Top Five Key Lessons for Automating Your Inventory and Financials

Learn the top five ways product companies and ecommerce specialists can automate their inventory and financials with Catching Clouds: An Acuity Company. 

The Top Five Key Lessons for Automating Your Inventory and Financials: 

  1. Done right, automation actually makes good people even better
  2. To get financial fundamentals right, give them to someone else
  3. You need an expert who knows tech as well as accounting
  4. Look for an expert with a proven track record
  5. Every product seller needs to be on a cloud inventory solution

Not many people start a business because they dream of doing accounting.

But Acuity is an exception — and it exists because most business owners don’t just want to avoid accounting: they’re also pretty bad at it. Acuity, on the other hand, is really good.

Acuity is a specialist provider of outsourced cloud accounting services to eCommerce businesses in the United States. They work with businesses that are selling on Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, BigCommerce, Commerce House, Wayfair, Magento, and many more platforms.

In addition, Acuity has worked with QuickBooks Online and Xero for years. For a while, their eCommerce practice only worked with Xero, but it is now also adding QBO to the mix.

Scott Scharf is chief technology officer and eCommerce practice lead for Acuity. He co-founded his accounting practice Catching Clouds with his wife Patti Scharf, before merging with Acuity in 2021.
“The thing about what we do is, we’re really consistent,” says Scott. “We provide the daily, weekly, and monthly bookkeeping, accounting and controller-level work for eCommerce sellers.”

Automation and 3PLs are the way of the future — and they help your best people do more

Acuity says increasing the level of automation in your company isn’t about having fewer employees. It’s about giving yourself, and your employees, something better to do.

“When we automate accounting, we’re not doing it to remove the person — employee, spouse, whoever — was doing the bookkeeping,” Scott says. “The idea is that you’ve got a trusted person, so put them in a more trusted position.”

The same logic applies to product companies and 3PLs “Having a 3PL means your people can have higher-level tasks. You want those people who might otherwise be in your warehouse managing stock through a cloud inventory tool, negotiating purchasing, expanding your supply chain,” Scott adds. “They’re good employees. They care. You want them at a higher level.”

There will always be manual processes that need doing, and that software will struggle to automate, Scott says. What’s more, the supply chain crisis has changed the game. Where it might have once made sense to have your own warehouse, for many product sellers, it’s simply not worth it. Instead, smart sellers will automate what humans cannot do well, leaving them free to excel in other areas of the business.

“Don’t make smart humans do data entry. Let smart humans do smart human things, and make decisions based on data,” Scott says. “The more you leverage technology and people in the right places, at higher-level positions, the more profitable you’re going to be.”

Every product seller should implement cloud inventory solutions

The first app that Scott recommends for product sellers is, of course, online inventory management. Depending on the company’s ambitions and requirements, he recommends:

  • Cin7 for multichannel sellers with complex requirements and high growth ambitions
  • DEAR Systems for sellers who do their own manufacturing or Bill of Materials product assembly
  • Cin7 Orderhive for pure eCommerce sellers

“I recommend that every product seller, of any size, implement cloud inventory solutions,” Scott says.

Connecting cloud inventory software to other best-of-breed software — like Shopify for eCommerce selling, ShipBob for third-party logistics, or ShipStation for shipping — lets you set and meet customer expectations in the same way a brand like Amazon does. It means a small brand can have the same capabilities as the biggest eCommerce companies in the world, with the added benefit of the personalized service that only smaller companies can truly provide.

“Amazon has set the expectation that customers can get their package in one to three days,” Scott says. “Now everyone can live up to that new standard.”

To get financial fundamentals right, give them to someone else

Getting the accounting right is vital to any product business’ success. Without good numbers, a business can’t know if it’s profitable. That’s where Scott and his team come in. Acuity makes it possible for smaller businesses to have the same accounting clout as a big player. The solution is simple: they take accounting right out of their clients hands.

“I’ve talked to a couple thousand sellers in the last 10 years, and none of them went into business to do accounting or bookkeeping, or to pay bills, sales tax, or income tax,” Scott says. “They’ve got a bigger ‘why.’ And that’s why financials are one of the first things they look at outsourcing.”

Once Acuity takes over the accounting, things get done properly by a team of experts who know how to navigate the byzantine pathways of international eCommerce selling and U.S. tax compliance requirements. To do this, their outsourced eCommerce offering has a team of specialist CPAs, along with a managed services team who can take care of the technical side.

“We’re able to support clients at all kinds of levels, but the main thing is always the same — we take over the financials, move them into the cloud, and we do it right. We update the chart of accounts, reconcile everything correctly, post income properly, post COGS properly per channel, and make sure everything flows together,” Scott says.

