Case Study – BlueHub
Breaking Barriers with Cloud Inventory Management
BlueHub, a UK-based cloud integrator and consultancy, grew from its roots in developing software to run on their clients’ servers. The company built ERP, inventory management, and booking software for small to medium enterprises that used the Sage accounting solution.
“We were under the traditional software model giving customers a bespoke system, and away they went,” says BlueHub Cloud Consultant Guy Earnshaw. “We started to have a steep drop-off in work from SME clients.”
These clients were the kind that had outgrown their existing software solutions but could not afford the cost of upgrading their systems to handle the new business. The price tag to build and integrate an inventory management solution from scratch could easily run to more than $100,000 sticker-shock for potential clients.
The server-based software delivery model, in short, put a cap on BlueHub’s growth.
The Cloud Model Clears the Air
The cloud-delivery model was maturing, and by 2014, BlueHub saw opportunity to shift its focus to deliver more affordable solutions to more clients.
“We were a small company back then. We started using Xero and learned about the add-ons and realized this was a way to serve our small to medium clients who couldn’t afford the large bespoke systems,” Earnshaw says. “So, rather than build entire software systems, now we link systems together for people to provide the same service we did before, but with off the shelf cloud software instead of writing it from the ground up.”
BlueHub has developed a strong business in delivering cloud solutions to growing SME wholesale, retail, distribution and manufacturing companies with turnover ranging from $500,000 to $15 million a year. It has expertise around Xero and its job costing, workflow, financial, and inventory management solution add-ons.
Customer Customization is Key
BlueHub began integrating Cin7 in May, 2016. Earnshaw says that while the company has implemented several inventory management solutions, Cin7’s built-in options and features have appealed to more customers.
“Other inventory apps are not as customizable as Cin7,” Earnshaw says. “So, it means we can get more clients on board with Cin7. The way I see it is Xero along with the more basic add-on Apps is great for micro or small businesses, but you can sell Cin7 for inventory, simPro for project management, and that helps you to get those larger businesses. That’s how we ended up using it so much.”
Cin7’s flexible product fields, for example, have given BlueHub customers exactly what they need for trading in multiple markets.
“Some of our English clients that are distributing to Europe need Intrastat codes, then with trading with rest of the world, they will need to trade with commodity codes. They may also need a barcode, an EAN number, and loads of different product details against a single product,” Earnshaw says. “Cin7 is the only inventory management solution that allows you to add multiple custom fields or use the option fields to accommodate those clients. The other systems couldn’t.”
ERP-Strength Integration at Cloud Prices
Cin7’s feature-rich components and customization make the cloud-based inventory management solution the only viable option.
“You can imagine as a wholesale business starts to grow, they are going to start trading with Europe, they’re going to start trading with the rest of the world, and that’s where we find it’s either Cin7, or you have to go with a SAP or NetSuite or one of those really large ERP systems.”
Earnshaw says BlueHub has won clients over by saving them $30,000 or more for implementing Cin7 with Xero.
“Their current systems are not able to cope with the size their business is now, either the amount of transactions they’re doing, new products they’re selling, or new staff they had to onboard. One of those things has pushed them over the edge,” Earnshaw says.
“Cin7 ended up being the system we used primarily because it is the only one that suited the businesses that were coming our way, for the most part,” he adds.
Earnshaw says native EDI also has made Cin7 an attractive product by eliminating the cost of integrating and maintaining EDI/VAN solutions from third-party providers for connecting with particular retailers, 3PLs and online marketplaces.
Today, BlueHub employs 12 people working out of three offices in England, serving clients around the globe. In addition to integration, the company provides education services to accounting partners on cloud solutions, and Cin7 continues to be a big part of the company’s unfolding story.