An outdoor specialty sports equipment manufacturer based in Michigan that sells and distributes premium products, apparel and accessories. It also sponsors professional athletes. The company has been in business since 1978.
Although fairly well-known to athletes and outdoor sports enthusiasts, the client was trying to grow its online web presence and hired an e-commerce firm to make this possible. That firm was charged with optimizing the company’s website, order handling and fulfillment and a few other services that were relevant to their needs and goals.
It didn’t take too long for them to realize, however, that what they had signed up for they weren’t receiving. In short, the client was left feeling unfulfilled for a fulfillment-centered firm. Pretty much everything they were looking to get they didn’t receive.
Faced with the prospect of having to renew a contract with a provider they weren’t pleased with and an approaching deadline, the client was between a rock and a hard place. They turned to us at The TM Group to see if we could come through for them in the clutch — meaning no more than 30 days to get the job completed and done well. They also wanted to replace their Sage accounting software and a custom Access system they used to manage their manufacturing.
Before this project, the client had approached us about evaluating their systems for a possible migration. But the job had to be postponed because they were building new offices and a manufacturing facility. So when they spoke to us about why they needed to abandon their e-commerce platform fast, we already had an idea of the issues they were facing from prior conversations, which informed our approach.
We already knew that they could use Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central to run their business effectively if we also included an e-commerce add-on solution. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is the gold standard of enterprise resource management software, and enables organizations of all sizes to do more with their data through many different management tools.
While a big portion of this job was related to the implementation of an e-commerce site, we first had to tackle what was their biggest business issue: inventory management. This problem had manifested itself in their initial dealings with the aforementioned e-commerce vendor.
Much of what they sold on their original website was classified very generically, without a lot of item order information. While they actually preferred this setup, it made inventory management more difficult than it needed to be and made the online shopping experience a challenge to manage and fulfill.
We rectified this situation for them by using a feature within Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central called item variants. These can be used to manage products with different variations like size, color, style etc. By using item variants in Dynamics 365 Business Central, you can set up one item with various variants instead of having to setup a separate item for each variation. There is also another feature in Business Central called attributes that can be used to categorize inventory items based on attributes like weight, material type and size (e.g. small, medium, large). These two features both allow shoppers to filter their purchase options for point-and-click simplicity on the website as well as simplify inventory management in the warehouse.
The client was also encountering some obstacles with manufacturing. Most of the sporting items and equipment they sell are manufactured on-site at their warehouse; they handle almost all aspects of the supply chain production process, from fabrication to assembly to labeling and distribution.
All of these workflows must be tracked and recorded on an ongoing basis, and we helped them do that through Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central’s manufacturing suite. The warehousing capabilities available within Business Central, like bin management, also made it easier for them to manage activities such as receiving, shipping, and picking. These tools and some enhancements that TM Group added during the implementation helped to eliminate redundancies and diminish downtime, ultimately resulting in greater work output and throughput.
So far, this client is very pleased with the results, but they’re also looking to expand the use of Business Central into the manually intensive custom order side of their business. The start to this process was adding a configurator for their custom order management process. The configurator allows them to both track and retain all of the options and aspects that customized orders entail. Their customer service team is currently using the configurator, but eventually they would like their custom-order customers to configure their own orders.
With the ERP portion of their business now squared away, they will be able to place their focus on further website enhancements and expansion of Business Central into other aspects of their business.
The TM Group would love to help you tackle all of your business needs by implementing an ERP solution that’s designed for you and your business processes. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.