Megaventory Blog - Online Inventory Management Software, Order fulfillment and Control System
This is the company blog for megaventory, an online software that helps small businesses that buy, sell and manufacture physical products to manage sales, purchasing, manufacturing and inventory. We blog about new features and updates but also about enterprise software, small businesses, cloud computing and the industry in general.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How we met Mark Suster: a non stalking approach




VIP people are difficult to get a meeting with. So, how do you get to arrange a meeting with them? One may follow the stalking approach which Christine Comaford supports that worked for her every time. However, at the end of her post, she felt she had to ask for apology from the person she met (in her case Steve Jobs). Why? Because stalking just doesn’t feel right. And when you approach people in such ways, the problematic nature of this approach usually sticks around for quite a long time, even if the two parties grow a business or friendly relationship afterwards.


There are numerous alternative ways to approach someone famous; simple and innovative ways mostly work. If you are an entrepreneur, you should know that Mark Suster is a VIP in this ecosystem. Here is what we did do get to meet him.


Our technique was inspired by Alec Brownstein, who placed an Ad while he was looking for a new job. If you don’t have the time to go through the above post, here is a short video that explains what this guy did.


Brilliant! Think of it as waiting for the fish to come to the bait. Then, the only think you have to do is just wait (it is not unusual to forget you placed the bait out there in the first place). This is how our Ad looked like:


In our case, we got the idea a bit further by also adding a nice landing page. The landing page included a small gift: a handmade sketch of Mark Suster and looked like this:


(kudos to isketchyouridea for the handmade sketch)


So, not only you inform someone of your presence and intentions, you do it unobtrusively (no stalking) and you also give a small personalized gift that can draw a positive reaction and a smile. Here is how Mark Suster reacted (twitter screenshot):




Great! Everything is going according to plan.


So, next step is to connect. We screwed up a bit here because we did not know how to connect. The easiest think that comes to mind is to use e-mail and that was what we did. Unfortunately, Mark Suster is known for not responding much to e-mails and we did not do our prior research on that. So, two of our e-mails and reminders went unanswered and we thought that it just did not work out. Then, after nearly 3 months, an e-mail pops in our inbox:


“Were you the team that wanted to meet?”


Wow! Mark Suster was actually looking for us in the internet. He visited our website and made the step to connect to us. We replied back and at the same day we set up a later meeting in his offices in LA. The reason he searched for us after almost 3 months is that our approach towards him made a very positive impression. One that I doubt you could have with the stalking approach.


I am not suggesting you should copy the same approach nor that you shouldn’t do so. This post is about expressing innovation in the approach procedure just as you express innovation with your startup. It is an example of thinking out-of-the-box (again, the original idea is not ours but Alec Brownstein’s) to get from point A to B.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Why do you need ERP for you business?


We briefly explained what ERP is and what’s its power is: that it can handle in a unified and efficient way - and as such simplify - many aspects of your business.
So, what can an ERP solution help you with? What problems can it help you solve and what does it allow you to do practically?

To begin with, it can allow you to properly keep your books in order. Hugely important and something every business needs to address from day one, getting your business financials straight is essential. That includes general budget uses, paying your employees their salaries and covering their benefits, managing your cash and assets, to name a few. Whats more, all this is laid out and organized to include all the best practices and industry and regulation standards - so that you don't have to implement them on your own.


Other than that, ERP can help with the manufacturing aspect of your business. Taken in the most broad sense this means the entire process of taking one set of components, using tools or machines and/or labor and turning them into a finished product. ERP can be there for you regardless of whether you're making and selling shoes or microchips. It can handle work order, bill of materials, general inventory management, placement of orders and purchases, supplier interaction and many other things along those lines.

Core business aside, ERP can greatly simplify interaction with the customers and improve the sales process, including marketing, promotion, following up and processing leads etc, In addition to this, it can do that seamlessly either on the retail/B2C level (end users) or on the B2B level (affiliates, suppliers etc). At the same time ERP makes it easy to understand what's going on in your company (what's collectively called Business Intelligence) by allowing you to create reports, enable alerts and perform simple or complex data mining. It can let you assign metrics to actions and assets and to generally be able to better judge what works well and what doesn't in your business - which is a hugely important advantage.

So, having this advanced level of organization is definitely crucial - but how does one select which solution is best for them? Again there is considerable literature on the subject out there but we'll give our version in the next post.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So, what's 'ERP' really?


Since we've been in the process of explaining what ERP is via a video, we might as well put it in words for those who prefer this medium.

So, ERP (or Enterprise Resource Planning), is basically about how to manage whatever resources you have available for your business - simple as that. When you're just starting off and you're on your own or with just a few employees, running your company is quite straightforward; even pen and paper will do. But once business picks up and the customer base increases, you start expanding, hire more people, develop a broader range of products or services, etc, then things start getting complicated. Complexity can actually escalate pretty quickly and you need to be systematic and thorough to avoid mistakes and taking a loss - or worse.

