Growing pains and painfully manual processes
When SOUND’s co-founders, Salim Najjar and Tommy Kelly, quit their careers as engineers at a nuclear plant to launch a first-to-market sparkling tea brand, they were brimming with enthusiasm but short on CPG experience.
Salim faced a steep learning curve as he took on the role of organizing, then managing, the company’s operations.
Documenting and tracking sales orders was painful and onerous. After entering an order into one platform, he then had to jump in and out of multiple systems to follow it through to fulfillment.
Inputting purchase orders and sending invoices was equally convoluted. But it was the job of tracking inventory that was Salim’s biggest headache.
To ensure accurate fulfillment and keep customers happy, he needed to know where his ingredients and finished goods were—and the precise volume he had of each. But getting that information meant trawling through and then manually updating a bunch of spreadsheets aligned to specific warehouses.
Tracking inventory without any central visibility was costing him up to 10 hours every week.
And with so much manual data entry, the risk of costly errors was high. Salim’s biggest concern was that any small mistype in stock levels could mean he had less inventory than he actually saw.
So the simplest human error could delay him starting the process of ordering ingredients for the next manufacturing run—and potentially lead to not fulfilling orders from customers. It was a constant concern for Salim and detrimental to his business.
Salim knew there had to be a better way.
“I created a bunch of Excel sheets to track our inventory and ingredients, with hand-coded formulas to tell me how much I needed to order.
Anytime an order came in, I'd have to do several tasks just to document that properly and get a handle on what our inventory looked like.
As we continued growing, it was clear that it was not supposed to be handled in Excel sheets by one person.”
Visibility and control across the supply chain
As a relative newcomer to CPG, searching for a solution was daunting for Salim.
Most of the platforms he encountered felt complex, impersonal, and overstuffed with functions he didn’t need. He consciously decided to stick with his antiquated excel sheets until he could find a partner who understood his unique requirements.
All that changed when he was introduced to the team at Unioncrate.
As Salim recalls, they immediately made him feel like “part of the family” and worked with him to find ways the platform could unlock efficiencies and cut costs.
In addition to helping with data migration, they also worked with his partners to implement EDI connections wherever possible.
After onboarding with Unioncrate, Salim suddenly had everything he’d been looking for, including:
- Automated order tracking from a single dashboard.
With a single source of truth, Salim can ensure orders flow smoothly without jumping between disconnected platforms.
- Integrated, real-time inventory management.
Salim has a live snapshot of ingredient and product volumes across all of SOUND’s warehouses, allowing him to quickly analyze what needs to be bought or produced to avoid unnecessary losses.
- EDI connections with larger partners.
These connections improve data quality, reduce the time between order and fulfillment, and improve his relationships with key customers—all at just $1/each.
- QuickBooks Online integration.
Purchase orders and invoices are automatically created and sent, saving Salim even more time every day.
Now that he has total visibility of his sales orders, purchase orders and inventory levels, Salim can oversee and optimize his supply chain performance around the clock and in just a few clicks.
With so much friction and frustration consigned to the past, the task of scaling the business, and growing the brand, felt more achievable than ever.
“Unioncrate removes the stress and headache of trying to manage several Excel sheets and inventory. It also eliminates the potential for error.
That lifts a huge burden because you know your inventory is based on what’s actually there.”
$60k+ saved and 120+ hours recovered yearly
Unioncrate unlocked all kinds of efficiencies for SOUND’s small team.
Automating the purchase order process alone cuts out 15 minutes of admin on every order, freeing up 120+ hours a year to focus on higher-value tasks.
Those efficiencies are repeated across sales orders and inventory management processes and only grow as the company does.
Because so many time-sapping processes have disappeared—and everything is now in one place—Salim and SOUND can do more with fewer resources.
In fact, they’re able to operate their growing business with incredible efficiency. They’ve sold over $2M+ in their company's lifetime coming into 2020, having raised only ~$1.8M in that time. All that with a small, passionate team.
Without Unioncrate, Salim estimates they’d need to make at least one extra operations management hire, saving them at least $60k.
And because purchasing and production decisions are now based on accurate, real-time data—rather than Salim’s manual inputs—he can fulfill every order, raise service levels, and continue to build the brand’s reputation.