Pure Commerce share four secrets that helped their clients achieve record growth in tough market conditions

  1. DEAR isn’t just for sorting your inventory or modernizing your business: it helps you keep your approach flexible

  2. You can afford your own, fully-customized, fully-integrated ERP (if it’s DEAR)

  3. Any product business can benefit from DEAR

  4. A great implementation partner will let you outsource the back-office

“We actually started out as a DEAR customer,” says Filipe Nicolau, owner and founder of Pure Commerce. “We were responsible for changing the entire inventory management process for a clothing company and taking the business online — and DEAR was the go-to choice of ERP. We took that knowledge, and started a business around eCommerce inventory management systems and ERPs, and DEAR was a natural fit.”

Pure Commerce is a DEAR implementation partner and digital agency that specialize in solutions for eCommerce businesses. Filipe has been helping businesses both large and small implement DEAR for a long time now, and he’s happy to recommend the software to product businesses of all kinds.

“DEAR is a.) user friendly and b.) well plugged into eCommerce titans like Shopify,” Filipe says. “Compared to competitors, it’s a tenth of the price, and yet it does everything you need it to do.”

No matter how big your company gets, DEAR can scale to meet your needs.

Clients range from blue-chip companies in South Africa that are running giant warehouses and massive eCommerce stores, to mid-market businesses with five or six shops, all the way to people with just one or sometimes no store,” Filipe says. What they all have in common is they need a proper system to function like an ERP and manage inventory for their eCommerce sites.

“Because of DEAR’s price tiers, the smaller businesses can purchase it just as easily as the blue-chip companies. It’s accessible to all our customers. And no matter what we throw at DEAR, it just keeps being able to do it.”

Any product business can benefit from DEAR

The industry you’re in, says Pure Commerce, doesn’t matter too much: so long as your business is moving product, it can benefit from DEAR.

“We’ve got clients in the clothing sector, in manufacturing, in pottery, in health and wellness — all running DEAR.”

The first benefit of DEAR for many customers is simply being able to tell where all their inventory is. But once that’s established, customers find their other requirements or pain points are taken care of as well.

“When we first started, we used DEAR just to run a warehouse — purely ERP, stock management, goods in and goods out. Not even for financials, just to track stock. That was it,” Filipe says. “But with our business expertise and the functionality offered by DEAR, we can create any system a customer requires.”

Customers find DEAR helpful for syncing inventory through to finances, using programs like QuickBooks Online or Xero, and adding inventory capability to eCommerce platforms like Shopify. They use it for manufacturing, retail Point of Sale (POS) and expanding sales channels, making it easy to add a D2C channel to a B2B business, or vice versa.

“DEAR’s B2B portal is, for a lot of our customers, something they find themselves wanting to add, and it’s super easy to implement,” Filipe says.

Pure Commerce tends to stay away from the accounting and bookkeeping side of things. Their job is to make sure the business elements are all connected up, and they make sure their customers are connected with great accounting teams who know how to make inventory systems work well with financial systems of record.

Get an implementation partner that allows you to outsource the back-office

“A lot of our customers come to us saying they don’t know where to start. They’re starting a business from scratch. Well, we’ve done that ourselves! So we give them a full implementation, top to bottom, and in a lot of cases, it’s really saved their bacon. One client was a clothing company — we helped them get online, and they’re now running an online store and just launching their third physical store.”

For these companies, Pure Commerce functions essentially as an outsourced back office.

“We act as their support team for all things, not only eCommerce, but everything related to DEAR, to the operational side of the business. We’re their go-to.”

Pure Commerce have had great successes among their clients, with a number taken from operating entirely using pen-and-paper to DEAR Systems, using a full modern ERP and software app stack.

“We’ve had companies who were in the dark ages. Now they’re walking around with tablets managing production lines and things like that,” Filipe says.

Other success stories include a blue-chip company that started 2019 with barely any online presence and thousands of physical stores — and we all know what happened next. The Covid-19 pandemic hit, the company was forced to close all its stores.

