How Dock & Bay Overcame Growing Pains To Scale Globally
How Dock & Bay overcame growing pains to scale globally is an incredible story. It all started when Ben Muller - the founder of Dock & Bay said ‘We’ve got a problem.' There was a big problem holding his business back and he knew it was time to find a solution. As Ben explains “We knew there were a lot of inventory management programs around — TradeGecko, DEAR Systems, Cin7, and so forth. We said, ‘We don’t know which one would be best, but in general, each of these seems to do something like what we need.’” So Ben set to find help to get the right solution and not just implement any app and that's where SMB Consultants came into the picture.
Inventory management can be one of the most challenging parts of business. Quite often, companies who have an external warehouse don’t have full control over their inventory management. This is where it’s important to have systems and technology to help things run smoothly. The warehouse owns the source of control for their inventory, putting their inventory counts into your eCommerce platform. Which essentially means, non existent or limited control over it. When your business sells globally it makes sense to use external warehouses, therefore it’s important to find ways to overcome the challenge.
The Growth Effect Thanks To Dragon’s Den
Dock & Bay created the quick drying beach towel. They were featured on the UK’s version of ‘Shark Tank’ - the show ‘Dragons Den.’ A fantastic opportunity that resulted in an investment agreement and the brand grew significantly. They needed to find an inventory system that could grow with them.
Their main pain points were that inventory visibility was needed so it would allow them to do stock forecasting.They needed to find an inventory system that could fulfil all their needs, not just find an off the shelf inventory system and hope (and pray!) it was the right fit.
They engaged SMB Consultants to help them get the right system for their business.
We specialise in working with retail, wholesale and manufacturing to implement cost effective cloud based process management systems. The focus is on helping clients find the best solution to grow and manage their businesses. Once the solution has been found, we work to seamlessly implement it.
The foundation to SMB Consultants' success is having a careful process that we go through with all clients — first seeking to understand how the company is working, what the pain points are, and what changes need to be made to optimise operations.
Dock & Bay originally reached out to SMB Consultants and said ‘We’ve got a problem,’” Ben Muller - the founder of Dock & Bay says. “We knew there were a lot of inventory management programs around — TradeGecko, DEAR Systems, Cin7, and so forth. We said, ‘We don’t know which one would be best, but in general, each of these seems to do something like what we need.”
We knew to ensure we selected and recommend the right platform for Dock & Bay we had to understand Dock & Bay's business operations before we made a recommendation. SMB Consultants started the process by understanding how Dock & Bay were currently operating, what the challenges were currently faced, and based on this we considered how the software solutions could fit their needs. This process enabled the SMB Consultants team to thoroughly go through each possible solution in line with what Dock & Bay's needs were and then determine the best inventory solution fit.
Together after going in-depth through the business needs and scoping using SMB Consultants signature 5 step process, we were able to help Dock & Bay decide to choose Cin7.
Not rushing this process meant Dock & Bay didn’t waste time and money trying to implement the wrong platform for their needs.
SMB Consultants didn’t just offer Cin7 as the system they thought was best, they ensured they understood the business and the challenges Dock & Bay faced before making a recommendation. That’s why SMB Consultants could pinpoint Cin7 was the best solution when they made the recommendation.
Highlights for the Dock & Bay team and why they now use Cin7 include:
Increasing the business and stock safely
Using Cin7 has given Dock & Bay something crucial: the ability to scale up business safely. Cin7 has allowed Dock & Bay to grow with confidence.
The high level of trust in Cin7 has been repaid with smooth operations, even over periods that typically give product companies nightmares.
The Black Friday sales rush is awaited with dread anticipation by operations in the eCommerce world, it comes with floods of consumers testing system integrity across the board. Since using Cin7 they were prepared ready for anything, Ben told the support team they could call him anytime, 24/7. In the end, it wasn’t needed. Thanks to Cin7, Dock & Bay’s Black Friday went off without a hitch.
“In the past we had chaos, leading to weeks and weeks of issue resolution,” Ben says. “But this Black Friday we had no issues, because for the first time we had control of our data in all of our systems, and had the process down pat. I really do, 100 percent, put that down to the fact we’ve taken control of our business processes, and Cin7 is key to that.”
Advanced Amazon Integration
What made Dock & Bay agree that Cin7 the best solution for them was how it fitted with their needs. The advanced level of integration Cin7 offers with Amazon helped to make their decision easier.
