7 Common mistakes wholesalers and distributors make

Business models such as ecommerce and direct-to-consumer (DTC) are giving a tough time to wholesalers as well as retailers. You may already be struggling with razor-thin margins, and during such situations committing mistakes can cost you dearly. You need to be on top of your game.

This article will share some common mistakes that wholesalers and distributors make while running the business. Understanding these mistakes is a stepping stone to avoiding them.

 

Some common mistakes that wholesalers and distributors make

1. Using outdated methods

It’s surprising to think about how many businesses still rely on manual approaches, like using pen and paper to manage their businesses. Although pen and paper do have their own merit, for starters, they don’t need any electricity to run. However, papers can be easily misplaced or stolen, which you don’t want. Storing them can be a headache too as it will take significant space in your office premises. Plus, it’s not convenient to share them with your business partners.

While some people have migrated to digital forms like spreadsheets, it’s not enough to be successful today. Spreadsheets can get really messy, and you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time updating them regularly. Plus, it’ll take digital storage space, which is risky if your storage drive gets corrupt.

The best solution is to use a cloud-based inventory management solution. The data gets updated in real-time, so you get accurate visibility over your inventory. As the data is securely stored in the cloud, there’s no risk of losing it.

 

2. Sales representatives lacking information and resources

Sales is the primary revenue generating activity for your wholesaling business. Your sales representatives are entrusted with the responsibility to drive sales, and thus, they must be equipped with all the right tools and knowledge. They need to have full visibility over your inventory and should be well versed with your product and promotional information.

It’s best to also acquaint them with your business process so that they can confidently answer queries about delivery time and product returns. Failing to do this will affect your customer service, and you’ll lose out on loyal customers.

You can leverage Cin7’s inventory management solution to empower your sales team. They can easily get data about your customers, suppliers, and all necessary product-related information. The features of Cin7 aren’t just limited to inventory management. You can also use it to streamline your sales quoting process. Cin7 allows you to offer accurate quotes/prices to your B2B customers and also set the payment terms. On top of that, you can receive payments and generate invoices.

Cin7 is your one-stop solution for managing your sales and inventory.

 

3. Inadequate customer management

Customers can make or break your wholesaling business. You need to ensure that you manage them well and satisfy their expectations so that they continue doing business with you. It is necessary to take their feedback about their experiences with your service, and you should improve accordingly.

You should be fair in your treatment of your business customers irrespective of the revenue that they generate. On top of that, you should also regularly communicate with your customers. Thanks to digitalization, this process is easier than it has ever been. You can use email sequences to broadcast information to your customers so that they feel informed and valued. You can also segment your customer base and then target them effectively with specific messaging in emails.

 

4. Monitoring stock levels

Being a wholesaler, you deal in large volumes of stock. It can be challenging to monitor your stock levels when you’re dealing with multiple buyers and deliveries being made daily. But you can’t afford to lose track of inventory as poor inventory management can lead to situations such as understocking and overstocking (both being undesirable).

You need clear visibility about when the items enter and exit your warehouse. This way, you’ll be able to track and share inventory updates with your customers. Cin7 can help you with inventory control as you get real-time visibility over your inventory in the warehouse. This would help in optimizing your processes to ensure a smooth workflow.

 

5. Ignoring business relationships

In the race to raise your profits, you shouldn’t overlook business relationships. Relationships are necessary, especially in the B2B arrangement that you deal with. Positive experience with customers can lead to more business opportunities as they can endorse you to their business partners. This is the key to long-term success.

Better relationships will ensure that your customers stick even through market fluctuations. Do your best to build these relationships by offering great customer service, making transactions convenient, and fulfilling orders quickly. Good relationships can also help in better negotiation with the suppliers so that you can lower your costs.

 

6. Not monitoring the cash flow

Healthy cash flow is the fuel for your business. Offering credit to your customers can help with increasing your sales. However, overextending the credit is risky for your business as it can lead to defaults.

You should thrive to proactively remind your customers about their payables and you should make it easier and more convenient for them to pay their invoices.

Cin7 can generate sales reports using which you can not only gauge the financial health of your business but can also ascertain your inventory’s performance. To sweeten the pot, we have integration with several accounting softwares such as Xero and Quickbooks.

 

7. Not following up with your customers

The relationship between you and the customers shouldn’t end after finalizing the sale. You need to nurture them so that you make repeat purchases.

You should follow up with your customers after they receive their offerings to check whether everything happened as per their expectations or not. You can send a follow-up email after the product is delivered.

 

Conclusion

Avoiding these common mistakes will help you improve your business practices. As you look for solutions to some common mistakes, consider new software, like Cin7’s inventory management, as part of your solution.

