Case Study – Import/Export Wholesale Business

Part 1 – Business Introduction

For the sake of privacy, I will not disclose the real name of the business, so for the purpose of this article, we will call them UC Import Export.

UC is an importer of bearings from China, they have almost 10,000 different SKU’s in stock. Their stock is stored in three different locations, their main warehouse is in Sydney, with locations in Brisbane, and Melbourne. BIN locations and labels are used to locate all the many different SKU’s throughout the warehouse.

UC has a team of 40 workers, made up of sales representatives, warehouse staff and administration staff. Consequently, as with most mid-tier companies, HR issues are often an issue and need to be addressed quite frequently.

Sales is a very strong focus for UC and as such, it is very important for staff to be able to track all interactions with customers. It is also vital to quickly ascertain what stock (allocated or unallocated) is on hand for sale, and which locations it is available at. Almost all of the sales are generated by internal sales via email, e-commerce and phone orders. External sales representatives are used to build relationships and develop new customers. With almost 2000 customers it is very important to have a system that can keep track of all the various interactions between UC and their customer base.

The three locations also provide for walk-in wholesale clients, they don’t offer a retail channel, as all customers are trade customers on account or COD. So part of the system requires that you have a POS system in place.

The administration is mainly developed around accounting staff, with 4 staff handling accounts payable, accounts receivable and maintaining the accounting system. Purchasing is organized by a purchasing manager and his assistant, this includes maintaining all supplier relationships, putting through orders and maintaining stock as well as sourcing new suppliers. Finally, there is an in-house IT specialist that maintains the entire system.

Current System

The current system is an ERP system that is server based and accessed by nodes via VPN into the server from all the different branches. The main server is housed in the Sydney branch. The current ERP system has three modules, a distribution, purchasing and accounting system, customer interactions are managed by an external server based CRM, which does not interact with the accounting system.

Customers can also purchase via the accounting systems B2B interface, however, it can be quite glitchy and only works 50% of the time.

The server is housed in a specially cooled room, with backups for data as well as power. The server is maintained by both an internal fulltime IT specialist as well as an offsite external contractor.

All HR functionality is provided by an external subscription service.

Cost of current system

I won’t be mentioning the names of the software vendors, as it isn’t relevant. The below table outlines the current system costs.

Function Cost
Accounting Solution (includes distribution, payables and accounting) $12,000 a year annual license fee
Support/Training $180/Hour for specialized support or training – usually approximately $5000 annually averaged over 10 years
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) $500/Month for 10 users or $6000 annually
Human Resource $7240 for an annual subscription
IT Costs Onsite IT specialist – $70,000 + External Server maintenance – $10,680 annually. This doesn’t take into account server upgrades, parts, electricity, cost of licensing for software on the main server.
Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable staff $90,000 annually
Point of sale None, done with a petty cash tin and EFTPOS. Invoice is generated on the main system and then walked over to the front counter


Total approximate annual system – $40,920

Total approximate Labour system – $160,000

Total cost – $200,920


Accounting System – Xero


The following add-ons were put together to create a solution for UC Import Exports, careful thought was put into understanding their workflow process and how the new system could efficiently work to improve performance, efficiency and improve on costs.

Software Functionality Website
DEAR Inventory System Manage Inventory/Warehouse
EzyCollect Debtor Management
Invitbox Accounts Payable data entry
Capsule CRM Customer relationship management (CRM)
Shopify Plus B2B(e-commerce) and wholesale outlet(POS)
Employment Hero Payroll & HR


In the next 7 articles, I will go into detail on how each of the above add-ons go about surpassing the current system in performance, price and efficiency.

What’s next…

Part 2 – Inventory Management

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