In cloud terminology, a vertical stack refers to the cloud-based solutions that can be used in a particular industry type to solve the detailed requirements required by wholesalers.
In this article, the industry type I am going to examine is wholesale inventory. Wholesale industry is the sale of products from business to business. This can often be a very complex process.
Let me run through an example covering the many complexities.
In our example, our business is called J & S Import Exports (J&S).
J & S imports a number of different baby products, wipes, nappies, and accessories, from China, USA, NZ, and Europe. They purchase these products in different currencies, ranging from Euro, USD, and NZ. Goods have a 6-12 week lead time depending on the product, minimum order quantities are required to get the maximum volume discounts on all products.
It is really vital to maintaining the correct stock levels. J&S have forecasting software to assist in what stock to purchase, and when to purchase it to maximize stock turnover, discounts, and correct stock levels, and low warehouse costs.
They have a number of warehouses worldwide, three in Australia, one in the US and one in the UK. The US and UK warehouses are third-party warehouses (3PL), that run their own software solutions to manage their warehouse. The three local warehouses are all owned and operated by J&S, who organize local couriers/freight companies to dispatch orders. They do not have their own delivery vehicles.
J&S has a number of different sales channels:
- Wholesale to other businesses that onsell their products (B2B).
- Sell directly to big department stores in Australia ie Coles, Woolworths & Aldi.
- Sell on Amazon AU, EU, US & Canada.
- Have a retail website (Shopify based e-commerce store) for their own internal brand (B2C).
The department stores also use EDI to interface with J&S.
Internal sales are tracked via a CRM for their 8 sales representatives, each has a specific region, and get paid a base plus a bonus commission based on regional sales. The CRM keeps track of all emails, activities, leads/opportunities, and sales.
Reporting on all the different aspects of such a complex number is systems is very important, and reports need to be layered so that different managers have different dashboards and insights. Sales managers, Warehouse manager, financial and general managers, all require a unique number personalized set of dashboards and reports, to assist them in making correct decisions in real-time.
The foundation to every system is the accounting system, as with any other company this is mandatory and the start and the end point.
Solution – Vertical Stack of connected solutions
The below table covers the issues from the example above and the possible solution. I will only say possible because every solution has strengths and weaknesses, and I have limited insight into the workflow and process of J&S. If we went into that amount of detail, to examine the complete workflow of each area, it would end up being a much longer article.
|Inventory Management (sales, purchasing, multi-currency, landed costs, minimum order quantities etc)||Cin7, DEAR Inventory, Locate & Unleashed|
|Forecasting – Complex inventory purchasing/forecasting||Inventory Planner|
|Multiple warehouses (local & international)||Cin7, DEAR Inventory, Locate & Unleashed|
|Third party warehousing (3PL)||Cin7 (natively), Databot (DEAR, Unleashed)|
|Logistics||StarShipit, shippit, Shipstation|
|Business to Business Portal (B2B)||Cin7, DEAR Inventory, Locate & Unleashed|
|EDI Interface||Cin7 (natively), DEAR Inventory and Unleashed through third party plugins|
|Amazon AU, EU, US & Canada||Cin7, DEAR Inventory, Locate & Unleashed|
|Shopify integration||Cin7, DEAR Inventory, Locate & Unleashed|
|Accounting||QB Online and Xero|
As a disclaimer, I am only going to put the most used solutions or those that are most familiar to users. There are more complex solutions, that can be used to solve even more complex issues. These solutions are highly customizable and can accommodate a much higher transaction count than more common solutions. If you would like to know about them please feel free to inquire directly through our chat on our website or email us through the contact page.