I’m always really passionate about health, and on my journey to always maintain the highest level of health, I have had many detours, valleys and some really high peaks. I have been Lacto-ovo Vegetarian (eat some animal products, i.e. milk, eggs, etc), then moved to a Paleo based diet (lots of meat, no dairy, and a lot of vegetables and no grains), Keto (high fat, low carb, moderate proteins) and now finally I am a vegan. There I got it all out!
I’m not going to comment on the positives or negatives of these diets, however, the first question everyone asks you when you become vegan is:
How do you get enough protein?
It is the type of question that gives you a moment to pause and wonder where do I get my protein from. So I started doing a bit of research and I found this movement amongst professional athletes all becoming vegan. They looked super strong and even exceeded their peers in performance and recovery. So I figured they must be getting their protein from someplace, as it is almost impossible to maintain peak performance without protein to support your muscular system at the very least.
Low and behold after a few weeks of research and trial and error, I found there are tons of protein sources and meat consumption is second-hand protein consumption. Vegans get protein right from the source, rather than having a herbivore eat the vegetable matter and then we eat them.
Anyway cutting a long story short, I decided I wanted to help anyone who wants to go on a vegan diet. I would get as many different vegetarian protein sources, so they could answer the question and also affordably be able to get their basic daily protein requirements, whether they are an athlete, someone who wants to lose weight or just someone who is happy to maintain themselves.
To do this, I would need to keep my overhead costs down. The only way I knew how to do this is to use automation. My leverage was I know how to build such systems, and with my wife Jeri, we went about building this system.
The system we finally decided to use was a combination of three solutions. We used Shopify for our e-commerce platform, Cin7 to manage our inventory and Shipit to manage dispatch and logistics.
When you automate these three systems you could pretty much do everything, but physically pack the stock.
The sales process is automated using Shopify and its many plugins which can basically act like a shop assistant for you. Suggesting similar products, assisting in comparing and sorting through products that match your criteria. You also have a sales chat function that can be automated to give standard answers or directly connect to your Facebook messenger so that you can assist them, wherever you might be. Further to this, you can set up email marketing and even SMS if needed to remind customers when specials are on and when they might be running out of protein/products.
What this ends up saving me is a physical store, sales staff, and all the associated overheads. Store fit-outs can cost upwards of $100k, as opposed to setting up a Shopify which depending on how many products and the size ranges from $15k to $50k. Which is still half the costs without the ongoing overheads of staff and stores. In some of the repetitive tasks, I think the automated marketing is now superior to having an individual. Where physical stores edge online stores is the personal touch. As much as you can have a messenger service to help with customer inquiries, having an actual person is impossible to replace.
Cin7 is your inventory management superstar. It organises the purchasing of stock, sales (all sales channels, ie e-commerce, Amazon, eBay, etc). The amount this saves in time is phenomenal. If Shopify is the sexy externals, Cin7 is the brains of the system that everything connects to. The time saved is enough to not have a sales/admin person data entering orders and checking over them constantly. As Cin7 automates all the connections and streamlines the entire ordering process. The money saved with a system like this in labour is significant. Instead of requiring a channel manager for each sales channel, you just need one person to overseas the entire sales process.
What this allows me to do is grow to a significant size before requiring staff to manage this process, as I could pretty much do it myself until we are turning over a quarter of a million in sales.
Shipit is my distribution platform that is the legs of the organisation, printing out labels for freight. Updating the sales status on the fly, doing all the little things that take a considerable amount of time when you have to do it manually. What it does is reduce packing time significantly and adds that final panache, like sending the customer an automated tracking number and updating them on there sales order status. Shipit works with Cin7 to achieve these automated functions.
This is a summary of what automation can do, and how much money it can save you. I will keep you updated on how the e-commerce store goes and will be writing in more detail about what works in a real-world case study, in the new world of automation!