How to execute a year-end inventory count

Whether you’re running an auto body shop, a law firm, or a retail store, doing a year-end inventory count helps your business close the books on the past 12 months and organize yourself for the year ahead. In fact, the year-end inventory count is necessary for successful inventory management throughout the year. It allows you to clean up records and gives your business verified data to analyze.

Since retailers have a lot of inventory to manage, counting inventory correctly is crucial and allows you to make informed buying decisions later. Learn how to execute a year-end inventory count and how your annual count can help forecast demand for the year ahead in this article.

 

What is a year-end inventory count?

A year-end inventory count is a physical count of all the inventory on hand at the end of the year. The count is performed to verify that the physical inventory matches the numbers in your inventory management system.

A year-end inventory count is different from an inventory cycle count, which audits a smaller portion of inventory. While a cycle count allows you to monitor your inventory by sampling your inventory throughout the year, a year-end inventory is a physical count of everything you have on hand at one given point in time.

 

How do you conduct a year-end inventory count?

These are the steps that you need to follow for inventory counting:

  • First and foremost, you need to plan the day for conducting inventory count. It’s crucial to pause your warehousing operations while you do perform the counting so that you get an accurate snapshot of your inventory. You should plan a day that causes minimal impact on pausing the operations.
  • Once you finalize the date, you should form the team who will perform the stock counting. It is important to train them about your counting process and acquaint them with the warehouse’s premises. Dry runs can be organized a few days before the actual counting day.
  • You should also prepare your warehouse for the stock counting process. It should be thoroughly cleaned, and steps should be taken to ensure that there’s no scattered inventory. If there are boxes lying around the warehouse, it will slow down the workers who are counting.
  • The warehouse should be organized, and the areas (count zones) should be divided amongst the counting team so that everyone knows their responsibilities.
  • It’s crucial to equip your team with the right tools for counting. For manual counting, you can use counting tags. If you are using tags, then it’s best to let your team work in pairs so that one person can count the inventory while the other can note the values in the counting tag and stick it near the inventory. It’s best to get the counting tags signed by the respective team as it gives you clarity about the person associated with counting for a specific section.
  • To cross-check the accuracy of the counting, you can personally examine the areas to cross-verify the values mentioned in the counting tags. Otherwise, you can allocate members from other teams to cross-check the tag values. Cross-checking is crucial to get an accurate representation of your inventory. In case your inventory is also stored at other locations, you should coordinate to get the accurate values from those locations as well.
  • Performing inventory counts using manual sheets and counting tags can be time-consuming and prone to human errors. Using an inventory management software like Cin7 can be of great help. Instead of using tags and sheets, you can use barcode scanners to scan the inventories on the shelves. The software reconciles the inventory values with the ones already present in the system. This way, you can easily gauge the discrepancies in the inventory that’s physically present with you.

 

Why do year-end inventory count?

The year-end inventory count is essential because it ensures the stock you have on your shelves matches your records. By getting an exact look at your inventory, you can comply with tax requirements, manage corporate audits, and offer accurate data to your accounting team.

Once you complete your inventory count, you’ll have the data you need to complete an annual financial analysis. You also get the data you need to detect inventory shrinkage and forecast how much inventory you’ll need in the year ahead. On top of that, you get the chance to get inventory organized for the new year.

Knowing your year-end inventory allows you to

  • Get a better understanding of what products you have.
  • Hold accurate inventory records for accounting purposes.
  • Gain insight into products that don’t sell well that you shouldn’t order in the future.
  • Understand which products require a new selling strategy.
  • Know the demand and profitability for expansion consideration.
  • Consider adjusting periodic automatic replenishment (PAR) levels for top-selling products.
  • Determine the cost of goods sold and total net income.
  • Make business decisions based on data instead of intuition.
  • Analyze pricing strategy and identify room for improvement.

 

Does your business have inventory shrinkage?

Inventory shrinkage occurs when there’s less physical inventory than what’s listed in your inventory records. Shrinkage occurs due to human error, damaged stock, vendor shortages, lost inventory, or stolen inventory. It can drastically affect profits and is a problem that always needs to be investigated further. Businesses usually uncover inventory shrinkage as they do their year-end inventory counts.

How to handle inventory shrinkage

If you uncover inventory shrinkage during your year-end inventory count, your team should look for more information about what happened. If you are using inventory management software, you can examine past inventory records to determine if there are any trends that need investigation. Significant, widespread shrinkage can indicate theft or fraud, while one-off mistakes tend to reveal clerical errors. Damaged goods are self-explanatory.