According to Scott, modern eCommerce accounting is as much about getting technology right as it is about compliance, reports, and projections.

“Having an accounting advisor that can translate, provide insight and accurate cash flow projections helps a business manage cash better and be more successful,” Scott says.

But without the right approach to tech, business leaders can find themselves lost in a confusing world of half-implemented, half-working apps.

“What some people do, when they don’t understand tech, is they just load an app and then another app and then another app. None of them connect, and all of a sudden they now have to enter data in three apps to accomplish something instead of putting it together,” Scott says.

This can put business owners right off implementing a modern software stack, but nothing could be worse. All they need to get it right is a good advisor.

“If you’re running an eCommerce business, you want an eCommerce accountant that already understands the space and has worked with dozens, if not hundreds of eCommerce companies. You have to go to the right people for the right tech advice — and then you want to leverage it, so you can expand and enhance and build automations so everything flows well,” Scott says.

About Catching Clouds: an Acuity Company

Acuity is an outsourced cloud accounting service provider, specializing in eCommerce. They offer accounting with Xero and QuickBooks Online, and support Cin7, DEAR Systems, and leading eCommerce, 3PL, and shipping solutions

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.

How the latest inventory software can streamline ecommerce selling

Ecommerce is fiercely competitive and the competition has only increased due to the pandemic. Retailers must adapt accordingly and keep pace with changing market conditions. As an ecommerce business owner, you are required to handle multiple jobs simultaneously and you are often pulled in many directions. Learn more about inventory software for ecommerce in this article.

Those directions could include stocking the hottest products or fulfilling orders across multiple channels. That does not even take into account the marketing and customer service efforts.

So, how do you build your customer base and keep your current customers happy? The answer is ecommerce automation.

The technology that is available today provides you with lots of ecommerce automation options to address your business requirements. The concept is simple – using software to convert manual operations into automated workflows.

Technology can accomplish a broad set of operational tasks without human intervention. Sending emails to different customers, generating support tickets, and fulfilling orders are examples.

Not only does ecommerce automation save time, it also saves money. Automation gives your business team back time to focus on customer service, innovation, and creativity.

Now, let’s have a look at how technology can help your ecommerce business run more smoothly and profitably:

1. Automated and centralized inventory management for multichannel ecommerce

A cloud-based, multichannel inventory management system (IMS) lets brands optimize the supply chain and avoid losses due to stock-outs. AN IMS helps manage business inventory flow through a single dashboard with real-time access to sales and stock movement data.

An inventory management system enables you to list your products across multiple ecommerce platforms and brick-and-mortar locations and process orders through a centralized hub that updates your accounting software.

Take out the manual factors from inventory management, and minimize the possibility of human error.

Here are some key value-adds that an IMS would bring:

  • Reduce understocking & overstocking
  • Reduce headcount for daily operations
  • Avoid shipping errors & returns
  • Accurate inventory forecast and planning
  • Increase order fulfillment rate
  • Detailed inventory and sales reports
  • Reduce hits to overhead because of human error
  • Real-time updates to your accounting program

2. Zero effort sales recognition and accounting automation

One of the big benefits of digital businesses is not needing the large sales team of yesteryear. A small sales team can make operations effective through automated procedures and assessment tools like a CRM.

CRMs help manage tasks like adding new leads, call scheduling, contact information, and users can allocate follow-ups transparently and quickly. CRMs also help prevent two people approaching the same lead.

Most importantly, sales teams can keep records of call specifics and outcomes, which can be useful in future follow-ups. Hubspot, Zoho, and Salesforce are some of the most popular CRMs to try out.

Accounting and sales must coexist harmoniously and share inputs to bookkeeping. There are several accounting solutions to choose from, just make sure it will integrate with your inventory and order management software.

3. AI-enabled customer service desk increases brand loyalty

Customer service is a critical aspect of your business and directly impacts customer loyalty and brand image. There are several customer service platforms to choose from that should allow you to automate repetitive tasks. Chatbots, for instance, are still the most common way to do so.

Chatbots are programs that help to automate customer interactions by responding to a set of specified conditions, events, and question triggers. Product-focused chatbot interactions are increasing in popularity.

As per a Facebook poll, more than half of customers said they were more likely to shop with a company that allows them to communicate via chat.

Customers want to find the information they need in a matter of seconds with a click. Chatbots solve for that. Plus, various solutions can be used to integrate chatbots into ecommerce websites and social media accounts with minimum development expenditures.

