So you’re a small business and you want an inventory solution, or you’re a consultant or cloud integrator and you need to find a suitable inventory solution for your client. If you’re not closely affiliated with a particular solution (which I’m not) you need to look at the options available on the market = time drain!
Here’s how I tackle the request to recommend a Xero Add-On Inventory Solution as a consultant
If a client indicates he wants a solution I ask the client to answer the questions below, and then send the responses to the add-on Inventory solution sales channel to get their response.
My communication typically starts:
I’m looking for a suitable inventory solution for a client currently set up on Xero. Here are my clients requirements: (obviously the answers to these questions are included)
- What industry does your business operate in?
- What current practices are you using for inventory management?
- How many users need access the inventory management system?
- How many sales transactions do you process a month?
- How many sales transactions do you predict you will process a month, in two years time?
- How many products or inventory items need to be managed by the system?
- How many products or inventory items do you predict you will process a month, in two years time?
- How is your inventory distinguished or labelled? (serial number, SKU Stock Keeping Unit)
- If your inventory has serial numbers do you require the inventory solution to monitor this?
- If your inventory has an expiry date do you require the inventory solution to monitor this?
- Do you have warehouses? If so how many?
- Are you operating in multiple currencies?
- How many customers do you have?
- How many suppliers do you have?
- Do you require e-commerce integration? e.g. WooCommerce, Shopify, etc.
- Do you require document storage in the solution?
- Do you require different product pricing tiers? How many?
- Do you have manufacturing requirements?
- Do you need multiple COG’s and Sales lines?
- Do you require back-ordering?
- Do you have a mobile app?
I then conclude the communication with the following questions:
Can you advise me if you require any further information to deem with your product is a suitable fit?
Do you believe your solution meets the requirements of the business?
How much should I budget in time and dollar value for an implementation?
What are the ongoing monthly costs the client would be subject to?
Learn from my experience, ask the solution to respond via email, otherwise you can spend half the day on the phone. Hopefully by providing as much information as possible the process is simplified for both me the consultant, and the potential solution. I appreciate their time is precious and I don’t want to waste it.
My experience contacting Xero Add-On Inventory Solutions
Between 3:00pm and 3:30pm Tuesday 29th April I contacted the inventory solutions listed below with detailed specifications to inquire about a suitable product for a real client. I wanted to share with you how time consuming it is for a consultant to do this. I have wrestled with myself as whether to disclose this information, as I in no way mean my comments to be disparaging against an individual solution. I think as an add-on provider you may benefit from realising what it’s like on the other side of the fence. I’m also open to the discussion of how can this process become easier?
- Unleashed Software
- DEAR Inventory
Who’s the easiest Xero Add-On Inventory Solution to Contact?
The easiest Inventory Solution to contact was UnLeased and Order Harmony as they both listed an email address on their website – so it was a matter of clicking and pasting. I don’t mind filling out the Contact Us forms too much as long as they don’t try to capture too much information, and the box for the inquiry is large enough.
Who’s the hardest Xero Add-On Inventory Solution to Contact
The hardest inventory solution to contact was:
Dear Inventory – I couldn’t work out where I was supposed to contact them, and in the end I submitted a contact via their Feedback and Support panel. Tidy Stock had a very clear Contact Us page, but the plugin for processing my message was a little confusing. Ummm one still has not responded – but I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt and recontacted them.
Responses from Xero Add-On Inventory Solution
The first solutions to respond were:
Dear systems 3:08pm automated response
Tidy Stock (however the email confusingly comes from Silicon Avenue) 3:12pm automated response
Unleashed – a sales representative called at 3:30pm clarified some questions, and sent through a detailed follow up email by 4:55pm.
simPRO – a sales representative called at 3:40 to ask what sort of businesses they were . She clarified that simPRO is suited to job oriented businesses and is not typically used in a sales environment.
TradeGecko – a personalised and detailed email response at 4:33pm. As well as answering questions, they sort further clarification, and invited me to communicate with them on SKYPE.
Dear systems – detailed impersonal response 4:44pm. It was tagged as a ‘ticket’, no-one – not even iPhones Siri – signed off on the email, and there was no invite to get back in contact with them. Funnily enough they met the clients requirements closely!
Order Harmony – personalised detailed response 7:57pm
TidyStock – three days later – personalised detailed response 1:38pm and further information at 2:44pm
I’ve did not hear back from Cin7, so resubmitted my form 3 business days later. They called 2 business days later, with a follow up email asking to discuss how they could help – but the questions were not answered. I replied with the questions. 8 business days later I received a somewhat detailed response to my initial inquiry.
Of the responses I received, it was easiest for me to deal with those who answered my questions line by line, and then summarised any anomalies. One of the responders, and I’m not mentioning who, replied sign up to trial and find out “in your own time”. Yikes!
Here’s how I share Xero Add-On Inventory Solution details with the client
On one landscape A4 page I laid out all the responses of the solutions that remained in contention to meet the client requirements. I did not bother including solutions that could not meet the client requirements. From this analysis, two major areas needed further clarification:
- ecommerce integration
- costing methodology
At this stage I went back to the client to seek further clarification.
Why do I do this?
I want the client to take ownership of the Xero add-on inventory solution that’s chosen for them. Working through this process allows them to think about different features they require, and inspires them to ask further questions and seek clarification of their requirements. A new business management solution is never like a perfect chocolate chip cookie, it’s always going to have to do something the business operators need to adapt too. The adaption process is easier if any implementation and processing surprises are minimised.