Indie Beauty Brand Founders Share How They Track Inventory

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask nine founders and executives: Do you use an inventory management system?

Lisa Pineiro Founder and CEO, Glotrition

When we first started, we just used Quickbooks, but, as we grew and started using an EDI platform for orders, we needed something that could tap into all our platforms. Our warehouse handles it currently, but it’s only a temporary fix. I’m looking at Fishbowl. A solution like this could allow us to take over tracking and ordering of raw ingredients, shortening our lead times with our manufacturers.

Erin Mastopietro Co-Founder, Dope Dog

We use a platform called TradeGecko as our inventory management system. We chose TradeGecko because of its capability to sync seamlessly with our online store hosted by Shopify. They also offer some really great B2B features, including a platform for wholesale customers to log in via our website, view new wholesale products, and place orders at their convenience.

Pedro Dias Founder and CEO, FOLS For Men

We currently use Amazon's FBA service to manage our inventory. Having tried a couple of fulfillment services, we have reached the conclusion that Amazon's service is relatively affordable and enables us to sell on Amazon efficiently. In fact, Amazon is currently our biggest sales channel.

Kathy Chou Founder and CEO, Selfkaire

We currently use a combination of Shopify and a self-created Excel model (sorry, ex-finance and an engineering family, we love models!) to track all inventory so we know exactly what we have at any point in time. You never want to be caught making commitments you later need to renege because you did not closely track your inventory. Plus, as always, the more knowledge you have, the more informed decisions you can make.

Emma Peters Founder, Aleph Beauty

We use Unleashed Inventory Management. It’s a very comprehensive system that links to our Shopify site as well as Xero, our accounting software.

Sean McDonald COO, CBD Living

We use Zoho, which integrates with many of our departments, including accounting, customer service, sales (CRM) and inventory.

DANUTA DUDEK Founder, Cotarde

We use our own system created by Victor [Pellon], Cotarde’s co-founder. It’s intertwined with sales, PR and other sources of information to make sure we can easily track and get reports on the current status of things. As ex-corporate people, we like things to be organized in a certain way, even though we are still a very small company.

Mariska Nicholson Founder, Olive + M

We don’t use inventory management software, but we have set up our own inventory management system in spreadsheets. This helps us to stay on top of demand and keep track of all the little moving parts. We started by labeling cells and then noodled through with some simple equations to track what is important for us right now. As we grow, I’m sure we will eventually switch to a more sophisticated system, but for now our own method is working for us.

Jenny Stackle Founder, Kip’s

Every month, I count my on-hand inventory, which is still all at my house. I match that with what my bookkeeper has for wholesale and direct orders. Even though I’m a startup, it’s very helpful to have a second set of eyes on my sales and inventory. I also keep track of every single package that leaves my inventory room by writing it down on a chart I create every time I take a bag. I record exactly who it was for: a direct order (and, if so, through what channel), a wholesale order, a sample for a potential store/customer, a gift or for personal use.

Because I manufacture food, I also keep track of which batch or lot I took from the inventory because sometimes I have more than one batch on hand. At the end of every month, I then know exactly how many bags of each flavor I have on hand, from each lot. This is also important because the COGS (cost of goods sold) for each lot can vary, depending on the price of ingredients, change of packaging costs, etc. Having more information is always better than less, so you can choose to use it or not.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to editor@beautyindependent.com.