Gumball Poodle

Global brand Gumball Poodle turns socks into statement pieces with Cin7

Working with Cin7 allowed Gumball Poodle to keep the business up and running despite discovering they only had months to replace mission-critical software.

Gumball Poodle

When Gumball Poodle only had months to find a new inventory management software, they turned to Cin7 for easy onboarding and a flexible platform that seamlessly fit their existing automations and sales channels. 

All it takes is one look at Gumball Poodle’s website, and you can get a sense of the brand’s view on life, which is fun, colorful, exciting, and “all socks all the time,” as founder Erica Easley says. While the brand now sells to customers around the globe, it began as a side hustle in 2008 when Erica, whose preferred uniform at the time included shorts and knee socks, was looking for Obama knee socks and couldn’t find them anywhere.

Not one to give up on a great idea, Erica recalls thinking, “Gosh darn it, I really want them. I’m just going to go ahead and make them.” She used her experience in the fashion industry to design the socks and have them manufactured. She sold the excess through her friends’ stores and online via Shopflick, and the socks became incredibly popular.

To Erica’s surprise, the socks received national press, which led to her purchasing more bulk orders to meet the spike in demand. She ended up going through a few manufacturing runs in just a couple of months.

After the election, Erica realized she had many more creative sock ideas, and so Gumball Poodle was born. Since then, demand has snowballed multiple times over the years. The brand now sells colorful and cheeky statement socks with sayings like “Everything hurts and I’m dying” and “Hot Mom” through several channels, including Shopify wholesale and retail, the Faire B2B platform, and traditional orders placed via email and phone.

Gumball Poodle’s quirky socks quickly gained attention outside of the U.S. market, and the company now has customers worldwide, with strong sales in Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.

As the brand grew, Erica tried out different inventory management styles before finding one that helped her manage her business well. But then, she learned it was going to be shut down after being acquired by another company, and she was given only a few months to replace this mission-critical software.

Erica knew that the larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) companies weren’t a fit for her brand. She explains, “My company is very nimble … we’re already heavily invested in automations … so a lot of what was native to those big platforms wasn’t what we needed.”

Instead, she needed a provider that offered quick and seamless onboarding and features that would allow her business to continue growing, such as a straightforward application planning interface (API).

“I was looking for what is going to make our lives easier, not more complicated.”

After hearing of her hunt for a new inventory management solution, an accounting colleague referred Erica to Cin7. She was immediately drawn to the native integrations and ability to work seamlessly with Gumball Poodle’s existing automations and key sales channels, Shopify and Faire.

Erica also valued Cin7’s intuitive and user-friendly interface because her team could adopt the platform without needing to increase headcount. She explains, “We didn’t have or want to have [a team member] solely dedicated to operating an order management platform.”

Given her short timeframe, Erica asked longtime Cin7 partner Woodard Consulting to implement Cin7’s platform, which simplified onboarding and enabled Gumball Poodle to get value out of the software faster.

With the help of an implementation consultant and Cin7’s easy-to-use design, Erica’s team was able to onboard quickly and switch their operations to Cin7 before their existing software shut down. She says, “[Cin7 is] pretty easy to learn. [We were] up and running with it right away. There wasn’t any downtime.”

Even now, over a year after the initial onboarding period, Erica loves that Cin7 doesn’t require significant training time when a new employee joins the team.

“I don’t have to spend time training anybody new and how to use it. You show somebody once, and they can pretty much figure it out. It’s intuitive, and it’s just made everything easy for us.”

A huge win for Erica is the ability to use Cin7 to make life easier for her team by giving everyone more visibility and decision-making power. The most significant impact has been on her customer service reps, who are responsible for letting customers know whether Gumball Poodle can accommodate large bulk orders.

Before working with Cin7, customer service reps would have to check with Erica or other team members to confirm the availability of items for large orders that required a quick turnaround, which the brand often gets around events like Pride parades. While these orders presented a great revenue opportunity, they had the potential to disrupt other sales.

