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Easy Access to Excess

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Excess retail inventory is a problem best handled quickly. AMC Liquidators, based in Tamarac, Fla., specializes in helping four- and five-star hotels efficiently dispose of furnishings and room décor, and also clears excess inventories and closeouts of new furnishings from interior designers and manufacturers.

Over the past 13 years, CEO Michael Grimmé has grown his business to 20,000 retail and commercial customers, notably by remaining nimble and connected. A single call, for instance, could mean marshalling a fleet of tractor-trailers to take possession of something too good to pass up — like when a Fort Lauderdale bank wanted to offload a large amount of office furniture. Grimmé bought 17,000 pieces, which equaled 47 tractor-trailer loads; AMC now also handles a wide range of office furnishing and equipment from corporations like Prudential and MetLife.

The company sells those hospitality and office goods — artwork, seating, beds, tables, lamps and desks — directly to consumers, independent hotels and assisted-living facilities through a retail location and connected warehouse. Primarily a regional reseller, AMC also maintains an online operation.

A particularly dramatic example of the business happened in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina blew through the Gulf Coast. AMC had possession of 1,600 mattress sets from a hotel and was able to quickly sell them from a makeshift showroom to area residents needing to replace their water-damaged beds.

Catastrophic events aside, about half of AMC’s business comes from the public, and the company is built on the old retail saw of the “right goods at the right time and the right price” — in this case, at about 90 percent off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Mobile, remote applications

AMC’s spacious store on a major Fort Lauderdale-area artery means convenient and easy access for its customers, many of whom represent repeat business. And these days, AMC has little trouble identifying or communicating with its best buyers and sellers; for the past decade, it has been using NetSuite’s cloud-based business management solution to manage nearly every aspect of its business, including its 50,000-sq.-ft. warehouse.

Because the liquidation business is fast-paced and increasingly mobile, NetSuite’s system was a plus for various reasons. “We have been through our fair share of hurricanes and power outages while running on NetSuite,” Grimmé explains, “but because we run our business in the cloud we always have access to our information — even through the worst of storms.”

NetSuite offers software-as-a-service, which means multiple AMC managers can access real-time information about how much inventory is in-house, for example, and how much inventory is in process. What’s more, “Being in the cloud has also allowed us to work from wherever there is an Internet connection,” Grimmé says. “We can access our entire inventory using just our laptop or smartphone.”

AMC also runs its entire VoIP business phone system in the cloud, “so we are totally mobile and can work remotely at any time, so that when we’re at a hotel site, we can do transactions right on the spot.”

Prior to working with NetSuite AMC was using QuickBooks, Grimmé says, “but it was unable to scale to meet our demands and did not provide us with the real-time visibility our fast-growing and fast-paced business needed.” He also describes a hodgepodge of manual systems that caused delays and resulted in unproductive data management due to the need to piece together information from disparate sources.

Because everything is in one place with NetSuite, information is integrated and can be accessed by any licensed user via a PC, tablet or smartphone, says Roman Bukary, NetSuite’s vice president of manufacturing and wholesale distribution.

He says that while the cloud-based solution makes multiple user access possible, it’s NetSuite’s SaaS that offers additional value — thanks to its potential to reduce IT support costs. “It ensures that you have what you need when you need it,” Bukary says. “You don’t need to buy what you don’t need today, just so you have it tomorrow when you think you might need it.”

Managing expectations

NetSuite, Grimmé says, gives AMC “real-time visibility and control over the large volume of goods we purchase daily — sometimes averaging six trailer or container loads each and every day.”

The automated invoicing and purchasing capabilities within NetSuite have helped AMC to considerably reduce manual work, allowing its employees to focus on end-to-end sourcing to sale business cycles.

“Using NetSuite CRM we are able to keep track of who buys from us and who we buy from and are able to constantly update that information all from within a single unified record of customers,” Grimmé says. NetSuite also allows AMC to have a good idea of who is paying on time or if they have a customer who is a slow pay, Bukary says. And that’s a smart advantage thanks to technology.

AMC can now deliver effective sales and service and also supports targeted e-mail alerts to prospective buyers. “For retailers these days it’s not only about getting bigger, or being the low-cost provider,” Bukary says. “It’s about being innovative, smarter and managing the customer’s expectation and how well you can service that customer across all touchpoints.”