Chatbots are an integral part of a company’s customer service strategy – Octane, MobileMonkey, and Bostify are some of the most common chatbots for ecommerce. Chatfuel is another shareware option and is one of the finest ecommerce chatbot services.

4. Technology driven and seamless payment options

Customers want personalization and seamless ecommerce experiences. According to Business Insider, global customers will make 1.1 trillion cashless payments by 2024 by acquiring products and services using a mix of mobile, web, and linked devices.

Passive authentication like face and touch ID has become more popular as technology advances because your credentials are already loaded into your ewallet and ready to pay. This is made possible by services like AmazonPay, ApplePay, GooglePay, Paytm, PhonePe, PayPal, and similar services.

5. Transition to a multichannel experience

Your customers expect your products to be available across the spectrum of selling channels they have to choose from. Web stores, physical stores, social media, and online marketplaces are all part of multichannel retailing. Today, single-click buy on ecommerce sites, a social media presence, brand awareness, and overall lifestyle affinity all play a role in purchasing behavior.

The main objective of multichannel selling is to make sure that marketing techniques enable clients to convert via each type of sales channel. With the proper automation technology at hand and a multichannel strategy, your brand can offer a seamless customer experience.

Walmart’s “order-by-text and chat services” was one example of how brands can leverage technology as part of their multichannel strategy. The service let customers place orders with a text message and offered same-day delivery.

The service is no longer offered, but it paved the way for other ecommerce brands to provide something exceptional to their customers.

6. Integrate social commerce into ecommerce strategy

Most businesses use social media platforms for advertising. It helps customers purchase by leveraging social media’s convenience, usability, and reach.

Facebook Marketplace was mainly created in 2018 to compete with Amazon, Google Shopping, and Etsy. Instagram adopted product tags in 2016 to help users recognize the products and prices they see in adverts.

With the integration of BigCommerce and Shopify in 2017, customers would go to a web page to make a purchase.

Pinterest has a similar appearance to Instagram, added buyable pins to select brands in 2015, and their user numbers rose in 2016. A shopping cart was also introduced to help buy from multiple merchants simultaneously.

Conclusion on inventory software for ecommerce

Working in the ecommerce space requires dealing with competitors and meeting customer expectations and demands. Current technology solutions can automate mundane tasks and streamline operations.

Choosing an Inventory Management Software (IMS) like Cin7 increases operational efficiency and overall productivity for all kinds of retailers and wholesalers. Get your inventory software for ecommerce today!

Arms of Eve

Arms of Eve is an ethical fashion accessory business, co-founded about three years ago by husband-and-wife team Aaron and Kerryn Langer. Before starting Arms of Eve, the pair had already run a successful wholesale fashion business together in Los Angeles, flying in Australian Merino wool to the States. 

“When we started having kids, our lives became very busy, and the world of ecommerce was growing quite rapidly,” Aaron says. “We didn’t have time to go to stores, or shop during store hours. We did all of our shopping — everything from baby supplies to clothes — online, and we were just enraptured by this world.” 

When the two decided to move back to Kerryn’s home country, Australia, they decided to start a new, ecommerce-focused fashion business. Australia, they say, wasn’t quite as advanced as the US at ecommerce at the time, but they knew it would catch up. 

“We wanted to create a really simple, one-stop shop for cool boho-chic fashion accessories, starting with scarves and ponchos. Then jewelry was something we sort of dipped our toes into and really quite enjoyed it.” 

Aaron and Kerryn figured that a fashion accessory and jewelry company could afford them a lifestyle where they were able to travel to destinations like India, Indonesia and Thailand, and enjoy beaches and sight-seeing while they met their manufacturers and toured factories. It’d also enable them to give back to the world, as well as conducting business according to their personal values — all of Arms of Eve’s jewellery is handcrafted and ethically sourced. 

They set up a Shopify store, and began experimenting with selling fashion accessories at weekend markets. Kerryn would wake up early, put up a pop-up store and, as she sold, worked to understand her customers, what they were looking for, and how they were wearing the jewelry. This in-real-life interaction helped them get a feel for what their online customers wanted, and the care and attention to detail they lavished on customers helped score them their first big break, when they were approached by Australian ecommerce marketplace The Iconic. 

“They legitimized us in the marketplace as a ‘real brand,’” Aaron says. Soon, they were selling on high-profile online marketplaces like the UK’s Wolf & Badger, and Revolve Clothing in the US, as well as in-person and online. 

Arms of Eve’s growth plans were working like a charm, but there was one sticking point: their inventory management. 

Growing pains require a better fit 

“We were growing really rapidly. We had our own Shopify site, we were on The Iconic and a few other marketplaces, and keeping track of stock was such a sore point,” Aaron says. “We were doing it manually on spreadsheets.”  

