Inventory Visibility a Game Changer
With Acumatica, Cave Direct gained a robust business application with data all under a single pane of glass giving full transparency into real-time inventory. With the real-time visibility and remote access, the sales team dramatically shortened its sales process because they could see what was in stock, available, and where it was located. They boosted customer satisfaction by limiting callbacks when items were out of stock because they could see exactly when specials were sold out.
“We are in an extremely fast-paced industry with 50 different beers from different breweries from all around the world arrive weekly,” says Laurence Smale. “Before, it was just a nightmare trying to keep up with it all. By upgrading to Acumatica, it was so much easier and streamlined, and we have all the information we need in hand to empower sales.”
“Acumatica makes it a hell of a lot easier to sell in a product, knowing that we’ve got full control of where it comes from and where it goes,” he adds. “It’s an amazing tool for the team and gives us a whole new level of clarity and focus when consulting with the customer, which is key as our customers time and attention is constrained as it is, managing their own busy operations. Our team’s approach is to take their passion for craft beer and expertise to make recommendations as a valued extension of our customer’s business.”
Full inventory transparency had an equally large impact on the company’s ability to forecast and provided a competitive edge over craft beer competitors, many of whom rely on third party logistics haulers to move products.
“Having that stock control is incredible,” Gilhespy says. ”That’s put us at the forefront, especially in the craft beer industry. Now we can track it all; everything we do is in Acumatica. Whatever information we want, we can have it at the click of a button and that’s the key to our success. We know what’s in each warehouse and when goods are sold.”
Previously stock “turnover was quite a lot less, but we always knew there was potential in our business, and to fulfill that potential, we needed something that would manage our stock better.”
Having all data housed in Acumatica and full stock visibility proved critical when Covid-19 hit, and associated lockdowns were instituted as well as new Brexit taxes were finally signed into law.
Shifted Business During Covid Lockdowns
When the Pandemic locked down the UK, Cave Directs’ 2,000 customers, which run pubs and restaurants, closed overnight. Some restaurants remained open for delivery and takeaway, but a majority ceased operating during the pandemic. At that time, only 5 percent of the company’s craft beer sales were to consumers.
Because Acumatica is flexible, offers intercompany accounting, and has open APIs allowing third party applications to seamlessly connect, Cave Direct was able to make necessary shifts to its business to keep operations up and running through a time of uncertainty and rapid change. First, they easily consolidated inventory from four locations to one central location physically and within Acumatica. They temporarily closed several warehouse locations and then directed its Magento webstore to pull inventory from the new central stock location.
“That would have been a lot more effort if Cave Direct didn’t already have a flexible application like Acumatica already in place,” says Arcus’ MacMillan.
“We made the necessary change and set up nearly all our customers onto direct debit payment processing, which is all managed through Acumatica. That’s been a huge benefit for our cash flow and works very well for us. It’s something we struggled with before lockdown. But again, Acumatica helped us to navigate that situation,” says Gilhespy.
Acumatica’s flexibility allowed Cave Direct to sell directly to consumers via its online store, add a delivery fee to orders, and to continue filling orders from restaurants offering delivery or takeaway. Customers simply logged into Cave Direct’s Magento store and could select from and place orders for beer in stock.
“We could still distribute nationwide, and people were quite happy and so were pubs that could still do a takeout,” Louise Smale says. “They were more than happy to be able to pay for the beer and pay for the carriage charge to get it to them. That worked well for us during COVID.”
With many at home and discovering new interests, Craft Brewers saw a resurgence and shift in consumer demand and preference. As a result, Cave Directs’ direct-to-consumer sales jumped 35 percent, Gilhespy says. When the lockdown was lifted, Cave Direct easily redirected Acumatica’s inventory management and controls back to its four warehouses and resumed its previous operating structure of carrying a full inventory of beer at each location.
Complicated Brexit Tax Made Simple
Cave Direct was similarly able to effortlessly pivot when the UK voted to leave the European Union and new tax rules were hammered out, which resulted in complex calculations that many small to medium sized businesses have struggled with, according to several UK news reports.
“Our stock is made up of the cost from a brewery, the excise duty and carriage,” says Louise Smale. “The excise duty is calculated by annual hectarage of liters that a brewer produces on a sliding scale, the alcohol by volume, and the literage. So, you can imagine how hard it is to calculate because we carry products ranging from .5 to 19 percent alcohol, and each has a separate excise calculation.”
“Under Brexit, if we collect beer in Belgium, we have to clear goods out of the EU and create new customs declarations paperwork to bring it into the UK,” Gilhespy says. “With maybe 150 beers from different breweries in a truck, all with different excise duties, imagine trying to get a customs agent to keep up with that paperwork in real time.”
Arcus used the open architecture of Acumatica to develop custom reports that calculate the new excise duties for Cave Direct automatically by adding needed attribute fields like alcohol percent to the product details screen.
“Acumatica actually calculates the excise for us,” Louise Smale says. “Pre-Brexit, we were registered excise dealers. Post-Brexit, we’ve become customs agents. We can get all the information we need out of our software solution and can calculate everything ourselves easily. And that has given us such an edge. We couldn’t have switched the ease with which we did without Acumatica. It’s been quite a brilliant thing, really.”
Unique Business Requirements a Breeze with Flexible Acumatica
Acumatica automated many of Cave Direct’s processes, which streamlined operations. For example, when an item is added to a sales order in Acumatica, if the item requires a deposit, it is automatically calculated on the order. Likewise, if Cave Direct sells a keg, the needed tap, tubing, and a keg deposit are automatically added to the order. That information is also sent to the warehouse so they can pick and ship the needed equipment, and delivery drivers are alerted when they need to deliver equipment or pick up returns.
“Cave Direct has heavily complex business processes, and Acumatica has workloads that fit perfectly and were able to meet their requirements,” says MacMillan. The keg and bottle return processes “are a fantastic highlight of Acumatica’s flexibility for what could be a tricky requirement. Acumatica enabled workflows for products and values like kegs and bottles, separate from beer, which are activated through the logistics process.
Solid Platform for Growth
Cave Direct now has a modern, cloud-based ERP platform that provides full transparency into inventory, full transparency through several warehouses and full transparency into needed information from the field.
“With Acumatica, it’s given Sales the freedom to really push sales and focus a lot more on what they do rather than worrying about all of the back end,” says Laurence Smale. “And if you’ve got a happy back of house, then you’re going to have a happy front of house. Acumatica is a dream.”
Cave Direct also has a modern e-Commerce solution that seamlessly connects with Acumatica, which has allowed the company to generate growth into a new customer revenue segment.
“I love to recommend Acumatica, but not to any of our competitors,” says Gilhespy. “Acumatica has transformed our business, given us access to real-time stock information, and given us the confidence that we can just keep on growing.”