Once you uncover and investigate the cause of inventory shrinkage, you can put guardrails on processes to prevent further loss. Some common preventive measures include:

  • Tightening security where inventory is stored.
  • Installing cameras or locking up high-value items.
  • Training employees about proper inventory counting.
  • Allowing only trained employees to accept and inspect new inventory.
  • Reviewing daily transactions on inventory apps.
  • Verifying purchase orders, invoices, and delivery slips when new inventory arrives.
  • Checking inventory shrinkage via cycle counts.

Discovering inventory shrinkage isn’t fun — but it’s a wake-up call for many businesses.

 

What if you have too much inventory?

Once you complete your year-end inventory, you might realize that you have more physical inventory than expected. If you have a lot more inventory than you need or want, you may have to figure out how to deal with the surplus. The first step is to determine if the excess inventory is still good to sell. Then you can adjust plans, orders, and budgets accordingly.

Once you figure out what your business needs for the year ahead, it’s time to get creative. What kind of promotions or sales can you have? What items should be sold at a discount? There may also be items in your inventory that can be repurposed or donated. If you donate excess inventory, talk to your accountant about writing them off for tax purposes.

Finally, you should talk with a liquidator about buying excess inventory. It may not be very profitable, but you can cut losses, clear up space, and move on.

 

Using year-end inventory to predict next year’s demand

One of the best reasons for conducting year-end inventory counts is to understand how your business used (or didn’t use) items over the past 12 months. A detailed snapshot of available inventory helps your business forecast demand for the year ahead.

By reviewing what hasn’t sold, you can plan sales, promotions, and marketing campaigns. These strategies can help you move old inventory and lets you focus on restocking only what your customers want.

 

Cin7’s inventory management software simplifies inventory counts

Cin7 inventory management software allows your business to track inventory using modern technology and powerful automation features. Cin7 is the best choice for inventory management software because it helps save you time, money, and stress. When you switch to Cin7, you’ll be able to:

  • Access your data at any time and place.
  • Set it up quickly, easily, and to your liking.
  • Use ready-to-scan barcodes with your phone’s camera.
  • Customize and allow access to teams, vendors, and suppliers.
  • Generate custom barcodes for unlabeled stock.
  • Create data-rich, shareable reports to help you understand inventory.
  • Get alerts when you’re running low on a product, if it’s expiring, or approaching warranty.
  • Create product histories to answer who, what, and when details.

Ready to see how our inventory software makes your year-end inventory count easier? Book your Demo now.

4 Inventory accounting methods for inventory valuation

What do manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers have in common? They all deal with inventory. Whether you’re a manufacturer or a reseller, you need to account for your inventory accurately. With proper inventory accounting, you can better understand your expenses and identify ways to cut costs and maximize your profits.

 

What is inventory accounting?

Inventory accounting determines how an organization shows inventory in its balance sheet and profit and loss statements. Your inventory is treated as an asset because it can be used to generate revenue. The valuation of your inventory assets depends on how you assign costs to your inventory. It’s extremely important to correctly value your inventory because its value affects your business’s overall profitability.

 

Understanding cost of goods sold (COGS)

The cost of goods sold is the cost that a business incurs to make or acquire the products that it sells. COGS includes everything from materials used to labor cost. However, it only includes costs that are directly related to the production process. Thus, shipping and marketing costs aren’t included in COGS. Knowing your COGS helps you understand how much you are spending to produce your product, and it directly impacts your profitability.

The formula you use for COGS depends on whether you are a manufacturer or reseller. For a reseller, the formula is

Beginning inventory + Purchases – Ending Inventory = Cost of Goods Sold

For example, at the beginning of the financial year, your inventory is valued at $4,000. Throughout the year, you purchase inventory valued at $3,500, and at the end of the year, your inventory value is $2000.

The cost of goods sold is $4,000 + $3,500 – $2,000 = $5,500.

COGS can be calculated weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. The value of COGS is partially determined by how you determine your ending inventory.

 

Understanding ending inventory valuation

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sell all your inventory by the end of the accounting period. However, unsold inventory isn’t a liability because it can be sold next year. Therefore, remaining inventory, or “ending inventory” is treated as an asset in your financial statements. In fact, ending inventory becomes “beginning inventory” for the next accounting period.

There are four commonly used inventory valuation methods:

  1. First in, first out (FIFO),
  2. Last in, first out (LIFO),
  3. Weighted average cost method, and
  4. Specific identification method.