Aaron knew that to sustain and increase growth, Arms of Eve needed two things – a solid inventory management system, and the right team to help them use it to its full potential. 

To do this, they turned to Cin7, and Halkin Business Partners. 

Helped by Halkin

Halkin Business Partners is a business consultancy who’ve been helping entrepreneurs and business owners scale for over 20 years, and they serve businesses of all sizes, from startups to established enterprises. A Xero platinum partner with thousands of clients and a wide-reaching consulting network, Halkin have offices all over the world, and specialize in an outsourced services model across accounting, tax compliance, strategic advisory, HR and technology.

“We have a strong foundation in numbers and accounting work, which is where we originated as a business,” says Adam Wakerman, Halkin Director. “But, at the end of the day, accounting systems are repositories of data and information, and our ability to provide clients with accurate financials and provide insights based on those, is the product of the data that actually goes into the system.” 

It was with this attitude around data that Halkin began their foray into not just consulting, but operational consultancy and management. This involves, Halkin say, taking a holistic view of business, its systems and processes, and being able to understand how all those systems link together for the purpose of ensuring data integrity. Simply: if you can measure accurately, you can manage better. 

“We’re able to plug in with the founders and work directly with them across not just the accounting or bookkeeping work but also across their systems, their processes, their structure, and their HR, and then also obviously their CFO related requirements,” Adam says. 

Aaron met with the Halkin team, who zeroed in on Arms of Eve’s inventory management processes. 

“They said, ‘You need to organize this. You need to understand the value of stock that you’re holding. And if the Iconic sells something, and Shopify sells something, how are you dealing with taking that stock off inventory? And how does it work with Xero?’” Aaron says.

“And we just shrugged our shoulders. We had no idea,” he adds. 

After Halkin did their initial assessment of Arms of Eve, they recommended Cin7 for their inventory management. Initially, Aaron was resistant. 

“We thought Cin7 would be really great, but we were scared initially because for a small growing business, it was a big deal. But Halkin backed that decision to such a degree that they actually fronted the money to pay for it. They said ‘You’ve got to go with Cin7, we’ll front it, and you’ll pay it off slowly as you continue to scale, but this is what you need.’”

Halkin says that, for them, helping clients upfront with their inventory software to help remove some ‘sticker shock” isn’t that unusual. When they know that Cin7 will really help a customer, they’ll do whatever they can to help them make the move. 

Aaron is full of praise for how Halkin helped Arms of Eve switch to Cin7. 

“Our financial team at Halkin have Cin7 experts on board, and they’ve really helped us integrate the software into the business,” Aaron says. Halkin have even gone so far as to create a custom tool that alerts Aaron to any money sitting in open invoices. If he needs any support, he can choose from a financial and software support team that includes a bookkeeper, a virtual CFO, a tax advisor, and a whole Cin7 team. 

“Before and after implementation, we’re always looking to improve the process, and the business as a whole,” says Diego. “We know that we have the big picture, so after the implementation when a customer needs help, we know their process, and why they’re asking.” 

Cin7 runs rings around the competition

“I just don’t know how we operated before Cin7 and Halkin, to be honest,” says Aaron. “Before, inventory management would literally keep me up at night, because I knew we were selling stock we didn’t have – and you don’t want to do that.” 

Since implementing Cin7 with Halkin, things have changed dramatically for Arms of Eve. Cin7 now sits at the center of their business. Everything connects, including their multiple Shopify stores, marketplaces like The Iconic, their accounting software Xero, and Starshipit, which they use for all their fulfilment. 

“The ‘before’ picture was scary as hell,” Aaron says. “But the ‘after’ picture — Cin7 is the hub, the all-important beating heart of the business. In terms of connecting all our inventory, it really makes things significantly easier, and transparent. In the days where we didn’t have that, it’s just hard to fathom how we operated.” 

Now, with Cin7, the Arms of Eve team know their stock levels at the touch of a button. They better understand how to service the business, and their customers, by understanding what is selling well, or what is running out of stock. They’ve been able to streamline their order processes from end-to-end, which is a “huge time saver.” 

“The reporting and data through Cin7 just makes it really easy to understand,” Aaron says. “All of our customers, all of our suppliers, everything’s in there. It’s like a one-stop shop. It’s become a huge time-saver, and time is money” 

Armed with data, the business innovates

One of the best things about Cin7 is the way that it democratizes information and data at Arms of Eve. Everyone in the business has access to Cin7, and it’s an invaluable tool for all stakeholders to understand what’s going where, when.  