Book a demo now.

5 tasks your ecommerce business can outsource

Online entrepreneurs have a lot on their plates, including supply chain management, product sourcing, inventory, shipping, customer service, and marketing.

How can business owners do everything that has to be done? Outsourcing.

Outsourcing frees up time for business owners to do what needs to be done while saving costs associated with hiring full-time staff.

Let’s dive into outsourcing to see how it can benefit your business and what tasks can be easily outsourced.

 

What is ecommerce outsourcing?

Outsourcing is obtaining goods or services from a source outside of your business. In terms of service, outsourcing is hiring someone to complete tasks such as writing product descriptions, developing a website, handling support tickets, providing technical support, and marketing. Some companies outsource the entire ecommerce business to a third party.

Outsourcing is a vital component of an ecommerce business.

Ecommerce businesses outsource to cut costs or save resources. Most businesses outsource to improve workflows when they can’t afford or don’t want to hire employees. Outsourced laborers can be hired domestically or internationally.

 

Advantages of outsourcing ecommerce services

There are some distinctive advantages to outsourcing.

1. Gives you time to focus on your business

Many day-to-day operations can be incredibly time consuming for new and existing business owners. For owners with just a few people on their team, it can be a lot to manage. Outsourcing gives you time to focus on your business goals while the wheels of your business keep spinning.

2. Gives you freedom to innovate

Outsourcing gives you time and freedom to innovate. By outsourcing mundane tasks, you and your creative team can spend time developing your next great product or trying out different things in new business sectors.

3. Enhances productivity

To compete in the ecommerce market, you need people who know what they are doing and who do it well. Outsourcing allows you to draw on experts who specialize in particular services, enhancing productivity because you are hiring people with the right skills for the job.

4. Improves analysis and strategies

The savviest organizations employ the systems necessary to improve their business. Using innovative tools like predictive analytics helps your ecommerce business expand. Analyzing past and current performance metrics can improve customer retention. Outsourcing analytics saves time and ensures reliable data are collected to make strategic decisions.

5. Increases cost efficiency

Outsourcing improves cost efficiency. By outsourcing, you can save the costs that you would have spent on managing customer support, inventory management, fulfillment, handling returns, and setting up the business infrastructure.

 

5 tasks that your ecommerce business can outsource

Here’s what your ecommerce business can outsource:

1. Content creation

With an online business, you need great content that promotes your business. It’s important to have a quality website or blog that puts a positive spin on what your business can deliver. That’s why hiring an outside content marketer is so important. A content writer has specialized skills to develop engaging content for your ecommerce business.

2. Website design

If your website takes too much time to load or its navigation is complex, visitors will leave immediately. Hiring a professional designer can help you better engage visitors by developing a user-friendly site. Ecommerce sites that are fast, visually appealing, responsive and trustworthy will more easily convert potential customers into loyal ones. Fortunately, you can find great website developers on platforms such as Freelancer and Upwork.

3. Customer service

Stellar customer service begins with product inquiries and carries through the entire transaction, including ordering, delivering, and returns or exchanges. You will need to develop customer service skills within your team, but during the learning curve and while scaling your business, outsourcing can help you keep up with business demands. Outsourcing this aspect of the business ensures that you have the resources and service expertise to expand and support scalable growth cost-effectively.

4. Social media marketing

Social media can transform your business – if it’s done correctly. A poor online presence costs you money. A professional social media marketer can help determine which platforms you should be on (e.g., Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) and how to design a social media strategy that makes sense for your business and budget.

5. Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is one aspect of running a company that you may already outsource. Monitoring company finances is challenging and often requires someone who is highly trained in the intricacies of accounting. Even when your company uses accounting software for day-to-day management, you may still want to outsource to a professional for items such as annual taxes.

 

Cin7 can help

While outsourcing can help your ecommerce business grow, there are still many tasks you will need to do yourself. Cin7 can help.

Cin7 offers the latest solutions for ecommerce businesses with our cloud-based hosting, store management, warehouse management, cart management and development, inventory management, security, and payment gateways.

If you’re ready to reach the maximum potential for your online business, contact us to schedule a demo.

5 Common invoicing mistakes businesses make & how to avoid them

Retail and wholesale-based businesses need to realize as many efficiencies as possible to survive in the marketplace. Today, success is dependent upon modern tech stacks with cloud-based software that best suits inventory-centric operations.

The adoption of cloud-based software has helped product sellers succeed in an industry that has been disrupted by COVID-19 and global conflict. By taking full advantage of the move to the cloud, thriving businesses are enabling their remote workforces, automating the increasing demands of digital commerce, and protecting their intellectual property with the latest in web security.

