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Clonakilla Wine realizes a solution dreamed of for a decade

Before the digital transformation project

  • Clonakilla Wine helped establish Canberra as a serious winemaking region – but they were stymied by the absence of a perfect ERP solution
  • After a great deal of labor, they’d managed to achieve an acceptable ERP hybrid – until TradeGecko was sunset, leaving Clonakilla in the cold once more.
  • Before SMB Consultants, it was extremely difficult to manage inventory and sales through multiple channels.

Clonakilla Wine's top priorities for the transformation

  • Replace the sunset TradeGecko with a new ERP that would ensure Clonakilla could focus on winemaking and distribution, and not get caught in admin tasks.
  • Improve reporting for better accounting and stock take, and handle wine equalization tax (WET) with ease.
  • Connect diverse sales sources with shipping, label-printing, and also get better reporting for better business decisions

The major contributors to
project's success

David Reist
David Reist General Manager and Sales & Marketing Director, Clonakilla

General Manager and Sales & Marketing Director, Clonakilla David Reist

  • Looks after every single aspect of wine sales at Clonakilla
  • Oversaw the first ERP implementation for Clonakilla wine before the new millennium
  • Led the implementation of Cin7, liaising with SMB Consultants, implementing a much-needed holistic ERP.

“Our focus is on making great wine and getting it out there, so the more we can do that, the better off we are. And we can, thanks to SMB Consultants.”

Areas of contribution

  • Looks after every single aspect of wine sales at Clonakilla
  • Oversaw the first ERP implementation for Clonakilla wine before the new millennium
  • Led the implementation of Cin7, liaising with SMB Consultants, implementing a much-needed holistic ERP.
Jeff Atizado
Jeff Atizado Founder, SMB Consultants

Founder, SMB Consultants Jeff Atizado

  • Cloud services implementer with a decade of experience
  • Meets with clients and leads the implementation of Cin7 Omni ERP
  • Ensured that a novel, international business model would succeed

“This solution – and partnership – will only get stronger.”

Areas of contribution

  • Cloud services implementor with a decade of experience
  • Met with Clonakilla and led the implementation of their new ERP
  • Ensured that the new, comprehensive solution would meet Clonakilla’s specific winemaking needs
Deepak Stephens
Deepak Stephens Sales & Implementation Engineer, SMB Consultants

Sales & Implementation Engineer, SMB Consultants Deepak Stephens

  • Scoping, implementation, onboarding, and integration of SaaS systems including Cin7, WooCommerce, Starshipit & Channel Advisor
  • Works with clients on migrating data to Cin7
  • Tested the custom API with Channel Advisor to ensure order details were flowing down to Cin7 as expected
  • Works with clients to improve internal process and workflows for order fulfillment and product management
  • Helps build a strategy with the client to scale their business using Cin7 Omni as a base

Areas of contribution

  • SMB Consultants’ resident Cin7 expert
  • Oversaw implementation of Cin7 Omni ERP, Xero, Starshipit – and brought it all together for Clonakilla
  • Led the charge to Clonakilla’s new cloud-based solution that’s given them better accountability, transparency, reporting and business intelligence.

Overview of the new retail and ecommerce system

System advantages

  • Shopify
    Cin7 Omni's integration with Shopify inventory allows Clonakilla to see in-depth sales reports on the go, and track stock movements down to the finest detail.
  • Cin7 Omni
    The simplest, most comprehensive solution to help businesses reach their goals quicker and easier. Cin7 Omni gives a business the ability to manage key operations all in one place, and will scale as big as a business wants to grow.
  • Starshipit
    Clonakilla are using Starshipit for automatic fulfillments. Starshipit can fully automate the dispatch process, and it's proved hugely popular for product businesses.
  • Xero
    Xero's hugely popular cloud accounting software allows staff to automate financial admin and work from anywhere, anytime

From sunset software to modern ERP

Results of implementing Cin7 Omni with SMB Consultants

  • Replaced TradeGecko with a new ERP that would ensure Clonakilla could focus on winemaking and distribution, and not get caught in admin tasks.
  • Improved reporting for better accounting and stock take, and handle wine equalization tax (WET) with ease.
  • Connected diverse sales sources with shipping, label-printing, and also get better reporting for better business decisions

Clonakilla's story

Clonakilla’s partnership with SMB Consultants helped free them from a sunsetting ERP – and enabled them to realize a total solution dreamed of for a decade.

