Traditional ERP systems vs cloud-based ecommerce software

Ecommerce, also called electronic commerce or internet commerce, is a business model that lets you buy and sell goods and services over the Internet. So, ecommerce software allows your online store to operate. The transaction of money (funds) is also a part of ecommerce.

ERP systems are a type of software used to manage enterprise data. ERP systems help different organizations in dealing with various departments of an enterprise. It takes care of departments like inventory management, customer order management, production planning, shipping, and accounting.

ERP systems combine all databases across the company into a single database and can be accessed by all employees of the enterprise. It helps you in the automation of the tasks involved to perform a business process.

We will learn about the fundamental differences between the two systems in this article to help you make a better choice.

What is an ERP system?

Running a business is all about juggling things from finance to operations, and sales to marketing. ERP systems aim to consolidate back-office processes into one system. They help you track, share and store information across various departments, and ensure that all the employees rely on the same data.

Popular ERPs like NetSuite, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft Dynamics are traditional business management systems with accounting at the core. To keep up with the changing tide of retail, there are many integrations for ecommerce solutions like:

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

Order Management Systems (OMS)

Inventory Management Systems (IMS)

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Product Information Management (PIM)

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Business Intelligence (BI)

Customer Experience Management (CX)

Human Resources Management (HRM)

Shopping carts like Shopify

Challenges of ERPs in ecommerce

ERP monoliths are not tailored to a specific industry or line of business, so the quality of ecommerce integrations often fall short of expectations. ERPs were built based on older technology and have not kept up with the ever-changing marketplace requirements or the level of innovation that ecommerce software regularly delivers.

Most ERPs are built for back-office purposes. They are not meant for customer-facing sites like a web store that require real-time transactions and analysis.

By hinging your whole multi-channel business on an inflexible system like this, you risk non-compliance, listing errors, and other mistakes. It could cost you the right to sell on marketplaces like Amazon.

ERPs require major financial and time investments. Apart from annual subscription fees, you may face up-front and support costs running into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus, it may take years to implement an ERP system fully and that could lead to disruptive changes to your business.

What is ecommerce software?

Ecommerce software is the system that allows your online store to operate. Ecommerce software may include business tools like inventory management, accounting, and email marketing.

Put simply, ecommerce software lets you list products for sale and accept payments online. But, most online businesses usually need more than the bare minimum, and ecommerce software adds other business management tools.

The best ecommerce software has all the basic tools you need to get started, with an ecosystem of upgraded tools and platforms that you can use as your business grows.

Types of ecommerce software

There are mainly three types of ecommerce software:

1# Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Both of the above offer ecommerce solutions via the Internet. SaaS provides solutions through cloud-based software, and if adding hardware, it becomes a PaaS. These are both straightforward options for those who are not tech-savvy.

Additional design and custom features may require some developer skills. But, patches, updates, and new features are dealt with automatically.

These services charge on a monthly basis and may include transaction fees, but provide full support when required.

2# On-premise platforms

These solutions are hosted locally on servers by the retailer and managed by their IT department. On-site professionals are required to fix any problems as they occur, add new features, and do manual updates.

If you have your own internal IT team, then on-premise may be an excellent option for you. It allows firms to gain more control over their site and create their custom storefront solution.

ERP vs ecommerce software

Let’s compare ERP systems with inventory management software (an ecommerce software) as an example to get a better idea.

While researching inventory management software online, you may end up on a site that aggregates a list of providers like Capterra or GetApp that helps you compare features, benefits, and prices.

So, you can usually group your options into two main categories:

All-in-one platforms such as a supply chain management platform or an ERP

Dedicated warehouse and inventory management software

An all-in-one solution may sound enticing as it offers “full stock” in one place and can manage multiple systems and processes using one software solution. A dedicated inventory management software specializes in specific sales and accounting functions and integrates with a wide range of other software.

So, the choice depends on either using software that does everything but doesn’t specialize in a specific area or using a stack of specialized software with integrations to one another.

Conclusion

Businesses often choose to use an all-in-one or ERP as it offers the ability to manage all administrative tasks in one place. But, as all-in-ones are so focused on managing so many things at once, they often lack the level of granularity required to fully handle inventory and warehouse processes like ecommerce software can.

If the idea of a cloud-based SaaS solution for inventory and order management is one that appeals to you over an ERP, schedule a demo of Cin7 here and we’ll show you how it can be your centralized resource for managing sales, inventory, accounting, warehousing and fulfillment.