 

Avoid paying interest on cash borrowed from business credit lines to bolster cash flow

Few aspects of business are more critical than timely and accurate accounts receivable. Meticulous invoicing keeps cash flowing into the business. Leaving such a crucial function to error-prone, manual processes is a mistake that small businesses can no longer afford. And the process doesn’t end at sending invoices to customers. Accurate, real time data supports follow-up on receivables – also key to maintaining cash flow.

When it comes to invoicing, errors and delays lead to lost revenue so it is vital to understand what mistakes businesses often make and how to avoid them. We preface the following tips by generally advising that by adopting cloud-based accounting software from a respected vendor that is custom integrated with an inventory control platform ensures all financial data is managed on an accurate and timely basis. Here’s a comprehensive list of common invoicing mistakes businesses make and the solutions to ensure you can prevent repeating them.

1. Sporadic invoicing

When businesses send invoices to customers inconsistently, it’s easy to fall behind. Invoicing on different dates each month can also lead to receivable delays. This mistake is likely to occur because some businesses only invoice on specific days of the week.

This can be an issue for customers as well. Customers have difficulty planning their cash flow because they have no idea when to expect an invoice. Random invoicing results in delayed payments causing receivables to age beyond 30 days. To rectify this, select specific dates every month on the calendar to regularly send invoices. The best solution is to automate the process with invoicing software. Customers will be well aware and have enough time to arrange the payment.

2. Timely collections

Simply sending invoices doesn’t complete the job. It is essential to follow up with customers who haven’t made payments within agreed credit terms. Organization is key to success here and failing at collections hinders growth and long-term viability.

Once an invoice is sent, it is recommended to set a reminder to follow up on debts. When the time comes, a persuasive email that urges customers to take action immediately can be effective. Best practices encourage the use of accounting software that helps manage receivables and sends reminders of past due invoices.

3. Unclear terms of payment

Always clearly specify Terms and Conditions regarding payment terms. This should include details about late fees, pricing, and other details about products and services. State all payment policies on invoices so that customers aren’t confused and can make payments on time.

Be as specific as possible. For example, a customer may wonder if “net 15 days” excludes weekend days or not. Instead, specifying “net 15 business days” will offer clarity.

4. Lack of company branding

Company branding is an invoice element that can have an impact. Undoubtedly, branding is crucial for every facet of business, and invoicing is no exception. Including branding on invoices means customers can easily identify who the invoice is from.

Moreover, using a company logo and clear branding on invoices ensures that customers can easily spot invoices from your business. Each branding opportunity can help improve awareness in the marketplace. Leveraging the benefits of invoicing software like QuickBooks Online offers custom invoice templates and the ability to add branding elements.

5. Inconsistent back-ups

Invoice data is an important part of an overall back-up plan. Depending upon location, a business may be legally obliged to archive invoice data for a specified period of years. Furthermore, an ability to provide customers with archival invoice data upon request demonstrates that their account is being managed properly.

Every invoice sent should be backed up either as a physical copy or a digital one. Keeping a paper copy is not highly recommended as it is prone to be misplaced or damaged. Backing data up using a cloud storage service or adopting cloud-based accounting software are both compliant solutions.

 

Wrapping up

Accurate and timely invoicing is critical for long-term success and growth.

In this article, we have covered some of the most common invoicing mistakes and how they can hamper receipt of payments. If a business is reaching the point where it can no longer afford to rely solely on error-prone, manual data entry to manage invoicing, or relying upon legacy invoicing software, we suggest upgrading tech stacks to modern, cloud-based solutions.

Intuit and DEAR Systems have recently partnered to offer an Advanced Plan bundle that includes a subscription to both QuickBooks Online and DEAR Systems inventory and order management beginning at $375 per month. This offers the perfect opportunity for growing product sellers to easily enjoy the very latest cloud-based solutions to manage cash flow, inventory, and order fulfillment.

Dock & Bay

Ben Muller might be one of the world’s most notable towel enthusiasts. He’s the co-founder of Dock & Bay, a brand with a single, noble goal: create the world’s greatest quick-dry beach towel entirely from sustainably sourced materials.  

The company’s founding idea was incredibly simple: to merge the concept of a compact, quick-dry travel towel with a nice, big, bright, colorful beach towel. Since then, they’ve had an incredible journey. It began with launching sales via Amazon and their own website, and — having barely reached the milestone of their first million in revenue — they had a lucrative layover at the Dragons’ Den, the UK’s cut-throat equivalent of Shark Tank.

