier customers and employees, along with sizable reductions in the costs of re-working orders.
  • Clearly seeing the big picture for growth which is otherwise obscured by the kind of siloed information systems and outdated information, that lead to knee-jerk decisions. Once product sellers move to the cloud, they tell us that things that had been excruciatingly difficult — like reordering in time for the next batch of production — are suddenly easy.
  • Confidently leaving behind inefficient, time-consuming, manual inventory management and instead investing time into more important and valuable activities. Instead of sending emails to order stock and manually tracking orders and spreadsheets, cloud-based product sellers tell us they now have time for  much more valuable initiatives.
  • Neatly integrating everything from shipping to payments to accounting — something that’s very hard to do with desktop software. Most product sellers running on old desktop accounting and inventory management software are facing escalating supply change troubles, are struggling to add new product lines or sales channels, and can’t connect their systems. This is far from uncommon at long-established companies — but for product sellers running their business with DEAR, Cin7 and online accounting, things couldn’t be more different.

With so much to gain from moving to the cloud, why do product sellers still use desktop accounting and out-dated inventory management?

Many product sellers are fearful of change. They dread replacing their old systems so much that they live on with painful, inefficient, outdated, and -uncompetitive ways of working. Often, it’s only when their situation worsens, or when confidence in moving to online inventory management and online accounting outweighs the perceived risks of changing systems, that people start moving to better technology.

As a result, for Intuit and Cin7 to help product-based businesses to experience the dramatic benefits — even life-changing benefits – of modern accounting and inventory management, we‘ve teamed up to:

  1. make it easier to pick the best online solution to move to, and
  2. increase awareness and confidence in the benefits of moving from desktop to online.

What will the expanded Intuit relationship achieve

We’ve had a great relationship with Intuit for more than 10 years, and thousands of our customers use QuickBooks Online with our online inventory management solutions. So, what’s changed? Our expanded relationship has increased our access and collaboration with Intuit product teams.. What’s more, we’re increasing the collaboration between our support and partner development teams to ensure we always provide the best possible product experiences and services. Much of this work goes on behind the scenes and out of sight. The results of these collaborations will be more frequent improvements to our services and the addition of new capabilities to help product sellers and experts achieve even more.

What should product sellers outside of the United States do if they want to move to the cloud

You should move to the cloud now. You can easily do this by subscribing to QuickBooks Online or Xero. Then, sign up for DEAR or Cin7 separately. It’s that easy. We also have incredible DEAR Experts all over the world who can help you seamlessly move your operations online. Nearly 8,000 product sellers are already enjoying the many benefits of running their business in the cloud. Don’t hesitate — join the many successful product sellers who’ve already made the move today.

FAQs

Will the DEAR team start implementing QuickBooks Online for customers?

No. We do not do QuickBooks Online migrations or implementations. We are referring everyone that purchases our Advanced plan to experts at implementing QuickBooks Online (QBO). We view expert partners as the best option for our customers and are working to certify and add more partners to our Expert Directory.

Can people add-on QuickBooks Online to their existing DEAR subscription?

No. QuickBooks Online Advanced Edition is only available as part of our Advanced Plan. QuickBooks Online Advanced Edition is not available as an add-on to our other plans: Standard, Manufacturing, and Retailing.

Can people pick a different version of QuickBooks than the QuickBooks Online Advanced Edition and get a lower price for the Advanced plan?

No. Our Advanced plan included QuickBooks Online Advanced edition. If you need a less comprehensive version of QuickBooks online, we can accommodate this request. However, there will be no change to the price of our DEAR Advanced plan subscription.

If people want to add QuickBooks Payments, QuickBooks Payroll, or QuickBooks Time to my subscription, who do they buy that from?

The QuickBooks team can help you with adding additional services. Please call their sales team at 800-245-2164.

If people use QuickBooks Online today, can they buy the DEAR Advance plan to get the free QBOA and stop paying for my existing QBO subscription?

No. Our regular plans (Standard, Retailing, and Manufacturing) should be connected to your existing QBO account. We cannot help you move from paying directly to Intuit for your QBO to a DEAR Advance plan which includes QBOA as part of our Advanced Plan.

If I’m a Manufacturer or Retailer and I want to use your Manufacturing or Retailing plans and get QBOA from DEAR as part of my DEAR account, can I do that?

The best way to do this is to purchase our DEAR Advanced plan and add-on Advanced Manufacturing to create your own personalized plan that includes QBOA. Similarly, you can purchase our DEAR Advanced plan and add-on DEAR POS to create your own personalized Retailing plan that includes QBOA.

Will you be offering a  bundle of Cin7 and QuickBooks Online?