“We had the CEO call and say ‘Listen, you need to save our bacon. We need to be fully online in a minimum of four months,’” Filipe says. “We launched them all online with one DEAR ERP and stock management system. There’s a massive warehouse in Cape Town, five stories high, that’s running all the company’s brands, all on DEAR. DEAR is keeping track of everything and feeding each brand’s website with inventory information.”

The changes Pure Commerce and DEAR have brought have had huge effects on the company. “It’s definitely changed their lives. They’ve never looked back — they’re pumping out products online and they’re growing day by day,” Filipe says.

DEAR offers incredible opportunities for new directions — for both product companies and their advisors

A lot of consulting companies would be thrilled to find themselves in the same position as Pure Commerce. They have a steady business and happy clients, and over the period of turmoil wrought by Covid-19 they’ve found themselves busier than ever. But they’re not stopping there. Their experience with DEAR means they can now branch out in exciting new directions, quite different to what you’d normally expect from a self-described “outsourced back-office.”

“Last year we used DEAR to launch our own Pure Commerce third-party logistics warehouse,” Filipe says. “A lot of clients don’t have warehousing, so we offer the ability to keep their stock in ours. We have our own DEAR account, which plugs into the client’s Shopify sites, and we pull the orders through to the warehouse. We pick, pack and ship on their behalf.”

All this activity is supporting the growth of Pure Commerce’s clients, as well as Pure Commerce itself. In the last three years, they’ve quadrupled their business. “And it’s primarily due to lockdown, to the pandemic. Everyone has realized that they need to be online,” Filipe says.

You can afford your own custom ERP — if it’s DEAR

Pure Commerce says that any product company can benefit from the features DEAR offers, but the features aren’t the only factor that decision-makers weigh up when considering an inventory management system. The price is also hugely important — but here, too, DEAR is beating the competition.

“The value for money you get from DEAR is amazing. You can get a B2B portal, you can run your POS, your sales channels, integrate into Amazon or pretty much anything else, integrate your accounting systems,” Filipe says.

“It’s a cost-effective system, a one-stop shop that gives customers an ERP and that allows Experts to solve pretty much all your customers’ problems with one system. The unique thing about DEAR is it can be for selling anything — from potatoes, to clothing, to pottery. That’s why it appeals to such a wide range of implementation partners and customers.”

About Pure Commerce

Pure Commerce is a DEAR implementation partner and digital agency that specialize in solutions for eCommerce businesses. Here, they explain how product companies can benefit from implementing DEAR — and the right implementation partner.

About Cin7 Experts

Cin7 Experts experienced with DEAR are an essential part of the Cin7 inventory 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.

Urth

A journey across the Americas can be a powerfully formative experience. From Mark Twain to Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard to Che Guevara, history is full of people who’ve found their purpose on the road. 

For the founders of Urth, formerly known as Gobe, a road trip from California to Patagonia was the impetus to create change — by giving more people the opportunity to experience nature for themselves. 

The products that support this mission are varied; Urth makes products, grouped together loosely into the categories “Art, Carry, and Camera,” that help their customers either spend more time in nature with their cameras, or engage with nature-inspired art. In addition to sourcing environmentally friendly products and materials, and creating products that can be used for a lifetime, all purchases from Urth are offset against the carbon emissions they create, as well as helping fund communities to plant trees.

“Urth creates products that support creativity,“ says co-founder Chris Gooley. ”We started off in the photography niche, but are expanding out into all different forms of art and artistic pursuits.“

Today, Chris Gooley continues as one of Urth’s directors, and his focus is on operations and finance. “It’s eight years later now, and things are going pretty well. We’re selling all over the world, and we’ve got a strong customer base.”

To get to this point, Urth needed strong systems on which they could build their vision. And before Cin7 and SMB Consultants, those foundations were looking a bit shaky.

