As a beauty therapist and educator, René Serbon is an expert on skincare and skin therapies. She is also an entrepreneur, and when the opportunity arose to distribute a skincare line she loved, she created Dermal Systems in February 2011.
The business introduced René to the world of logistics and distribution, a far cry from the therapeutic processes she was so familiar with. It’s been a steep learning curve and René says getting StockTrim on board has saved her hours, stress and money.
Dermal Systems supplies skincare solutions to beauty therapists, naturopathic doctors, dermatologists and other qualified skincare professionals in North America. The company is the Canadian distributor of Dermaviduals, a range of custom-blended formulations made in Germany.
"My overall passion is still more on the education side, and the product and equipment distribution side of things is the vehicle to facilitate that,” René says. "I wanted to bring full systems to allow clinic owners to get great results for their clients’ skin, whether that’s through analytical consultative tools or products.”
René initially ran the whole business on QuickBooks, then added a dedicated warehouse management programme to track expiration dates and batch numbers. About three years ago, she moved to paperless processes and started researching options for stock forecasting.
"Everything is digital now, from paying bills and submitting our invoices, to submitting our purchase orders. I came across a wonderful technological genius (Nic at The Clever Dudes) who makes all our systems talk to each other, and it was his recommendation to try StockTrim.”
StockTrim draws data from the warehouse management system and calculates stock requirements taking into account how quickly each product is selling, which products are nearing their expiration date, seasonal ebbs and flows, and even the company’s annual growth rate.
More time, less stress
With more than 150 SKUs it was previously taking René at least a week and a half to prepare each purchase order.
"I had to dig through all the stock information and see what was close to expiration, what are we going to have to write off and if you're writing off a chunk of products do you have to get replacements for it? Honestly, it was a nightmare.”
Purchase orders now take hours, rather than days. René particularly appreciates StockTrim’s ability to pull real-time data from the warehouse management system. Previously she had to choose a date range, which left out “a big chunk” of variable factors, especially in high-demand months like December.
“And that can make you run out of stock more frequently, which was an issue, oh my gosh, that was my Achilles heel. So that live-time integration is really spectacular.”
René admits she was initially hesitant about committing to another monthly payment on top of both the warehouse management and the accounting programmes. But after considering the cost of her own time when she had to manually calculate every variable, not to mention the stress it was causing her, she realised StockTrim was “absolutely worth the investment”.
“Doing purchase orders doesn't bog us down now, and this gives us more time to focus on the things that we do really well and that we want to be spending time on, and on growing our business.”
More money in the pocket
StockTrim’s value can be seen even more clearly in the amount of product the company is no longer writing off.
“I remember in our first few years writing off over $30,000 in stock three years in a row. That's a big chunk of cash, especially for a new business. Looking at what I wrote off last year, even with Covid which makes stock predictions very difficult anyway, we've decreased that by over 80% easily.”
StockTrim aims to help businesses keep as little stock as possible on the shelf without running out. For Dermal Systems, this means less capital sitting on the shelf and more money in the pocket, "which allows us to serve our clients better in other ways”.
Having used two different warehouse management programmes, René has been able to compare their forecasting data with StockTrim’s, and found them “vastly different”.
“Even though we run the business and do our invoicing within these warehouse management programmes, they’re not as accurate as StockTrim’s data relating to stock and ordering needs.
“When I've done orders the other way (using just the warehouse management programme), I inevitably run into little problems because the predictions are just off, whereas StockTrim is so much more accurate.”
While miscalculating stock forecasts can lead to costly surpluses, René says under-ordering is an even greater risk. While StockTrim’s forecasting is highly reliable, the system also lets her add buffers for certain products or promotions, for added peace of mind.
“There are a few products that I'm willing to put that capital on the shelf just to have that double security blanket. Running out of cleanser and moisturiser, for example, would be equivalent to the supermarket running out of milk and bread, and that cannot happen.”
Despite the disruption that Covid has wrought on supply chains in the last 18 months, René says she’s “very pleased that we haven't been drastically out of anything, and the things that we've run out of have already been ordered and are on the way in the next shipment”.
“I doubt that we'll ever get it 100% because there’s always the human factor and changes in environment or circumstances, like we've definitely noticed as of late. But I’ll take 80% improvement any day!”
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