Unleashed Software has launched the Business Booster competition to give Australian-based product businesses the chance to win a cash boost, software licenses, and ongoing mentorships to fast-track business growth. Any product-based business with growth ambitions can enter. There will be three winners and a People’s Choice winner, which will each get a share of $20,000 cash, a subscription to Unleashed and Xero, and mentorship from various industry experts. The winners will be announced on 25 January 2021.
Goodproductsmatter.com provides the public with a community platform to browse and easily find everything from craft beer, through ethical tea and coffee, baby food, flour, organic cheese and vegan goods.
Currently over 500 products from the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia are listed with the number growing all the time. As a result, people have the option to buy in bulk and benefit from economies of scale or get access to items not generally on sale to the public such as fitness equipment that top gyms usually buy.
As many of these companies don’t have the necessary marketing knowledge to address consumers, or the available cash to fund new marketing campaigns, Unleashed Software, which provides their inventory management, will use its marketing skill across digital, social media and PR to help suppliers get noticed more quickly than they would if they tried to do it themselves.
CASE STUDIES: New Zealand’s Karma Drinks, Warwickshire-based Hogan’s Cider, HandHygiene4U in East Yorkshire, Redemption Roasters in Aylesbury and London, and Bristol’s Bristol Twenty and international wholesaler Volcano Coffee Works are just six of the producers that are taking part because of the opportunities the Marketplace brings:
Matt Morrison, Co-founder of Karma Drinks and All Good Organics: “Our Karma Drinks business grew from supplying many independent restaurants and cafes across NZ and the UK which are now closed. Any channel which helps us reach the people who enjoy our drinks during this time is hugely appreciated, and the Marketplace is a fantastic site for consumers to directly support companies like ours”.
Rory Ireland, sales director at coffee roasters Bristol Twenty, explains that every business has to diversify, look at all revenue streams and find undiscovered markets: “People have always viewed us as a commercial coffee company. But Goodproductsmatter.com will allow people to see that we also do a great range of retail coffees and teas available for home brewing. Above all it will help people rediscover the great choice of produce on the doorstep and move away from convenience shopping they have gravitated to during lockdown.”
Allen Hogan, founder of Hogan’s Cider, says that the Marketplace brings together like-minded producers to fix an urgent problem: “Our market has fallen off a cliff, so we need to find easy ways to trade and find new customers. Anything that will bring us to the attention of a wider audience is a good thing, so I really do applaud this.
“Without doubt this new channel has potential. I admit I never thought of Unleashed’s customers as a potential source of customers, but we are all like-minded individuals, with a commonality; we’re independents who’ve chosen the Unleashed platform because it shares our values. This creates a natural bond that I’ve never thought of before and helps us become agile and get a fast start on marketing.”
Mike Logue, wholesale director for Redemption Roasters, says that as cafés, restaurants and offices have all closed online is their only option for sales. “We’ve seen 95% of our usual business dry up, so growing our online sales is vital. But it’s not been a focus for us before – that’s why the Marketplace is such a good idea as it should help us drive bigger volumes than we can achieve ourselves. I also think it’s a real opportunity for people to get away from the easy purchase of mass market products at the supermarket. There are so many other options out there and people could change their buying habits for good.”
Richard Warren, managing partner of HandHygiene4U, says his Yorkshire based business needs a platform like this to provide an antidote to profiteers: “We started trading in 2019 and so the pandemic has rather caught us by surprise as demand for our sanitisers has rocketed. We’re working flat out to meet demand and thankfully customers have been really supportive and patient.
“Goodproductsmatter.com will offer specialists and family businesses like ours a way to reach audiences digitally and overcome the challenge of profiteers found on bigger e-commerce sites. We offer quality advice, sensible products at a sensible price. But sadly, we know all too well that’s not what’s happening elsewhere – customers are being ripped off.”
Emma Loisel, Co-founder and Chair of Volcano Coffee Works, says consumer support of independent producers like them will make a real difference to the survival of their businesses: “Unleashed’s promotion will help provide more information to customers about what is available to them from small independents. If small businesses don’t survive Covid-19, we are going to see mass unemployment of staff currently furloughed by companies. Also, it will leave the only employment options in the future with large corporates, which will be a real loss of employment options for the workforce.”
Lisa Miles Heal, COO of Unleashed Software, adds that now more than ever people need to support the underdog and buy independent: “Our customers all have something in common – they’ve set out to change the status quo in how we source, make and buy good quality products and this fits with our own company values. We’ve had in mind for some time to create a marketplace to help companies who have set out on this mission reach more people. However, we’ve decided to launch sooner than planned in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now people can discover and share great brands with friends and family, and we can all help smaller artisan companies carry on and thrive in difficult times.”