“Our wholesale manager needs to understand stock levels, and needs to be able to write order fulfilment. There’s different people who are touching it at different points. I think that’s one of the most brilliant aspects for us – I don’t know how we would have done this without Cin7.” 

This data democratization has made it easy for Arms of Eve to innovate in their product categories. They’ve created combinations of products for sale called “stacks” and “sets.” Stacks are all about styling; Kerryn, who is a designer, wanted for customers to be able to purchase several items from one category that all look great together. “I want people to say, ‘I want that great-looking bracelet. You have four bracelets and they look so good together. How would I go about getting that?’ So we’ve created bracelet stacks, necklace stacks, earring stacks.” 

Sets, on the other hand, are across categories — for example, a combination of different pieces of jewelry that all look good together, like rings, necklaces, bracelets. Cin7 has enabled this innovative product bundling by allowing the creation of ‘virtual stock’ in the Bill of Materials. The software looks at the different SKUs available in inventory, and then allows stacks and sets to be built accordingly, limiting the number of virtual products that can be created by the inventory count.

“Let’s say you have 50 of two kinds of jewellery, but only 10 of another kind. The software will only allow you to make 10 stacks,” Aaron says. “Virtual stock was for us a Eureka moment. We can manage it really successfully, because when we sell a stack, it takes three individual items out of inventory to create it. With Cin7’s BOMs, we keep our inventory really neat, tidy and organized.” 

With the Covid-19 pandemic making travel difficult or impossible, Arms of Eve has also had to change how it approaches suppliers and quality control. In the old days, before 2020, they could easily travel to meet suppliers, but now it all happens via WhatsApp. Kerryn designs and mocks up in Photoshop, the factories create samples and share pictures, and then Arms of Eve has all the information it needs to know if they want to enter production. Here, too, Cin7 has helped. 

“Before Cin7, we weren’t really tracking those purchase orders, but now they’re coming through, and they’re the first item that gets ingested into Cin7. We’re creating new products in Cin7, we’re putting our costs in, when it arrives, it’s marked as arrived. The inventory’s now in our system, which is great.” 

Cin7 even allows Arms of Eve to track any inventory they’ve gifted to influencers, who can then choose to show off their products.

Embracing Cin7, wholesale 

In addition to their ecommerce channel, Arms of Eve are also using Cin7 to handle wholesale. While they don’t specialize in selling to small boutique shops, when they are approached by someone who wants to sell their products, it’s easy to set up with Cin7. 

“When a wholesale order comes in, the sales order is written in Cin7,” Aaron says. “The inventory’s taken out, the wholesale costs are in there, Cin7 speaks to all our dispatch and everything.”

Dealing with smaller boutiques and lesser-known customers can be risky for a business like Arms of Eve, but Cin7 enables them to process payment instantly, with strict cash-on-demand terms. 

“Wholesale payment is often handled through the Stripe account connected to Cin7,” Aaron says. “I think we’re about 50/50 in terms of people doing bank transfers, and people hitting the ‘pay now’ button in Cin7.” 

“The big wins are efficiency and transparency” 

Halkin says that the customers they put on to Cin7 frequently see enormous business benefits. It’s certainly been true for Arms of Eve. 

“Arms of Eve now have transparency with their stock numbers, so they can make decisions. They’ve gained efficiency as well. Stuff that used to take hours to reconcile, now takes a couple of minutes. The main gains are the transparency of the financials, being able to make decisions, and understanding the big picture.” 

For Aaron, looking back to where they were before they adopted Cin7, their decision is a “no-brainer.” 

“Cin7 is really adaptable. It’s really smart. It does all the heavy lifting really seamlessly, and it’ll just save you headaches. For us, it’s a no-brainer, looking back. You know when they say, hindsight is 20/20, well if we hadn’t done this, our business wouldn’t be where it is today.” 

Before Halkin helped him on to Cin7, Aaron says that he “hadn’t even realised that software like this existed.”

“When you think about what I understand about the business now, and how everything plugs in — well, back then I didn’t even understand what needed to be plugged where. If I could go back in time, I’d draw a diagram and put Cin7 in the centre,” Aaron says. “Everything plugs into Cin7.”

Diego from Halkin says this centralization of complex inventory functions is the exact use case that Cin7 is built for, and it’s these cases where they don’t hesitate to prescribe Cin7. 

“It’s holistic and robust in terms of connecting to ecommerce, having EDI connectivity, having 3PL, logistics, and accounting connectivity as well,” Diego says. “A lot of competitor software has some of those things, but not all, so the fact that Cin7 also has APIs and the ability to connect with other vendors in the ecosystem is a big advantage.”  