It’s 1971, and Dr John Kirk is planting his first vines in Canberra soil – taking a chance on Shiraz grapes in Murrumbateman soil, the climatic parallels between the great European wine-growing regions, and the cool Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. The story of Clonakilla – named after his grandfather’s farm in County Clare, Ireland – began.

Over the last half-century, Clonakilla’s 40 acres of world-class Shiraz, Riesling and Viognier vines have produced wines that have collected accolades and outstanding commendations. And yet, Clonakilla still sells to businesses and the public directly from their cellar door, rather than via distributors – which has created unique demands on administration, resourcing, and inventory management.

David Reist, General Manager and Sales & Marketing Director at Clonakilla, has overseen the business’s growth, and was at hand to move the business away from a retired ERP to a modern solution that would enable them to manage their stock more efficiently than ever before.

A story of organic growth

Clonakilla are a formidable force in Canberra, helping to establish the region as a wine-producing champion in the 1970s. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s when they introduced their signature wine: the Shiraz Viognier, which would soon be collecting serious accolades.
But even as Clonakilla grew in influence and Tim Kirk took over the family business they’ve maintained their focus on the domestic market and their own distribution. Clonakilla take care of all of their own distribution across Australia – something rare for vintners of any size.
As David explains, “The wines used to be hand carried around to various retailers and restaurants. Tim did this himself with a backpack on his back, popping into Sydney restaurants here and there, trying to convince people that Canberra District could actually make a decent wine.”
“Distribution costs around 30 percent of your sales, so if you can avoid that, then you’re in a much better position. Now we’re producing and distributing upwards of 20,000 cases of wine every year – and we still get to oversee those direct relationships with our clients.”
Fortunately, the backpack’s been left behind. But the significant administrative task of distribution only adds to the logistics of winemaking. Around fifteen years ago, David helped move the company into the electronic age, and oversaw a system that could process online orders, invoicing and trade orders. And while that worked well, it always fell short.
As David explains, “In my mind, I had a diagram – two, three inputs, and a central hub to control everything. But I couldn’t get it to happen. So we just had to keep working, shipping our products out. And being the size of business we are and were, I didn’t have a department to go to and say, ‘Can you just fix all this and build something for me?’”

Sunsetting software threw a wrench into the wine

High on the priority list was features that could handle wine equalization tax (WET, for short.) 15 years ago, it took specialized software and programmers to include this sort of feature – “but even then, it didn’t show on invoices,” adds David.
“I kept saying, ‘Look, we need this.’ It was slow.”
Eventually David and Clonakilla discovered TradeGecko for their back-end inventory, and used Vend for their POS. This solved many of their problems – but the joy was short-lived.
“We had issues integrating with our cellar door, so our point of sale stuff never worked. The tax thing was problematic. But we had these pieces. We got online; we had a lovely website that linked into TradeGecko, and got onto Xero.” But it was only two-thirds of the whole; they couldn’t control the stock going in, other than directly putting it into Vend. It may have been jury-rigged, but it was working.
Then TradeGecko announced they were shutting down.

David was dismayed. “We’d put hours into getting all the settings right. But then they go, ‘Oh, that’s it. Twelve months – we’re going.’ So I got online and started searching again. But I had no mental energy to do all that implementation on my own.”

Starting out with SMB Consultants

David had a good working relationship with TradeGecko, so he was able to reach out to his contact in Singapore for a recommendation. Clonakilla needed an ERP and implementers who understood WET and the wine industry.
“He texted me back almost immediately, and put me on to Jeffrey Atizado at SMB Consultants.”
Wine and WET are Jeffrey’s mainstays – and of course, everything else ERP would be handled by SMB Consultants as well. With a twelve-month window in which to migrate to a new system, Clonakilla and SMB Consultants got to work.

Bringing in the best-in-class: Cin7 Omni

Jeffrey’s recommendation was to utilize Cin7’s multi-channel inventory management system, Cin7 Omni. With built-in EDI and integrations to all the popular ecommerce platforms, marketplaces, and 3PLs, Cin7 Omni is a best-in-class platform for all combinations of B2B and D2C sales channels, warehouses, shipping, and fulfillment.
David wasn’t enthusiastic about implementing another solution himself, but knew that investing in solid technical support and advice was paramount to this project’s success.
“We can make all the wine we want, but it’s got to get out of the warehouse and into people’s hands. And because we’re doing everything ourselves, I needed systems that would work – and I needed help in understanding what we could use now. That’s what led us to Cin7, and SMB Consultants – and it was the best decision and the best spend that we’ve done as far as our systems go.”
The Cin7-powered solution means Clonakilla enjoys full integration: the cellar door, the point of sale, and trade and online purchases are all connected to a centralized stock program.
“It’s all managed in one place now. And that’s a first, believe it or not, in 50 years of this business. We’re a wine business, not an inventory management company – our focus is on making great wine and getting it out there, so the more we can do that, the better off we are.”