Our expanded partnership with Intuit spans all our products. We are learning from the DEAR Advanced plan and will be considering creating a Cin7 bundle later this year.

The #1 secret to becoming a thriving product seller: Hire a Cin7 expert

When Covid-19 struck, companies all over the world felt the blow. Some went under, and some survived. But among these, there was another subset – companies that thrived.

What was their secret?

In late 2021, Cin7 conducted a comprehensive study of over 4,000 etailers and retailers to discover what successful companies did different: a deep dive into the tactics that high-performing product sellers used to increase sales performance during the 2020-21 economic collapse.

One of the standout findings: companies that had hired technology consultants and certified experts to help with implementation and tech stack support tended to experience much more profitability, often up to 50 percent or more.

This finding confirmed something we knew well internally: Cin7 experts help product sellers thrive, even in difficult times. Inspired by this, we’ve just launched an expert directory to make finding the right consultant quick and easy. Any product seller that wants to achieve more can now easily browse through the directory and connect with the expert that best suits their needs. Custom filters within the directory narrow searches by service, budget, inventory solution, location, and scale.

Cin7 experts are specialized partners who are committed to providing resources to help brands, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers with a wide range of business needs. Experts can handle anything from data migration, technical training, ecommerce, process development and automation, financial planning – and much more besides.

Whenever a product seller needs financial planning, help implementing a new inventory and order management solution, or assistance integrating it with their accounting software, a 3PL, or online marketplace, they can find the perfect people to help instantly, in the Cin7 expert directory.

Since the inventory and order automation needs of product sellers are often quite different, our Cin7 expert directory gives product sellers hundreds of options to find just the right kind of expert, coach, accountant, or software integrator. There are three different types of Cin7 experts you can find – and many have super powers in more than one area.

1. Agency experts

These experts are magnificent at giving best-in-class advice on the latest and most successful ecommerce and multichannel selling and customer loyalty strategies. Customers whose businesses have reached the point where they can no longer rely on inefficient, manual record keeping and inventory management benefit from a consultant who has studied the various inventory and order management software solutions on the market and can make recommendations based on what sort of business you’re running. Cin7 agency experts are able to administer multiple SaaS products and specialize in system audits, inventory system implementations or migrations, custom integration development, system administration, and technical training for staff and managers. Agency experts can reduce a customer’s dependence on redundant processes and help them to get the most out of their technology investments.

2. System / Cloud integration experts

These certified experts specialize in helping product sellers worldwide manage their inventory, sales, order fulfillment and warehousing. These experts provide their clients superior automation and have incredibly deep expertise at solving the most common and complex software setup, configuration, integration, and optimization problems. Their clients gain superior efficiency and unrivaled capabilities to delight customers and outmaneuver their competitors. These integration experts are a treasure chest of wisdom and experience the product seller can easily tap into to select the best inventory management solution from the top three solutions in the market: Cin7, DEAR, and Cin7 Orderhive. What’s more, cloud integration experts have the experience and knowledge to quickly bring together into one system all of the disparate software programs and sales channels that product sellers need to thrive.

3. Virtual CFO / Accounting experts

Want to make more money? Be more profitable? To sell more effectively? These experts are exactly what you need. They have advised hundreds of product sellers and coached them from low performing businesses into many of the most profitable and successful product sellers. Cin7 business owners who need professional advice to help them decide which investments to make, how to efficiently manage inventory, and run successful businesses need to look no further than the Cin7 expert directory for the top virtual CFOs and accounting experts anywhere.

Since most product sellers are in need of help to organize their technology stack, we’ve included advice to business owners who are looking for a consultant in this area. However, these steps to evaluating technology specialists can be applied to any of the experts described above.

You can learn a lot from how product sellers have engaged with experts by reading about their collaborations in our customer stories. Here are some general tips based on their experience with experts on making the right choice when it comes to hiring an expert coach:

1. Find a Cin7 agency expert,  coach or consultant

If you aren’t tech-savvy, you need to enlist help from an experienced professional who can help you navigate the many costly traps and exciting opportunities of selling in today’s multichannel marketplace. While there is a cost associated with bringing someone on, consider that you’re already running your own experiments every day with your digital advertising, product designs, and shipping. If your coach prevents even one mistake, this will easily cover more than a full year of engagement fees.

2. Ask a Cin7 cloud /systems integrator to review your tech stack and IT team

Request they perform a “tech audit,” and provide a detailed assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis) of your current approach. Ask them to explain how the current technology will support or hinder your vision for your ecommerce, B2B, and D2C sales channels. This clarity will help you execute a sound overall strategy instead of ad hoc tactics.