Method #1: First in, first out (FIFO)

The premise of the FIFO method is you value your inventory as if the stock you acquired first were sold first. For example, imagine you purchase 100 bottles of product in January for $10 per bottle. Then in February, you purchase 200 bottles of product for $20 per bottle. You would have 300 bottles of product in your inventory, and the value would be $1,000 + $4,000 = $5,000.

Then imagine you sold 50 bottles of product in March. What would the value of your inventory be? Using FIFO, you would say that the 50 bottles you sold were part of the 100 bottles you purchased in January. Thus, you would value the inventory sold at $500, meaning the value of your ending inventory would be $4,500.

Method #2: Last in, first out (LIFO)

In contrast to the FIFO method, the LIFO method means you assume the most recently acquired products are sold first.

Using the same example of the bottles, let’s say that in March, you still sold 50 bottles. However, with LIFO, you assume that those 50 bottles were part of the 200 bottles you purchased in February for $20 each. Thus, the 50 bottles you sold would be valued at $1,000, and your ending inventory would be $4,000.

Method #3: Weighted average cost

The weighted average cost method is best to use when your product units are indistinguishable from each other or challenging to track individually – for example, gasoline. Using the weighted average cost method, businesses assign a value to inventory based on the average cost of production of the product.

Here’s the way to calculate it:

Weighted Average Cost = Total Cost of Inventory / Total Inventory Units.

For example, you purchase 10 bottles at $20 each, and an additional 10 bottles at $30 each.

  • Ten bottles at $20 each = $200.
  • Ten bottles at $30 each = $300.
  • Total bottle units = 20 bottles (10 + 10).
  • Total cost of bottles = $500 ($200 + $300).

The weighted average cost is $500 / 20 = $25. When you sell 10 bottles you will value the sale at $250 ($10 x $25). Your ending inventory of 10 bottles will also be valued  at $250 (10 bottles x $25).

Method #4: Specific identification

The specific identification method is primarily used for large items that can be easily identified because they are unique. In this method, each unit and its cost is tracked individually. Each item is assigned a specific identifier, such as can be done using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The advantage of this system is that you have a highly accurate accounting of your inventory. The disadvantage is that the method has limited uses because few businesses sell highly unique products that can be easily tracked.

Inventory accounting is crucial for businesses

Inventory accounting is vital for both manufacturers and retailers. Businesses should carefully consider their inventory valuation method and identify the best option up front, as it can be challenging to change in the future.

Inventory management software makes a huge difference and helps track and value your inventory. With real-time insights about inventory movement, orders received, and revenue generated, your business will be able to make smarter, more data-driven decisions. You’ll also be able to generate inventory performance reports and analyze your business in real time.

If you’re looking for software to track and manage your inventory, book a call with Cin7 today. We’ll assess your inventory needs and partner with you to find a perfect solution.

5 metrics for managing your inventory

Warehouse and inventory management are two of the most important aspects of running a product-based business. They involve a great deal of calculated decision-making on the part of the warehouse manager, and handled well, they contribute to an organized warehouse operation.

To optimize your warehouse operations, we’ve standardized some key metrics that managers around the world use to understand their inventory. This blog discusses some of these metrics and how they can be calculated.

 

Inventory carrying cost

The inventory carrying cost refers to the total cost required to maintain inventory over a given period of time. While there are many classifications of inventory costs, such as receiving cost, storage cost, and packing cost, carrying cost is important because it tells you how much it costs to keep your inventory at desired levels.

How to calculate carrying cost percentage:

Carrying Cost (%) = Inventory Holding Sum / Total Value of Inventory x 100

Here, inventory holding sum comprises four components of carrying cost. They are:

  • Service cost,
  • Risk cost,
  • Capital cost, and
  • Storage cost.

The formula to calculate the holding sum is as follows:

Inventory Holding Sum = Inventory Service Cost + Inventory Risk Cost + Capital Cost + Storage Cost

You’ll want to keep the carrying cost percentage as low as possible. The higher the percentage, the smaller the profit margins and greater the chance of a fiscal burden.

 

Rate of return

Returned products cost time and money to process. Understanding why products are returned can help you solve issues early. The Rate of Return (RoR) is the metric that helps you understand how many products you deliver are returned.  The formula to calculate the RoR is

Products Returned / Total Products Delivered = Rate of Return

The RoR can be calculated for subcategories of your product so you can begin to understand not only what is returned but why. For instance, you might respond differently to the return of a defective product than to one that was incorrectly delivered.

