INVENTORY MANAGEMENT   |   4 minute read

From retailers to Australia’s top cloud consultants: The SMB Consultants Story

In just 7 years, SMB Consultants have pulled off a remarkable transformation - creating and defining a new category of consulting business, and are now the leading “cloud integrators” in Australia and New Zealand.

The Origins

It’s been an incredible journey for founders Jeff and Peter, who first met as Apple hardware resellers with a passion for working with small businesses and technology. As an Apple reseller, in addition to selling direct to consumers, they had a B2B arm where they set up Mac hardware and networking for small businesses and enterprise.

It started with selling Lightspeed POS (then only available on Mac) to small retail vendors. Their first implementation was a success and created waves within the retail community in that neighborhood. It spurred a slew of POS assignments from other small businesses who wanted in.

After that, with the coming of Xero and its ecosystem of apps, SMB Consultants did their first cloud implementation and never looked back.

We saw, first hand, how cloud software was perfect for small businesses - it was cheaper, faster to setup and integrated. But then you had all these excellent apps, but no one in the market to help businesses select the right cloud apps as a complete solution for their business, and that’s where we saw an opportunity.

The need arises for a cloud integrator

Very quickly SMB Consultants realized that there were businesses that were at different phases of cloud adoption. They broke them down into 3 major phases:

  1. New to the cloud
  2. FrankenApps
  3. Cloud ready

While most businesses were in the ‘new to the cloud stage’, a surprising amount of businesses were in the FrankenApps phase. FrankenApps were businesses that had heard of cloud and made a decision to implement it, but with not-so-positive results. Either their purchased apps weren’t able to (or couldn’t) integrate correctly, or they were using the software the wrong way.

It turned out that while cloud was more easily available and promised to be easier it was not always straightforward. More so, when you were purchasing two or more cloud apps and needed to integrate them.

Integration is one of the top things that businesses look for, but not all integrations are alike. Also there is no governing body managing or rating integrations. Just because a company advertises an integration it doesn’t necessarily mean that the integration is robust or covers what you would expect.

It turned out that a holistic approach to recommending and implementing cloud applications was needed. It was important to not just recommend the right set of apps that solved the business’ needs but also played well with each other.

Over time, the SMB team tried and tested a number of solutions, and developed a strong understanding of which apps worked well alone and in conjunction with each other.

With their expertise across a number of apps, they could continue being ‘solution agnostic’ and recommend the right and best apps to the business depending on their needs. It turned out to be the right approach and small businesses trusted them for it.

QuickBooks Commerce comes to the rescue for wholesalers

Jeff first heard about QuickBooks Commerce from one of their clients who had found and started using the app, all by themselves. Back then SMB Consultants lacked a dedicated wholesale solution and were excited by QuickBooks Commerce’s inventory and order management system.

QuickBooks Commerce was purpose built for wholesale and solving a gap that they had been struggling to address.
Having worked with a number of wholesalers, Jeff recognized that they struggled across a number of fronts.

In a nutshell wholesalers are struggling to diversify their business and find more ways to sell their product, but simultaneously reduce the amount of stock holding that they have.

The model of having a big warehouse and stocking things up to the roof wasn’t feasible anymore, and businesses needed to change in order to remain competitive. And the change that they needed most was technology. Using cloud technology allowed wholesalers to easily integrate technology into their business to diversify their sales channels and operate smarter.

With QuickBooks Commerce, wholesalers could add sales channels and eliminate a lot of the maintenance and operational overhead. By getting access to real-time reports of their business, they could make intelligent decisions in terms of what needs to be purchased, what stock is moving and what isn’t.

We recommend TradeGecko for wholesale clients that are wanting to manage an indent purchasing workflow, have 1-2 sales channels where sales come in via TradeGecko’s iPad app, eCommerce, or B2B. It’s also very user friendly and the workflows are really clear. It does very, very well in that sense. People love how easy it is to use and the way it looks.

The future looks cloudy (and great!)

SMB Consultants see themselves leading the cloud revolution, by helping businesses to successfully leverage the cloud to do what they love and grow their business. You can bet that they’ll also continue to push the boundaries of what an integrator can do.


See Also:

Dirty Knees case study: Cleaning up the inventory and order process

Innova Distribution case study: a nose for the right apps

Rohr Remedy case study: natural skincare wholesaler and retailer

qb commerce screenshot

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