Small businesses depend on a steady stream of supplies to keep their operations running. However, the lack of available software tools to manage supplies means businesses waste hours counting items on the shelf, writing up reorder lists, and navigating up to a dozen ecommerce sites every month.
Tookstock's mission is to automate these manual tasks by leveraging data from the suppliers that small businesses depend on most.
After talking with well over 100 small business owners we quickly learned that the vast majority still relied on flawed and outdated tools to manage the flow of supplies needed to run their businesses. Companies like NetSuite and SAP had solved this problem for mid and large scale businesses, but there was a gap at the smaller end of the market.
Existing inventory tools for small businesses, like spreadsheets and web-based apps relied on constant, error-prone manual data entry, which businesses don't have time for. The ideal end state for business owners was a solution that simply told then when an item was running low in stock and let them re-order it immediately so they could return to more meaningful tasks.
With manual data entry being the largest barrier to adoption, we needed to find a way to overcome it. Conversations with small business owners helped us realize that the suppliers they ordered from on a regular basis already had the data (order history/frequency, shipping addresses, product images, pricing) we would need to achieve this goal.
With the help of supplier integrations, we were able to pre-populate customer accounts with a personalized list of their most commonly ordered products, which means they could start to see the benefits from the moment they signed in.
However, because data could vary significantly between one supplier and another, and many suppliers would want to distribute a version of their app with custom branding, we faced significant design challenges. The complexity of managing multiple apps would have been too much for our small team to handle.
The solution for us was to develop a code generator that leveraged a custom-built design library. UI elements were written directly into code, and the code generator would utilize them to auto-generate entire screens based on our data models. As a result, most screens in the app never had to be touched by developers.
Within the first year after launching, Tookstock (and it’s co-branded counterparts) gained thousands of small business users and surpassed $1m in supply orders placed through the app. As more suppliers join the platform, Tookstock becomes closer to becoming a complete purchasing and inventory solution for small businesses everywhere.