Click here to read more about how to keep your products flowing smoothly in and out of your warehouse.

 

Inventory turnover

Inventory turnover is the speed with which you sell and replace all of your inventory. This is important to track because you need to have enough product on hand to meet demand, but you don’t want so much inventory that all of your money is tied up in a product that might not sell.

The formula for calculating inventory turnover is

Cost of Goods Sold / Average Inventory = Inventory Turnover

When you have a high inventory turnover, you have a small amount of inventory on hand at a given time. A low inventory turnover means you are keeping product in your warehouse.

 

Days in inventory

Along with inventory turnover, the days in inventory metric helps you determine how fast your inventory is replaced. Days in inventory tells you the average number of days that you have your products on the shelf.

The formula for days in inventory is

365 days

_______________  = Days in Inventory

Inventory Turnover

More efficient warehouse management systems will keep products for fewer days.

 

Orders picked per hour (picking productivity)

Orders picked per hour is a simple but extremely important metric for inventory management. It gives you insights into the hourly productivity levels of your inventory personnel and helps you make data-driven decisions.

Based on the results obtained for various shifts, you can determine how to boost efficiency in your warehouse. For example, you might make changes in team management or overall organizational structure.

Another great use of this metric is that it allows you to calculate the impact of introducing a new technology or picking technique. By recording the productivity before and after the introduction, you can determine how effective the change has been.

 

Cin7 solutions for calculating metrics

Calculating these metrics manually could be a daunting task. This is especially true if you have a small or medium-sized business.

By investing in inventory management software, you can leverage technology as you grow your business. Book an appointment today with Cin7 to revolutionize your warehouse and inventory management.

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.

5 ways your inventory spreadsheet is hurting your business

Collecting and storing inventory data is one of the most crucial aspects of your business. In fact, it’s essential to have an accurate understanding of what goes in and out of your warehouse at all times. Most businesses, especially while starting off, use spreadsheet tools like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets to store their inventory data. However, as inventory grows, these businesses run into several issues because spreadsheets are not specifically designed to deal with complex inventory data.

Here are five reasons why you should not rely on spreadsheets to handle your inventory database.

 

Spreadsheets are inefficient

When you work with a spreadsheet to manage your inventory, you only have an x-axis and y-axis to represent your data. Sure, rows and columns may be enough for a simple database. But as your inventory expands, you’ll need much more sophisticated tools.

As your inventory starts getting more and more complex, you’ll end up creating multiple spreadsheets that you have to refer to. Eventually, you’ll have a lot of data overlap between these sheets. Each time you update your inventory you’ll have to update each spreadsheet — which becomes more and more time-consuming, inefficient, and inaccurate.

 

Spreadsheets aren’t secure enough

Simply put, your inventory data deserves more security than spreadsheets can provide. A spreadsheet is very lightly protected, if at all. They are easily breached by a seasoned hacker.

Moreover, spreadsheets get routinely corrupted for no apparent reason. Sometimes, files simply won’t open. Other times, data is deleted by the system, or careless users. You know how important accurate inventory data is. Why would you allow it to be so vulnerable?

 

Spreadsheets don’t allow for varying levels of access

An inventory management team typically consists of more than one person, and each person is responsible for collecting data from a particular area. Ideally, all of them should have access to the database so that they can input data from their respective vantage points.

However, this becomes increasingly difficult to do with spreadsheets as team size increases. Moreover, sometimes you don’t want the entire database to be accessible to all. Such complex permissions are not possible with spreadsheets.

 

Spreadsheets don’t provide enough analytics

When you use spreadsheets, you miss out on the most important feature of an inventory management system: data analysis. Yes, spreadsheets can help you create some basic analysis, but you have to learn complicated formulas and enter them manually into the sheets.

Without looking at high-level insights from your data, your data is practically worthless. Spreadsheets don’t give you the cohesive, easy-to-read analytics you need to run a successful business.

 

Spreadsheets are prone to human error

Spreadsheets require users to manually input data into respective cells. Plus, most formulas have to be entered manually, too. This manual entry opens up a lot of possibilities for human errors that can be disastrous for your inventory management.

 

Is it time to switch to an inventory management system?

Inventory management software is much more efficient, more secure, and easier to use than spreadsheets. It allows users to enter data in a much more efficient manner. Fields are clearly marked and input types are well-defined, making the management process smooth and efficient.

Furthermore, when you use an inventory management system, the chance for human error is substantially reduced.

