Award-winning tea manufacturer uses Fishbowl® to track more than 200 tea blends
“Tea is so much more than a beverage to quench thirst; it soothes the soul and nurtures the spirit one sip at a time,” says Beth Johnston, founder and CEO of Teas Etc. Her company is an award-winning specialty tea importer and manufacturer that sells through retail and wholesale channels. The company was established in 1998 by Johnston after she enjoyed a particularly delicious cup of tea on her honeymoon. Within a few months of her return home in West Palm Beach, Florida she founded the company Teas Etc. Johnston is actively involved in her industry serving on the World Tea Expo Advisory Board, contributing to various trade publications and has been an educator at World Tea Expo since 2008. With such a busy schedule, she still finds time to run her growing business, maintaining high quality standards for all of her products.
Business Challenges & Needs
After a decade of using QuickBooks® to manage their inventory, in 2008 Teas Etc. decided they needed a change. “QuickBooks just wasn’t cutting it,” Johnston says, referring to QuickBooks’ lack of comprehensive inventory management features. While it is a powerful accounting solution for millions of small and midsize businesses, QuickBooks is not designed to manage large amounts of inventory.
“QuickBooks just wasn't cutting it”– Beth Johnston
Founder, Teas Etc.
Teas Etc. had reached a point where its orders, inventory load, number of customers, and regulatory requirements were too great for their current inventory management system to handle. They needed a solution that could help them know when to reorder base teas (which are used in more than 200 SKUs) and be able to track locations and quantities of those teas. Often, they only discovered they were out of a particular tea after an order had come in for it. This led to delays and other serious customer service problems.
An exhaustive search of inventory management solutions yielded one that had all the features Teas Etc. was looking for: Fishbowl Manufacturing®. One of the most useful tools in Fishbowl is its Bill of Materials module, which allows manufacturers to create a list of parts and other materials that go into a product. In Teas Etc.’s case, they used this tool to create recipes for all of their tea blends, which include not just the amount of each base tea to put into them, but which containers and packaging to use for delivery.
Fishbowl Manufacturing keeps track of how much base tea is left after blends are put together and sold. This allows Teas Etc. to see when they are getting low on certain ingredients and when it’s time to reorder. Mobile barcode scanners allow warehouse workers to scan in inventory and check where to find various ingredients for production and final products for sending to customers. This system has dramatically improved Teas Etc.’s ability to stay organized and consistently please customers.
“Fishbowl makes our organic product tracking and reconciliation significantly easier and more accurate,” Johnston says. With these inventory tracking tools, Teas Etc. has been able to prevent stockouts by setting automatic reorder points and maintaining the right amounts of ingredients and tea blends. Keeping the correct quantity of finished products on hand is extremely important in the tea industry because those products have a limited shelf life. In addition, many blends require multiple steps to create, such as flavoring tea leaves before putting them together with other ingredients. Johnston explains how Fishbowl Manufacturing makes multilevel manufacturing simpler: “Through Fishbowl, we track the flavored tea leaves, blended product, and packaged product. If we don’t have, at minimum, those flavored tea leaves ready to be blended (which doesn’t require the same amount of time) it causes a chain reaction in our production system and significantly impairs our turnaround time.”
“Fishbowl makes our organic product tracking and reconciliation significantly easier and more accurate”– Beth Johnston
Founder, Teas Etc.
A year after they began using Fishbowl, Teas Etc. became the first female owned company to win World Tea Championship’s "Signature Famous Categories." Of course, Fishbowl doesn’t have the power to make tea blends taste better and win awards, but it does make it easier to get them to the right place at the right time so they’re in the best condition for end users. Teas Etc. is currently using Fishbowl Manufacturing to formulate an FDA recall plan, and they plan to continue using it into the distant future to maintain their status as a USDA National Organic Program (NOP) certified tea supplier.