April 18, 2013
Inventory is a critical part of any business that works in the real (ie physical) world. However given the seeming unquenchable excitement for the virtual world, inventory is sadly often dismissed down the priority list in favor of “sexier” functional areas. This oversight however proves an opportunity for people with the understanding of the complexities of inventory – case in point is Quote Stock Sell. Quote Stock Sell is a product that was borne from perhaps the most valid of reasons, the founders runa multi-site computer reseller business and have done for a couple of decades. Early on in their history they needed an inventory solution that would manage their stock across all of their locations – seeing nothing in the market, they built it themselves.
Quote Stock Sell has had a lengthy tech history, it was originally written in MS Access and has undergone a number of rewrites in SQL and is now fully rewritten as a web based SaaS product. It is targeted for small to mid sized businesses, in particular those who want to deploy systems that will allow them to scale over time. It is particularly suited for businesses that track serial numbers, batch numbers or expiry dates and hence is suitable not only for businesses in the hard product areas but also for FMCG, pharma and other product-based businesses.
Quote Stock Sell is realistic about the appetite of small businesses to actually dive into the analytics of their business. As founder Mark Lazarus:
Let’s be honest – how many owners of small businesses really want to log in to a software system and run reports to find out business information, most prefer to just check the P&L and balance sheet to see what is happening at a glance. As such we try to reflect changes in Quote Stock Sell straight to the balance sheet – for instance if you mark inventory as faulty in Quote Stock Sell, we journal that value into “Faulty Inventory” on the balance sheet
Anyway back to the product. Quote Stock Sell has a wide breadth of inventory functionality. Some of the key areas covered by Quote Stock Sell are:
- Customer management
- Supplier management
- Point of Sale
- Supplier returns
That’s a very wide range of functional areas and ticks most of the boxes that the majority of small product companies will have. Quote Stock Sell is tightly integrated with Xero and I was keen to quiz Lazarus about this strategy and how much risk he sees of Xero encroaching onto their territory – Xero has already, after all, announced that it will be introducing some inventory functionality in the near future. In a logical response, he told me that
With regard to Xero stealing our lunch – that is always a thought in the back of every add-on developers mind. We think Xero have a lot of other priorities before they can cover all the features of our system. We’ve had many years of development go into our product. Ultimately the answer is “Yes”, Xero could steal our lunch, but I think it’ll take them a while to come up with the same recipe (as they are busy with many other things), and maybe what we’re doing is not really something they would like to do. We spent many years hoping Quickbooks would come up with a system to cover what we needed so we didn’t have to keep developing our inhouse system – but it never happened, maybe Xero will be different, but for now we have a window of opportunity, and we also have plans to eventually move into a wider market space and other verticals as well, diversification is key, but we have to start somewhere and this is where we chose, the Xero add-on space, we hope it will be fruitful for us.
It’s a point of view that makes sense, Xero is likely, at least in the short to medium term, to only skim the surface of what real product companies need to runt heir business, given their focus purely on this space, Quote Stock Sell should have no problem keeping ahead of them. The product looks really strong, I would suggest that the UI is perhaps one area that lets them down a little bit, it seems to show the products routes in a previous generation of software. but a pretty UI is simply lipstick, what really counts is what’s under the hood and by this measure what we have here is a very strong inventory product.