Lisa continues: “We know that many of our customers fear independent artisan producers could disappear forever as people head to the familiar big brands with marketing power and large distribution channels. They have worked hard to develop sustainable, ethical, high quality products and supply chains, in the belief that the consumer demand for this approach to products and services was going to take off dramatically in 2020 and beyond. Lockdown has stalled this ambition and so we hope the Marketplace will go some way to help change things.”
Starting a new company is risky – and the food and beverage industry is no exception. It pays to have done your research and development into the product you are hoping to sell.
If that isn’t hard enough, then adding in specific conditions to how the food is made produces a new set of challenges.
When Julie Hirsch and Nicole Lamond started tea company Eloments, they didn’t just want to make it different in terms of what it delivered in taste and health benefits; they also wanted to make sure that the ingredients for its range of patented vitamin- and mineral-infused teas were sourced ethically and via fair trade agreements.
“Tea is a beautiful, healthy beverage and we know that a lot of people like tea, enjoy tea, and love it for its health benefits as well as the taste,” said CEO Lamond. “It seemed like a perfect medium to add vitamins and minerals to. So, we developed Eloments, which contains nine essential vitamins in every cup.”
“We would often talk about how hard it was to focus on our health as busy professional women,” said COO Hirsch. “Sure, vitamin supplements were there, but we often forget to take them and didn’t like swallowing tablets. When we were looking at the fact that five per cent of Aussies aren’t eating enough fruit and veg for their general health, we thought we could combine our love of fair trading with our love of healthy products and put natural vitamins in a fair trade cup of tea.”
Lamond and Hirsch found it a challenge to blend the tea leaves with the natural nutrients so they could be put into teabags. They spent two years on research and development and came up with a patent-pending process on how to do it.
“We had a lot of fun blending. We partnered with members of fair trade collectives around the world to source some truly beautiful fair trade-certified ingredients,” said Hirsch. “We sourced vanilla from Madagascar, Egyptian mint and fantastic cardamom, cloves and cinnamon from Sri Lanka.”
With these range of self-imposed conditions for making sure the ingredients were sourced ethically, as well as making sure they were giving the consumer a refreshing and healthy experience, both Lamond and Hirsch knew the logistics of keeping track of all the different aspects of their business was going to be tricky. Enter Unleashed inventory software.
“When we launched the product we did a trial manufacturing run and then realised we needed a very good inventory management system,” said Hirsch. “One that could manage organic and fair trade inventory for us, such as batch numbers, multiple locations and multiple warehouses etc.”
Hirsch said the company didn’t have the time to trial any products but did do their homework on what sort of inventory system they wanted.
“We did quite a bit of research and Unleashed was the best option for us,” she said. “We started using Unleashed from the beginning. It’s a very powerful program. Once you have it set up and working well, it is easy to use.”
And what are the features that Hirsch and Lamond like best? There are a few that have piqued their interest and made life easier.
“From the sales perspective I find it absolutely fantastic for reporting sales figures,” said Lamond. “From that end of it, it is so adaptable and has a lot of great filters, so you can pull any information you want. I really like the interface too. In fact, the ease of use and the reporting are probably the two biggest things I like about it.”
Hirsch agreed, and added that, because of the way the company does business, this function is a necessity.
“Our sales are very complex,” she said. “There are seven territories around the world. We sell into Australia and the UK – both larger retailers and smaller retailers – so we need a lot of flexibility in being able to do different sales reports and sales templates for our various customers.”
Another reason Hirsch and Lamond decided to use Unleashed when they launched the business was that they knew that the business was going to take off quickly and they needed to be able to scale to demand immediately.
“We’ve been selling for about 14 months now, and we’ve got shelf spacing on more than 2,500 stores around the world,” said Hirsch. “If we had started out with an inventory management system with limited capabilities, we would have had to change it six months in. It was great how we started out straight away without having to swap it out.
“Because we are organic and fair trade certified, we have to be able to trace our product’s journey every step of the way. We need a package that has the ability to do that and Unleashed certainly does.”
Eloments’ raapid expansion means it has moved into overseas markets quickly. Again, Unleashed has helped them navigate the sometimes ever-changing landscape of exchange rates and foreign currencies.
“One thing we utilised with Unleashed was the foreign currency feature,” said Lamond. “We are buying in multiple different currencies and we’re selling in multiple different currencies, so having a programme that can support that is important.”
Hirsch explained further.
“Especially as a small Australian business, we don’t have lots of support, so it is really important and helps make the business possible,” she said. “And we can put in those different currencies and track sales and purchases directly to the Unleashed system.
