Every business has something to sell. Some business sell services – their expertise (like an accountant, lawyer, artist) others sell you time or convenience (like a cleaning company or oil change shop).
For those businesses who sell physical products, your operation takes an entirely different perspective. You have products that need to go from your warehouse to your customer. If the products have a shelf life, you have to ensure they move quickly so they don’t go bad. You need to know what you paid for them, at what time, to ensure you get the best profit.
Software to manage your inventory and warehouse are absolutely crucial to ensuring that your operation is profitably managed.
Jim Burleigh, CEO of inventory and warehouse management software vendor SmartTurn gives us his insight in this interview about a hosted inventory management solution vs a software solution; when a business knows they even need an inventory solution
I think we all can imagine the supply chain needs of Dell, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and hundreds of other very large companies. How are these needs similar to what smaller businesses need?
All businesses in one form or another are similar when the need to track inventory or product is. Everyone can improve fulfillment accuracies and improve on efficiencies that have a great side effect of reducing labor. From smaller storage spaces to medium-sized warehouses, small businesses need to track and monitor their supply chain to ensure that products reach target markets in a timely manner and generate revenue.
How are their needs different?
Large companies require the full gamut of software and hardware to keep customers and trading partners satisfied. This typically requires huge capital investments that provide a long term ROI opposed to the SMB’s who generally require only a few software/hardware improvements with a quick ROI. Additionally large companies tend to move product rapidly requiring them to have custom built solutions for high automation, and an expensive solution at that.
Can you give me a brief “picture” of a typical customer? What do they sell? What’s their revenue? How many customers and employees do they have? Help us understand a bit about their needs.
Our customers range from just a few employees earning less than $10 MIL, to thousands of employees earning more than $25 BIL. The product mix is vast and is everything imaginable is being sold or tracked. (Books, cables, food, electronics, automotive to name a few)
For companies using software based solutions, what are some fees they can expect to pay?
This depends on what type of software they are using. If they are using a warehouse management system (WMS) they typical price range for your client-server model runs between $50K and well over a $1MIL for licenses, support, installation and hardware. Not to mention there are restrictions on users and in many cases transactions.
How does this compare to fees for a SaaS solution?
The SaaS model allows companies to operate efficiently at hugely reduced costs ranging from $500 per month like SmartTurn that includes support, unlimited users and transactions.
Is a SaaS warehouse and inventory management solution good for ALL businesses?
Absolutely. Every business has a need to track inventory at some level. Whether they are tracking inventory in a storage closet or in a 250,000 sq. ft. warehouse, having the software to track and move goods in a real-time environment is essential for company growth. For large companies, they may already have a solution but don’t want or can’t afford the cost of another license for a remote warehouse, we are the perfect fit.
At some point is a software solution better – in price or otherwise?
This depends on functionality and how much customization you need. For a typical SMB, customization is not usually a factor, and a SaaS solution is more than ideal because it is configurable.
Who are some of your competitors selling the solutions you do?
We are in a unique position because we are the first true on-demand inventory and warehouse management solution that offers a solution for all businesses to use, not just a single vertical. However, while companies like Accellos and Foxfire Technologies offer Web-based solutions, they usually charge on a per user and/or transaction basis. SmartTurn offers unlimited users and transactions and charges on a per facility basis.
Let’s speak to the very small business using Quickbooks that is GROWING
How do they know they need to upgrade?
Usually when they require additional staff to manage their accounting activities or when there is need to integrate with other systems like a WMS.
Do you find this happening in your customer base of new customers or are they switching from the competition?
We get all sorts of customers wanting to upgrade to a new accounting system at the same time they want to implement a WMS. And while it has its complexities, it is a great time to do both.
What are some growing pains they can expect?
This depends on the business, but for warehouses one factor is high turn-over, other factors include an increase in customers or clients, further requiring an “application” to smooth things out, speed up their processes and level the competitive playing field. This is where an on demand SaaS application plays a great role, reduced learning cycles for new employees, available 24/7, adaptive to technology changes and an increasing number of features rolled out every few months.