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Inventory: The Glue That Binds Your Business with Finale Inventory | EP. #125

March 20, 2024 | Author: Andrew Maff










While inventory management isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think of e-commerce, it’s an essential component of any profitable e-commerce store. On this 125th episode of the E-Comm Show, Andrew Maff interviews Pauline Shiu, VP of Marketing with Finale Inventory. Finale Inventory empowers e-commerce sellers to manage their inventory efficiency, allowing e-commerce stores to scale with no fuss. 


In this episode, Pauline Shiu discusses how to effectively manage e-commerce inventory and the areas most sellers overlook- but are critical to their success. From diving into the biggest problem sellers have with their inventory to sharing the top factors to look out for when choosing an IMS partner, Pauline lets us in on all the insider tips you don’t want to miss.

Watch the full episode below, or visit TheEcommShow.com for more.


If you enjoyed the show, please rate, review, and SUBSCRIBE!

Have an e-commerce marketing question you'd like Andrew to cover in an upcoming episode? Email: hello@theecommshow.com






Inventory: The Glue That Binds Your Business with Finale Inventory




Andrew Maff and Michael Kaufman

CONNECT WITH OUR HOST: AndrewMaff.com  |  Twitter: @AndrewMaff | LinkedIn: @AndrewMaff 



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Pauline Shiu




Pauline Shiu is Vice President of Marketing with Finale Inventory, the platform trusted by thousands of brands as their inventory and operations management hub. With 20 years of experience in ecommerce and SaaS, she believes that the best software not only solves complex problems, but provides the right data at the right time to empower teams. Pauline lives in Maryland with her two small children and many houseplants. She loves being outside - on a walk, paddleboarding, or dining al fresco.


I think the one thing that's perhaps less obvious about what folks should look for is UI UX like asked to really in the demos click around see how it works. Understand how many steps does it take to do said process



Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of The E-Comm Show. As usual, I'm your host, Andrew Maff. And today I'm joined by the amazing Pauline Shiu is the VP of marketing over at Finale Inventory. Pauline, how you doing? You're good to hear. Good to see you, Andrew. Thanks for having me. Yeah, super excited to have you on the show. So I'm sure as you know, I always start these off very stereotypically. And just to say like, Hey, let's pretend no one knows who you are, even though Come on. So if you can give us a little bit of background, obviously on yourself and a little bit about finale inventory. We're gonna take it from there. Okay. Sure. Hi, everyone. Like Andrew said, I am Pauline Shiu with finale VP of marketing over here. Finale, I sure hope you guys have heard about. So we've been around for 10 years now. In that time, we've helped 1000s and 1000s of brands scale their business just through efficient inventory management. And while that sounds dull, it means that we're helping them stay profitable, stay in business and get ahead of the curve. And we're really here just to scale and grow brands, helping them with obviously inventory, but also warehouses and operations in their warehouse. Beautiful. One of the reasons I'm very excited to have you on the show is because if I were to say, I'm a marketing experts, right, I've been doing this for years. And then I were to do the equivalent of that for operations. I would be what's like I've never heard of operations in my life. It's amazing how poorly I know anything about e commerce operations. So having someone like you on the show, very excited to learn something because I don't know anything. So let's so let's back up real quick. So finale, obviously inventory management system. When I think of an inventory management system, ecommerce, especially there's like 5000 marketplaces now and your own website, and then some people retail and all this stuff, different warehouses, 3000 Oz, all over the place. What is what's your approach to that? Is that, obviously I know that's a big aspect of finale inventory, but like, give me kind of a synopsis of like, how are these DTC brands leveraging you guys so much? Yeah, sure.