“Cin7 is the way to go” 

Urth was already a well-established ecommerce business by the time they found Cin7, and started working with SMB Consultants. Before then, they’d been running both their ecommerce and inventory through ecommerce platform Magento. While many product sellers (including Cin7 customers) find Magento an excellent platform for ecommerce, it’s not intended to work as a full-fledged inventory management system. However, it’s still often used as one. Many product sellers start out using spreadsheets, accounting software, or their ecommerce platform to manage inventory, and while this often works for small sales volumes, it can be a big impediment to operating efficiently at scale.

For Urth, this problem was compounded by the fact they were already running inventory out of Fulfillment By Amazon – and Magento and Amazon weren’t talking.

“We were running inventory with Magento, so there were a lot of manual updates,” Chris remembers. “Magento could really only deal with recovering inventory by unit sold. It couldn’t do inbound shipment updates, adjust for stock variances, et cetera. We’d have to upload our website orders to the fulfillment centers manually. It was a pretty inefficient system, to say the least.”

This, in addition to being incredibly time-consuming, led to a host of further issues, the biggest of which was customers being able to place orders for items that were actually out of stock. It also limited Urth’s capacity for further growth, with expansion to new markets or sales channels made all but impossible.

“It caused enormous headaches, and a poor customer experience,” Chris says. Fixing mis-ships took “a lot of back and forth emails, offering different products as replacements, and dealing with – well, not necessarily irate, but definitely upset customers. And manually uploading our orders to the fulfillment centers was always a nightmare, and very time-consuming. And our opportunity for expansion was limited as well. It had a pretty stifling effect.“

In 2020, the Urth team made a decision – they’d move off Magento and on to Shopify. To do this, they worked with a web development agency called Process Creative, who suggested they find an inventory management system that integrated natively with Shopify and Amazon FBA – and they recommended SMB Consultants to help them do it.

“They said, look, if you’re going to make the Shopify website work efficiently and you want to make room for expansion, then Cin7 is the way to go,” Chris says. “So we did our own research, and came to the same conclusion. And we’re glad that we also followed their advice of getting SMB Consultants to talk us through that process and set it all up.”

If you want to change the world, you need to plan it

When SMB Consultants were brought in to bring Cin7 to Urth, they found themselves faced with a formidable set of requirements. For international tax and compliance reasons, they would need to implement two instances of Cin7 (one to take care of APAC and US sales, and another for the UK and Europe) as well as multiple sales channels and fulfillment centers.

Together, SMB Consultants and Urth worked to identify two key objectives for the implementation: an accurate inventory valuation, and understanding of the cost of goods sold (COGS.) With that baseline, automations could be put in place to massively increase the business’ efficiency, as well as ease of management.

“Urth was already a successful, growing business, so the main thing for us was working together with a good client, to come up with a good solution that everyone is happy with,” says Jeffrey Atizado, CEO and co-founder of SMB Consultants.

With key inventory data safe in Cin7 and syncing seamlessly between Urth’s Shopify stores and Xero accounts, the task for Deepak Stevens, SMB Consultants’ resident Cin7 expert, was to implement Cin7’s powerful automations, taking away the time spent on admin work.

“Our scope was to set Urth up so they could focus more on the business – on sales, customer service, and all that good stuff,” Deepak says. “The really cool thing for us at SMB, is that this was probably the first account where we utilized the full potential of Cin7’s automation functionality.”

Making Urth’s products available anywhere on Earth

Properly implemented, Cin7 has incredible automation capability. Urth already had a great starting point, with the lion’s share of their inventory and fulfillment coming out of Amazon FBA. “Urth’s setup is very clever in the way that all the stock is in FBA,” Deepak says. “So they already had a world-class fulfillment center using Amazon services. Our task was to connect Cin7 to Amazon in the best way possible, to make sure fulfillment works anywhere Urth wants to sell.”

A critical component of Urth’s mission to inspire customers to get out in nature is to support them no matter where they live in the world. They wanted to be able to ship their products to anyone, regardless of location. With very few exceptions, that’s exactly what Cin7 has enabled them to do.

“One of the most unique things with Cin7 is the option for us to route orders by delivery country,” Deepak says. SMB Consultants have set up a Cin7 automation that, no matter where an order comes from, routes to the appropriate FBA fulfillment location. It all happens automatically, without any need for intervention from Urth’s staff.

