Taking Our Own Advice

Stock up. By Chase Shiels

We’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time working to bring as much valuable information as we can to the industries in which we work. Some of those industries are aware — they know change has happened and it’s happening faster every day. Others… well, not so much.

Originally, we focused solely only on CRM. Read any VC’s blog or tech publication and you will hear all about staying focused. We quickly came to learn that certain industries didn’t even know what CRM is — at best they were familiar with the term “lead management” which is a part of but certainly not fully CRM. While certain markets have yet to fully discover this, their customers have evolved massively. If you’re just figuring out you need to “manage your leads” or follow up with customers in 2017 you might not be aware, but you’re behind.

Every Wednesday we run a Facebook Live which we use as our podcast. We’ve frequently recommended getting your inventory online so customers can buy whenever they want (who doesn’t want to make money while they sleep?), deliver transparency into the order tracking process, and so on.

The current state of the industry as it relates to software is that it’s not quite in 2017. So as we’ve looked around to build out integrations to provide solutions for our customers other needs, our options have been limited.

You can look back and see a post we wrote on the state of retail in LBM, furniture, and flooring. The short story is, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of firms for each has declined. LBM has been in the best shape of the three, flooring being in the worst with a YoY decline every single year, totaling close to a 40% drop in number of firms between 2001 and 2015. While we will hear from time to time that people don’t want more business, the fact is, the ground is shifting.

Recently a good friend of mine who runs a group of hardwood sawmills told me, “Chase, my customers don’t want to call me to order. They don’t want to talk to me (laughs). Isn’t there a way I can easily get my stock list online?”

We have also maintained that we build for where the industry is going, not where it is. Depending on who you talk to, if we did the latter, we might wind up somewhere between a glorified spreadsheet (think millennials want that kind of user experience? Think again) and a legal pad — or we might wind up with an AI powered inventory system that can handle anything from a carton to hardwood lumber (those of you who have ever had to end tally a unit of lumber can surely appreciate this).

Our history in the forest products industry goes back over 150 years. We have successfully owned and operated (and grown) within the industry. Not as consultants, as owners. As a result we have operational experience that extends well beyond tracking sales activity (which is traditional CRM).

CRM means a lot more now than it used to, in fact many people have been using CEM for “customer experience management” in its place.

Given the sea change happening with how customers are buying and what we’re hearing from our friends and current customers within the industry, we realized since there currently is no solution to encompass the entire customer experience, we have the operational and technical expertise to build it. So rather than romanticize how we’ve done business, we looked ahead to future — and we are going to build it.

From that came Stock Systems. Lead Tool CRM becomes Stock Sales, and will still be the hub around which everything turns. We’re excited to be rolling out Stock Inventory and Stock Logistics to manage your orders, inventory, products, warehouses and your deliveries — both with your fleet or third party. The best part: it’s all customer facing, because in 2017 all of this is CRM.

Had trouble getting your inventory online for customers? We can help with that. Tired of emailing or texting customers when your truck leaves the yard to let them know it’s on the way? We can help with that too.

In 2017 you can’t hide. I have a lot of conversations discussing how someone they (or their significant other, or 67 year old mother) won’t go to a store unless the price is online, to 15 minutes later being asked “well what if we put our prices online and our competition sees it?” Talk about living in The Big Short…

This is me when you’re in retail and don’t want to be transparent in 2017

While we see the short term value of building for yesterday, we don’t believe in it. That’s why we won’t build for it. Here’s to hoping taking our advice to “make the transaction easier for your customer” pays off.

Thank you for taking the time to read our post! If you liked it, we’d really appreciate it if you’d show us some love and hit the clap button!


This post originally appeared on Stock Up

Chase is a co founder and CEO of Stock Systems, a Cincinnati based technology start up providing solutions for the Building Materials industry. You can connect with him directly on LinkedIn, or follow @getstock Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | SoundCloud | iTunes

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