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Fuse Inventory

Fuse Inventory helps growing businesses plan and manage their inventory by replacing excel and centralizing sales, inventory, and procurement data to forecast demand. I caught up with co-founder Rachel Liaw to learn about how her team’s dual expertise in software and supply chain allow them to solve pain points with machine learning and data analytics.

Technology and Inventory

The digital and physical world are increasingly melded. With technology from our phones to laptops, we are able to buy groceries, download boarding passes, or order take-out for a night in. Similar to how software has made work and living more convenient, Fuse Inventory’s cloud and subscription-based software facilitates demand and inventory planning for growing businesses. Names like LOLA, Glossier, and MeUndies are a few of Fuse’s happy customers.

Inventory and Supply Chain

The inventory arena may not draw the same enthusiasm as Blockchain or cryptocurrency, but it is a lucrative, multi-billion market, and deserves the same technological update other markets are seeing. In the US, companies waste over 1.75 trillion dollars on inventory every year. Co-founder Rachel Liaw was exposed to the many supply-chain pain points when she worked with a team of 20 to scale the supply-chain at Kiwi Crate, an educational, subscription commerce company that sells science and art projects to parents and children.

“This is very unsexy space – we don’t need Blockchain or crypto – we’re doing inventory, which has got to be one of the most unsexy spaces out there along with maybe healthcare, but it is a lucrative space.”

– Rachel Liaw, CEO and Co-Founder of Fuse Inventory

According to Rachel, every brand struggles with inventory, whether a miscount, supplier shipping or shipment delay, not to mention out-of-stocks, overstocks, and returns. Such issues, especially out-of-stock, may affect the way consumers perceive a brand and it’s product availability and quality. Out-of-stocks and overstocks accounted for $634.1 billion and $471.9 billion in lost retail sales in 2014 respectively. According to GT Nexus, a supply chain platform, 75 percent of U.S. adults come across unavailable product, 63% of them online and decide to shop elsewhere or buy nothing at all. Losing customers presents a huge issue for growing businesses.

Existing inventory planning software are either “legacy, pre-archaic from before eCommerce or geared towards small businesses.” There was a clear lack of and need for software for growing, brand-based businesses with revenue 10 million and above that was struggling to scale to become the next large enterprise. For Rachel, supply chain pain points were all solvable with software – “very complicated but doable.”

From Stanford Classmates to Co-Founders

Fuse Inventory team

After graduating from Stanford, Rachel worked at early stage startups as a software developer. She worked at a street fashion startup before the term “influencer” even existed, and it was this experience that introduced her to the world of eCommerce at a time when Shoedazzle was making a name for itself and other companies were changing the way eCommerce was done via new business models or products. It was then that she decided to enter the eCommerce space.

“Everything we touch in the world is inventory. The chair that I’m sitting on is inventory, the laptop that I’m using, the cup of coffee that I’m drinking. All of that is inventory, so it is a large, lucrative market, which is what gets us excited.”

– Rachel Liaw, CEO and Co-Founder of Fuse Inventory

Rachel would eventually co-found Parasol in 2014, a baby brand that sold diapers. Through working with manufacturers in Belgium and working on R&D to source the top sheets to create the softest material, she was exposed to more pain points in the supply chain area.

In reimagining the way supply chain should be done, she co-founded Fuse Inventory with her good friend from undergrad, Bridget Vuong. They had studied abroad in Japan, worked on CS projects, and discovered they worked well together. “Bridget was the top of her class at Stanford, an 100x engineer,” Rachel said.

Rachel and her team, with previous experience from Tableau, Google, Waze, and their dual expertise in software and supply chain allowed them create the inventory software they imagined through big data and machine learning. Rachel is on a multi-year year leave of absence from UCLA Law and working on Fuse full-time.

Fuse, a Cloud-based Inventory Planning Solution

Fuse eliminates the “messy web of Excel sheets” and reduces human error to help growing businesses plan their inventory and prevent overstock and stock outs. Its proprietary algorithm makes forecasts using statistics and predictive analytics. The cloud based planning system integrates with the business’s eCommerce storefront, warehouses, 3PL, ERP and accounting software, and wholesalers.

Customers can get an overview of everything in stock as well as look at specific SKUs. The software flags “urgent restocks, batch orders tailored to buy cycles, and recommends order details based on variables like lead time, weeks on hand, velocity of sales, and marketing promotions.”

A Scalable and Promising Future

“By being a truly cloud based platform, not only is our software scalable, but we can start an industry-wide trend through leveraging machine learning and data analytics, newer technology that older software cannot leverage.”

– Rachel Liaw, CEO and Co-Founder of Fuse Inventory

In terms of competition, besides existing software, they are well ahead of similar startups. “No one has really found any issues with our product. It all boils down to how much investors believe,” said Rachel.

Another differentiator: Fuse is led by two female, minority founders. Only time will reveal how this impacts Fuse. For the time being, the future looks promising.

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