With Cin7 in place and running smoothly, and with Halkin on side to provide business, financial and software integration advice, Aaron says the future is bright for Arms of Eve. 

“Now we’ve built an ecosystem that is running really smoothly on Cin7. It’s eureka —  this is the future, this is the map.”

Pine Apparel

Hitting the first profitable quarter is an impressive milestone for any business, especially in the current global climate. Pine Apparel reached that milestone this year – and credit for this feat is largely due to Cin7, according to Director of Operations Elise Ellis.

“It’s changed our whole operation and gave us that visibility,” she says, adding that the recent success wouldn’t have been possible without Cin7. “If I didn’t have a solution like this I don’t think we would have seen what we have right now.”

Pine Apparel founder Michael Edwards started the company by selling dresses out of his car. But, years later, he continued to view the company as a “small business”, despite shipping apparel orders to boutiques throughout the United States.The systems in place before Cin7 reflected this mindset: Inventory was recorded on Excel sheets, and entire processes were recorded in Google Drive. Sales were manually deducted when they happened and then, as Elise says, “the team would rush”.

“They’d actually go and look for [the stock in the warehouse] because it wasn’t organized. And they just knew [one thing] was in the third aisle, and something else was in the eighth aisle…”

When Elise first joined the team in 2019, she was tasked with “bringing the company into the current century.” After finding better ways to organize the warehouse, the team’s inventory and accounting systems were the next major step. In previous roles, Elise had integrated big ERP systems like SAP, so she knew exactly what she was doing. The only problem was that she didn’t know what sort of inventory solution would best suit the business.

“The big challenge was, how do I find a software solution? It wasn’t only having inventory management, but we knew it had to tie into our financials. We knew we had to tie it into shipping. We knew in the end we wanted to also have an e-commerce site. So, the number one focus was starting with the end in mind.”

“I’ve got my one source of truth with Cin7”

Elise ultimately chose Cin7 over competitors for a number of reasons – the ability to work with Shopify, the seamless functionality with often-specialized apparel industry requirements and, as Elise admits, the all-important number on the back page of any proposal – the price. It’s a decision she hasn’t regretted.

“I love the journey that we’ve had with Cin7,” she says. “I love that we’ve got my one source of truth with Cin7. I’ve never had to question it, because it’s always been spot on with the integrity of our inventory.”

For an apparel wholesaler, that trust in inventory systems is vital. And it can be a tricky industry in that sense. Items are sold generally as bundles, but single stock items also need to be recorded. The same item will have a range of colors and sizes, and even one kink in the chain can bring sales to a halt. This is where Cin7 has saved significant stress and heartache for Elise. For the first time, she now has complete trust in their inventory and systems. And she knows what’s available, in real time, across all systems and platforms.

Looking back before Cin7, Elise says the difference is substantial. The company signed a contract with Cin7 in January 2020. Before that, she says she was flying blind in terms of accurate stock counts.

“I had no idea what my inventory was,” she says. “It was the first time in 36 years that we actually went through the warehouse and counted item by item to know what we own.”

Cin7 onboarding program was “a lifesaver”

Despite her complete faith in the systems and the data Cin7 provides, Elise found herself switching to Cin7 at an especially difficult time. She had initially hoped to go live with Cin7 by Superbowl Sunday, but not long before that day the Warehouse Manager resigned, leaving Elise to organise and fill in over 50,000 inventory data points. Then, Pine Apparel’s sales slowed considerably when COVID-19 hit the US in March 2020. Despite all of this, Elise says what impressed her and made the transition stress-free was the “hand-holding” and onboarding provided by the Cin7 team.

Elise says the team were still there through the set-up to answer questions and help make the transition easier – something that other systems didn’t really accommodate.

“I think in terms of the onboarding and then that implementation, that hand-holding was what was so important,” she says. “A company like SAP – they don’t offer service like that.”

And ultimately, that’s what won Elise over.

“I just think all of that – [the help with] onboarding and the implementation and then ultimately having Premium Plus support is really one of the keys to our success.”

Integrity across all platforms takes the anxiety away

Elise says Cin7 has made Pine Apparel’s growth manageable and simple for two reasons: It’s reliable, and provides true visibility right across the business.

“I have confidence in our numbers,” she says. “It’s really just the integrity. I have the real time data – with our goods going to Shopify, and then a Shopify order coming back in real time showing our inventory and what’s available to sell.”

Pine Apparel makes use of Xero, Shipstation and Shopify Cin7 integrations, and the entire team has access to and utilizes the software daily – everyone from Sales Reps to accounting and warehouse staff. So having total faith in the accuracy of data is vital to the success of the company.

