Superprem imports sinks, faucets, small appliances, and related household products from China and Europe. It sells and distributes its products to plumbing retailers throughout Canada under brand names such as Kruger Living, Kinetic Home Products, and Pearl Sinks and also has a subsidiary company called Barak Building Supplies.
Soon after Kevin Chiang joined the family wholesale business as Chief Business Development Officer in 2013, he recognized Superprem Industries’ financial systems were in need of an upgrade. The company, headed by his brother Woody Chiang, CEO, and with sales of more than $5 million, had been running an outdated instance of Sage at each of its four locations across Canada. Doing so caused a number of operational and financial reporting inefficiencies, mainly inaccurate inventory. To expand into new territories, Superprem needed a robust, cloud-based financial system that could provide much better insight into operations.
Inaccurate Inventory in Four Databases
Because Superprem ran four unconnected Sage databases, the company’s accounting team was constantly entering data from its outlying offices into a master file in Richmond. The controller typically spent two to three days entering data a month.
The four databases also made it difficult to get accurate inventory counts and to track where invoices were in the sales process.
“Inventory was a nightmare,” says Chiang. “From the Calgary file, we would track the invoice out to the customer, and then retype the record (in Richmond), so if we sold 10 sinks, we’d take that data and average the sales prices.” But the transaction wasn’t tracked throughout the rest of the selling process – to the warehouse for pulling and shipping – nor was its status tracked, so Superprem didn’t know if it was delivered, still in the warehouse or received by the customer.
“Basically, it was just a lot of remembering and now with a bigger staff, it’s hard to just remember everything,” Chiang says. With no tracking and multiple disconnected databases, “we would only get accurate inventory once a month,” he adds.
Inefficiencies Were Hindering Operations
To see if one of the company’s 2,200 items was in stock, sales had to call the warehouse and ask them to do a physical inventory check. Sales also had to call the accounting team to learn previous customer pricing or special shipping considerations because they did not have access to the financial system or a CRM.
Complicating things further: only five of the company’s 27 users could be logged into Sage at any one time, which frustrated employees who had to wait to complete simple tasks.
Chiang estimates it took him eight hours to calculate commissions due to all the extra work it took to find information in four Sage instances, and compiling financial reports was equally time consuming.
He knew a modern ERP would allow Superprem to support the business from a single database, streamline day-to-day operations, and provide real time visibility into consolidated information and reporting.
“We should have upgraded at least two years before we did,” Chiang says. “We wanted our controller to be more purposeful with her time and inaccurate inventory couldn’t continue.”