Featured in Food & Beverage
Cin7 helps innovative retailer The Winery keep their stock flowing through multiple channels
In early November 2016, The Winery took a leap of faith and switched their entire inventory management system to Cin7. It was a radical move for the Queenstown, New Zealand retailer, with the busy Christmas and summer tourist season coming. But for director Rick Nelson it wasn’t a moment too soon.
“Our website was growing, and we were frustrated with the point of sale (POS) system that we had,” he says. “I sat down one day and listed everything we had to do for a sale, and there were things that we were doing manually four times. There was just so much duplication that it was doing my head in.”
You could understand his frustration. The Winery is New Zealand’s largest specialist online wine store, a blend of retail, tourism, hospitality and ecommerce. It opened its doors in 2005 with the brand-new-in-NZ concept of self-serve wine-tasting for retail visitors. Today, its online store sells a range of around 850 wines to more than 40 countries.
Complicating matters further is the fact that wine is inherently a difficult commodity to track in inventory.
“We sell a product that is, quite frankly, a pain,” Rick says. “It’s not like selling widgets — when you buy wine, every vintage is a new SKU. Because different vintages of the same wine are literally like apples and onions. The 2018 vintage, the 2019 vintage — they’re not the same product at all. They may be the same grape varietal, but they’re a product of the season, the winemaker’s techniques, and enormous numbers of other variables.”
Because there are finite quantities of a given vintage, Rick says a wine retailer needs to keep a careful eye on supply. If a given product’s availability isn’t clear to customers, it’s easy to disappoint.
All this means that having an accurate understanding of inventory is absolutely essential. By 2016, it was clear that The Winery had well and truly outgrown its increasingly antiquated POS and inventory management system that was still DOS based. It could not integrate with the growing ecommerce website, and the need to manually duplicate information from one system in another left the door wide open to human error, not to mention the inefficiency of doing the same task over and over.
Rick discovered Cin7 through Xero. “I put it on the radar for implementation after the summer of 2017, thinking that timing would be best once we got through Christmas and the peak summer tourism season. But I was just so frustrated with what we were doing, I decided to pull the trigger and go live at the start of November 2016.”
“It would be fair to say that it threw a cat amongst the pigeons,” says Rick. “But we got to grips with it pretty quick, within a couple of weeks.”
The difference was immediate. “Cin7 was exactly what we needed.”
Fast-forward to 2020, and just before New Zealand went into its first Covid-19 lockdown The Winery opened its second store in Arrowtown. Then, during lockdown, Rick and his team created a second, more domestically-focused direct-to-consumer ecommerce site for Kiwis wanting more wine options than could be found at the supermarket.
Today, The Winery runs both online stores on BigCommerce, and things are set up so a single click allows orders to flow to Cin7. It’s a far cry from the days when details had to be entered manually up to four times — everything’s pulled through the online order, then sent through to StarshipIt and NZPost’s eShip for delivery. “Our customer enters that information now, rather than us, and it’s automatically passed all the way through the system. The integration and the customization have been great for us to link components of our business process together.”
The efficiency has been a real game-changer. Even opening a second retail store location and a second direct-to-consumer (D2C) online store was “pretty painless”, says Rick, thanks to Cin7.
The reporting abilities have also been particularly helpful: with Cin7, it’s possible to generate time-based reports on stock and sales for each supplier and create purchase orders directly from that report.
“The purchase order loads up in Cin7, my accounts person does a check of that against the physical invoice, and we scan the invoice through to Xero. With the two linked together, we never have to type in the supplier’s name or what we’re paying them. So yeah, we’ve saved time on that side as well,” Rick says.
Rick is also a fan of a reporting feature that shows stock in different locations, so excess stock in one store can be easily transferred to another. Before Cin7, to do stock transfers, they’d have to type all the information into email and put up with endless back-and-forth.
“Now it’s all automated straight out of Cin7,” Rick says.
The visibility available through Cin7’s reporting has made it much easier to manage The Winery’s various systems. “It enables you to see what’s actually happening in the business and make plans accordingly. Particularly in this last year with Covid, cash flow management and not being overstocked has been really important,” Rick says.
“There are a number of checks and balances in our process to make sure that we offer the right level of service, and without Cin7, we’d need a lot more people today to manage the business. So there’s definitely efficiencies, plus eliminating all that duplication and human error.”
New Zealand’s 2020 lockdown saw many businesses scrambling to find ways to continue operating under government restrictions. Companies that couldn’t figure out how to operate remotely, or from home, risked going belly-up.
Rick says that it was because of Cin7 that they were even able to keep filling orders. “Going back to 2016, we would have to log in remotely to the backend computer because it was the inventory server — that would’ve created some problems,” he laughs.
As it was, Rick spent lockdown in Dunedin with his family and kept the business running, while his staff were able to go into work under the restrictions in place and transact orders.
The ability to track business in real time from anywhere is something he’s especially thankful for. Wherever he is — be it at his Queenstown home or somewhere else — it’s easy to check daily sales and transactions any time and to know exactly how much product to get at a given moment.
“Because Cin7 is cloud-based, I don’t need to be onsite with the business. I’m sitting at home right now, and this is where I do most of the ordering and getting an overview of the business,” Rick says.
“It’s just the way things are these days. If people are still trapped in systems that don’t allow them to do that, then they’re going to be pretty pleased when they change to Cin7 and get it, because they’re living in another age.”
The Winery’s success with Cin7 has come from three things: Cin7’s integrations, its customizability, and the efficiency that comes from those things.
“Cin7 just gives you so much more efficiency,” Rick says. “There’s time saved in processing orders, whether they be e-commerce or in-store.
For businesses looking to integrate Cin7, Rick says the process is easy, if you approach it in the right way.
“Start by analyzing your business, your processes. If you understand those well, then I think it’s pretty quick to get to the bottom of whether Cin7 can be adapted to do what you need — and it seems very adaptable from what I’ve seen,” Rick says. “The beauty of Cin7 is that it’s very customizable, without breaking it, and that’s pretty key.”
“Cin7 is highly integratable with lots of leading platforms that allow you to customize it to tailor and suit your business. The integration and the customization have been great for us to link components of our business process together. Now Cin7’s at the centre of it all,” Rick says.
“It’s a comprehensive solution for a lot of businesses, from warehousing to retail to e-commerce platforms. So yeah, well done, guys. Good job.”
Items / SKUs sold per month
Revenue per year
The Winery opened in late 2005 in central Queenstown, with a unique wine-tasting component, specializing in New Zealand wines . It introduced to Kiwis the concept of a self-service wine store, based on an Italian system in which customers can choose to taste a variety of wines — or even have a glass or two. Today, with stores in both Queenstown and Arrowtown, The Winery proudly delivers New Zealand’s best wines to over 40 countries.
Employees: 5 – 15
Revenue: $1m – $5m per year
Sales order volume: 500 – 999 items / SKUs sold per month
The Winery uses Cin7:
Cin7 helps with the following areas of the business:
Key areas of business investment and/or growth include:
Accounting integration: Xero
Ecommerce integration: BigCommerce
Shipping integration: Starshipit, eShip
Rick Nelson, The Winery