The funny thing is, I never intended to become a fashion guy,” says Steve Dunlap, the CEO of California fashion company Meghan Fabulous. “I’m very technically oriented, even though I’m not a developer, but I’m pretty good around technology. I never thought I’d be a guy selling dresses, but it really worked well.”
Steve’s involvement with Meghan Fabulous came in a roundabout, romantic way. He and founder Meghan had started dating. It started out slow — “I’ll run a little project to rebuild your website for you and I’ll help you with a couple of things,” Steve told her — but it soon escalated to Steve investing in the business and taking the helm as CEO. The first thing on Steve’s agenda: get the technology side of things sorted so Meghan Fabulous could grow.
In Megan Fabulous’ pre-Cin7 days, Meghan and a few other staff had run the entire business on Excel spreadsheets that they’d print out and edit with pen and paper. He gives her a lot of credit for smart, scrappy decision making and keeping the business running, but they both knew those methods wouldn’t scale.
“I didn’t even know how to turn on a computer,” Meghan says.
“And a lot of people, when they say that, it’s hyperbole, but she’s serious,” Steve adds. “It was at that level. And this girl put it all together and figured out how to run her business on paper spreadsheets. They’d literally take photos of dresses, physically cut and paste them into place, and hand-write the amount of inventory that was there. I was just like, “How the hell are they keeping this alive with spit and bubble gum and baling twine?”
Meghan’s business instincts and incredible fashion acumen had kept the business afloat for years, but to unlock growth, the paper spreadsheets had to go. Meghan wanted to be free to concentrate on the creative side, leaving Steve in his element: working with technology on the business side of things.
“I took over all of the business stuff, that she likes to call ‘tiny numbers.’ She didn’t want to stare at spreadsheets of tiny numbers, whereas I think it’s fun,” Steve says. “It freed her up to be creative. I don’t really have a creative bone in my body, and we’re having a ball, both doing what we’re good at.”
Steve knew the business needed an ERP system, but his search was difficult. Most systems didn’t offer the features he knew the business would need. High-end systems like NetSuite had the functionality and flexibility, but were far too expensive. Finally, he found Cin7 and booked a free demo. It was a system that would do everything the business needed, at the right price point, and everything clicked.
With Cin7’s help throughout the onboarding and implementation process, Steve took processes that were documented only in pen-and-paper spreadsheets and put them into Cin7. SKUs were created from scratch. With Cin7 as their inventory hub, all Meghan Fabulous’ sales channels could be linked up seamlessly. Small boutique stores, big retailers and online stores, and their own direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel were now all connected by Cin7.
“We sell in a few different ways,” Steve says. “We sell large bulk orders into department stores. We sell to small boutiques where it might be four or five dresses going out. We sell directly to individuals on our website, on Amazon and by dropship.”
Now, no matter where or how Meghan Fabulous’ products are sold, all the orders are totally automated in Cin7. Everything connects. No matter who makes an order, or where it gets made, or what platform it comes from, inventory counts and availability get adjusted “automagically,” as Steve puts it.
The moment it all makes sense
Once the business was fully equipped with Cin7, Steve was able to show Meghan how it all worked.
“When it was getting set up Steve would say, ‘We’ve got to have this inventory link with this platform’ and I’m like, ‘Steve, what are you doing? You’re wasting our time,’” Meghan says. “Finally one day, he showed me how it all integrates together. And I had that moment where you think, ‘Wow. Got it!’”
The couple had another such moment when they switched on a new channel for the first time. The business had partnered with agency Batty Fang to set up Amazon Seller and Fulfilment By Amazon (Amazon FBA), both built-in Cin7 integrations. During that implementation, Steve showed the Batty Fang team how the new system would work with Cin7.
Orders from the Amazon Seller store are automatically shown as being fulfilled by Amazon FBA. Cin7 automatically adjusts the inventory, shows the order as dispatched, and syncs with QuickBooks Online, showing the revenue allocated to the Amazon line so Meghan Fabulous can track it separately. All this happens without any human intervention.
“I showed their founder, Chris, who is also a tech guy, all this stuff, and he leans in and goes ‘Steve, we work with $100 million dollar companies that don’t have technology anywhere near what you guys have.’
“He even mentioned that he would look into using Cin7 for his own business,” Steve laughs. “I’m spreading the gospel here.”
With their new channel set up and their agency duly impressed, Steve and Meghan were able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
“When the first Amazon order came in, Meghan and I were sitting and drinking a glass of wine on our patio,” Steve says. “I looked at my phone and saw our first Amazon order hit. And the whole thing just went right through the system, the money booked, the item dispatched. And I’m just like, ‘We’re sitting here drinking wine and we’re taking orders.’ It was great.”
Cin7 does more than save time: it enables growth
Since implementing Cin7, Meghan Fabulous has saved plenty of time. They’ve also had to spend far less money on manual inventory processes, now that everything is automated. But Steve says that Cin7 has enabled something much more important: the ability for the business to grow.
“In 2020, the year of the pandemic, our business grew 69 percent,” Steve says. “Cin7 will save you some expenses, of course it will. But if you want to grow your business, you can’t do it without this stuff. What are you going to do? Hire people to sit here and do this stuff that we’ve completely automated?”
His advice to other businesses in the same space who are considering using Cin7 to automate their inventory processes and expand their channels is that it’s a “no-brainer.”
“In fact, it’s not only a no-brainer, it’s an absolute requirement,” Steve says. “I can’t even begin to understand how you could scale a business without automating these things. You have to have this, if you really want to grow.”