3. Hire an in-house technical/IT person to work with your experts to implement the changes that will deliver super-sized outcomes for your business

Your tech coach can help you craft a perfect job description. You could even ask them to help you interview, shape the compensation, and pick the right candidate. Your tech coach can give you the blueprint for an ideal tech stack, but you still need a team to build and run it. You’ll need to combine talents of your own team and your tech coach’s expertise to achieve the greatest, sustainable success.

Pick an expert with experience building great tech stacks for the sales channels you are targeting. Just because a coach has a list of successful D2C sales channel references, it does not mean they will be of any help to you if you need to open up B2B sales channels with self-service options.

Here’s an extensive list of projects that a Cin7 Expert can help with:

  • New system implementations
  • Inventory system migrations
  • Training for staff & managers
  • System audits & changes
  • Workflow design & automations
  • Custom integration development
  • Technology roadmap creation
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Outsourced system administration
  • International expansion
  • Strategic financial advice
  • CFO and controller outsourcing
  • Ecommerce audit & growth
  • Marketing strategy & execution

Are you an expert yourself? To join the Cin7 expert network of professional service providers who enjoy exposure to over 8,000 potential global customers, follow this link and one of our Partner Managers will reach out to you. If you’re a retailer and you’re looking for a certified expert, choose the applicable project criteria in the Cin7 expert directory.

Cin7 Rolls Out the Cin7 Supply Chain App Store

Cin7 this week officially rolled out the Cin7 Supply Chain App Store.

We’ve been developing the Cin7 Supply Chain App Store to make it easier for our customers to quickly and easily set up and scale their Cin7 integration according to their business needs.

The Cin7 Supply Chain App Store is a centralized, easy-to-navigate catalogue of Cin7’s core production, warehouse, POS and B2B capabilities and the 100+ integrations to the popular accounting solutions, eCommerce platforms and marketplaces, retailers, logistics and shipping providers, and sales, marketing and payments applications that businesses use to efficiently sell their products.

“Our goal is to give customers integrated control over inventory across their entire supply chain,” says Cin7 Founder and Chief Architect Danny Ing. “The App Store takes the complexity out of implementing Cin7 to give customers even more time to focus on their core business.”

New App Store Features

Companies don’t have time or resources to spare merging the connections to their sales channels, logistics partners and software solutions they use to produce, store, market and deliver their products.

The Cin7 Supply Chain App Store gives customers the ability to easily incorporate every facet of their supply chain to a single interface that unifies their supply chain operations.

Improved Interface and Navigation

Cin7 customers can easily browse or search for the integrations they need.

Detailed Integration Descriptions

Each App includes details on how that integration works with Cin7 and a link to useful technical documentation.

Click-and-Connect Implementation

When you find the App for the integration you need, simply click-and-connect. The integration will be live and incorporated as part of your Cin7 solution in a matter of minutes in most cases.

Dedicated App Dashboards

Cin7 customers can view their installed apps directly from their central dashboard. And each app includes a dedicated dashboard with reports on sales, orders, and other data to easily monitor performance.

More Apps, More Categories

Cin7 continues to add more integrations across all App Store categories and new categories designed to let Cin7 customers incorporate other solutions they need to manage their supply chain.

Cin7 Debuts Danny Ing’s Founder Story

Every business starts with someone who knew how to bring an idea to life. But like anyone else, you can’t boil down their motives and drives to a single element. Their lives supply the ingredients that make them an entrepreneur.

So, to better understand what drove someone to create a business, it helps to know their founder story. Cin7 invites you to watch Defying the Odds, a short video telling the founder story of Danny Ing.

Defying the Odds, a Founder Story Video

Cin7 is proud to present Defying the Odds. This short founder story video tells Danny Ing’s journey from early childhood in Vietnam to launching a global software company in 2012.

Among Danny’s earliest memories are playing while his mother worked in the fields of their rural village in northeastern Vietnam in the late 1970s.

While his parents’ hard work would later become a source of inspiration, the young family’s fate back then was still uncertain. Consequences of decades of war left many ethnic-Chinese in Vietnam with difficult choices. So Danny’s parents took a risk along with millions of other “boat people”. Many others did not survive their attempt to seek refuge in other nations. Fortunately, Danny’s family defied the odds. In 1981, they gained refugee status in New Zealand. There, they settled in Te Puke, where Danny would spend his formative years.

He absorbed the Kiwi culture, worked in his parents’ restaurant and became a bit of a computer geek. His parents’ hard work and determination allowed Danny to attend University and earn a business degree. From there, he took life step by step to follow his dream, ultimately founding Cin7. “My biggest takeaway from making this movie is in the title,” Danny says. “If I look back to where I came from, a village in Vietnam then a small town in New Zealand, I never would have imagined then being where I am now.” Cin7 hopes you enjoy the video, and that it inspires you to think about your own journey.