“We partner with the Fair Trade Collective in Sri Lanka for most of our teas and spices. We purchase them in US dollars, Australian dollars and the UK pound. Having the flexibility to manage that in one system it makes it possible for us to run our business.”
Overall, Hirsch and Lamond are very happy with the software. Lamond has a final piece of advice.
“When you are assessing software, I would say make sure it does what you need and make sure the system you choose can meet your needs,” she said. “Unleashed ticks our boxes and is easy to use. Because when you are running a business, you don’t want to be sitting there working out how to use a piece of software. These days, software should be intuitive enough so you can mostly work out how it functions just by using it.”
When coffee nerd Tom Baker joined forces with Philip Moore in 2013, they probably didn’t realise within five years they would have an award-winning product on their hands.
Moore, the distiller, and Baker, a designer by trade, both loved coffee and decided that consuming it in a liqueur form had yet to be perfected, and thus Mr Black was born.
Brewed on the Central Coast of New South Wales at Distillery Britannica, Mr Black has not so much found a niche in the coffee liqueur market but taken it by storm.
Mr Black is a cold brew that has made headway into the UK and US. Five years ago it won a gold medal at the London Spirit Show and has continued to collect silverware on a regular basis. Mr Black operations manager, Rick Roper, can see only good things in the future for this Australian-based beverage.
“In 2017, Mr Black was launched in the US and has now established itself as the biggest selling Australian spirit there,” said Roper. “It is highly regarded and is developing a strong following coast-to-coast.” The product itself is cold-brew, pressed coffee using speciality lot Arabica beans from Colombia and Kenya blended with high-quality grain spirit to make the final product that you see today.”
However, with that growth came logistics issues. In order to keep on top of the bureaucracy of running the business, Roper knew the company needed something to complement its simple inventory system, so decided to invest in Unleashed Software. Like Mr Black, Unleashed has a good reputation within its market. Roper said Mr Black needed a system that would handle the increased throughput, product size and range as it started to grow. This was because it became apparent that if something wasn’t put in place soon, the ability to keep on top of the increasing volume of product could get out of hand.
“Prior to implementing Unleashed, we were only using Xero but found it inadequate for the business because it couldn’t handle manufactured items,” he said. “Xero is a great accounting system but without a bill of material structure, it can’t assemble finished product from components. There was a need to have an inventory system that integrated with Xero in the cloud that was easy to use and could handle manufacturing to grow as the company did. Unleashed immediately gave us control and accuracy of materials and costs.
“In our case, we convert varieties of coffee, speciality sugars, bottles, and packaging into Mr Black in different concentrations and sizes and we have to have accurate inventory transactions at every step,” he said. “Unleashed does that and keeps track of inventory down to batch and unit of measure with ease.”
Ease of use has been one of the key benefits of Unleashed along with the ability to be partnered with other software. This was why Mr Black management decided the software solution was the right choice for them. In addition to Xero, Unleashed has partnered with other third-party vendors. Users can use their accounting system with an easy-to-use integration module in the integration store.
“You can also custom integrate other software via programming interfaces (APIs), that Unleashed can assist with,” said Roper. “Otherwise, to access support to use Unleashed, with clients like us, you can choose an integration partner. Ours is Cloudsolve in Sydney. Besides providing support to get us up and running between Xero and Unleashed, they also provide ongoing support and some outsourced financial services.
“Unleashed is continually adding modules and capabilities outside of pure inventory management. For example, the integration store offers more sophisticated material planning and eCommerce solutions. We have also integrated Unleashed with Shopify allowing efficient online sales fulfilment and billing.”
The key to any type of integration software is not only how it can streamline processes but also the ease of set-up and use. Roper said that Unleashed was not hard to set up or use and has been ideal for getting on top of manufacturing and inventory.
These integration capabilities have made Unleashed a widely used inventory software that is adaptable to many companies’ different needs, according to Roper.
“They are not trying to be a SAP or Microsoft Dynamics or anything like that,” he said. “It is inventory management software in the cloud and is simple to use.”
Roper said the core modules are great to use when it comes to raising and completing sales and purchase orders. For example, orders can be cloned from an earlier order and emailed from the screen. With some background setups in customers, suppliers, pricing, items, document templates and so on, transaction efficiency is high. Users don’t have to do excessive manual steps. In other words, there are less errors and it saves time, according to Roper.
“The dashboard set up displays relevant data such as period to date sales revenue and margins, purchasing and sales transaction status, inventory levels and stock turn KPIs,” he said. “Data access and exports are straightforward. Standard reports are all there and custom reports can be set up.