The best part about inventory management software is that all formulas and calculations are done automatically, without any human intervention. Taking all this into account, do you think it might be time to switch from spreadsheets to an inventory management system? If you’re curious how Cin7 can help, book your demo today.

Sales order benefits and best practices

The sales order process is one of the most essential workflows for most businesses. Optimizing the process can save money and time as well as enhance the customer experience. Businesses with efficient sales order processing in place have recognized a boost in cash flow and productivity. However, an inefficient sales order system has direct consequences on business performance – data errors, inability to fulfill orders, and slow cash flow.

So, what exactly is a sales order? How does it benefit your business? And what steps are needed to optimize the process?

Sit tight! We’re going to take you through the entire process including:

  • What a sales order is and the sales order process.
  • Why you should automate sales orders.
  • What the benefits of sales order automation are for businesses.
  • What the best practices are to optimize sales order processing.
  • How Cin7 can help your business optimize your sales order process.

 

What is a sales order?

A sales order is an official document generated by the seller when a customer places an order for a specific product or service. It’s generated in response to a purchase order (PO).

Just as a refresher, a PO is created by the buyer and delivered to the supplier for specific materials at agreed upon terms and conditions. The sales order is confirmation of the PO issued by the supplier and given to the buyer prior to delivery. The purchase order creates the contract and the sales order approves the sale.

The entire process is generally completed in three basic steps:

  1. The buyer generates a purchase order and delivers it to the seller requesting a certain quantity of materials at a certain price. Other items on the PO can include delivery schedule, delivery address, and purchase terms.
  2. Considering the purchase order, the seller issues a sales order for the buyer. The sales order approves the sale, sets payment details, and confirms the items on the PO that are included in the sale.
  3. Once the seller processes the order, the seller generates an invoice from the sales order for final payment from the buyer.

For those businesses that generate a handful of sales orders every few months, the process can be done quite simply using a manual system. However, businesses with a high sales volume cannot successfully generate manual sales orders without risk of errors.

Using manual entry for every sales order increases your risk of human error. Mistakes in quantity and pricing on the sales order lead to accounting errors. Using an automated sales order process dramatically lowers the risk of human error and accounting mishaps.

A sales order is also a critical document used for inventory management. It maintains a record of orders and provides information on inventory status. Using sales orders also allows you to track products in stock and on backorder.

 

The evolution of sales order automation

In the “old” days, managing orders involved many hands and mountains of paperwork. The lack of automated order management software meant that individuals from different departments needed to work together to manage inventory through the sales process, maintain accurate shipping and receiving details, and generate purchase and sales orders.

Using emerging technologies and innovation, traditional sales order processing has quickly adopted digital solutions. Consumer-oriented sellers like online retailers are aggressively embracing new techniques to extract specifications directly from purchase orders, eliminating manual input.

Electronic data interchange (EDI) systems are fully automated sales order processing applications. EDI uses optical character recognition to extract the information from paper and quickly – and accurately – transform the information into electronic data. Information is automatically entered into a human-related format and flagged should something require a recheck.

This is a far cry from using CRM solutions to generate quotes, orders, and invoices. CRM tools are unable to create new sales orders. At best, they handle customer information and sales history – as well as work for their intended use of contact management.

 

Benefits of sales order automation for businesses

Using an automated sales order system makes it simple to manage and update orders using a single platform. Moreover, implementing digital solutions increases the capability to respond to orders from all channels. In contrast to traditional sales order processing, automation can offer a wide array of benefits:

#1 Process orders faster

Automation is up to 75% faster compared to using a manual process. Eliminating manual coordination and data entries from the process leads to faster processing. It helps streamline each phase of the process, allowing businesses to pick and ship customer orders more quickly, save on processing costs, and enhance the customer experience.

#2 Maximize productivity and profitability

Using inventory and order management software, businesses can easily automate the entire sales order process. With this software, you can instantly create sales orders, shipping orders, and invoices thereby speeding up your order to cash process.

Another benefit of using automated sales order software is that it automatically counts and tracks your inventory. Additionally, you can set automatic notifications to alert you when your inventory levels are low.

In a nutshell, the faster you process and ship orders, the faster you get paid. Automation is one of the keys to a healthy cash flow.

#3 Improve accuracy and reduce errors

Automation can minimize or eliminate human interference in sales order processing resulting in improved accuracy. Moreover, some sales order processing systems can automatically extract information from purchase orders and generate sales orders without any manual involvement.

