We met Joe Slater, co-founder of Six Barrel Soda Co, last year when we started designing Upstock. Joe was in the process of considering different order management systems to replace their ring binders full of scribbled notes, but everything on the market was too complex, clunky and expensive.
Six Barrel is a growing supplier, making handmade natural syrups & sodas to hospitality customers all over New Zealand, Australia and now the States – as Joe says, “Everything from classic flavours like Cola, to weird and wonderful flavours like Rhubarb & Juniper.”
Over the next few months we would see Joe and his team to get feedback on our latest designs. We were getting great insights from them, along with a variety of other suppliers and retailers we were working with.
Fast forward a few months. Six Barrel logged into Upstock for the first time. They quickly connected it with Xero so the apps can link up all their customers and products, and automatically create invoices from Upstock orders.
And that was it. They immediately started doing all their orders in Upstock that day, replacing their old ring binders of scribbled notes.
We recently caught up with Joe to check on how things are going.
How would you describe your operation?
We have a production kitchen, warehouse and Cellar Door store in central Wellington with a small team sending orders all round the world as well as a mini soda store in Auckland.
And how would you describe your customers?
They’re a mix of progressive hospitality venues looking for interesting and ethical products and people looking to make quality drinks at home.
Before Upstock how did you manage wholesale orders?
Orders came in via email or text and we had a ring binder full of the day's orders. We originally had two people processing orders that way, but now with Upstock it’s all done much quicker and easier with just one person – Liz, who works part time managing orders.
What were some of the problems you’ve experienced with wholesale orders?
Lost or damaged orders are the biggest problem. Also, orders coming in incorrectly or for old products. All those problems take time – chasing up couriers or customers to check what they need and this just slows the whole process down, meaning customers get their orders later than we’d like.
With Upstock we can instantly update what’s in stock, which means customers can only order what’s available. Also, there’s no more confusion around whether they want 3 bottles or 3 cases, or whether they want syrups or sodas.
What are some other advantages you’ve discovered using Upstock?
Heaps. Signing on accounts through Upstock rather than PDF account forms has meant it’s much easier for customers to sign up.
Once customers sign up they’re already in our system and can order, so there’s no lag while we get them manually set up. Then their orders come straight into Upstock – so it’s all done for us by our customers.
We’re also putting email orders through the app, but we’re encouraging all existing customers and new stockists to sign up and order through Upstock. Our customers love it, because it makes everything faster and easier for them too.
It was so great to finally throw out the ring binder full of scribbled orders and move into the future.
How important is online tech to your business?
It’s an increasing focus as we scale up, looking for solutions to streamline processes and reduce input time and errors is key. In addition to Upstock, we also use Xero, posBoss, Woocommerce and a variety of courier systems like Gosweetspot, eShip, Twinjet. And of course there are all the social apps for marketing.
What do you find inspiring that’s happening in hospo at the moment?
It’s a traumatic time for hospitality and things will change permanently, but hospitality has been getting harder for years and the pandemic has really shone a light on that.
I find it inspiring when people start up places on low budgets and build their customer base through service, quality food and drinks and personality rather than multimillion dollar fit outs and generic menus.
Any advice for your younger self?
Get more sleep!