“While they are adding new features all the time, many features that are nice to have are there. One is that relevant information is displayed in various formats depending on the screen. For example, in Purchases, order minimums are made visible and supplier prices auto-populate” said Roper. “It has a pricing module by group, customer and product, enabling pre-setting of customer sales terms. Again, this helps with the accuracy and efficiency in order processing. It also has min/max stocking levels that can be set for alerts and reordering, as well as a simple replenishment function, which we use for reordering some items.
“For us it’s a one-size fits all. Set up was fast and no customisations were necessary. Even though we started small, all the modules are available to all users whether it is a one-user account or a larger multi-user account. For us, as we have grown, we didn’t need to upgrade do get additional modules. It’s scalable.”
Located an hour’s drive south of Perth, Pinjarra is a little town with a huge drawcard – its renowned bakery run by the Pantaleo family.
Founded just over 22 years ago by patriarch and former panel beater Larry, the bakery has not only put the town on the map, but has won a bookshelf-full of national awards for its pies. Its award-winning ways were capped off this year by taking out the Best Meat Pie award in the Great Aussie Meat Pie Competition at the Fine Food Australia Exhibition held in Sydney.
Like any company, growth is key, and since starting the business in 1997, Larry and the rest of his family, has grown the business to include stores in Maddington and Waroona, also in Western Australia.
However, while expansion is exciting, it does come with a set of challenges, one being more paperwork. When in its infancy, dealing with spreadsheets wasn’t a problem for the Pantaleo family. However, as the business expanded, so did the bureaucracy of keeping it running. The bakery’s general manager, Larry’s son Daniel, knew something had to be done to streamline processes with paperwork. Enter Unleashed Software’s solution.
“The old system that we had of dealing with the paperwork and spreadsheets was no longer going to work,” said Daniel Pantaleo. “It was very inefficient and time-consuming for us. It all came to a head when we opened our Maddington store.”
Unleashed’s inventory management software was a perfect solution for the family, and Pantaleo noticed the impact straight away.
“What we like about Unleashed is that it is a hosted solution, which means I can jump on it from anywhere in the world and I can check what is going on,” he said. “I can update my prices. I can contact my customers through the CRM. So it allows me – as someone who is here, there and everywhere at any given time of the day – to jump on any time anywhere and see what is going on. This is very important for me, because the last thing I want was a dedicated software solution on one computer at one location. A key to me was having that flexibility.”
According to Pantaleo, the system also streamlined a lot of processes that the bakery had, which were old and clunky. Many mistakes were getting made and Unleashed allowed Pantaleo to enter all the parameters he needed to cover in one place. From there, he could control the ordering of stock, see what stock he had, as well as the taking feedback from the other two stores.
“Everything became a lot clearer as to how we were operating that business,” said Pantaleo. “You need to keep control of your numbers otherwise it is pretty daunting feeling when you think you are losing control of the stock, the numbers and what is going on with that side of the business.
“Unleashed is quite precise in what it does. It is flexible, too. Not only in terms that we can operate it from anywhere, but also how you can tweak it to your style of business. It tells you everything you need to know. If you manage your stock and distribution correctly, Unleashed will do all the hard work for you. It allows you to customise and design your own purchase orders, invoices and stuff like that, which is very handy.”
Pantaleo is confident that Unleashed is capable of being used in many other industries. He said that it takes a while to set everything up, but once it is up and running it is a powerful tool.
“The biggest issue we worried about was that we had all these items that we needed to enter into it, which we thought was going to take forever,” he said. “But we were pretty much given a template of a spreadsheet and then told how we needed to enter the data. And from there, once we had the 1,000 plus items in there – the product, the supplier, the prices, the sell price tiers etc – we uploaded it to Unleashed and then we were ready to use it.”
With more than 70 staff onboard, Pantaleo knows that he is not the only one who needs to know how to use the software, which means he has had to teach others how implement it, too. He said that he has found teaching others how to use it easy for a couple of reasons.
“Unleashed is really easy to teach, because they have a lot of online training tools,” he said. “They have what they call a university that shows people how to use the software. If I do need to onboard somebody to use it, I usually send them to do that training first. From there, I manage them for a couple of days to give them pointers of the little intricacies of how we operate our business. It’s fairly straight forward.”
There are several highlights that Pantaleo points out. This includes being able to run a reorder report, which reads all the stock levels the bakery has at any given time.
“From that report you can generate a purchase order to all of your suppliers with the levels you require,” said Pantaleo. “That saves us a lot of time and this is why it is one of the main highlights of the product.”
The other feature that Pantaleo loves is its business-to-business portal that was released a year ago, which is an online ordering platform. It was a real game changer for Pinjarra Bakery.
