Cara & Co Cuts Time Spent on Forecasting in HALF With Inventory Planner
Canada’s leading beads and crafts retailer uses Inventory Planner to streamline inventory processes, freeing up 50% of their time.
“Inventory Planner is a life saver… It’s given us a solid foundation for taking our company to the next stage of growth.” – Cara Michaud, Co-Founder, Cara & Co
Like many great businesses, Cara & Co started out as a passion project in the basement of its co-founder, Cara Michaud.
As a young mom, Cara enjoyed using silicon beads to create bracelets, teething necklaces and fun gifts – and Cara & Co was created to help other moms do the same.
A decade later, the business, which has an all-female workforce, has become a leading beads and crafts retailer specializing in silicon beads and premium crafting supplies, including DIY craft kits.
However, as is so often the case when a small business scales, the business has experienced significant growing pains – especially in relation to its biggest asset: inventory.
Cara says: “We grew significantly during the pandemic and we invested in inventory, which gave us an advantage over our competitors who held back.
“However, as the market has cooled, we’ve been left facing the challenges seen by many retailers, including deadstock and overstock on some products and sometimes not enough of other items.
“It certainly didn’t help that we were relying on a risky combination of spreadsheets and ‘gut feeling’ to work out what to order.
“Things would often go wrong. For instance, we once sold out of a brand new product so our gut reaction was to re-order loads of it but sales died down and a year later we still had stock sitting on the shelves.
“Plus, as the business grew and more people joined the team, we realized we needed to rely less on gut feeling and more on proper data that everyone in the business could understand.
“We were opening a new HQ and warehouse space, and we were growing 50% YoY, so it felt like the right time to get a proper inventory planning solution to boost our financial health and enable strategic planning.
“We started a 14-day free trial of Inventory Planner – and we haven’t looked back.”
As a leading inventory planning app, Inventory Planner provides e-commerce brands with recommendations on what inventory to buy, how much to order, and the best timing for placing orders based on a precise projection of anticipated sales.
The app’s advanced forecasts take into account supplier lead times, seasonal trends, and promotional activities, in addition to historical sales data. These insights are then translated into data-driven, user-friendly buying recommendations.
For a fast-growing business like Cara & Co, which has a large and complex inventory including thousands of individual beads, Inventory Planner’s functionality has been game-changing.
Plus, it integrates seamlessly (and instantly) with the brand’s Shopify webstore – to the delight of Cara and her team.
Weaving in a new approach
Cara says: “Having solid forecasting data and simple buying recommendations has completely eliminated the temptation to order based on gut feeling and in a panic when sales spike or dip unexpectedly.
“We’re a very seasonal, trend-led business so our inventory is especially complicated, but it became clear from our trial that it wouldn’t be an issue for Inventory Planner.
“We were initially hesitant about the investment but our fears were very quickly allayed when we realized the difference it could make.
“It’s helped us eliminate deadstock and excess stock and avoid stockouts. And the powerful reporting means I can make faster, data driven decisions on performance, marketing, promotion and sales strategy.”
“We are thrilled with the capabilities that Inventory Planner brings to our company – from predictive ordering, sales analytics and automated work-flow options, it has helped meet our company vision to provide our customers with the best product and the fastest service.”
For Inventory Manager Amber Bertram, the day-to-day impact of using Inventory Planner has been huge.
She says: “Almost instantly after we started using Inventory Planner, I was saving 50% of the time I was previously spending planning inventory. Suddenly, I had hours a week handed back to me – it was amazing!
“The onboarding was brilliant and our account manager spent hours with us getting everything just right. Talking to a real expert and not just signing up to a system you feel alone with was a huge selling point for us – as well as it connecting to Shopify so all our data was in one place.”
One of Inventory Planner’s best-in-class features is that it enables merchants to factor in assembly and bundled items into forecasting – a dream come true for Cara & Co, whose assembled craft kits and bundles of beads are especially popular with shoppers.
Cara says: “The ability to forecast assemblies and bundles is a life saver! It’s made our operational processes so much simpler, especially when it comes to our craft kits that we put together in-house. It’s a massive time saver, too.”
Inventory Planner’s features also include automatic PO functionality, which means POs can be created in a matter of clicks – even for multiple warehouses and forward orders – and all suppliers can be easily managed from one handy dashboard.
Fast and slow moving products are flagged up so action can be taken before stockouts and excess stock becomes an issue. This is especially useful for retailers like Cara & Co, with large inventories with hundreds or thousands of SKUs.
Merchants have access to over 200 customizable metrics and detailed insights for forecasting at the SKU level. It highlights critical information, such as the potential revenue loss if a reorder is delayed.
Inventory Planner offers expert-led onboarding and unlimited seats so the entire Cara & Co team can use the system with ease.
Amber says: “Inventory Planner is a tool that has helped us be more strategic and profitable and it will certainly help us scale with confidence.
“One of my favorite features is how the app proactively highlights slow-sellers and items that are at risk of becoming obsolete. It means we can use promotional discounts in a more strategic way.
“I love the simplicity of creating orders directly from the report with buying recommendations. And all the data I could ever need is all in one place. Launching new products is less daunting too because Inventory Planner forecasts demand based on similar products.
“Many of our suppliers are in China so we have to order months in advance. Inventory Planner makes that so much easier because you can enter the lead time for each supplier and it factors it into your forecasts – and it’s always right.”
“We have a brilliantly creative team and they are able to analyze the data from Inventory Planner on what has been popular at what times and what hasn’t sold as well, and use it to strategically create kits and products that our customers can’t find anywhere else on the market.
“The whole team uses Inventory Planner so all our processes and communications are more streamlined. If we’re low on a product, our operations manager doesn’t have to come and ask if I’ve ordered it, she can simply check Inventory Planner and see that it’s on order.”
“The onboarding was brilliant and our account manager spent hours with us getting everything just right. Talking to a real expert and not just signing up to a system you feel alone with was a huge selling point for us.” – Amber Bertram, Inventory Manager, Cara & Co
With Inventory Planner at the heart of its operations, Cara & Co is on track to achieve the team’s goal of doubling revenue in the next couple of years.
Cara says: “Inventory Planner has given us a solid foundation for taking our company to the next stage of growth. Our only regret is that we didn’t sign up earlier.”
Want to follow the threads of Cara & Co’s success? Book a tailored Inventory Planner demo now.
Cara & Cohttps://carasupply.com/
50% time saving
Hours saved daily on inventory forecasting
The year Canada-based Cara & Co was founded