So we absolutely play to omni channel, right. So we do bricks, we do clicks, we do social. And so kind of the whole gamut. And even from like, supplier into finale out, we manage everything. And we're really actually seeing more and more brands kind of become this true omni channel piece, more and more trying to bite off of the in store, which is huge. Because I would say just like five years ago, multichannel was big. And that just meant webstore marketplace, right. And then before that, multichannel was really big, that meant in store online, like generic web store. And so the the definition keeps evolving. And that's what point of finale is having a platform, a software team that can scale with you. And that's what an ally does. We scale brands throughout, you know, orders of 100 orders a day, we literally have people who do 20,000 orders a day. So for the full thing, we're here to make sure that your business is totally running efficiently, profitably, and not just about the counts, the counts are really important to cover on all of your costs, right, all of that revenue is tied up in the inventory itself. Let's make sure it stays profitable.



years ago, and I think I mentioned this to you before we started years ago, I was involved in an inventory management company so I know a little bit about like the SAS side of it, how it worked. I have no idea I was a marketing guy. I just had to make it look nice. So what which I'm sure you kind of understand a little bit the the one thing that I remembered was like a constant question was there's a million nuances to every different business about picked up shipping and what's going in what and how am I tracking inventory and then if you're bundling it becomes this whole thing and I know with Amazon that has become I'm even more of a thing. And luckily, I didn't have to that was customer service problems. So like, what is it? How is finale inventory approach that from like a customizable standpoint, considering all these brands in these owners run their business like completely differently?



Yeah, you know, that's a great question. I love it. You know, people, conversely, always ask us, what's the one industry you guys serve really well. And we don't have a good answer to that we say all industries. And it's not this generic cop out answer. It's truly because the way finale works is that you can add in custom fields, custom columns, custom reporting, custom workflows, connect this data piece to this data piece. And because it's kind of that this data playground, if you will, right, think of the jungle gym and at the playground, it's just data points, and finales just connecting all those data points. So like you call it whatever you want to call that, that box of text of numbers, whatever. And you just let us know how we talk to it on another screen and how we tied into the reporting. And it's done. And so yeah, we find that sellers come to us. Sure, from competitors, yes, from spreadsheets, but really, a lot of people find us when they're like, when they're like I can't find anything else that works. It's too expensive to build somewhere on how can like, there's gotta be something out there that connects the left hand and hasn't talked to the right hand. And that's pretty much how Valley solves all the customizability within the platform. And the reporting, the reporting is huge.



So I'm just gonna touch on the reporting. So thank you for a flawless segue. So one of the most so like I, as I mentioned, like total novice, so I know that, you know, you can connect all your different marketplaces, your your websites, all that fun stuff, but like outside of that I'm blind. So like, what other like major benefits do sellers get out of using a system like finale inventory?



Sure. So it's getting ahead of your reorders, restocks, right, all of that, having your supplier information and getting automated purchase order. So it's not even just sure send the purchase of our outputs, knowing what should you get? When should you get it? When should you be ordering it? tracking all of that throughout the process into your warehouse understanding your cogs, your cost of goods sold, right? Accountants love finale because we give a cogs calculation that just goes right into QuickBooks. And so again, it's about keeping your whole team in the loop between what's coming in what's going out FBA is your point, right? Like where do those shipments stand to get to FBA fulfillment centers? What's happening in Amazon's fulfillment centers? I feel like so many sellers, they kind of you know, ship out the door it becomes this like, let's hope it gets there. Let me let's see when that number updates in Seller Central, so yeah, so we give that visibility to sellers. We have a track the data, track their products, and just know what's going on.



Yeah. Well, what would you say is like the, like the biggest problem that sellers have with inventory, like to me, I know, obviously, during COVID times, we had the whole supply chain issue and stuff getting backed up. And that was a whole different problem. But now that we've that's far past us, and we're back into more or less, I guess I can call these normal times. What like, what would you say is kind of like the biggest problem that sellers typically have with their inventory? Is it just knowing when to reorder? Or is it just managing it overall? Like, what would you say that is?



A lot of it is that visibility piece? What do I have? What do I not have? When do I need to reorder how much of it is there? And even like, it's a lot of coordination. So again, you have your you're going to sell on tick tock shots, right? Sales and tick tock shops goes really fast. So you want to make sure that you have committed that inventory to tick tock shop, or you've committed to FBA, or you've committed it to some other sales promo on your Shopify website. Great. So it's being able to, you know, sell at the 24/7 pace of E commerce, while also doing kind of one offs. Were able to account for the day to day just let it normal motion, in addition to special promos. And also what don't sellers know, sellers don't know how things are performing how profitable they are. So you know, a lot of the attention is always on ads return on adspend. What about just like the profitability for your skews? That is so important, right? Your all of your money, all of your financing is for your inventory. Yes, you have staff and yes, you have advertising Yes, we have some overhead costs, but your business sellers as brands as DTC companies need inventory and so being able to really monitor that profitability is tremendously important. And for finale, that starts with being connected to suppliers, knowing the cost, knowing what sold and then again knowing do I need to sell more do we need to absorb do we need to buy more now? What's that pace looking like? It's a really just again, data timing accuracy.