“Initially we got Unleashed because it was reducing the paperwork, but as we increased our stores that paperwork was starting to increase again, just through the volume of the stores we had,” said Pantaleo. “Having that online portal allowed us to place our orders online and that would then pull the orders straight in as a sale order, which saves us possibly two or three hours a day of not having to enter stock manually. The orders that come in are now a lot more accurate and saved us a tonne of time and allowed our distribution manager to focus on more things to improve the distribution as opposed to being stuck behind a computer all day.”
Managing inventory in real-time is just one of the key features of Unleashed software, which is a cloud-based platform that is well suited to manufacturers within the food and beverage industry.
Marrying the costs of raw materials and the final products can be time-consuming. Unleashed has made it easier.
“Unleashed is an inventory management system that not only tracks products coming in from purchase orders for food manufacturers and for sales, but it also captures the average costs so we can give real-time margins and profits to customers,” said Unleashed’s New Zealand country manager, Danielle Dadello. “With the manufacturing piece sitting in the middle, we know the purchase price and the average landed price of the product and therefore, each of the components or ingredients going into the finished product.”
Unleashed can calculate how much a finished product is going to cost. It can also include things like labour costs and any additional costs in the manufacturing of products. If an item is manufactured externally by another company the software will add in the costs in real time.
Unleashed also has the ability to be integrated into the accounting software package Xero, which Dadello said is popular with its customer base. Any financial movements from purchase orders to sales orders, credits and other financial transactions can be passed from one platform to the other.
“Another highlight of Unleashed that is quite popular at the moment is B2B done in-house, where a customer can use the software to set up a B2B portal,” said Dadello. “It is possible to set up the portal to be invite-only, or it can have guest customers, so users don’t have to be logged in. But you do have to send the link of the website to the customer – it is not something you can just Google. The customer can go in and see a catalogue that is suited to them. It has a list of all the products they have purchased, with the purchase price, so they can set up pricing in the background.
“Wastage is a bugbear of many food and beverage processing factories. It is inevitable that with various batches, there will be waste of the raw ingredients or as a by-product of the final merchandise. Unleashed has a way of streamlining this process, and allows users to set up parameters such as expiry dates so the manufacturer can make sure a product is used before its use-by date arrives.
“For food and beverage manufacturing, it is really critical to have serial and batch tracking so you can see the batches coming in from the supplier and their expiry dates,” said Dadello.
“During the manufacturing process, users can track the sales orders going out the door. This means that at any given time, if there happens to be a product recall, you can manage that. You can also manage all of the stock you currently have on hand such as what is going to expire soon so you can quickly get it out the door, or use it, or manage it in a way that you’re not wasting it.”
It takes the guess work out of whether a raw material or batch is no longer fit to be put on a supermarket shelf. Unleashed will also give users prompts if a batch is about to expire.
“On the dashboard, by default, it says there is going to be a number of batches expiring in the next couple of weeks or days. It is on the dashboard, so it’s the first thing you see when you log in,” said Dadello. “They will turn red if it is going to be soon. Anything that has
already expired will also be in red.”
Unleashed also has a stock-taking feature, which is critical to keep up to date especially if a manufacturer is using multiple warehouses.
“I see a trend in food and beverage manufacturing whereby if you are not warehousing product yourself it is quite common to have a third party doing it,” said Dadello.
Users often don’t touch the stock, or maybe they only capture the finished product. Unleashed often sees businesses get into trouble when they purchase stock, which they send to a third party, but they have no idea what the stock levels actually are. They assume there is a certain amount and they get into trouble because when they find that amount is wrong it can often cause friction between the business and the third party. Unleashed fixes this by having real-time information on stock levels.
“You would still keep the manufacturing relationship you have with the third-party manufacturer. But just being able to track what you have given them, in terms of raw ingredients, and what they’ve said in terms of the sales side. If you’ve made 10 kegs of beer, being able to say, ‘I can sell 10 kegs of beer, because that is what my third party has just manufactured for me’, then you can make arrangements to sell it. However, if you only have five, then you have a problem. So, it is being able to have that traceability with that third party that can be a problem.”
Dadello said the payment model is subscription based, depending on individual needs. She said that back-up service is one of the main planks of the business and Unleashed has several different aspects to that part of its organisation.
The company has free email support for all users of Unleashed. People don’t have to be a user; they can be a prospect or a partner. The company is not going to turn anybody away. With every new medium subscription or above, it has a free four-hour onboarding resource.
It helps guide users through the tasks they need to do to help them get up and running. That is the nature of incorporating a new system – users need to know how their current business fits into the new system. And And it’s not something that can easily be documented. Every business is slightly different.