Syncore + Commercio Company Stores Integration
Want to learn how other distributors are using the integration? Hear how Facilisgroup partner – DLA (Donate Life America) Promotions – integrated their Commercio Company Stores with Syncore to make processing online orders easier for their business.
We interviewed CEO Barrett Hubbard who gave us insight on company stores strategy and the outcome of implementing the integration.
Read the Q&A Recap Below!
I’m the President and CEO of DLA promotions. We’re a new promotional products distributor. We knew we were going to have web stores because we were taking over two for Donate Life America.
Michelle Stuckey is our online services coordinator and she’s terrific. She sinks her teeth in, and she gets her hands much dirtier than mine. She coordinates everything from the stores, the front-end design, and what the store looks like to the products and which platform it will be built on. We recently added a sales support role to do some of the manual things that need to be done around the stores on occasion. For fulfillment, the orders are sent to a third-party fulfillment provider.
To be a full-service promotional products distributor, you have to have a web-based platform. You have to have a way to reach clients. This is one of the things that I tell everybody we’re going to do and it’s kind of cool as a new company. However, if clients want to buy from us, we’re going to give them that opportunity to enter the sales cycle however they want to. Some people want to call in. Some people want to order online. Some people want a sales rep. We’ll do it however they want to do it. And company stores are part of that piece.
The other nice thing about a company store is that for large commercial clients, getting fully embedded with them can be sticky. It’s a big change. The cost and risk of switching becomes high for everybody. For example, if I’m a major corporation and I’ve got a punch out and I’ve got everything in place, the cost of undoing that is a big deal which puts the incumbent in a strong position. So, it’s another one of those elements to consider as you go into them. That gives you at least a competitive even advantage.
The other piece of company stores is scale. The other nice part about a web store is that if you do it right, you can scale. You can get to a large audience and sell things at a scale that you could not do one by one.
The best way to make money is don’t lose any. I know that sounds like a low bar, but if you take the aspect of when we execute a company store to make it somewhat painless and seamless for the client as much as you possibly can as you start to establish online stores. There’s a whole spectrum of stores – from the pop-up store to an inventory store to a catalog store. Every one of them is a little bit different and every time the functionality is a little bit different, somebody needs points, gift cards, payroll deduction, and you can just go through the whole litany of things they need. But at the end of the day, I think our goal again is to take care of the needs of the client and the buyers.
Then we can extend our reach out to wherever we want to market. So, we can become a more effective marketing machine using those stores and create a platform where people can enter our sales cycle in a diverse number of ways. As we all know more and more are online, but not everyone’s online. So, I think that having that diversity is huge.
The number one feature right now is the integration that an order will flow all the way from the store into Syncore and then allow it to be processed from there. I know we’re at the crawl-before-you-walk stage of this, but the potential of that to be efficient and to increase efficiency and to understand things as they’re happening much quicker and to reduce the number of errors and to reduce the number of touch points is just a huge advantage over time and we definitely noticed it when we first did it.
It was a huge step forward for us. As the orders came in and we had to step back and look at workflows, things were different, but it wasn’t anything difficult. It was just a matter of it being a new process. So, you have to design other processes around it to make it work and you just think it through.
I would say, don’t be on the fence. I’d say get off the fence. I think the integration is going to be a game changer relative to efficiency and like everything else, you have to take those first steps and then you get up to speed and you feel good about things. We already feel better. We’re about two-and-a-half to three weeks in now, maybe I’m going to somewhere in that range that we went live, and overall, even the go-live was fairly seamless.
There weren’t a lot of real troublesome issues at all. Again, we worked out a couple of workflow issues. There are some tiny backend accounting issues, but the order flow is still cleaner. You now have a place for the order. You’re not outside the system. It can be handled, managed, and invoiced in one system.
We have a retail public-facing store where orders come all the way through. After they’re placed, they flow into Syncore, there’s payment, and it’s done. It’s over. Really. Now we’re still manually entering cost, so it’ll calculate the margin correctly. But that’s a small thing in the scheme of it. It’s all done. That order is done and that’s kind of neat to have that happen.
It was more challenging for sure. There was a lot more to it. A lot of my manual touches. Our team was having to manually grab the orders, turn around, enter them, process them, and almost turn them into a mini drop-ship order. But now we don’t have to do that. That’s the key. An order used to be placed in the store, but it stopped. Now, when it goes all the way through, you’re only finishing the last 5% of the order now and soon, those elements will be done too and that’ll be great.
It was a big change. It came at the right time for us because we were very thinly staffed. We’re a new company. We have seven or eight associates and I think we have got a terrific upside. But we don’t have a lot of people laying around to do stuff. So, it was great when the integration came. It made a big difference.
I love to put things in the positive. This is a good one to put in the negative perspective that if you didn’t have it, it would be very difficult to do the infrastructure and the backroom required. Like I said, online orders are not always what they seem, and this reduces the risk which I love. It reduces and increases efficiencies which I love, and I just think the whole transaction becomes much cleaner throughout the whole organization. When that happens, you should be able to scale more. It just becomes easier to do everything because eventually you would need an army of people to manually touch orders and now you don’t. That’s a big deal.
We’re very excited we have the Syncore integration and once we have the warehouse integration, you really have a very, very small number of humans touching things. You’re really managing inventory at that point. You’re obviously managing your pricing, but those are now the types of things that were very, very challenging to an organization when you’re trying to scale.
I would say order management, getting that order out of the system, manually getting it in.
The potential for errors goes up dramatically and the one thing about webstore orders is when they start coming in droves, all of a sudden, it’s a lot and it’s a tricky problem. That would probably be the biggest simply just the sheer workload would be the biggest pain point. The other I think is efficiency and accuracy for everybody. Those were much more challenging when we didn’t have it and now, we have it. As I said, it makes a big difference.
Our online team definitely feels very different now than they did four weeks ago. I would say that’s probably the biggest single thing. But as I said then, the ability to scale it in terms of pain points is hard to scale without this so you couldn’t really go there.
The company was just getting started and I was faced with a decision. I knew about Commercio, and I knew where you all were. I said, “We’re going to give this a go with Commercio”. The team has leaned in like crazy. It’s really gone as well as it really could go. Anytime there were things, they all jumped on it and fixed it. It’s starting to pay off. That’s really the key. It’s starting to pay off.
Our job, I think once you decide to commit to Facilis, is to then get as much out of that as you possibly can. What I mean by that is I was trying to think more long term than short term and that’s again a decision that I think is going to work out for us going forward. Not only that, I think we have some pretty good working knowledge now that will help us and others will catch up.
Commercio can solve a lot of stuff and in the next 12 months I can see it becoming even more and I’m sure the team is going to make that happen. So, they’ve been terrific, and I appreciate them leaning in to get us there and I can’t thank them enough for that.