Today's episode is brought to you by finale inventory meet finale inventory, the ultimate solution for accurate and efficient inventory management. Trusted by 1000s of brands finale inventory offers seamless integrations with over 80 sales channels and platforms with customizable workflows and reporting features. Finale empowers you to streamline operations and scale your business with ease, preventing overselling and maximizing profitability. Whether you're juggling multiple platforms, expanding your product range, or just looking for a way to reduce operational chaos finale has the tools you need to succeed step into the future of E commerce with finale inventory. Yeah, you know, it's it's funny hearing you say this, because like, it sounds very self explanatory. Like, yeah, you should know the cogs like right, you should know when you need to order inventory. But it never ceases to amaze me when I talk to a seller and they're like, oh, I don't. It's like, I think it's around this. And I'm like, What do you mean, you don't know what your cogs are? Like? How are we supposed to figure out how to market it if I just don't have an unlimited budget, and I can just eliminate it. Some people do



it on like a quarterly annually monthly is like, depending on the order flow, but you can't do that, you know, you guys like all that dusty product in the warehouse. You're just paying for all that. And it's sitting there like it may not be FBAs warehouse, but you're still paying for that. Yeah. And it also seems simple, right? Okay, I got one product, I'm going to track this product through, like cool. As you know, sellers have hundreds or 1000s of products, and to be doing this across sales channels across 1000s of skews. It's just not scalable, you know, without doing it through through a system system like you find



it more necessary. If someone has like hundreds or 1000s of skews, then if someone's just got like a handful.



Absolutely. Absolutely. As as businesses grow, the workflows are more complex, right? So adding more skews, adds complexity, adding more sales channels adds complexity, adding more warehouses going in store, it all adds complexity because it it changes the workflow, right? So sure used to count five shoes in your warehouse. And that should be like a half hour, but try counting right 10s of 1000s of square feet of your warehouse. Take a lot longer.



So your point, I was thinking actually the the I mentioned the supply chain issued COVID. All that fun stuff that we dealt with, in the past, like, banks were what 2024? Now so we'll say we're probably a good two years or two. Yeah, about two years out of that hole. Has anything changed in inventory management? Like Did we learn anything from that? Like, where? Where are we at now versus where we were? That's



interesting. Yeah, I think that sellers are more savvy about their supplier relationships, really understanding you know, so gives me a timeline of x, they commit to that timeline, right, that's huge. Being able to get it in on time is everything. Also costs sellers are really mindful of like when a new supplier, but is that a good thing or a bad thing? Will they have that reputation? Is it worthwhile to stick with a supplier who may be a little bit more expensive, but they're reliable, right? Again, also, finale can help you track variance. And so what if you have a supplier who great he ships fast, it's all there. Oh, but wait a second, a third of its broken right. Really keeping their suppliers in check is also really important because once it's in the door, you want to get that puppy listed right? Let's not list puppies, you want to get that product list. And so you know you don't have time to account for these one off twosies 10% 20% of things that are lost broken whatever the reason is, so keeping an eye on your suppliers keeping them accountable is huge.



Yeah, we as of as of this recording we just had it wasn't today I think was last week we just had an episode go out with the CEO of butcher box and that was that was basically that was that guy's whole talk and it was awesome like it was all about his relationships with his suppliers and manufacturers him but like it's crazy how many people look for oh, I want the least expensive supplier out there and that's my favorite one of my favorite that this is gonna get tattooed on me one day cheap is expensive. And if you go with the least expensive person you are probably going to pay for it in one way or another and it always blows my mind how people go are so you want to you're stepping over dollars to get the pennies kind of thing right and it's just an amazing like, Yes, I stand by that quality



over quantity any day across like all facets of life by the way. So yeah, absolutely. What about



so obviously you know, we We talked about they've got hundreds of skews, 1000 skews. So they're, they're in motion. They're a good size business. They're a good brand. What about the new guys? Like how do the new guys like get themselves in a good position to make sure that as they start to scale, they're set up in a good way so that once they hit a certain number, they're not panicking. And Joe helping more complexities? Yeah,