“That’s what our whole strength is, it is that I’ve got that one source and I know it connects,” says Elise. “If I look at Xero, I see the same number in Xero that came from Cin7. I look at Shopify in that sales order and I see that here, I go to ShipStation and I see that same order. I’m not seeing different data.”

Cin7 means product sellers can sleep at night

“That’s what makes you sleep at night,” Elise says.

Confidence in numbers is imperative to the smooth running of an organisation that sells direct to boutiques all across the United States. In the wholesale industry, items are sold as bundles, rather than one-offs. And Sales Reps are selling to various boutiques across the country. It’s important to have a clear and precise indication of available stock in real time. This is why Cin7 has made life so much easier for this business. The visibility allows Elise and her team to have real-time, accurate sales and inventory data, and they’re able to react to it.

Ultimately, what it comes down to for Elise is the fact that Cin7 has seamlessly integrated with the company and unlocked its growth. Where she was once unable to keep track of what was selling and what was in stock, she can now know immediately what’s on hand – what sells quickly and what is popular right now. These things allow her to keep on track with orders and demand. And perhaps more importantly, she can trust what she sees.

And finally, what does the implementation of Cin7 mean for Elise and Pine Apparel?

“We can make money,” Elise says. “Why are you in business? You’re in business to make money, not just because you love to sell clothes to people.”

Cin7, she says, has enabled the business to get past its struggle with problems arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, bring on more staff, and even increase its pre-pandemic sales numbers.

“Before the year is half over, we’ll have recorded sales over our 2019 numbers, which is a huge victory,” Elise says. “So that’s a major acceleration.”

6 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Inventory Management System

Gone are the days when inventory was managed through manual stock takes and Excel spreadsheets. Today, various inventory management systems track inventory levels, demand, forecast, etc. When choosing an inventory management system for your business needs, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself to select the right option for your business.


#1. What is the Current Size of Your Business?

The first important question is to know what size and stage of growth your business is in. If your business is small, paying a lot of money for an inventory management solution would not be worth the investment. Until your yearly sales are over about $100k, a spreadsheet is enough for your inventory needs. If your projections predict imminent growth past $100k, begin to start looking at inventory solutions.

However, many SMBs having yearly sales between $100k and $100 million find that their inventory complexity is alleviated with a robust inventory solution.

#2. What is Your Budget?

Take your time to define your budget: inventory management systems range from free to six figures. If you know the investment you’re able to make, it’s much easier to refine your search to a few offerings that best suit your budget, size and operational capacity.

With huge variation in price comes a significant variation in quality and capability. So, make sure you invest wisely by doing your homework.

#3. What Kind of Inventory Management Software Does Your Business Need?

You must have a clear idea of your business needs. The mode of operation of each business is different. For instance, if you run a clothing store, the areas you may need help with are going to be different from a restaurant.

The specific needs of the business must be taken into consideration. If you need software that helps print barcodes for your products, check if you can get one that offers you both inventory management and barcode printing.

#4. What Challenges do you Need to Solve?

If you buy an inventory management solution, make sure you know what problems the tool will solve. It’s important to be familiar with successful inventory processes and the challenges that prevent growth.

Knowing the problems you’re trying to solve will make it easier to ask the right questions when choosing an inventory management system.

#5. What Integrations do you Need?

Any good inventory management system like Cin7 will connect with the tools your business uses daily. For instance, multichannel sales through eBay, Amazon and other online marketplaces must be supported so that you can monitor inventory across third-party sales channels.

You also want to connect your accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks. Seamless integration with eCommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento or BigCommerce is necessary for an online store. The right solution will help you manage every product, order and customer in one place and across multiple stores.

#6. Who Will Use the System?

To fit your business and your team’s requirements, it’s essential to know who will be accessing the system. With a cloud-based inventory management system, any employee or business partner can gain up-to-date information without emails, texts or phone calls to double-check orders. The system has it all.

Cin7 is Your Best Bet as Inventory Management Software

With the above six questions at your disposal, you are on course to determine the best inventory management solution for your business. Cin7’s cloud based software can handle all the needs of any company, size or industry.

Our system offers countless more features than any other standard inventory management system. Not only does Cin7 offer inventory management, but it also assists you with accounting, sales, POS, purchasing, manufacturing and eCommerce.

We have proudly assisted thousands of clients from around the globe to move their business forward. Our dedicated service team is always available to help you answer any questions you have.

Heart Water

That something as ubiquitous as “water,” something that falls free from the sky, can succeed as a product is testament to the power of innovative thinking and bold entrepreneurs. While many water brands, despite the claims made on the label, have only their marketing to differentiate them — many are, in fact, simply filtered tap water — there are some products that really do have a genuine point of difference. 