“Once we had that up and running we were completely automated,“ Deepak says. ”Without any admin work, orders are placed, sent to Amazon, fulfilled, and the tracking code goes back to the customer on Shopify.“

Urth are now utilizing a Singapore-based 3PL warehousing facility called IMF to expand their reach even further. “IMF holds stock for Urth to fulfill to countries that Amazon might not do,” Deepak says. “Then we created an even more complex routing table in Cin7 that, for all of the countries that Amazon excludes, we can push those orders to IMF to fulfill those countries automatically.”

The expanded reach and time saved by these automations have cleared the ground necessary for Urth to expand their operations. As the business has developed, SMB and Cin7 have kept pace with requirements, adding layers of functionality to ship to more countries and add new channels, in the form of online marketplaces. Urth now sells through eBay, France’s Fnac, Worten in Portugal, OnBy, BestBuy, eMag – and Cin7’s new partnership with supply chain automation software Synqware is opening the door to even more.

“Ordinarily, that would be a huge effort,” Deepak says. “We would have to hire a developer, get an API sorted, then go through that whole song and dance of setting up a new integration. I think Urth is really unique in that they’re offering fulfillment to almost everywhere. Normally, you see product sellers restricted to one or two regions, but Urth is now one of the few businesses that can really utilize Amazon’s warehouses plus their own 3PLs, and basically cover anywhere they want. It’s really exciting to see.”

Peace of mind: priceless

All of this complexity could cause terrible headaches come tax compliance time, but Cin7 has Urth covered. Chris says that Cin7’s smooth accounting workflow with Xero is a huge advantage, which is made even better with advice from Joy, SMB Consultants’ in-house accountant. Cin7’s native reporting functionality has also proved invaluable to Urth’s leadership, with the ability to provide breakdowns on profitability by region, or product category.

“That has been really insightful,“ Chris says. ”For Cin7 to give the live gross profit reporting per product group, and for each country, has been fantastic.“

Being able to get accurate profit and loss reports at the end of each month means Urth have been able to better invest back into the business. “We’ve been able to actually assign meaningful budgets to things like product development, our marketing budget, hiring budget,” Chris says. “All these things are now accurate and meaningful rather than speculative.”

According to Urth, the capability provided by Cin7 – and SMB’s help in taking advantage of it – is “priceless.” They simply could not have tackled it by themselves. Instead, adding SMB’s insight and advice to Cin7 has saved them having to hire back-office or development staff.

“It’s such a high stakes part of the business,“ Chris says. “For an e-commerce site, you need to be showing inventory in the marketplace, you need to be able to fulfill it. Whenever we’ve had any issues, Deepak has got onto it straight away. Cin7 has given us not only peace of mind, but a platform for expansion. It’s happened so quickly and yeah, it has made a huge difference. It’s been fantastic.”

“Cin7 has proven to be the best inventory solution “

For product sellers who are looking to expand their geographic or channel footprint, Urth say that Cin7 is by far the best option – and they also recommend getting a partner to help make Cin7 work to its full capability right across the business.

“If you really do have a global mindset for your business, then Cin7 is a great option,” Chris says. “That has been reiterated in the last few months with our expansion into this whole other world of e-commerce, selling both B2C and B2B.”

Cin7 is the platform for their success, but SMB Consultants’ help is what’s enabled them to get the most out of its extensive capabilities. “As for using SMB, or another partner, I think you definitely do want someone to help you set it all up correctly in the first place,” Chris says. “There’s too much at stake to get your setup wrong. But we’ve been able to push forward with huge peace of mind, and fantastic ongoing support.”

Chris’s elevator pitch for other product sellers looking for an IMS is simple: you need a one-stop inventory solution that connects to other best-of-breed apps for product sellers.

“To have one central inventory management system that’s also connected with Xero takes away a lot of stress. Shopify, Amazon, Xero, and Cin7 – it’s all in the same tight loop. Cin7 has proven to be the best inventory solution out of all the other options on the market, and the most affordable.”