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.

ModaConcrete | TerraFlame

A lot of new businesses have only one of two ambitions: either a nice solid start, or to set the world on fire. Lenny Vainberg wanted both — and not only is he pulling it off, he’s sharing his experience and formula for success. 

Lenny is CEO of ModaConcrete™ | TerraFlame, a brand he acquired from a private equity firm a few years ago. 

“We bought a brand, and essentially built a factory and set up a supply chain in Baja, Mexico to produce our products,” Lenny explains. “We adapted a factory that was set up to produce architectural precast and tooled up production to manufacture the most popular TerraFlame products. Later, we reintroduced the precast production as an online business supplying architectural precast to the trade. We now have two brands: ModaConcrete and TerraFlame coming out of the same factory, serving two divergent but complimentary markets.” 

“TerraFlame,” Lenny says, “is the leader in clean-burning gel fuels, and fuel burning appliances. Our Pure Gel Fuel is the ‘razor blade’ which is available in select retail stores, online retail and through our subscription plan. You basically pop our fire fuel can into our fire bowl or fireplace and enjoy. Each TerraFlame fuel can generate 3 hours of warm, ambient , golden flame for about three hours and costs about $6. And they are food safe, which makes them perfect for Smores.” 

ModaConcrete™, on the other hand, sells architectural precast concrete products that are designed to create fashionable and beautiful hardscape environments, sold and fulfilled factory direct to trade and design / build channels. 

The TerraFlame brand designs and markets clever consumer products, while ModaConcrete overlaps from home owner to the trade. Both brands produce great products, but the real innovation is in what Lenny has done to grow the company by a truly astonishing margin in the two short years.

“The key is to build a capable and scalable systems foundation as early as possible”, he says, “a functional ERP for supply chain, manufacturing and inventory management.” Tying it all together is Cin7. 

Cracking the cool consumables market without going up in smoke

When Lenny bought the company, it had a couple of “really cool” products that were getting good traction in retail. But, beneath the surface, big cracks had formed. 

The products might have been good, but revenue was nowhere near the level they’d expected it to be. It was difficult to fully understand the true product and operating costs with little visibility between manufacturing and fulfillment. Compounding the problem was that the operations were in a very raw state.  Before Cin7, the company didn’t really have any inventory management — not even the basics. 

“There were no systems,” Lenny says. “It was napkins and spreadsheets and nobody knew what was going on operationally. They were looking at things without understanding the true cost of goods, because they really had no way of doing that. And filling more orders, means throwing man hours towards more manual entry. None of it was scalable.” 

ModaConcrete and TerraFlame needed to find a hard fix — fast. And from previous experience, Lenny  knew exactly what they needed. The only problem was that the kinds of ERP systems he’d worked with prior required significant time and capital resources, a huge investment for a company at this early stage.  

“We needed to find some kind of effective ERP system that we could use to not only manage our inventory and manufacturing, but also integrate our EDI and forecasting,” Lenny says.  

They considered a few other options — Lenny’s previous company had run a substantial NetSuite instance, with its own internal development group. But being new and running on a relative shoestring, the company didn’t have the time or budget to support that kind of deployment. Eventually, his search led him to Cin7. 

“When we found Cin7, and started seeing the capabilities and features, we were very surprised and impressed with the functionality and the breadth of what the system could do.”  

Today, ModaConcrete and TerraFlame are using Cin7 from the beginning to the end of the product journey — and it all starts with manufacturing. 

ModaConcrete has a solid foundation in Cin7

About 60 percent of ModaConcrete and TerraFlame’s business is products that they manufacture in-house, so visibility is critical. And before Cin7, “it was Quickbooks and spreadsheets,” Lenny says. “People would eyeball everything from mix design to sell through and that was it. There was no inventory control, no BOM management or production management, no raw material tracking, nothing” 

To manage the manufacturing, ModaConcrete and TerraFlame are using the Bill of Materials (BOM) functionality of Cin7. 

“We’ll design a new product, test it, create 3D models of it, develop the mold set, then it’s on to filling, casting and finishing the parts,” Lenny says. “We have several product types and about a dozen different concrete mix designs, depending what the products are for — and we set up those mix designs as BOMs in our system.” 

