This case study features Innova Distribution and how they use QuickBooks Commerce. After failing to maximize functionality from an overly-complicated administrative software, home fragrances distributor Innova Distribution found a perfect mix of tech solutions which hit all the right notes.



We all know the feeling of getting a fancy gadget and then end up not using it because it didn’t really suit our needs.

When Innova Distribution was set up in 2013, the home fragrances distributor invested in a comprehensive business management software which could automate inventory management, accounting, finance and other administrative processes.

Innova Distribution

But the staff found it difficult to use and had no idea how to customize it to their needs. Instead of going through the hassle of trying to figure things out, they started using Excel spreadsheets. Eventually, the software became a white elephant.

When the time came for the company to renew the license in April 2016, Innova decided to switch to several cloud-based apps which would take over the functions of the old software: QuickBooks Commerce for inventory management, and Xero for accounting.

The shift has resulted in cost savings, as the apps collectively cost about 30-40 percent less than the previous software. The transition was effortless because of how intuitive and user-friendly the apps were, said Innova General Manager Shirley Lee.

“When our new staff joined us, I only needed 30 minutes to brief her,” she added.

Today, QuickBooks Commerce is used to track the movement of tens of thousands of bottles of fragrance brands brought, from high-end Culti Milano reed diffusers to popular candles from Glasshouse Fragrances. These are sold at various retail outlets in Singapore including Robinsons and Takashimaya.

The apps have also made it easier for the staff to check on inventory. For instance, company’s 10 staff access QuickBooks Commerce on their mobile phones, iPads or Macs, to check on the latest tally for stocks available at multiple locations, while finance staff generate finance reports through Xero.

Innova DistributionClockwise from Top left: 1. Shirley Lee using Innova Distribution’s accounting app, Xero, which can integrate with and immediately update QuickBooks Commerce. 2. QuickBooks Commerce can be accessed on mobile phones, iPads and tablets. 3. Logistics Executive Kenny Lee is able to check photo illustrations immediately on QuickBooks Commerce, which has boosted productivity by 300%. 4. QuickBooks Commerce allows Branding & Marketing Executive Sara Anne Seng to access information anytime, anywhere.

These have, in turn, raised productivity and efficiency levels in the company.

Another key advantage of the apps is that they are cloud-based. This meant that she could finally access information anytime, anywhere. Previously, because the software was housed on a local server, no one could assess work-related information outside of the office.

This was especially important as Innova had opened a distribution arm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2015, and Shirley had to travel there often. The company is planning to open a physical shop space in Malaysia.

“For instance, if there are stock discrepancies, I am able to check on it by accessing QuickBooks Commerce when I go back to the hotel at night. I won’t accumulate a backlog just because I’m travelling,” said Ms Lee.

“I am a firm believer of work-life balance. When staff are sick, I don’t have to disturb them because inventory or sales information is not residing in their laptops. It’s all in the cloud.”

For instance, producing a quotation used to take up to 1 1⁄2 hours, as the document may consist of multiple items each requiring a photo illustration of a fragrance which had to be painstakingly imported one-by-one. QuickBooks Commerce, with its smart library of photos, simply pulls up the relevant photos automatically when the item is keyed in. The process takes 15 minutes, translating to a 300 percent boost in productivity in just one task alone.

A quotation in QuickBooks Commerce is converted into a sales order, then a tax invoice, then a delivery statement, at each stage of the process. In the past, these documents had to be re-created and the same data had to be keyed in several times.

As a result, Innova is able to provide better service to their clients. Instead of having to call up the warehouse to check on available stock, the retail operations person simply needs to log in to QuickBooks Commerce.

The real-time information helps capitalize on every sales opportunity, so we know right away where to get stock instead of wasting time on manual checks.” said Ms Lee.


Innova Diffusers Candles

What has made life even easier for the company is that QuickBooks Commerce integrates with Xero. Once payments have been made and recorded into Xero, QuickBooks Commerce automatically updates the payment status on existing stock, reducing needs for further checking.

We have a lean team and we need to move fast. If the system obstructs us instead of helping us, we don’t need it. TradeGecko and Xero suits us because it is very user-friendly, easy-to-learn and effective. For something to work, people must be able to use it well,” she said.


Innova Technology Journey


See Also: 

FCTRY: where art, product and eCommerce all come together

Rohr Remedy case study

Maui and Sons Europe: how an old school wholesale business is taking on eCommerce

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