Sell more with unified commerce

Product sellers who have reached a high level of success and are still bogged down by manual processes need to adopt a unified commerce software solution that allows them to interconnect each critical aspect of their operation. Many of the 8,000 product sellers we work with here at Cin7 have experienced explosive growth since the start of the pandemic made online shopping a necessity.

Often, these companies find their reliance on manual stock counts and data entry has become unsustainable and increasingly prone to human error. We find that when a company begins searching for IT help to modernize their software stack to keep up with their growth, they’re ready for the power of unified commerce.

Cin7 provides a unified commerce solution like no other on the market today. Cin7’s all-in-one unified commerce solution automates all your workflows – how and where you sell, how you manage all your inventory, how you fulfill orders and how you manage your finances.

Bring critical business functions together

Adopting and paying for disparate software programs to manage individual business needs is certainly one approach to consider, but leads to the “swivel chair” approach of having to toggle between accounting programs, spreadsheets, ecommerce backends and shipping applications. It may seem like progress, but this approach is costly in both monthly fees and staffing resources.

By bringing all of your business functions together, across sales and operations in a unified and automated workflow, Cin7 helps sell to more customers through more sales channels and process more orders – more efficiently and faster than ever before.

How unified commerce creates a top sales operation

Here’s a scenario that illustrates the concept of unified commerce:

Your company sells products to consumers both online and in brick-and-mortar locations. You also have a healthy wholesale distribution division that sells in bulk to major retailers. Over time you’ve grown to 3 branded online marketplaces, Amazon, Walmart and Ebay, 4 custom ecommerce sites and 10 physical store locations.

Adopting an end-to-end software solution that connects to marketplaces and enables you to manage your ecommerce sites combined with overall inventory management and sales tracking will streamline your operations and save thousands with the efficiencies it creates. The solution should allow you to track store inventory, transfer orders to other locations, ship orders from your stores and warehouses, and manage customer loyalty programs.

It should also let you work with the third party logistics provider (3PL) you have contracted with to manage your warehouse operations, fulfill orders, and process returns.

Because you are a fashion retailer, and fast changing trends dictate what products are popular at the moment, you require real time sales performance analysis so you are not tying up too much capital in overstocked inventory.

Unified commerce brings together all aspects of a product seller’s business. When orders are placed, either by consumers or in bulk by major retailers, transactions are automatically recorded to accounting programs like QuickBooks and corresponding adjustments are made to inventory quantities. Ongoing management of each sales outlet is maintained within the Cin7 platform.

Workflow automation is a key benefit of unified commerce. Purchase orders can be set to generate when stock levels hit a predetermined threshold. Wholesale orders can be placed directly into your system by major retailers who have established an EDI connection with you. The fulfillment process is triggered automatically, sending orders to your 3PL. Stock can be shifted from one warehouse or store location to another. A dedicated payment portal is also provided so wholesale customers can easily keep their account current.

Perhaps most importantly, the customizable analytics reporting capabilities of Cin7 give management visibility into real time, accurate financial data both in dashboard views and pivot-table ready reports.

Our research conclusively confirms that product sellers thrive, grow sales, and reduce costs when they adopt a modern tech stack with a cloud-based inventory management solution that embraces the unified commerce approach to selling.

A complete selling solution

Product sellers that capitalize on unified commerce, a holistic solution that interconnects every critical business process across sales and operations, realize several benefits:

  • Sync sales, accounting and inventory control in real time
  • Design branded B2C and B2B websites to sell to consumers and major retailers
  • Completely integrate your Shopify site and your retail location with included POS app
  • Set order thresholds to automate purchase orders when stock runs low
  • Refer to sales dashboards or customize demand forecast reports
  • Assign orders to your 3PL for accurate fulfillment and shipping
  • Maintain a modern cloud-based tech stack
  • Maximize warehouse space
  • Cut overhead and keep headcount trimmed
  • Quickly process invoices and payments from wholesale customers

About Cin7

Cin7 helps over 8,000 product sellers benefit from unified commerce to move more orders with greater accuracy to more satisfied buyers. Efficiencies created by unified commerce save on overhead and provide a great customer experience. Cin7 simplifies your ability to sell by bringing together over 700 established connections with online marketplaces, major retailers, shippers, third party logistics providers and accounting programs. At a fraction of the monthly subscription fee for a bloated ERP solution, Cin7 delivers all of the key functionality a modern product seller requires.

