Sous vide dates to the 1970s when French chefs were slow-cooking meats and vegetables in vacuum-sealed bags placed in water at low heat. They saw great results, but the technique required precise control. For decades, only high-end restaurants did sous vide. It was unheard of in the average kitchen until Anova Culinary launched in 2013.
Anova’s smart appliances gave people the control to make restaurant-quality meals in their home. It was such a consumer hit that in three short years net sales reached $40 million.
Anova now sells its four precision cooker models around the world, through many retailers and direct to consumer online. Getting to where it is today came with some growing pains, particularly for its logistics team.
Visibility Not on the Menu
Ruth Townsend became Anova’s inventory planning manager in 2017. She uses her Anova cooker to make dinners she once thought were beyond her skill set. With a little pre-work prep, and the Anova app, she has gourmet dinners ready to eat when she gets home at night, saving her tons of time.
When it came to managing orders and gathering data, however, time was never on Ruth’s side.
“We just had a lot of ad hoc reporting and no real system in place,” she says.
If Ruth wanted to see how many of a particular SKU was sold in a specific market over a six-month period, she’d have to go hunting for that data in a lot of places.
“We would have to pull all of those orders from Shopify or from Shipwire,” Ruth says. “It required pulling a months worth of data at a time, pulling six different Excel files and putting that all together.”
With eight 3PL warehouses and multiple SKUs and plug types, Anova’s supply chain was a challenge for inventory management.
“That made things really complicated for inventory planning,” Ruth says. “Just to get a history of what we have in our warehouses, what our stock was by SKU, plug type, that took a long time to put together.”
Orders Eat Up Staff Time
Anova’s processes made large order fulfillment very time-consuming for the Operations six-person team. A couple times a year, their biggest retail customer, Amazon, would make bulk purchases of tens of thousands of units to be delivered in stages over a month.
“It would take one of our team members a full week of planning those shipments to get those orders out on time,” says Ruth. “They had to plan every single warehouse, every single truck, and there were spreadsheets full of tracking numbers for each of those shipments that went out to Amazon.”
That was on top of Amazon’s usual orders, not as big, but equally time-consuming.
“We get POs from Amazon every Monday, but no matter the scale of the orders, it would be a full day of work every week,” Ruth says. “We’ve been able to cut that time down considerably.”
Cin7 Serves to Taste
Anova needed a system that gave the Operations team full visibility and saved the entire company time.
“As a team, if we don’t get shipments out, the entire company feels the effects,” Ruth says.
She needed a system that could integrate Anova’s more than 12 localized ecommerce websites and for its growing number of B2B channels that require EDI, including Amazon Vendor Central, Target, Best Buy, and Sur La Table. She needed to get orders from all those channels to the company’s various 3PL warehouses.
“We did a ton of research and looked into multiple solutions. We kept coming back to Cin7 because it seemed like there was a lot more on offer in the way of integrations,” Ruth says. “We could see there were EDI connections there that we would want to take advantage of in the future, like Walmart.”
Unlike most systems, Cin7 integrated with Amazon Vendor Central and Seller Central, an important draw for Anova that ultimately made her team a lot more efficient in handling weekly orders.
“Now we get the POs on a Sunday night, and we have our retail team approve them, then with a few clicks, we can reject line items that don’t meet our minimums, make sure our addresses are correct, and send them to our warehouse,” Ruth says. “So it’s gone from a whole day’s worth of work every week to maybe an hour in total. Cin7 has cut down the work considerably.”
Finally, Cin7 has given her visibility to track Anova’s inventory and sales without having to spend a lot of time extracting information from many different sources.
“What used to take several hours of pulling data from different sources, now we’re running one report and setting some filters on it,” she says. “It’s been really nice to get that information very quickly.”