4 factors to choosing a high-performing software implementation expert

Cin7 Experts are specialized consultants who are vetted by Cin7 and are committed to providing resources to help brands, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers with a wide range of business needs. Experts can handle anything from data migration, technical training, ecommerce, process development and automation, and financial planning.

Since the Cin7 Expert directory went live, UK software integration company Bluehub has zoomed to the top of the rankings, spurred on by five-star reviews from enthused customers. We asked them how they ended up as the top-reviewed Cin7 Expert, and what customers should look out for when choosing a software implementation partner to help them on their inventory management software journey.

Here’s what they told us:

  • Take the time to understand where your customers are at
  • Specialize in top inventory management apps
  • The best experts hire from industry
  • Top experts build custom integrations and make use of APIs

Bluehub began as a Xero ecosystem consultancy and custom software development house, helping customers identify which apps would be right for their business, setting up those apps, and then providing ongoing support. But after a couple of years, they realized that the customers who needed the most help were almost always product-based businesses looking for an inventory solution — so they pivoted hard into that space.

“Over the last six years, we’ve been solely focused on helping product-based businesses,” says Bluehub founder Guy Earnshaw. “We help customers either build on a foundation of an existing cloud system — like Xero or QuickBooks — or we help people who are on legacy, server-based systems take that first step into the cloud with online accounting, plus one of the inventory apps.”

#1 Top Experts take the time to understand where customers are in their journey

Most of Bluehub’s clients fall into one of two categories. The first is established businesses that are looking to move online — to migrate from an existing ERP, or an offline inventory management solution (such as Sage, or even spreadsheets.) Others are those who have already begun their cloud journey, with accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks Online. Bluehub says it’s vital for Experts to understand where a customer is on their journey, what their current level of expertise is, and where they want to go.

“All the clients that we speak to have already started their own journey of looking at software,” Guy says. “So they’re coming to this with some level of education of what they want to do, the sort of problems they’re trying to fix and what their options might be in this space. So the way we describe ourselves to those people is that we are software consultants and developers who specialize in product based businesses going through this transition.”

From a platform of mutual understanding, Bluehub is well placed to help their clients transform their businesses for the better.

“We help with system selection and implementation, which includes everything like training, data migration, and a bit of support,” Guy says. “And then we have ongoing relationships with our clients where we provide basic user support to big integrations, too. So we’re an end-to-end service for businesses just like theirs looking to make exactly this transition.”

#2 The most effective Experts focus on just one or two inventory apps

Early in their journey, Bluehub supported all the inventory software solutions they could. But now they do most of their inventory management consulting work with just two apps: Cin7 and DEAR Systems. Why is that? Zeroing in on just a couple of best-of-breed apps means you can provide better services to customers, faster. There’s less overhead, and fewer learning requirements. You can just get on with the job, confident in the knowledge that your clients are on the best possible system for their needs.

“A big part of that shift is we’re working with more and more complex and larger businesses. From an accounting and a production perspective, DEAR is really quite advanced for products in this range,” Guy says.

Bluehub reckons that the partnership with DEAR is what helps drive great outcomes with their clients.

“[Partnership] gives us an incredible product that we get to sell to our clients and build on that.
Guy says. “And your service can only be as good as the system that you are implementing. Thankfully DEAR gives us a whole heap of tools in our hands that satisfy our clients — we have so many ‘wow’ moments when we’re giving demos or even when we’re working with clients during consultancy.”

#3 The best Experts hire staff from industry

All over the accounting, bookkeeping, software-coaching and implementation world, Experts are finding that one of the best ways to support customers in a particular industry is to hire from that industry. Hiring from industry confers a huge advantage for Experts — it builds credibility amongst their customer base, and enables them to either double down on support for a particular niche, or easily expand to related industries.

“In recent years we’ve hired more people that actually worked in our client’s industries,” Guy says. “We’re taking people out of the manufacturing sector, out of the wholesale and distribution sectors, who’ve worked in industry for over a decade.”

Usually, the industry professionals Bluehub has been hiring have experience in working with large, bespoke ERP implementations. This experience has proved invaluable, as they’re now able to help companies implement a much more nimble and yet highly extensible and inexpensive ERP, in the form of DEAR Systems.