These smart systems are integrated with such features that use keyword detection to prioritize urgent or important orders, ultimately resulting in greater customer satisfaction and fewer returns.

#4 Streamline workflow using cloud-based solutions

Whether you’re a single or multichannel sales environment, cloud-based inventory and order management software can streamline workflow. Cloud-based management solutions provide a central location for all departments, regardless of location, to have real-time access to inventory levels and sales orders. Additionally, cloud-based solutions eliminate the risk of data loss.

Undoubtedly, implementing an easy-to-use software solution to automate your sales order process is a brilliant way to boost productivity and cash flow.

Best practices to optimize sales order processing

There are definitive ways to improve your sales order process. To make the optimization process simpler and easier, many businesses opt to outsource to a company specialized in customizing sales order automation. However, if you are considering the process in-house, here are the best practices that you need to know:

#1 Invest in an order management system

As your business grows, workflow becomes more complex. That’s where implementing an order management system helps minimize manual inventory and order processing tasks to increase sales from multiple locations with complex workflows.

Switching to order management systems means having a single unified platform to manage inventory. It automates the entire order-to-cash cycle. A cloud-based system  is accessible anytime from anywhere.

Making the investment to secure an order management system can ensure better profits in the long run as it requires fewer involvement of internal resources. Automating the process with an order management system will facilitate better communication between teams, improve workflow, and enhance the customer experience.

#2 Automate the entire sale order process

Manual processing is vulnerable to human errors that can quickly turn the sales order process into an expensive blunder. Automation eliminates human error and repetitive tasks.

Automation is able to:

  • Generate the sales order when inventory is confirmed.
  • Show a flag or other warning when inventory level is low.
  • Send purchase orders to suppliers for restocking.
  • Send picking requests to appropriate warehouse managers.
  • Generate customer sales orders.
  • Schedule pickups and estimate shipping costs.
  • Communicate with customers to keep them in a loop.

To manage these processes, you will need to know more about inventory management software and order management systems. With the implementation of these two systems, you can handle the sales process, control inventory, and manage supplier requests from a single platform.

#3 Scrutinize your existing process

To optimize your process, you need to address exactly what you want or need to fix. Therefore, your initial step should be mapping out your current sales order process using a flow chart. Get into the details of each step to reveal all the nuances involved in the process. Include details about how long the process takes. Use this audit to easily address potential holes in your process.

These are just a few of the best strategies you can use to streamline your sales order process.

 

Cin7 can help you optimize your sales order process

Automating the sales order process can help establish a workflow that requires less human involvement and minimizes processing time – from initiating a sale through delivery. Automation fosters business growth. So, instead of implementing standard solutions, allow Cin7 to empower you with the flexibility to design a platform to match your business needs – and grow as your business grows.

Cin7 sales order management software makes it easy to manage your entire sales process from anywhere at any time. Offering a cloud-based system helps your team be more efficient and productive. By implementing Cin7 you can create automated workflows to keep your team connected and informed.

Want to learn more? Let a Cin7 representative walk you through the benefits of our order management software. Book a FREE demo today!

How to calculate handling fees on orders

When ordering online, customers have many expectations. They want faster delivery, no transit damage, live order status, and most importantly, they expect to receive the correct item.

You’ll have to optimize your operations to meet these expectations, which comes at a cost. Shipping fees cover transportation. But what about the cost of packaging items so they don’t break in transit? What about the cost of safely storing and maintaining inventory in your warehouses?

That’s where handling fees come in. In this article, we’ll break down handling fees, show you how to calculate them, and explain why they’re necessary.

 

What is a handling fee?

A handling fee is an amount charged to a customer on top of the order subtotal and shipping fees. It covers fulfillment expenses such as:

  • Warehouse storage: The amount charged by the warehouse to securely hold your inventory, ensuring there is no quality deterioration.
  • Packaging: This includes boxes, tape, and protective material. It also includes other minor details you may add to make the brand stand out, such as branded tissue paper, gift wrap, stickers, etc.
  • Labor: The time it takes for your warehouse team to fulfill an order.

Helpful tip: Handling fees are charged once per order, not per each product in the order.

Handling charges may differ depending on whether deliveries are domestic or international. International orders might have additional expenses such as insurance or extra packaging to preserve the products throughout a longer journey.

 

How to calculate handling fees

Calculating the handling fee is a straightforward process.

Step 1: Determine the average number of minutes it takes to prepare each item for shipping.