Gain the unified commerce advantage over your competitors. Request a Cin7 product demo and get unified.

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.

A complete guide to robotics and warehouse management

The word automation was first coined and used by Ford Motor Company then Vice President, Delmas Harder in 1948 when he commented that, “What we need is more automation.”

He realized that there was a need to improve material handling in-between the various production stages to compete in the market with companies like Chevrolet.

Why this is significant is because it was the first time anyone thought of automating a process in a manufacturing unit. This led to the creation of robots that are now used in the manufacturing plants, warehouses, to ease and quicken the processes.

Let’s dive into the history of how the robots came into existence.

History of robotics in warehouses

However, it was not until 1954 that George Dovel filed for a robotics patent when he created the first industrial robotic arm, Unimate.

This robot was capable of moving the materials around 12 feet away within the manufacturing unit. This also earned George Dovel the title – Grandfather of Robots.

It took until 1961 for a patent to be granted due to concerns about laborers losing their jobs.  General Motors was the first company to make use of the first of these robot arms in manufacturing at their New Jersey plant in 1962.

Then came the Stanford Arm in 1969 created by Victor Scheinman. It was technically a first of its kind, electrically-powered, an automated robot arm that could move around accurately. The arm was powerful enough to assemble the Ford water pump by itself with optical and contact sensors.

This marked the beginning of a new era of using robots in the manufacturing process for achieving higher efficiency and improving lead time in the production of items.

By 1990, the use of robots started in households as well with the advent of Roomba robots developed by iRobot. Roomba was a first-generation vacuum cleaning robot that became a huge success.

Since then, there has been no looking back and the usage of robotics has come a long way in a short span of time.

In 2003, Kiva systems started creating AMR (Automated mobile robots) which were used in moving goods around warehouse and distribution centers using a conveyor system or by forklifts.

Kiva robots were so effective that Amazon bought the company itself in 2012 and now uses them across all their distribution centers.

Amazon is at the forefront of warehouse robotics development with 100,000 robots operating in their fulfillment centers across the globe.

Types of robots

As mentioned earlier, there was no looking back once the Roomba robot and Kiva robots were introduced and hugely successful in the market. Various types of robots came into existence that served various purposes.

However, for the warehouse, 5 major types of robots are used:

#1 Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV)

The Kiva robot that we are so familiar with is actually an Automated Guided Vehicle robot. This robot helps in transporting products and materials from one place to another by using magnetic stripes, sensors, or a track embedded in the warehouse floor. They are the best alternative to the manually driven forklifts and picking carts.

#2 Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR)

AGVs have developed a lot over the years and now they can function without magnetic stripes or sensors. These are known as Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) loaded with warehouse maps and the location of all the inventory stored in it.

AGVs also have safety scanners embedded in it such as 3D cameras, lidar, infrared, front and rear sensors, etc. which allow them to navigate without any mishaps following maps and the established routes within the warehouse. These are also known as self-driving forklifts.

#3 Cobots or collaborative robots

As the name suggests, these are robots that work collaboratively with human workers at the warehouse. However, these are quite efficient as they are semi-autonomous mobile robots that can move around a warehouse with their human pickers.

Usually, these cobots follow the human pickers so that they can drop picked items in the bins carried by these robots. This improves efficiency amongst warehouse workers and also reduces or eliminates the effort of physically carrying products.

Cobots have sensors so that they can identify any obstacle or boxes in their way and enable them to navigate carefully through the warehouse. Cobots are picker staff best friends as they can speed up their order fulfillment capabilities.

#4 Automated storage and retrieval systems

Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are automated technologies used in warehouses for speedy storing and retrieving of goods. This system consists of multiple technological machines such as shuttles, cranes, carousels, vertical lift modules, unit loads, and mini loads.

Since all AS/RS are computer-controlled systems, they are integrated with the warehouse management system so that it can process order fulfillment as soon as orders are received.  AS/RS systems are used for moving a high volume of loads from in and out of storage.

