Case Study – Austicks
Improving Warehouse Communication and Stock Tracking with Austicks
Austicks had been manufacturing ice cream sticks since the 1980’s. It’s grown to become the largest supplier of ice cream sticks in Australasia, supplying most of New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific with around 725 million food grade ice cream sticks annually.
A combination of economic factors and market-driven demands led Austicks to cease its manufacturing operations in 2013 and adopt an importer/distributor business model. “We had an existing relationship with a supplier of high quality European beech sticks,” says Jeni Logan, Administration Manager at Austicks, “and a need to continue to supply our existing customers with the appropriate products.”
Pairing Xero, its new accounting system with Cin7 “seemed like the smart choice,” says Jeni. Cin7 has helped effectively manage its stock and led to real-time savings. Most importantly, it provided the necessary ability to follow each individual food-grade product through the chain from log to customer, and appropriate communication between its various warehouses and distribution centres.
Still using MS Excel
For Austicks, ceasing its manufacturing operations was no small feat. It meant a complete rethink of the existing business model. With the newly adopted Xero accounting system, its accountants recommended it also switch toward a cloud-based inventory application. Austicks relied heavily on Microsoft Excel to track and manage its food-grade items and the distribution processes for five separate warehouses. “[Stock] tracking and logistics was very important for us, but we simply didn’t have overall visibility of that process. Using spreadsheets was cumbersome, took staff a lot of time and was prone to enter error,” says Jeni.
Finding something that sticks
Being able to find a solution that communicated effectively between the warehouses and distribution centres was a key business driver. “We needed a smooth system that could link to Xero, our finance system, but could also track our stock by batch numbers throughout the production, shipment, warehousing and distribution processes. Ease of use was an important factor,” says Jeni.
It took Austicks some time preparing all the data in the format it required. Because it was a structural change to its business operations, it needed to perform an initial stock-take for each warehouse and each product, before transferring all its data into Cin7. It utilised the sandbox version of Cin7 to import all this data. Once satisfied they were ready, the rollover took just the weekend and they were up and running. “We were expecting hiccups during this phase, as you would with any project of this scale, but with Cin7 there really weren’t any,” says Jeni. “We had spent just a couple of weeks using a dummy version with all our products before going live, but in this time ironed out any issues and provided our warehouses with the new form of communications so everyone was ready to go that Monday morning.”
Getting the most out of Cin7
Immediately, Austicks discovered that using Cin7 drastically reduced the amount of time it took to produce stock take reports and its accuracy. “It used to take days to perform a stock take. With Cin7 we have the ability to run a report and do it all in ten minutes. [Cin7] saved a lot of our time and definitely reduced our reporting discrepancies,” says Jeni. Because the stock-takes are performed in real time, the accounts and inventory always remain current. This makes for accurate reporting information and gives it the ability to fine tune its overhead costs and forecasting ability.