Getting the blend right

Deepak Stevens is a Sales Implementation Engineer with SMB Consultants, and his experience has been an important factor in this project’s success.
Deepak explains that TradeGecko’s shortcomings – not being able to handle different WET calculations, among other factors – had been limiting its applicability. It also meant that Clonakilla were presenting their invoices a certain way to wholesale customers, and keeping that formatting was going to save a lot of headaches.
“We manage to carry over that system in Cin7, but include WET calculations for both retail and wholesale, and display the format of the invoice in the same way. That’s a pretty big deal, because the majority of the orders coming through are wholesale. Now it pushes through to Xero.”

Taking advantage of Starshipit

Deepak adds that Clonakilla are also taking advantage of Starshipit for automatic fulfillments. Starshipit is probably one of the most commonly used apps for businesses that deal with inventory management, since it can automate the dispatch process. “While there’s a little more complexity,” explains Deepak, “it’s a great system to manage that side of things to support Cin7. And it’s working very well.”

That’s a helpful part for continuity, but Cin7 has also allowed clearer breakdowns of sales – and that makes for better business confidence, while greater flexibility on reporting means less reliance on accountants to inspect and consolidate information too.
With the cellar door connected directly to Cin7, in just a few clicks David can see breakdowns of what sales are coming through from the cellar door, retail, and wholesale from bigger customers. Vintage wines are also segregated, since they are higher value and lower quantity. It’s a total, 360-degree view of the business’s back-end and front end, all in one place.
Deepak adds, “Reporting-wise, we were able to give Clonakilla a clear breakdown between the retail and wholesale sides of the business: now they can see what each one is doing, and also look at the WET tax on both sides. They are able to get a good, clear understanding of the difference between the two. And then David can run a report right now and tell you what they're tracking for the month or for the last quarter – something that’s really helpful for his accountant. Cin7 gets those details.”

Processing with ease

Another goal has been achieved in the process too: automatic shipping labels. For many, many years, Clonakilla team members had to manually input every order into the eParcel system tied into Starshipit. Now, the system automatically generates labels from a label printing machine and provides tracking details.
“We’ve got all this integration that communicates shipping with our customers,” notes David. “That’s a major component. When we do a big wine release, we get maybe 300 orders a day. To be able to process that with ease has saved us the most in actual physical working hours. It’s worked really well.”
This is the system that David had been striving for. So to actually have it happening now, and see exactly what’s coming through each sales channel, has been “a revolution for us, really.”

Popping corks in celebration

David’s been thrilled so far with the results of Clonakilla’s transition to a Cin7-powered software stack at the hands of SMB Consultants.
“I really have to say it’s been fantastic,” he says. “I went overseas for a couple of months – and to know that my people here are in excellent hands, and I can contact SMB Consultants and get very quick responses, is amazing. SMB Consultants have been able to do some customization that we needed, and have been really open to it too, because it’s going to help us.”
With less need to micromanage the systems, David and the Clonakilla team can focus on doing what they do best: crafting stunning wines with confidence, knowing that their operations are taken care of. Jeffrey adds that this is “reflective of knowing what’s best to implement, and knowing how to implement the right workflow, to leverage the benefits of an integration.”

Massive wins for Clonakilla

“It's such a massive win for Clonakilla – and it gives David the confidence to know that he can walk away from the business, that he doesn't have to micromanage it, and that it's easy enough to use.”
David and the team have also been able to start the process of a brand new website development, to switch from WooCommerce to Shopify in an effort to streamline, simplify, and future-proof their systems. He’s been thrilled with the results, even recommending the system to a fellow wine maker who’d also struggled with WET and the sunsetting of TradeGecko.

“I told him what I was doing with Cin7 and with SMB Consultants, because I recommend it. Clonakilla is seen as a certain leader in the industry, we do get calls here and there about how we’re doing things – and what we’ve done is definitely worth talking about.”

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