AS/RS systems save time and effort of picking staff since in this “Good to Person” order picking, the worker does not have to physically move from one place to another to pick items. A mini-load crane, shuttle or AMR retrieve the products as per order and deliver it directly to the worker for packing and shipping.

#5 Aerial drones

We have been fascinated with the idea of drones delivering packages to our doorstep ever since Amazon began this practice. Drones have greater capabilities and we still have not fully explored their usage.

Drones are already being used in warehouses for locating and tracking inventory. They make the work much easier, quicker and can reach any nook and corner easily. In addition, a drone can be easily integrated with your warehouse management system making it an effective technology for tracking inventory and also lifting lightweight products for easy picking and packing.

Drones are autonomous and customizable, and with their cameras and RFID, drones can easily scan products, do inventory checks, conduct tracking, and map inventory.

Benefits of using robots in the warehouse

“To be or not to be” is a challenge faced for the usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the manufacturing industry. Some are uncomfortable with the overall implications of AI taking over manual tasks, but recent statistics of intelligent automation capabilities are gaining attention, and therefore, cannot just be ignored.

“85% usage of intelligent automation will be seen in Supply Chain Management by 2021,” as per an IBM Report.

It is essential to stay globally competent in today’s dynamic market and using robots and artificial intelligence in the warehouse is the way to go! Here are a few of the benefits of using robots in the warehouse.

Reduces manual labor

Robots can take over work that is dangerous or time-consuming and thereby help warehouse workers to stay safe while working in coordination with robots.

Robots also help save time and effort by replacing manual scanning, picking and packing, and inventory counting. Also, it can be a very strenuous activity for the warehouse workers to keep on moving one rack to the other to fetch items ordered by customers. But autonomous mobile robots can perform these physical tasks and help workers to focus more on other order fulfillment tasks that require human intervention.

Improves warehouse accuracy and efficiency

Artificial intelligence helps in reducing human error and improves the customer experience which is the key to success for any business.

Since robots are customizable and can be programmed for a specific purpose, there are few instances of mistakes. Robots are not prone to human error and thus they eliminate wasted time and effort in redoing an incorrect task.

Accuracy in tasks like product scanning, picking, storing, and transporting products positively affects the overall performance of the warehouse. Warehouse robots work with precision and allow operators to automate the most mundane and laborious tasks.

Reduces warehouse costs

As per U.S. Census Bureau data, an average warehouse worker spends almost seven weeks per year in unnecessary motion within the warehouse. The costs of such futile activity costs the industry more than $4.3 billion USD in annual revenue.

Also, robots perform dangerous tasks efficiently in the warehouse, resulting in reduced costs spent on worker’s compensation for safety issues. There are fewer chances of workers getting injured since robots are performing the tasks instead.

The number of workers required in the warehouse also decreases as robots can fulfill most of the tasks with accuracy, creating less wastage.

Efficient picking capabilities

One of the foremost usages of a robotic arm was to move materials from one place to another up to 12 feet away. But with the technical advancements, the robotic arm has now been developed into an autonomous mobile robot that can travel far and wide in the warehouse and pick items automatically.

Some well-known companies like IAM Robotics, 6 RiverSystems, and GreyOrange, have introduced their powerful mobile robotic picking solutions in the market increasing warehouse efficiency requiring limited human resources.

These machines are programmed to travel established routes and they typically carry carts in which the products can be stored and transported to human workers.

Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you understand how robots are changing the supply chain within warehouses. At this point in time, robot technology is just scratching the surface. In the future, robots will prove to be much more useful and advanced as technology advances.

To learn more about Cin7 inventory and order management software and to find out how our warehouse management system can help automate your operations, request a demo here.

7 core benefits of AI-powered supply chains

The global supply chain is filled with several variables that add to its complexity: government regulations, ever-changing customer demand, rising transportation costs, and international events such as pandemics. Any innovation that helps improve the supply chain’s efficiency can help increase your bottom-line profit.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one such innovation that helps optimize the supply chain by better forecasting customer preferences and cutting costs by automating some repetitive manual tasks.

IBM defines AI as, “leveraging computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind.” In common parlance, AI is a technology that can think like humans to solve problems.