“We’ve brought them into our team to help our clients transition their processes and really fully adapt to the system,” Guy says.

#4 High-performing Experts don’t implement unwieldy ERPs. Instead, they build bespoke integrations and make use of APIs

Top software implementation experts know that the best way to help small and medium businesses thrive is to get them online as soon as possible. For companies that ship physical products, inventory management software is a must-have. But even for SMEs with specialist requirements, they don’t recommend high-maintenance, expensive legacy ERPs.

Instead, they say to get on software like Cin7 or DEAR Systems, as a good Expert partner will be able to make use of APIs to build all the bespoke integrations and app bridges they could ever need.

Bluehub began as a software development house first and foremost, and that legacy comes to the fore when a customer needs something custom-built.

“We still have development at our core, and we build a lot of integrations — often with third party logistics (3PL) companies, but also with eCommerce websites, and a few custom apps for people who have unique requirements,” Guy says.

When a Bluehub client gets set up on DEAR, they end up with a fully-customized system, purpose-built for them out of off-the-shelf components. This app stack often beats the capability of a legacy ERP, at a fraction of the cost.

About Bluehub

Bluehub is a top-ranking software implementation company and DEAR Expert partner. They  provide innovative system integrations and solutions that support their client’s businesses operations and growth. From initial discovery into client needs, to set-up, training and roll-out, Bluehub provides a fully managed service from start to finish. 

About Cin7 Experts

Cin7 Experts experienced with DEAR are an essential part of the Cin7 inventory and order management community. No matter what kind of product business you’re running, where you’re located, or what you’re trying to achieve, there’s a Cin7 Expert on DEAR who can help you achieve your ambition while saving your money and time. 

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.

Pure Commerce share four secrets that helped their clients achieve record growth in tough market conditions

  1. DEAR isn’t just for sorting your inventory or modernizing your business: it helps you keep your approach flexible

  2. You can afford your own, fully-customized, fully-integrated ERP (if it’s DEAR)

  3. Any product business can benefit from DEAR

  4. A great implementation partner will let you outsource the back-office

“We actually started out as a DEAR customer,” says Filipe Nicolau, owner and founder of Pure Commerce. “We were responsible for changing the entire inventory management process for a clothing company and taking the business online — and DEAR was the go-to choice of ERP. We took that knowledge, and started a business around eCommerce inventory management systems and ERPs, and DEAR was a natural fit.”

Pure Commerce is a DEAR implementation partner and digital agency that specialize in solutions for eCommerce businesses. Filipe has been helping businesses both large and small implement DEAR for a long time now, and he’s happy to recommend the software to product businesses of all kinds.

“DEAR is a.) user friendly and b.) well plugged into eCommerce titans like Shopify,” Filipe says. “Compared to competitors, it’s a tenth of the price, and yet it does everything you need it to do.”

No matter how big your company gets, DEAR can scale to meet your needs.

Clients range from blue-chip companies in South Africa that are running giant warehouses and massive eCommerce stores, to mid-market businesses with five or six shops, all the way to people with just one or sometimes no store,” Filipe says. What they all have in common is they need a proper system to function like an ERP and manage inventory for their eCommerce sites.

“Because of DEAR’s price tiers, the smaller businesses can purchase it just as easily as the blue-chip companies. It’s accessible to all our customers. And no matter what we throw at DEAR, it just keeps being able to do it.”

Any product business can benefit from DEAR

The industry you’re in, says Pure Commerce, doesn’t matter too much: so long as your business is moving product, it can benefit from DEAR.

“We’ve got clients in the clothing sector, in manufacturing, in pottery, in health and wellness — all running DEAR.”

The first benefit of DEAR for many customers is simply being able to tell where all their inventory is. But once that’s established, customers find their other requirements or pain points are taken care of as well.

“When we first started, we used DEAR just to run a warehouse — purely ERP, stock management, goods in and goods out. Not even for financials, just to track stock. That was it,” Filipe says. “But with our business expertise and the functionality offered by DEAR, we can create any system a customer requires.”

Customers find DEAR helpful for syncing inventory through to finances, using programs like QuickBooks Online or Xero, and adding inventory capability to eCommerce platforms like Shopify. They use it for manufacturing, retail Point of Sale (POS) and expanding sales channels, making it easy to add a D2C channel to a B2B business, or vice versa.