yeah. So we have grown sellers from let's just say, like a million, so up to $75 million. It's pretty incredible. And the thing that Fanelli does well, and the reason why, what I would tell him blaring out for is a platform that can manage the data. Because, as I say, I'm gonna say data like 100 times in this podcast, I'm sorry, already. It's all about managing the data, right? Because once you you need that visibility, you need to understand your your sales orders data really, really important. We work with other partners in the E commerce space tech providers, who have literally asked us to scale back in the data, we send them because it's like clogging their systems down. But all that is so important to sellers. So Andrew, your background, all these different points, we want to connect all of them together. And so, you know, being able to look at the timing for platforms are the updating hourly, daily, or up to the minute in real time really important, like having teams on the same page about what what's going on with our products and sales, orders, fulfillment, everything is really important. And so having reporting dashboards, obviously, we've talked about customization, right? You as the brand owner, you want to look at things differently than the person who's fulfilling the packages in the warehouse, and everyone in between your finance person is looking at things differently. Your listings person also right? If if your listings person is selling multichannel, and is running a promotion, then they need to make sure and trust that the numbers in the warehouse are reflecting what's on the website, what's on in the Amazon, etc. And so being able to have that reporting between your teams, also really important as people scale. Yeah,



there is. I don't even know the number. There are so many inventory management companies out there. Some are very small, some are newer, but like, what would you say what, obviously, I'd love to know like what the big differentiator is for finale inventory, but then also like, when sellers are going to pick one of these like, because eventually they hit a wall. And then like you've got to have, especially if you're in multiple marketplaces or retail, like, what's the criteria? Like what am I what am I looking for? Based? I know every brand is going to have something different, but what type of nuances Am I looking for? Sure,



yeah. Again, it's these timing syncs. When is it information getting updated? So multichannel thinks is it happening hourly? That could be okay. Or it's happening in real time. The other thing that's also support sellers, you know, not everyone's in tech, you're selling brands as a business. And so how is the support? How is that company able to help your team when they really need it? Black Friday, talk about sustainability, cyber five, I would also ask about uptime and reliability, you know, do you provide SLAs? Are you able to your product is there for me when I need it. We talked about keeping suppliers accountable, right? It's the same thing, keep keep your software providers accountable, make sure that they're gonna be there for you. And obviously, the thing that's really easy is, you know, make sure the pricing works, make sure the integrations are what you need. sales channels, web stores, fulfillment partners, what have you. And I think the one thing that's perhaps less obvious about what folks should look for is UI UX, like asked to really in the demos, click around, see how it works. Understand, you know, how many steps does it take to do said, process, look at your orders, you know, Cycle Count, issue, a purchase order, etc? Because I think a lot of folks are surprised when they get into software, go through training, sure, fine. And then like, wait a second, this wasn't as easy as the garden on the demo, right? Because he's used to what he's like buzzing around. He's got shortcuts, but kind of that uptime. And the ease of use is also really important. Especially as you train new team members, right. So starting small you're growing, which means you're adding on team members being able to have new staff that can learn a software quickly. Again, in the office, or in the warehouse, really important. Yeah.



Yeah, that's a very good point on the UX thing. I've gotten rid of software before because I'm like, I know it does something cool, but I can't find it. And I give up like it's hideous and it just doesn't work. It's a very important thing about that. Documentation



and support. Being able to actually use the software like the feature set is cool. Good. Those are good check mark items. But as you dig in deeper and deeper How does it actually work? What is the workflow within the software? Yeah,



we're about globally like it, how does it does that change anything? Like what happens once, obviously, you get into different marketplaces different, you know, retail and all that fun stuff. But now you're like, Okay, now we're going to start selling overseas, like, where does that kind of changes that will



definitely come into like, in my opinion, it's more on the currency side, the valuation side, the financial side, right. So if you buy it in whatever dollar unit, you're selling it out kind of that conversion for it listed in the US at $10. But it's listing in Europe for like 1250, being able to kind of reverse engineer all that math to understand, like, what does that come out to in the US, because candidly, a warehouse location can be a virtual warehouse, like FBA, it can be an actual warehouse. And so wherever that warehouse is located, that's kind of like human are there to a degree. I would also say that potentially, you know, when you have a pick and pack list, and you're fulfilling orders, we're gonna call it something in English, we're gonna call it gray elephant tusk up whatever you've got going on in the background there under duress, but in but in Spanish and French, like, I don't know these words, but it'd be something else. Right. So being able to have that transparency, again, that relationship language in, in the currency, etc. It's a big deal.