Keeping track of inventory
One of the main differences from where they were before is that the Dock & Bay team with Cin7 has fantastic inventory visibility, and confidence in their data. They no longer have to manually update convoluted, unreliable spreadsheets. Reporting is reliable, and gives decision-makers access to up-to-the-minute sales and operations information.
Cin7 allows you to keep track of your inventory accurately. It allows trust in the data and that is the most important thing. Ben says ‘If you don’t have trust in your data information you can’t trust any reporting. Cin7 gives Dock & Bay faith in the data and automates the reports so we can make informed decisions.’
Cin7 is now the source of facts for inventory information across all the apps and platforms that Dock & Bay work with. Sales made on Amazon and Shopify stores all pull from stock availability data in Cin7, and the software also looks after the routing of products in and out of their third-party logistics warehouses.
Seamlessly Managing Multiple Warehouses
Dock & Bay has five warehouses run by third-party logistics partners, one for each region that they’re selling in — the UK, Canada, the US, Europe, and Australia. They also work with Amazon fulfilment in each of those regions, for a total of 10 warehouses across the business. On top of this, they also have different Shopify websites for either B2B or direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales for each region, in addition to third-party marketplaces like The Iconic and Nordstrom selling their products. This geographically disparate, multi-channel picture would be a near-impossible nightmare to manage, if not for Cin7.
Cin7 manages the inventory in all of those warehouses, it knows how many open orders there are, and that gives accurate reports on available stock. Every time an order takes place on one of the sales channels, it comes through to Cin7, which knows it needs to update the other sales channels and say ‘You can’t sell this item any more.’ Keeping the inventory accurate.
Having this level of control has meant that Dock & Bay have been able to set up some routing rules, which simply wasn’t possible before Cin7.
“For instance, we can prevent orders going straight to the warehouse if it’s a pre-order, or if the customer hasn’t paid or is using an alternative payment method, we can set up some rules to make sure those orders don’t go out straight away — we can put in a delay of say, two hours. Being able to control that workflow really saves us a lot of time, hassle, and ultimately costs.”
Effective customer service
An additional benefit of the Cin7 implementation has been a drastic reduction in customer service issues. Cin7 allows a much clearer view of inventory and more control over stock, which has meant overselling items has been almost eliminated.
Ben gives a typical example of the sort of trouble they’d often face before Cin7 was implemented. If the warehouse system they were previously relying on was reporting incorrect numbers, Dock & Bay had no option but to remove the product from the website altogether. Now, they can simply adjust the stock figure in Cin7 or put a hold on the item, and that will stop the product selling across all sales channels. “Now, we can solve the problem and get on with business. That’s where Cin7’s helping us.”
Another benefit to using Cin7 has allowed them from needing to expand the operations team. This doesn’t mean not hiring, or firing employees. Instead, running an efficient, high-performing, lean operation, and allowing ability to increase headcount in areas that will help grow the brand.
“Because we have trust in the process and the data that’s flowing through Cin7, we don’t have to intervene very often. This means our operations team can run pretty slim, and we can invest in roles like marketing and sales that add more value to the business. We’re just much more efficient.” Ben says.
Our Inventory System Is The Source Of Facts
With the new inventory implementation and roll out over a year behind them, Dock & Bay have a clear view of exactly how much being helped by a trusted Cin7 expert has benefited the company. The impact, Ben says, is absolutely huge, to the point where he says they “couldn’t have done it alone.”
The collaboration with SMB Consultants and Dock & Bay has been so strong that Ben says ‘Any business’ looking to migrate to Cin7 should enlist SMB Consultants to help’ as they are the specialists in this field.
“SMB Consultants brought the dream to life. Having Cin7 has meant we could become more efficient, and trust the information in our systems. But we couldn’t have done that without SMB Consultants. We had to work with the right people as well as the right system to get where we are today.”
“Cin7 is the heart of our business,” Ben says. “It controls what we sell, and where we sell it. It manages information from customers, through the warehouse, through our supply chain, into our accounting system, and all the way around our operations and support team. It touches every part of the business. We take all our trusted information from Cin7, and it’s our single source of truth.”
“We’d be very lost and very sad without Cin7, because there’s really no way to visualise how the business could operate without it.” Thanks to SMB Consultants and the implementation of Cin7 Dock & Bay have a strong future of clear inventory and business growth.