With the increased inventory visibility from Cin7, it’s easy for customer service reps to handle these large last-minute orders. Once again, Erica credits Cin7’s ease of use with giving her team of eight people the ability to accomplish more in less time.

“The customer service team can go in and look at what the inventory levels are and what’s coming in without having to ask me or anybody else if we have the inventory to fill this. It’s given a lot of autonomy to our team and decision-making.”

In addition to making work easier for her team, Cin7 gave Erica a seamless transition despite the short timeframe she was given to replace her previous solution.

Before she had to find a new software, Erica and her team had already developed robust workflows. Working with Cin7 meant that she could change inventory solutions without any disruption to her business.

Once everything was up and running, Erica had time to explore how she could drive even more efficiency through Cin7. Specifically, while Erica was proud of Gumball Poodle’s already efficient inventory management processes, the move to Cin7 has given her the features she needs to track relevant metrics and uncover insights that help her improve workflows and profitability.

Erica explains, “I think it’s really improved our reporting … It’s always been very consistent and very correct … We’re able to rely [on all of the reports in Cin7] and feel confident in using [them] because there is so much real-time data available.”

In addition to having accurate real-time stock levels, Cin7’s ability to analyze historical sales performance means that Erica can better understand sales trends, predict demand, and avoid issues like overstocking. “There are a couple of reports that we use a lot around inventory that I think has helped our inventory management, [allowing us to] operate with a leaner inventory,” Erica says.

Prior to using Cin7, Erica could only apply new reports looking forward, not to previously collected data. With Cin7’s advanced analytics, she can get reports for any time period she wants, which has led to more empowered decisions around inventory.

“In moving over to Cin7, we are able to generate a whole bunch more reports, and there’s a lot of flexibility.”

Cin7 also offers native integrations that empower Erica to access more data-driven insights than she was able to before. She explains, “[The way Cin7 connects] with some partner software gives us tremendous flexibility in finding the information we want.” Now, Gumball Poodle regularly uses ABC Analysis, Sell-Through, and Sales Velocity reports for product analysis.

Having access to real-time inventory levels and a wider variety of sales reports has been invaluable for Erica, especially since her fun and colorful socks are perfect gifts for different occasions, making her business prone to seasonality. Not to mention, viral moments, such as Beyoncé sporting Gumball Poodle in a music video or Kamala Harris repping the brand’s statement socks on TikTok, can lead to sudden spikes in demand.

Cin7’s ability to offer more analytics is also crucial for Gumball Poodle because the brand needs to keep track of inventory movement across several sales channels. With Cin7, Erica gets all the information she needs in one place, and she can trust that it’s accurate.

“It’s super easy to drill down on information about individual SKUs and track what’s going on with all our different products. It keeps our Shopify and Faire inventories updated in real-time, which is so nice, especially during busy seasons.”

By leveraging streamlined integrations, real-time stock visibility, and powerful data-driven insights, Erica has used Cin7 to keep popular items in stock and continue to deliver a high-quality customer experience for buyers around the world.

Cin7’s inventory tracking and sales forecasting features have also been crucial for helping Erica place better purchase orders.

As a result, Gumball Poodle has been able to consistently right-size their inventory with Cin7. Erica is proud to say, “We’ve been very consistent at carrying the correct amount of inventory for the 18 months we’ve been on Cin7. And that’s a huge win.”

While Erica may not have had the choice when it came to leaving her previous software, she’s glad to have found a platform that serves her business now and can grow with them. She states, “I don’t see ceilings in the near future with [Cin7], which is a big win. If you’re investing in moving to one of these platforms, you want somebody you can grow with or a software that you can grow with for a number of years.”

Erica appreciates Cin7’s product-led strategy and looks forward to implementing new features in her business. In addition, Cin7’s customer-driven approach continues to make her feel confident she made the right decision.

“Cin7 cares about the small businesses. They want us to succeed. They’re listening to us and making decisions with our input.”

When asked if she would recommend Cin7 to other businesses, Erica says she already has. She goes on to say, “It’s a great cost-to-value proposition. I think it’s easy and intuitive to use. I think it’s flexible for all kinds of businesses.”

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