Meghan Fabulous, he says, wouldn’t be able to manage without Cin7’s EDI connections, channel integrations, and sales automation. It’s what enables the business to effortlessly track inventory and keep financial records accurate.
“If we had to manually do the purchase orders and production jobs that we’ve automated with Cin7, I don’t even know how many people it would take. It would crush us,” Steve says. He’s proud of what Cin7 and Meghan Fabulous have achieved together.
“God knows Cin7 has been worth it. Because of that upfront investment in Cin7, the business works, and we’re able to focus on growth and sales. It’s what allows us to scale the business.”
Cin7 enables dropshipping – without anything falling down
Steve explains that Cin7 has done more than just save time and enable scale; it’s made it possible for Meghan Fabulous to implement channels that would have been impossible to open any other way. With Cin7, Meghan Fabulous is able to do dropshipping. And it might just have saved their business.
Towards the end of 2019, before anyone knew about the oncoming pandemic, Meghan Fabulous finished their Cin7 implementation, which enabled them to support dropshipping. At the time, a lot of apparel companies were resistant to the idea.
“A lot of companies can’t do it. But we committed to it, and Nordstrom asked us to come be an early adopter in a program they were running,” Steve says.
Meghan Fabulous used Cin7’s DSCO dropshipping integration (with built-in EDI), while leveraging Cin7’s seamless integration with shipping software ShipStation. “And I can tell you with 100 percent certainty, had we not done that, not only would we not have grown in 2020, we would have gone out of business,” Steve says.
As the pandemic hit hard, Steve explains, the old ways of selling fashion simply went away. Department stores essentially stopped buying from manufacturers and wholesalers to keep their stores in stock. With Covid lockdowns keeping consumers at home, many stores didn’t mind trying dropshipping, as it meant they didn’t have to carry inventory or the associated risks and costs.
“It meant we’re paying for the inventory, just to sit on our shelves, and all the retailer has to do is sell it on their website and ship it. They were happy to have that keep going,” Steve says.
And keep going it did. Meghan Fabulous’ Cin7 integrations mean that dropship orders come in from big retailers like Nordstrom or Lord & Taylor via EDI, as direct-to-consumer orders arrive via Shopify. It’s all managed and fulfilled automatically, with no snarl-ups or mis-ships.
“We’re integrated with EDI with several different stores thanks to your EDI dashboard, which was a fantastic upgrade,” Steve says. “All those orders come into that Cin7 hub — I refer to it as our heart and lungs — and they all drop into the same order queue and then into ShipStation, which automatically prints the label.”
“The beauty of all of that, is from the time the dress gets ordered, to the time it ships out and the UPS guy picks it up in our office, the only time a human being ever touches that process is when the warehouse folks go over and grab it off the shelf and put it in the box and tape it shut.”
This tight technological integration means when Meghan Fabulous is looking to start selling in a new department store, they can pitch their service on more than just the quality of their clothing. It’s a huge selling point in an industry that isn’t always very tech-oriented.
“We’ll say, you can onboard with us like that,” Steve says, snapping his fingers. “We’re already dropship enabled, our systems are all set up. All we’ve got to do is hook up the wires with you and we’re shipping dresses tomorrow — and you’re not buying inventory. To the corporate exec, sitting at their desk, trying to figure out how they’re going to make their numbers, that’s really appealing.”
“Cin7 fuels our growth”
With the benefit of several years experience with the system, Steve says that Cin7 is the best solution on the market.
“And you’re getting better, which — as a former software guy — that’s so big. You can see the enhancements, you can see the investment. I see constant improvement, I see employees who truly care. And I see senior executives who are engaged and are concerned about their employees, and to me that’s solid gold. I’m thrilled — everybody wins!”
Steve says that if he had to name Cin7’s single best feature, it’d be its connectivity. Orders come through, are automatically routed through ShipStation, costs and finances are tracked, and inventory is adjusted for every bit of software hooked into the system — and every person working with it.
“It’s inventory management, but it’s broader than that,” Steve says. “We want to spend our time selling dresses, not manually turning them live on a website. But with Cin7, all that stuff happens automagically. That’s what’s so key. You guys are just crushing it and I’m as happy as can be.”
Meghan Fabulous Factsheet:
Meghan Fabulous is a fashion company inspired by the Southern California lifestyle and the timeless, laid-back, bohemian trends of the 60s and 70s. Meghan’s designs have come to anchor the wardrobes of successful, confident, sexy women all over the globe. Meghan Fabulous clothing has been seen on numerous celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Shakira, Paris Hilton and Sharon Stone, and featured in publications such as Elle, Vogue Japan, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and People.
Employees: 5 – 10 FTEs
Revenue: $1m – $5m USD per year
Sales order volume: 1,000 to 2,499 items/SKUs sold per month
Meghan Fabulous uses Cin7:
- To help their business grow
- To integrate and streamline operations
- To get better financial data
Cin7 helps with the following areas of the business:
- Product development
- Demand forecasting / purchasing
Key areas of business investment and/or growth include
- Ecommerce – marketplaces, online stores
- Wholesale – brokers, dealers, retailers
- EDI – customers/suppliers requiring EDI
Accounting integration: QuickBooks Online
Ecommerce integration: Shopify
Online Marketplaces: Amazon Seller
Payment provider integration: Afterpay, PayPal
Sales & Marketing integration: Klaviyo
Shipping integration: ShipStation
EDI integrations: DSCO, Tradefull
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