While the word ‘pivot’ was on many people’s lips throughout 2020, Mindi Chisholm was no stranger to it.
Back in 2010, after an abrupt end to a brand agency career, Mindi launched a business selling laptop bags for women that did double duty as stylish handbags. Though successful, dealing with the logistics wore thin. “Over time, I got sick of the bulkiness of the product. So we went into other fashion accessories, until years later, we ended up just purely doing jewellery. Not many people these days would remember that we actually started as a ladies' laptop bag company.”
So that was her first pivot. As the business developed, it became clear that it was evolving beyond what she could do herself using Xero. Not one to sit around, when someone recommended TradeGecko (later Quickbooks Commerce) for eCommerce logistics, she signed up. “And then, very quickly, within weeks, I understood that there was no way I could set this program up myself.”
On Trade Gecko’s suggestion, she turned to implementation experts SMB Consultants, and met CEO and co-founder Jeffrey Atizado. “They were fantastic,” remembers Mindi. “The first thing Jeff did was to sit down with me and talk about my business, and how my business ran. I wished I had met Jeff before I'd signed up for TradeGecko. It was quite a pivotal time!”
With plenty of time on their hands, she and her daughter worked together to decide what Zafino was as a brand, and relaunched as an online business. “We were able to get our product, during COVID, into the hands of some very influential young ladies here in Melbourne who wore it. And our online business then took off really quickly.” Slowly but surely, the stores opened again and the wholesale orders trickled back, and Zafino was more successful than ever before.
But there was still the problem of the looming sunset date for TradeGecko. With the business now in a different place, the obvious thing to do for Mindi was to go back to SMB Consultants. “We went through the same process, sat down [for discovery sessions], and I remember thinking, “this is really great, because Jeff was the first person that could fully understand all the different pain points in my business.”
Once the SMB Consultants team was familiar with the new landscape of Zafino, they recommended Cin7 to replace TradeGecko, and began the process of onboarding. Though this can be daunting for any business owner – and a common excuse not to make desperately needed software changes – it was a smooth ride, says Mindi. “Because we'd done all the discovery, Jeff's team knew all of the key things that I needed to tick off so that when we went and did the workshops, we had those lists all in place. It was very methodical, the way that they approached the rollout and the education for me. I was grateful for that.”
“Because it's now so systemized and running so beautifully, I'm really stepping out of the business now, a lot more, and getting into the nitty gritty,” Mindi says.
“I’m finding that’s really exciting.”
For his part, Jeff considers Zafino a real success story: “It’s like 10 years of innovation and disruption happened within a couple of years. Because she was able to centralize her inventory, she’s retargeting to different markets and she’s integrating to online marketplaces. Now she’s expanding, and moving internationally.”
Mindi is adamant that, without SMB Consultants and their software implementation support, she wouldn’t have the business she does. “I think I'd still be fumbling around with Xero and getting frustrated, to be honest.”
In September 2022, the power of the expert implementation partner was really brought home to Mindi. For the launch of a new piece, she teamed up with an influencer to tease the product over several weeks. On launch day Zafino sold out almost the entire product in just 15 seconds. It was so extreme that PayPal saw the sudden influx of payments as a red flag and temporarily suspended Zafino’s account – an unforeseen problem that she is not allowing to happen again.
“If I didn't have a system in place, I think it would've been our undoing.” But fortunately, she did have a system. Orders were taken through Shopify, which at the time was integrated with TradeGecko, and labels were printed with Starshipit. Buyers were automatically notified of dispatch. Without SMB Consultants, fulfilment would have been a manual process that would have taken literally months.