This step will help you determine the time it takes for your employees to prepare a package for shipping. It includes the time needed to pick the ordered items from the warehouse shelves and package them. The more efficiently your warehouse team works, the lower this number will be.

For this example, let’s assume it takes approximately 15 minutes to prepare an order.

Step 2: Divide the result by 60.

Convert the time from minutes to hours. Continuing the example: 15 / 60 = 0.25.

Step 3: Multiply the result by the employee’s hourly rate.

Assuming the hourly rate of your warehouse team is $10: 0.25 x $10 = $2.50.

So for this example, the handling fee for the order is $2.50.

It is best to also include the packaging cost in the handling fee — after all, bubble wrap and boxes expenses. For this example, the packaging material for the order costs $1.50.

Total handling cost = $4 [$2.50 (handling fees) + $1.50 (packaging fees)]

If your handling fees are high compared to competitors or you have had customer complaints, you may need to assess your fulfillment costs and streamline your process.

Shipping costs

Shipping costs include postage, fuel charges, surcharges, and additional fees for certain shipping options like expedited delivery. The cost of shipping depends on package weight and location.

If you outsource your shipping to a carrier (e.g., FedEx or USPS), you should factor in their fee. Compare prices to find the ideal shipping provider.

Setting shipping and handling fees

While setting prices that keep your online business in the black, consider the fact that high shipping and handling fees may be enough to convince customers to abandon their shopping carts.

Some sellers roll the handling fee into the overall price, while others make it a separate line item on the invoice. If customers can see the shipping and handling fees at checkout, that may impact their perception of the product prices.

If you list shipping and handling as a line item, make sure it’s clearly labeled on the invoice. Cin7 inventory management software offers various integrations that allow you to customize your invoices easily and add or remove shipping and handling fees as needed.

 

Benefits of charging handling fees

Here are the advantages of charging handling fees:

#1 Fulfillment cost recovery:

A business cannot sustain itself without covering costs. Let’s better understand this with examples from the service industry. The service industry doesn’t deal with physical products but it’s common to see a “service charge” on services provided. This allows businesses to recuperate administrative, processing, or labor costs. For example, the service fee added to concert tickets covers the costs of offering venue security and mailing the physical tickets to the customer. A service charge added to meals and drinks at food and beverage establishments covers the cost of offering fine glassware and storing and serving wine.

If you don’t recover fulfillment costs with handling fees, you’ll need to compromise on fulfillment quality by using cheaper packaging or making other concessions in quality. In the long run, this will hurt your business’ reputation.

#2  Better pricing breakdown

If you do not charge handling fees, you will need to add the costs of packaging and fulfillment to the final price of each product. Instead, adding the handling fee as a line item separate from the subtotal can help simplify the pricing for single items.

#3 Possibility to upsell and cross-sell products

Handling fees apply to the entire order rather than individual items. This opens up opportunities to sell more and increase your overall profit margin.

Customers love free shipping — it can even be a deal breaker — so you can set up a minimum order amount to make orders eligible for free shipping and handling. This way, if the original order amount was $30 but an order is eligible for free shipping and handling at $40, a customer is more likely to spend an additional $10.

To encourage customers to spend more, use their order history to recommend specific products they might be interested in purchasing. They might buy something else and spend more to get free shipping, making a happy customer and raising your profit margin.

 

Use Cin7 to fulfill your orders with ease

After calculating the shipping and handling fee, you can set up the invoice template via various integrations offered by Cin7 inventory management software, such as QuickBooks Online, which will automatically add the fee to each online sale.

Cin7 has several other features that streamline your order receiving and fulfillment process, such as printing pick lists or batch tracking. Cin7 will help you set your business for multichannel sales and long-term success.

Are you interested in trying out Cin7 for your business? Book a free demo with our experts now.

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.

AMF Magnetics

To most people, magnets are just what you use to pin your child’s latest artistic effort to the fridge. But there’s a lot more to these mysterious objects. Magnets, it turns out, make the world go round. They are integral everywhere, in pretty much every electronic device that exists, from headphones to computers to MRI machines. 

AMF Magnetics is an Australian company that specializes in selling permanent — or “rare earth” — magnets. They’re now the largest supplier in Australia, with a range of something like 1500 products” 

“It’s a very niche product, but it’s needed by all segments of society in one facet or another,” says Mark Kapo, owner of AMF. “ We’re very fortunate that we’re in this space.” 

