Take a look at the list of artists that use Aston Microphones and you’ll be treated to a who’s who of the music industry in the UK and beyond. Catering to such demanding customers means creating a product that is at the absolute top of its game — and dealing with such high-end goods requires absolute visibility over where inventory is at any given time, and how much it’s worth.
All too often, Excel and accounting software aren’t up to the task for businesses who make and sell top-of-the-line products. Aston Microphones used Unleashed to escape the lost stock and lack of visibility that they were suffering under Sage and spreadsheets. Here’s Phil Smith from the Aston team on how they did it.
Aston Microphones is an independent British company with a single aim: to create the best quality audio equipment, and sell it at a price point that works for as many creators as possible. To achieve that goal, we’ve worked with some of the top producers, engineers and artists in the industry, undertaking an exhaustive testing and refinement process to create the range we sell today.
Our microphones are designed and made in the UK — and developed along with the best ears in the business. It’s a combination we’re incredibly proud of. In just a few years on the market, it’s also won us a lot of acclaim: including two TEC awards, NAMM Best in Show and more.
A powerful product that’s tough to produce
We don’t make a huge range of microphones here at Aston. Instead, we want to focus on creating a few models that really work — striving for excellence and elegance in our design and sound performance. After all, our products are the absolute core of our business, and our customers demand a top-quality sound.
Creating each mic is a complicated process. It involves buying parts in USD, EUR and GBP; using several different sub-contractors; around 100 components in total and lots of transportation. Plus, to ensure that everything we produce is up to our exacting standards, we do all QA and packing at our main office in Hitchin.
Before adopting Unleashed, we managed our inventory using Sage and spreadsheets. Keeping track of our components and products throughout the manufacturing process was a nightmare. We experienced rapid growth, which only made our stock issues worse. Despite spending far too much time on inventory management, we were still losing components.
Worst of all, it was difficult to keep track of where our materials and products were at any time — or what the value of our stock was. When you sell just a few high-value products, knowing your exact margins and the value of your goods is crucial. We had no clear idea of either.
Our first foray into the cloud came when we moved from Sage to Xero. After seeing how cloud technology could revolutionise our accounting, we thought it could do the same for our inventory management. Unleashed’s integration with Xero made it a natural fit.
We created a warehouse for each stage of our production process, using stock transfers to keep a close eye on where everything is at any given time. Multi-warehouse and serial number tracking have been game-changers for us, and we were really impressed that such powerful features could be so easy to use. From always being on the back foot and chasing our tail, we are able to take an overview of our stock and manufacturing processes so we can proactively work on any production pinch-points before they happen.
The list of improvements we’ve made using Unleashed is huge. We’ve used it to track where all our products and materials are, including any QC fails, loans, returns and more. We know exactly what the value of all our stock on hand is at any given time, giving us complete peace of mind as we grow our business. And the data exporter drives our models for tracking production and reporting on sales — enabling us to refine our processes even more.
With Unleashed, we can be 100% confident in how our business is run. As Aston Microphones continues to grow and demonstrate to the world what British-made audio equipment can do, the value of that confidence cannot be underestimated.
Learn more about how leaving Sage for Xero and Unleashed can improve your inventory management.
Article by Patrick Foot in collaboration with our team of inventory specialists. When he’s not writing about inventory management, he’s busy jet-setting across the globe.