A standout from all the others is Cin7 customer Heart Water, who utilize unique patent-pending technology to harvest rainwater straight after it falls, without ever touching the ground.

“We are a bottled water facility, but we’re more than just that,” says Regina Mosely, Director of Operations at Heart Water. “ We have a rain harvesting system on the roof of our warehouse, with 300,000-gallon tanks that we collect rain water into. The water is ultra-filtered and processed into safe, sustainable, delicious drinking water. It’s all bottled right there in the facility.” 

Based in Austin, Texas, Heart Water is one of very few water brands that can claim to be genuinely sustainable, utilizing both rainwater collected at the point of manufacture and sustainable packaging. Most bottled water isn’t even close to sustainable, Regina explains. “Not only do they use energy consuming pumps to get water out of the ground, and then they put it into plastic. It’s a big waste, but few people realize how wasteful it is.” 

Bottled water might be seen as the ultimate luxury product — but when infrastructure is tested or under stress, it can become a necessity. “Throughout this last year, we’ve seen, unfortunately, what kind of vulnerabilities the water systems in some cities have. In Texas, we had that freak snowstorm that shut down the state for an entire week, with pipes bursting. We didn’t have water for a while. And even when it was back on, we had to boil all the drinking water. It really opened our eyes to the need, so we feel we can scale this to be about more than just bottled water as well.” 

Even with a genuinely superior product, the bottled water market is hard to break into, dominated by established brands from giant corporations like Coca-Cola and Nestle. To have a shot, Heart Water needed an inventory system that gave them modern selling tools, enabling them to keep up with the big brands.

Fortunately, they found it in Cin7. 

Cin7 gives Heart Water the inventory clarity they needed

Before implementing Cin7, HeartWater had been managing inventory with a hacked-together combination of QuickBooks Online and an Excel spreadsheet. “We didn’t really have a great avenue for projecting our costs of goods sold accurately,” Regina says. “We were also just estimating production and supply needs. It wasn’t providing us the scalability we’d need as we moved forward.” 

The trick was finding a system that handled multichannel selling seamlessly. Because Heart Water sells both direct to customer (D2C) and wholesale (B2B), they needed a system that could keep track of production, batches, and SKUs no matter how the product ends up being sold. As water is bottled, it’s assigned to one of several different SKUs, and then batched up in pallets. “As our ecommerce orders come in, we’re shipping those out daily. And as wholesale orders come through, we either ship them out, or hand deliver,” Regina says. “We also work with distributors, who come in and do pickups and dropoffs.” 

Regina knew the business needed an inventory management system to make it to the next level, but she wanted to make sure Heart Water made the right decision with a product that fit their needs at the moment but could scale up as they grew the business. She spent three months researching, evaluating solutions from very basic to very expensive, server-based legacy ERP systems. “We looked at super basic systems that weren’t very costly all the way up to NetSuite, which was really expensive. We finally settled on Cin7 — I liked the presentation, and I’d heard good things about it during my research.” 

Once Cin7 was implemented, the Heart Water team saw quick wins right away. Process transparency is at the heart of efficiency for any product seller: without a system that gives decision-makers visibility into operations and profit margins, the business is going to struggle to grow. But when your inventory management is in the cloud with Cin7, you can see everything you need to run the business well, as well as benefit from the huge efficiency gains of integrating with other business-critical SaaS systems like Shopify, ShipStation, and accounting software like QuickBooks Online. 

Regina says that the biggest win for Heart Water was “just knowing where our inventory is at any moment.” 

“Knowing our cost of goods sold without having to incorporate a lot of spreadsheets – that’s the biggest thing. Our systems are way more streamlined and optimized,” Regina says. 

“Before, when I had to look stuff up, I had to look in four or five different spreadsheets, or different platforms — look at QuickBooks, go back through emails. With Cin7, it’s nice having it all together.” 

Cin7 enables business growth with scalability at the core

Another reason Heart Water chose Cin7 is the system’s inherent flexibility and scalability. It can grow as your business does, and new functionalities can be added or brought online as necessary. The Heart Water team has their eye on Cin7’s B2B module, as well as its comprehensive library of native EDI connections. As their business increases in size and scope, they know the software will be able to keep up with them, empowering them on their mission to make pure drinking water more sustainable and accessible for all. 

“Another reason we went with Cin7 is because I know that B2B and EDI are capabilities Cin7 has. I do look forward to that in the future,” Regina says. 

“Cin7 is a nice, one-stop shop to have all of your production, your supplies, your inventory — all in one place.”