A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand (PWC) suggests that AI-based applications could potentially contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the world economy by 2030.

Artificial intelligence is soaring in popularity —  in fact, Gartner predicts that by 2023, 50% of IT leaders will move their AI projects from proof of concept to maturity.

Giant conglomerates such as Amazon already leverage AI to   better control   the supply chain. For example, Amazon has already transformed the ecommerce business through free shipping and 1-day delivery practices. It is now devising systems using AI and machine learning (ML) to automate its warehousing processes and drone delivery.

If you are considering AI-powered supply chains, here are seven benefits that could help transform and evolve your business:

#1 Warehouse automation

The warehouse should not be treated simply as a place to store goods. Furthermore, if the items in the warehouse are not properly stored, there could be difficulty in retrieving the items when required. This in turn can increase your fulfillment time, not to mention your customers’ frustration. Instead, the warehouse should be regarded as a strategic asset that can help with storage and faster fulfillment of goods, thanks to automation.

Automation can help with the timely retrieval of goods from the warehouse and facilitate a smoother fulfillment of orders. As you keep purchasing inventory, the algorithm continues to learn from the data, and – based on this purchase and supplier data – the AI can provide stocking recommendations.

Lack of real-time information can lead to inefficient warehousing. Using a warehouse management system can offer much-needed clarity and help in streamlining your operations. A warehouse manager can get real-time insights about the various parts, components, and finished inventory stored in the warehouse, since the technology takes virtually no time to process and analyze large swaths of data.

Drones are also helping to automate warehouse operations. In movies and wedding ceremonies, drones are often used for videography from a higher altitude. At the warehouse, drones scan and capture information from barcodes and RFID tags, as well as reconcile data with your warehousing software.

Apart from scanning, the drones can also pick up inventory and aid with quicker shipping. Using drones to fetch items from higher shelves also mitigates the risk of warehousing staff injuries caused by falling from height.

Helpful hint: Apart from speeding up the work and saving you time, AI automation can reduce the otherwise required number of warehousing staff and save money that would have been devoted to payroll.

#2 Minimize operational costs

Plant managers deal with several challenges in running business operations. There can be inventory shortages, unplanned machinery downtime, or a rise in raw material pricing. All these can increase overall operational costs. If you are operating on lean margins, any activity that helps with cost-cutting can be crucial for your success. To combat such supply-demand mismatches, businesses have started implementing AI technology, leading to cost minimization and delivering a better customer experience.

Research from McKinsey suggests that after introducing artificial intelligence in their supply chain, 44% of executives reported cost reduction, and 63% had increased their overall revenue.

Helpful hint: Unlike humans, technology can run 24/7 with maximum productivity. It is free of human error and reduces workplace accidents.

#3 Predicting trends

It can be challenging to plan for the supply chain due to globalization, competition, increasing product varieties, and varying customer preferences. Unplanned events such as pandemic-related lockdowns and logistical issues can fuel the fire.

When final production relies on the timely availability of several spare parts and critical components, their unavailability can create bottlenecks in the supply chain. With a robust AI-powered forecasting system, businesses are equipped with the necessary intelligence to prepare themselves before such events disrupt production.

Along the lines of AI, there is a buzzword called “Big Data” that is commonly used. As the name suggests, Big Data refers to data that is huge in volume and keeps compounding over time. For example, when customers purchase items from Amazon, they browse through many products that can yield insights into their consumption patterns.

Analyzing such a massive dataset may seem unfathomable by humans, but it can be done through AI-driven tools. Intelligent systems can analyze data and guide the forecasting of supply and demand. This can prevent your business from accumulating excessive stock. A study by McKinsey suggests that implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning can reduce supply chain forecasting errors by up to 50%.

Through machine learning, businesses can also leverage predictive analytics. This way, companies can spot patterns from historical data and current buying patterns for better forecasting.

#4 Better fleet management

The term, “fleet,” refers to a group of vehicles owned by businesses used for transportation. Fleet management is crucial for the smooth functioning of the supply chain as it links the manufacturer (supplier) to the customer. From rising fuel costs to labor shortages, fleet managers need to tackle many challenges. Managing a large fleet can be an arduous task if the necessary information is not available in a timely manner.