“We had a nice little head-start in 2017 when we were on Dragons’ Den in the UK,” Ben says. “One of the dragons, Deborah Meaden, took us under their wing. It’s been a really good experience, to take the business from an idea into a bit of a startup.” 

The quick wins from the Dragons’ Den appearance was a huge hit of exposure to worldwide audiences via the popular TV show. “That brand awareness gave us a real head-start to moving forward as a business, as well as some goalposts to aim for, as we expanded around the world,” Ben says. “And when we took on Deborah as an investor, she made us more accountable — we weren’t just doing a little side-project anymore, we had to be professional and respectable. It was a good kick up the bum to take things seriously and do things properly.”

One of those kicks up the bum? Dock & Bay needed to get a grip on their inventory. You could perhaps say that the problem was they didn’t know where their towels were — and they needed to find out. 

Poor inventory management almost made Dock & Bay throw in the towel 

“Inventory management was the most horrible part of our existence, for the entire business,” Ben says. “It was always a challenge. In the past, our warehouse owned the source of truth for inventory, and they put their numbers into our eCommerce platform. What that meant was, essentially, we didn’t have any control over what we were selling.” 

Tired of using spreadsheets as a temporary fix, Dock & Bay team went shopping for an inventory management solution. Their main pain points were simple: inventory visibility, and an inability to do stock forecasting. “We didn’t have control over what inventory we had listed, because the systems around us seemed to be controlling what we were selling. The most we’d managed was Band-Aid fixes to our eCommerce platform.” 

The Dock & Bay team needed help, from somebody who knew how inventory management worked and what the best systems were, and could help them get their system implementation right the first time. They found exactly what they were looking for in SMB Consultants. 

SMB Consultants are Cin7 Experts. Their job is to help their clients find the best solution to grow and manage their businesses, and once that solution has been found, they work to seamlessly implement it. The foundation of their success is having a careful process that they go through with all their clients — first seeking to understand how the company is working, what the pain points are, and what changes need to be made to optimize operations. 

“We originally reached out to SMB to say ‘We’ve got a problem,’” Ben says. “We knew there were a lot of inventory management programs around — TradeGecko, DEAR Systems, Cin7, and so forth. We said, ‘We don’t know which one would be best, but in general, each of these seems to do something like what we need.’” 

Through a collaborative, in-depth scoping process, SMB helped Dock & Bay land on Cin7. 

“SMB helped us throughout,” Ben says. “The first step was to understand how we’re operating now, and SMB have a really good view of how business operates, the challenges that businesses face, and how those solutions fit into software. When we first started talking, it wasn’t just “here’s what Cin7 does and why you should use it and we’ll install it for you” — instead, they understood the business and the challenges it faced, and they could pinpoint why Cin7 was the best solution.” 

What clinched it for Cin7, Ben says, is the advanced level of integration Cin7 offers with Amazon. “It’s quite advanced compared to every other software available. All software has its own strengths and weaknesses, but Cin7 was the most well-rounded, best approach for us. SMB coached us, and their Cin7 expertise helped us understand how to implement our workflows in Cin7, and then train up our teams.” 

The towel company that always knows where their inventory is 

Dock & Bay have been with Cin7 for over a year, and a lot has changed. 

One of the main differences is that the Dock & Bay team has fantastic inventory visibility, and confidence in their data. They no longer have to manually update convoluted, unreliable spreadsheets. Reporting is reliable, and gives decision-makers access to up-to-the-minute sales and operations information. 

“The amount of data we’d have to deal with would break a spreadsheet,” Ben says. “But that’s where Cin7 comes in — we have trust in the data. And that’s the most important thing, because if you don’t trust your information, you can’t trust any reporting you try to get out of it. Cin7 gives us faith in our data, and automates the process of running reports, so we can make informed decisions.” 

Cin7 now acts as the source of truth for inventory information across all the apps and platforms that Dock & Bay make use of. Sales made on Amazon and Shopify stores all pull from availability data in Cin7, and the software also looks after the routing of products in and out of their third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses. 

Dock & Bay has five warehouses run by 3PL partners, one for each region they’re selling in — the UK, Canada, the US, Europe, and Australia. They also work with Amazon fulfillment in each of those regions, for a total of 10 warehouses across the business. On top of this, they also have different Shopify websites for either B2B or direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales for each region, in addition to third-party marketplaces like The Iconic and Nordstrom selling their products. This geographically disparate, multi-channel picture would be a near-impossible nightmare to manage, if not for Cin7. 

“Cin7 manages the inventory in all of those warehouses,” Ben says. “It knows how many open orders there are, and that gives you your available stock. Every time an order takes place on one of our sales channels, it comes to Cin7, which knows it needs to update the other sales channels and say ‘You can’t sell this item any more.’” 