Essentially, every raw material that goes into making a new product is measured and tracked in Cin7 via the Bill of Materials. When the raw materials are combined into a product, that too is tracked in Cin7, where the new product can be added to inventory even as the materials used to make it are subtracted. This simplified manufacturing process management is standard in the Cin7 software. 

ModaConcrete is also making use of Cin7’s Made to Order functionality. One of their bigger sales channels is B2B sales direct to trade stores, construction companies, and job sites. Customers can visit ModaConcrete.com and select from a range of products, sizes, shapes, and colors.

This order information goes into Cin7, which tells the manufacturing operation exactly what to produce. Behind the scenes, ModaConcrete has ‘blanks’ ready to be modified into the exact items the customer wants, and once items are finished and shipped, the customer gets notified that their order is on the way. No matter whether a customer is big or small, Made to Order means they get exactly what they’re after, every time.

“Understanding Cin7 Made to Order has enabled us to build up preliminary stock to convert into finished goods a lot faster than trying to make them from scratch every time,” Lenny says.  

For a manufacturer, operating with this level of inventory control has huge advantages. Material costs can be carefully managed, and forecasting requirements gets vastly easier. Operations know where everything is, how fast it’s being used up, and when products will be ready to be sold. Manual inventory tracking tasks are reduced, and relieved of operational overhead, staff can get on with the job of actually making and shipping products. 

For ModaConcrete and TerraFlame, this was an increase in visibility by many orders of magnitude. Now, they have a clear understanding of costs from manufacturing to finished goods to shipping. “Now you can see what your true cost is, and based on that, you can make intelligent decisions on what you’re going to do,” Lenny says. 

Native EDI unlocks the freedom to scale

The other big item on Lenny’s agenda was EDI. First created in the 1960s, Electronic Data Interchange is a technology that allows the automated, computer-to-computer exchange of business information. It might be old, but it’s still one of the most-spoken languages of business — and if a company can’t speak it, it’s missing out. 

Cin7 is one of very few inventory management systems with native EDI integration capability, and it’s the secret weapon that’s allowed ModaConcrete and TerraFlame to grow as rapidly as they have, with their wares now available in all the biggest US retail outlets, including Target, Costco, Williams Sonoma, Amazon and more. It’s been a huge leap for the company, compared to how things were done before. 

“When we bought the company, we were barely doing 300 orders a week over multiple platforms, and as you can imagine, everything was manual,” Lenny says. “Every order required at least four manual touches. Staff had to download the order from each partner portal, enter it into Quickbooks, enter it into the warehouse ship requests, manually create the label, and then enter shipment tracking back into the portal, to close out the order process. The previous thinking was that scale required more people to work faster and harder to keep up with the paper pushing.” 

But all that was about to change. Once the company implemented Cin7, integrated ShipStation, and set up barcode scanning and labeling at the factory, things got much more efficient. They had a better system, instead of trying to make a broken system work harder. And after activating Cin7’s EDI capability, things went to another level again. 

‘I’d say that we multiplied our throughput by seven times. Specifically the same small team that struggled to supply 300 orders per week, can comfortably handle up to 2000 orders per week today,” Lenny says, casually. “And now we’ve got that EDI rolling, we won’t bring on a customer unless they’re EDI capable and integrated with our system. We rarely accept non-EDI integrations or orders.” 

It’s a bold step, but it’s one that puts them head and shoulders above similarly-sized product companies — and on the same playing field as the biggest companies in the United States.

“There’s not a lot of companies with less than $10 million in revenue requiring EDI compliance with their trading partners in order to drop ship for them, just because most of them don’t have those capabilities,” Lenny says. “But it’s these capabilities that are most important, because they give us the ability to scale. I think that’s the most important thing that came from Cin7.” 

Right now, ModaConcrete and TerraFlame are managing 16 EDI connections, end to end, in Cin7. They’re managing Costco, Wayfair, Lowes, Home Depot, all the major Internet retailers, as well as some brick and mortar retailers. They’re also managing inventory in four different locations, across two different product lines, and two direct to consumer websites, as well as a third party Amazon presence. It’s all being done with Cin7. 

“It gives us the ability to operate on the level of a much bigger, more capable company, despite being a small operation,” Lenny says. “We have a 10 person team in-house in Southern California where we do sales, marketing, and web strategy. And we have 60 people at our factory in Tecate. Cin7 enables that 10 person team to look and operate as a much more sophisticated company, when it comes to our trading partners.”