Mark wasn’t always in the magnet market. Before AMF, he owned restaurants. But after ten years in the hospitality industry, he wanted to try working on something less intensive. “We wanted a business that didn’t operate on the weekend, and was closed over the Christmas break.” Mark says. This, he reckons, made the rare-earth magnet business particularly attractive. 

AMF was an established business that had been running since the early 1980s, when Mark bought it in 2006. Back then, it was very much an “analog outfit,” as Mark puts it. 

“I’m from the analog era. I’m old school. But I decided that we had to push the online side of things — we were running blind. It wasn’t easy to decide what to do.” Mark’s desire for a digital transformation was complicated by the fact that the magnet business was inherently complex. AMF supplies all kinds of customers — from enormous B2B orders of hundreds of thousands of items, to specialist medical equipment with extremely high quality requirements and tight deadlines, to casual D2C customers who just want some magnets to play with. On the supply side, there are multiple suppliers in several different locations. And the complexity grows even greater with AMF’s uncompromising approach to customer service. 

“We deal with everyone equally, and we take it pretty seriously. Being from a family that’s very hospitable, service is important to me. That’s not just a word, it’s not made up. We actually do care. If the customer’s not happy, we’re not happy, and that attitude just runs through the whole business.” 

Over seven years, Mark managed to grow the business, but he found that inefficient operational processes were holding things back. They had managed to digitize to some extent, and were working with MYOB desktop software to manage inventory and accounting — but they found it wasn’t up to the task. 

“We had MYOB, and we deal in multi-currencies, and frankly, MYOB’s management was too slow to go into the cloud and work with multi-currencies. That really held us back,” Mark says. 

“But all that said, I was very comfortable with it, and it’s pretty scary transitioning from a system that you know, to one that you don’t know how to navigate.” 

Even though he didn’t know for sure what the business needed in terms of its digital transformation, Mark knew how to find out. He made two particularly smart choices: hiring an exceptionally talented in-house marketing and IT team with modern software skills, including a new Marketing Manager (later CEO) — and working with external experts, including SMB Consultants. 

The right hire can fire up your business

As the CEO of AMF Magnetics, Catalina Rodríguez is responsible for every aspect of business’ day-to-day operations. With an impressive resume including Deloitte Colombia, Catalina says she didn’t know much about the magnet business to start with. 

“Before joining AMF I didn’t know that almost everything in this world had magnets — airpods, doors, medical devices, cars, speakers and even the superhero costumes in Marvel movies!” Catalina says.

But after sticking around a bit, Catalina learned quickly. She led a crack squad of developers, IT professionals, customer service team members, and external consultants to get AMF running as well as it possibly could, and one of the main steps she took was building a team to transition the business from MYOB to Xero. 

With Xero as the accounting system of record, things were already running more smoothly across much of the business, with one exception: inventory management. Xero, by design, is not inventory management software, and Catalina and Mark both knew that to really power up the business they’d need to couple Xero’s powerful accounting capabilities with a best-of-breed inventory management solution.

To find the right one, they turned to SMB Consultants, who recommended Cin7 after an in-depth scoping session where they took time to understand AMF’s particular business requirements. 

“AMF were using a server-based system called FileMaker before they came to us,” says Deepak Stevens, an integration expert at SMB Consultants. “Our job was to understand their needs, and recommend a platform that would set them up for the next ten years at least. It was quite clear that Cin7 would be a good fit for AMF Magnetics, because we were confident the system would be able to adapt to any specific needs they have.”

After the initial scoping session, SMB Consultants put together a proof-of-concept — Cin7 running to AMF’s specific requirements. 

“SMB advised us that Cin7 was a perfect fit for where we wanted to take the business in the future,” Mark says. “We wanted to optimize email marketing, social media, and paid advertising, and we needed our websites to work at their very best in order to do that. And we needed the inventory system live and helping us with the accounting side of things. Cin7 covered a multitude of these areas, which other systems we looked at didn’t do.” 

Working with the SMB team, Catalina and the AMF team hit on a hybrid solution. Together with another consultant out of Sydney, they integrated Cin7 with Xero, and built a custom integration between Cin7 and Shopify that suits AMFs diverse customer base and specific operational requirements. Thanks to SMB’s expert guidance, and the understanding gained through the interactive proof-of-concept, all the moving parts fit together seamlessly. 

“When we did Cin7, I was a bit scared. It was going to be a big change. But to be honest, the transition was very easy,” Catalina says. “The proof-of-concept was really good, because it helped us mitigate the risks, and showed us the impact the new platform would have for the business. It was done on a weekend, and in one or two days, we were operating.”