Using AI in logistics can offer real-time tracking and vital information for shipments. AIcan also assist in reducing the losses arising from fleet downtime and make the most of the fuel capacity.

AI-powered autonomous vehicles are also gaining popularity. Utilizing self-driving trucks can help reduce the cost of drivers and improve efficiency. Although it is a relatively new technology, the trend for autonomous trucks is gaining traction in the US logistics market, and it will continue to expand over the coming years.

#5 Improve inventory management

Inventory management lays the foundation of proper supply chain management. Effective inventory management can ensure a logical flow of goods in and out of the warehouse. With so many variables to consider – like order picking, packing and fulfillment – manual inventory management is time-consuming and prone to errors.

Inventory bottlenecks lead to delays and reductions in revenue. With the help of AI, businesses can gain complete visibility of supply chain variables and identify the processes that act as bottlenecks. Upon identifying bottlenecks, you can quickly eliminate them by strategically finding opportunities for improvement.

Apart from bottlenecks, understocking and overstocking are also issues that adversely affect your business. Understocking leads to losses arising from missed sales opportunities and risks reducing customer loyalty. Conversely, overstocking poses the risk of loss due to not being able to sell the inventory. Businesses can use demand forecasting (through AI) to avoid overstocking and accurately predict trends. Based on the data, the production and stock levels can be calibrated to maintain optimum inventory.

Cloud-based inventory management software can provide a centralized view of all inventory across multiple locations. With accurate information about their inventory, purchase managers can determine when to place new orders.

Thanks to technological advancements, even the purchase order process can be automated. By customizing quantity thresholds, a purchase order can be automatically generated and sent to  suppliers to avoid stockouts.

Helpful hint: Machine learning algorithms can also mitigate fraud by automating auditing and inspections. Audits help to spot any deviations from common product patterns. Privileged credential abuse is another challenge that causes a breach in the supply chain, but with the help of AI technology, such misfortunes can be prevented.

#6 Speedy shipping

What good is producing excellent products and services if you cannot deliver them to your customers in a timely fashion? Even after using state-of-the-art technology to improve your warehousing and operational processes, if you cannot ship products on time, your profitability will suffer.

Using AI in the supply chain can not only assist you with forecasting the products’ demand but can also lead to better shipping control. It factors in customer’ locations to deliver the products, along with the time it takes to ship them.

Your operations managers can get real-time information about the delivery schedules, and the team can be warned upon detection of a discrepancy. You should not overlook last-mile delivery as it constitutes around 28% of delivery costs.

#7 Enhance customer experience

Offering a stellar buying experience is essential to fostering a better relationship with your customers. Happy customers not only lead to repeated sales but also act as ambassadors to promote your brand through positive word-of-mouth.

It is plausible that your customers have questions about your product and will contact the company. If your support team makes them wait too long, the chances of them switching to your competitor are all but guaranteed to increase.

Implementing AI-based chatbots on your website can help you tackle such issues. Chatbots are available around the clock, and studies suggest they can answer up to 80% of routine questions. As the answers are already installed in the system, the bots can quickly solve the queries, allowing your support team to prioritize other projects.

Apart from answering questions, chatbots can also act as sales agents allowing potential customers to interact with and submit purchase orders.

Amazon has a fine example of machine learning to offer a better customer experience. Their algorithm helps them to provide better product recommendations based on previous orders and searches made by the customer. They also use chatbots to offer assistance regarding purchases, returns, and refunds.

In summary

Based on the benefits examined in this article, it is evident that AI can make a breakthrough impact on the supply chain. From reducing costs to optimizing operations, it can help your business outpace the competition.

As challenges in the supply chain increase, businesses will welcome the opportunity to upgrade their technology and better serve their customers. While external variables might accelerate the adoption of AI, it is already transforming from a nice-to-have to a must-have item that will help your business stay relevant and represent the standard in supply chain management.

Cin7 inventory and order management software should be your go-to solution as you pivot towards AI for your sales operations. Gain the same advantages as the top product sellers who have already discovered Cin7’s connected multichannel solution. Book a demo with one of our consultants and take a step closer to adopting the efficiencies that await.

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.”