Having this level of control means that Dock & Bay have been able to set up some routing rules, which simply wasn’t possible before Cin7. 

“For instance, we can prevent orders going straight to the warehouse if it’s a pre-order, or if the customer hasn’t paid or is using an alternative payment method, we can set up some rules to make sure those orders don’t go out straight away — we can put in a delay of say, two hours. Being able to control that workflow really saves us a lot of time, hassle, and ultimately costs.” 

Scaling up safely & sanely

Having Cin7 on their side has also given Dock & Bay something crucial: the ability to scale up safely. “Once a business hits a particular size”, Ben says, “a level of trust necessarily comes into the operations, as it’s impossible for any one person or team to check everything that happens. And if your system isn’t trustworthy, things can spiral out of control very quickly.” 

“You need to trust that things are happening the way you want them to, without human intervention. Cin7 gives us the ability to create rules and automations to run the business, rather than having people do all those steps,” Ben says. “Cin7 has allowed us to grow with confidence.” 

The high level of trust in their systems has been repaid with smooth operations, even over periods that typically give product companies nightmares. The Black Friday sales rush is awaited with dread anticipation by operations in the eCommerce world, with floods of consumers testing system integrity across the board. In the past, it’s been a huge bugbear for Dock & Bay. This time around, ready for anything, Ben told the support team they could call him anytime, 24/7. In the end, though, it wasn’t needed. Thanks to Cin7, Dock & Bay’s Black Friday went off without a hitch.

“In the past we had chaos, leading to weeks and weeks of issue resolution,” Ben says. “But this Black Friday we had no issues, because for the first time we had control of our data in all of our systems, and had the process down pat. I really do, 100 percent, put that down to the fact we’ve taken control of our business processes, and Cin7 is key to that.” 

Customer service is now a snap

A further benefit of the Cin7 implementation has been a sharp reduction in customer service issues. Thanks to a much clearer view of inventory and more control over stock, the classic eCommerce bugbear of overselling has been almost eliminated. 

“It’s reduced the number of customer service issues significantly,” Ben says. “Because we now own the information, and the process around it, we’re not overselling like we used to. The second thing is we now have a very valuable source of truth to look into where things may have gone wrong. In the past, we couldn’t really pinpoint where the issue was. Whereas now, we can analyze what happened in Cin7 and then identify where the issue is, and often even fix it ourselves.” 

Ben gives a typical example of the sort of trouble they’d often face before Cin7 was implemented. If the warehouse system they were previously relying on was reporting incorrect numbers, Dock & Bay had no option but to remove the product from the website altogether. Now, they can simply adjust the stock figure in Cin7 or put a hold on the item, and that will stop the product selling across all sales channels. “Now, we can solve the problem and get on with business. That’s where Cin7’s helping us.” 

Dock & Bay say that Cin7 has also saved them needing to expand the operations team. But that doesn’t mean skimping on hiring, or firing employees. Instead, they can run an efficient, high-performing, lean operation, and increase headcount in areas that will help grow the brand. 

“Because we have trust in the process and the data that’s flowing through Cin7, we don’t have to intervene very often. This means our operations team can run pretty slim, and we can invest in roles like marketing and sales that add more value to the business. We’re just much more efficient,” Ben says.  

Cin7 is Dock & Bay’s heart of gold and single source of truth

With the Cin7 implementation over a year behind them, Dock & Bay have a clear view of exactly how much being helped by a trusted Cin7 expert has benefited the company. The impact, Ben says, is absolutely huge, to the point where he says they “couldn’t have done it alone.” 

To other businesses considering implementing Cin7, Ben says that if you’re going to be using a platform that controls so much of your business, you may as well do it properly, and get a certified Cin7 expert like SMB Consultants to help. 

“SMB Consultants brought the dream to life. Having Cin7 has meant we could become more efficient, and trust the information in our systems. But we couldn’t have done that without SMB. We had to work with the right people as well as the right system to get where we are today.” 

It’s safe to say that knowing exactly where their towels are has made Dock & Bay a much better business than they were before. It might seem improbable, but having Cin7 at the heart of the company makes everything possible. 

“Cin7 is the heart of our business,” Ben says. “It controls what we sell, and where we sell it. It manages information from customers, through the warehouse, through our supply chain, into our accounting system, and all the way around our operations and support team. It touches every part of the business. We take all our trusted information from Cin7, and it’s our single source of truth.” 

“We’d be very lost and very sad without Cin7, because there’s really no way to visualize how the business could operate without it.”