“DEAR’s B2B portal is, for a lot of our customers, something they find themselves wanting to add, and it’s super easy to implement,” Filipe says.

Pure Commerce tends to stay away from the accounting and bookkeeping side of things. Their job is to make sure the business elements are all connected up, and they make sure their customers are connected with great accounting teams who know how to make inventory systems work well with financial systems of record.

Get an implementation partner that allows you to outsource the back-office

“A lot of our customers come to us saying they don’t know where to start. They’re starting a business from scratch. Well, we’ve done that ourselves! So we give them a full implementation, top to bottom, and in a lot of cases, it’s really saved their bacon. One client was a clothing company — we helped them get online, and they’re now running an online store and just launching their third physical store.”

For these companies, Pure Commerce functions essentially as an outsourced back office.

“We act as their support team for all things, not only eCommerce, but everything related to DEAR, to the operational side of the business. We’re their go-to.”

Pure Commerce have had great successes among their clients, with a number taken from operating entirely using pen-and-paper to DEAR Systems, using a full modern ERP and software app stack.

“We’ve had companies who were in the dark ages. Now they’re walking around with tablets managing production lines and things like that,” Filipe says.

Other success stories include a blue-chip company that started 2019 with barely any online presence and thousands of physical stores — and we all know what happened next. The Covid-19 pandemic hit, the company was forced to close all its stores.

“We had the CEO call and say ‘Listen, you need to save our bacon. We need to be fully online in a minimum of four months,’” Filipe says. “We launched them all online with one DEAR ERP and stock management system. There’s a massive warehouse in Cape Town, five stories high, that’s running all the company’s brands, all on DEAR. DEAR is keeping track of everything and feeding each brand’s website with inventory information.”

The changes Pure Commerce and DEAR have brought have had huge effects on the company. “It’s definitely changed their lives. They’ve never looked back — they’re pumping out products online and they’re growing day by day,” Filipe says.

DEAR offers incredible opportunities for new directions — for both product companies and their advisors

A lot of consulting companies would be thrilled to find themselves in the same position as Pure Commerce. They have a steady business and happy clients, and over the period of turmoil wrought by Covid-19 they’ve found themselves busier than ever. But they’re not stopping there. Their experience with DEAR means they can now branch out in exciting new directions, quite different to what you’d normally expect from a self-described “outsourced back-office.”

“Last year we used DEAR to launch our own Pure Commerce third-party logistics warehouse,” Filipe says. “A lot of clients don’t have warehousing, so we offer the ability to keep their stock in ours. We have our own DEAR account, which plugs into the client’s Shopify sites, and we pull the orders through to the warehouse. We pick, pack and ship on their behalf.”

All this activity is supporting the growth of Pure Commerce’s clients, as well as Pure Commerce itself. In the last three years, they’ve quadrupled their business. “And it’s primarily due to lockdown, to the pandemic. Everyone has realized that they need to be online,” Filipe says.

You can afford your own custom ERP — if it’s DEAR

Pure Commerce says that any product company can benefit from the features DEAR offers, but the features aren’t the only factor that decision-makers weigh up when considering an inventory management system. The price is also hugely important — but here, too, DEAR is beating the competition.

“The value for money you get from DEAR is amazing. You can get a B2B portal, you can run your POS, your sales channels, integrate into Amazon or pretty much anything else, integrate your accounting systems,” Filipe says.

“It’s a cost-effective system, a one-stop shop that gives customers an ERP and that allows Experts to solve pretty much all your customers’ problems with one system. The unique thing about DEAR is it can be for selling anything — from potatoes, to clothing, to pottery. That’s why it appeals to such a wide range of implementation partners and customers.”

About Pure Commerce

Pure Commerce is a DEAR implementation partner and digital agency that specialize in solutions for eCommerce businesses. Here, they explain how product companies can benefit from implementing DEAR — and the right implementation partner.

About Cin7 Experts

Cin7 Experts experienced with DEAR are an essential part of the Cin7 inventory management community. No matter what kind of product business you’re running, where you’re located, or what you’re trying to achieve, there’s a Cin7 Expert on DEAR who can help you achieve your ambition while saving your money and time.