The Origins of HardwareBox
I started HardwareBox back in 2015. While I was renovating my home, I became frustrated at the lack of range of good quality door hardware and tapware in the local hardware stores. There were suppliers overseas I considered, but by the time I included shipping, it just wasn’t cost effective. After ten years in the corporate world, I realized the time was right to have a go at my own venture and I haven’t looked back! We started out selling on BigCommerce before expanding to eBay, while also selling to brick-and-mortar retailers who preferred phone/email orders.
After the initial excitement of leaving the corporate world to work for myself, the business growth of 20% month-on-month resulted in rapidly escalating challenges. I found I was doing trips back and forward between the office and post office as I was trying to do my own logistics. This was the early days when I only had a small team. I wasn’t able to focus on critical and more strategic activities.
That’s when I decided to use a 3PL (3rd party logistics company) to do all my pick/packing and dispatching. To enable this, I determined we needed an inventory management system that the 3PL could use (with limited permissions). I also wanted a tool where I could track sales and profits, plus determine purchase order points.
That’s when we selected Ecomdash.
How HardwareBox Uses Ecomdash
The fact we have another company picking and dispatching our orders means we can use ecomdash from two separate angles. The 3PL has limited access to be able to view orders, print pick slips, etc. Meanwhile, the HardwareBox management team can log in and view higher level revenue data as well as ensuring we are re-ordering products with enough lead time. This means we always know the status of every order despite the logistics being completed elsewhere. This is critical as we retain contact with the customer and need to provide the customer with up-to-date information.
Another way ecomdash helps us is to essentially convert our pick/packing process to a paperless format. This has reduced errors made by the 3PL and ultimately saved money on reduced rework and data entry, since we don’t have to manually update inventory labels across each channel we use.
We saw these benefits reflected in our data.
Ecomdash’s Reporting Tool Offers Added Value
For our management team, the reporting is great. We love the reports which analyse our sales and stock on hand. It makes it easy for us to work out when we need to re-order stock and which products are our top selling ones so we can make sure we’re always carrying them. You always have an idea in your head of which are the top selling products and which ones are not selling well, but the data sometimes proves you wrong!
For our 3PL, the best feature is automatic inventory syncing. The 3PL uses a mobile device called ScanSKU, a barcode scanner, to do stock checks as they pick stock. They then update any discrepancies in real time. This is critical to us to ensure the stock available on our listings is correct so our customers aren’t disappointed after ordering.
Advice for Other Sellers?
Don’t wait! It’s worth investing in a platform like ecomdash early on. I wish we had implemented it earlier as it would have made it easier as we expanded and brought on new sales channels. While the initial learning curve for using a platform like this may feel intimidating for some sellers, we found it easier to use than we expected.
It’s worth putting in the time to learn up front, as it will make every other part of the supply chain much simpler!