Yeah. What about from the warehousing side, like the whole like, barcoding thing, once it actually comes in? They scan it like, how does that get fed directly into finale? Where does that? Yeah, yeah,



we love this question. Thanks for asking. So now, it actually runs our own barcoding software program. We also have relationships with some manufacturers where the software is directly download onto the scan gun. And so for finale, it just means that you have your product ideas, and you have your barcode, you know ID numbers as well. And so when you scan the barcode, it automatically syncs to finale. And the cool thing is that it's not just for picking and packing, a lot of you know, EECOM barcoding solutions will handle the pick and pack. But again, we're looking at the full workflow when you receive your items in from your supplier. Right, do all your scans and figure out do you have the right products? And you have the right amount? This goes back to again, keep your suppliers accountable. Did you send the right things? Did you send the right amount? Okay, great check, we got that. Now you got in the warehouse or gal in the warehouse, I've seen many a stock photo with women smiling as well. So you know, shout out to all your guys. When they go to put it on the shelves, it's scanning to make sure it's in the right location. So again, I have this chiastic great, I need to make sure this goes to Iowa three shelf to Ben 12. I don't know whatever it is, so I'm going to scan it. And then it's going to show up on the scan gun to the dishes do where to go. It will literally navigate and walk me around the warehouse to get me in the right place. And then you scan the bin and put it in. So now finale knows that this bin now has one more 10 More 12 More whatever units of your products. That's the receiving, I think picking back is pretty clear. We know how kind of how that works. Yeah, verifies your orders, you've picked the right things and then out the door. So it just really improves and improves the workflow because it makes everyone more efficient and accurate accuracy is the key. Is



that is that scenario when someone has their own warehouse? Or is that kind of a similar situation if they're using a three PL?



Oh, great question. So that's definitely the scenario if someone has their own warehouse, I do have to also say that finale. Finale users include three pls so three pls use rally to manage other sellers products. And also the finale, you know, barcoding system barcoding including the software as well as labels. So being able to print custom labels. Yeah, sure. We do the generic barcodes, we do QR codes. But even you know like package labels, prop housesitters, prop warnings, ingredients, you know, calling out different promotions, but I want to get creative. Someone even uses our QR codes as shelf talkers in their retail store. So they have the barcode to transact. And they have like a learn more QR code on the label in store. And that QR code from finale just takes them to their Shopify store to learn more information. So again, you just so many things with the with the technology out of the box are kind of getting creative like that.



So awesome. Pauline, thank you so much for being on the show. I don't want to take up too much more your time. Obviously I would love to give you the opportunity to let everyone know where they can find out more about you and obviously more about finale inventory. For sure.



Yeah. Oh Find my LinkedIn. Pauline Chu. Sh IU with finale. And then yeah, definitely come and visit finaleinventory.com Check out our demo challenges on our UI talk to our team. Our us basically was one of the like the best acknowledged in the, in the, in the industry. I sincerely say that. And when you talk to them mentioned the promo code Ecomm2024 E C O M M 2024. And you will get 20% off your first three months with finale. Our pricing is pretty transparent. It's also very competitive in the industry. It's all on the website. You can check it out there.



Beautiful. Pauline, thank you so much. Obviously everyone who tuned in thank you as well please make sure you do the usual rate review subscribe all that fun stuff on whichever podcast platform you prefer or head over to theecommshow.com to check out all of our previous episodes but as usual, thank you for joining us next time. Goodbye.



Thank you for tuning in to The E-Comm Show head over to theecommshow.com to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or on the BlueTuskr YouTube channel. The E-Comm Show is brought to you by BlueTuskr, a full service digital marketing company specifically for e-commerce sellers looking to accelerate their growth. Go to bluetuskr.com Now for more information. Make sure to tune in next week for another amazing episode of The E-Comm Show.








































































































































































































































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