The most immediate solution that people think of to solve this problem is to use a spreadsheet. Much as it is flexible and popular, a spreadsheet is simply not designed for this type of work and you will very quickly see its shortcomings. It takes a lot of time to do a simple job (especially given the repetitive nature of certain tasks), automation is limited and data entry errors start to become quite common. Also, connecting of the various spreadsheets between them can only go so far and it's generally hard or expensive or both to make a spreadsheet talk with the rest of the world. And even if somehow you can manage with the above, keeping all people involved synchronized and the business data updated is hugely impractical.




Since it soon becomes quite a feat to handle everything simply by throwing spreadsheets at it (let alone pen & paper), a number of software solutions have been developed to help businessmen and employees save themselves time and avoid making mistakes. It is these solutions that are the ERP and they come in all shapes and sizes primarily depending on the target business size, complexity and industry. Some are broad and can cover all needs a large corporation might have (including direct monitoring of a factory plant, for example) while others are limited and can support only basic functions - which can still make a huge difference for the small enterprise though. Some are specialized for particular industries while others are generic and can work for many businesses with minimum customization. The field is only a couple of decades old but has evolved considerably both in breadth and width - the literature and experience available out there is immense.

Before moving on to the subject of how one picks the right ERP solution we’ll take a look at what specific needs it can cover in a business and give detailed reasons why it makes sense to use it. In the meantime, if all this struck a cord and it feels too close to home, let us know how you feel at the comments.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Check out our new Megaventory.com promo video!

Given the major upgrade that took place here in megaventory.com (actually half of the upgrade, more features are coming up soon) over the past couple of weeks, we thought it'd be a good idea to create a short video explaining what it is we do and how you can benefit from it.

 

We hope you enjoy it and that you let us know what you think of it or share it with your friends or anyone who might have a business in immediate need of better organization. Also, huge thanks to isketchyouridea.com for putting it all together with love and craftsmanship.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pre-Sales in Megaventory: Sales Quotes


Since in the past couple of weeks we’ve been super busy implementing and smoothing the edges for a number of new awesome features and upgrades, it might be a good idea to go over some of the most important ones and show how dead simple it is to include them in your business work flow!

Don't just take our words for this. Just to illustrate, let’s assume that we’re looking at bountifulpantry.com, an actual small business that is using megaventory's modules to produce and sell food products in the US market. In particular they sell some delicious handmade soup products and Gluten Free Meat Mixes. bountifulpantry.com is based in the beautiful island of Nantucket, MA where they have their main workshop facilities, offices and e-shop - all in one location.

bountifulpantry.com's main B2B client is the imaginary Hyper Supermarket chain and it is once again time to prepare a quote for them. Hyper Supermarket has asked for a variety of a quantity of 100 soup mixes that bountifulpantry.com makes. Pat, the employee responsible for sending the quote clicks on Orders in megaventory’s main menu and brings up the Sales Quote form.



The Sales Quote process consists of 3 stages. First, the draft is created and Pat can easily retrieve all related client data (including the contact person) simply by selecting Hyper Supermarket from the Client menu.

Once there, it’s just a simple task of filling in the Black Bean Soup code (SKU) of BLBESOUP and the quantity requested by Hyper Supermarket. It is certainly helpful to know that you can use the 'tab' key to move around the text fields.



Note that a special discount (agreed between bountifulpantry.com and Hyper Supermarket) also applies in addition to the usual tax. Special Remarks can also be added on a per-row basis.


Once Save and Update is clicked the Draft is saved so it can be searchable within the Sales Quotes list; Pat can now go to the Quotes List, select the particular Quote and print it out or send it via e-mail to Maria, their contact in Hyper Supermarket.

Later, when Maria calls back with some changes for the quote, Pat can edit the Quote, change and update it and then send it for a further last check. When Maria eventually accepts the Quote, Pat selects the Accept Quote option and by doing so, the process can wrap up by completing the Sales Quote and creating an actual Sales Order (last step of the process) based on the Quote without further hassle.

Using the above procedure, the intuitive user interface of megaventory.com makes the tracking of the pre-sale process easy as a-b-c.


In short, this quick example shows how easy to use and intuitive megaventory.com is. Pat can go through the entire process in practically one -complete with helpful tips- screen  and with most of the fields being automatically filled in. This means Pat had to spend only a few minutes and move on straight to the next item on her to-do list (while also saving time from the future job of placing the order). Finally, she could also be doing all this from the comfort of her home, as megaventory.com is web-based.


What does all that mean for you? It simply means that you can now better organize your sales efforts, regardless of where you are, save time and avoid mistakes during the early sales process of your company or organization. All around awesome.