For manufacturers and retailers, establishing visibility into inventory, tracking point of sale (POS) data and generating financial reports can prove daunting. At Danforth Pewter, a Middlebury, Vt., firm that produces and sells jewelry, ornaments, accessories and gifts, the need for a modern digital business framework was paramount.
“As we grew from just two young artists to 60 people with a production facility, a website and retail stores, IT requirements expanded dramatically,” says CEO Bram Kleppner. “Yet, we found ourselves dealing with systems that were 20-plus years old.”
In early 2014, the company, which as roots back to Colonial America, found itself coping with mostly disconnected and increasingly inadequate systems. “Our ERP and order processing system couldn’t connect with the POS and financial reporting systems,” Kleppner explains. “They were incompatible.”
Consequently, employees had to handle a variety of processes manually. For example, if a finance executive wanted to see how a particular product was selling, he or she had to pull data from different systems and combine everything into a spreadsheet. “With more than 2,000 SKUs spread across all of our channels, the task was overwhelming,” he points out.
But the challenges didn’t stop there. Upgrading and patching had become difficult because key software publishers no longer supported the legacy applications the company was running. Meanwhile, newer versions of the applications wouldn’t run on the company’s old servers and other hardware—all while hard drives and other key components began to fail at a growing rate.
“We had deferred the process as long as we could, but it had gotten to the point where we could no longer pretend things were okay and continue to operate the business effectively,” Kleppner explains.
Selecting an Integrated Retail Management System
Danforth Pewter upgraded its hardware infrastructure and, after surveying the software landscape, selected an integrated retail management system from Acumatica. “The system tied together all the various business pieces we required, and it was within our budget,” Kleppner says.
The company rolled out the new on-premises enterprise application in July 2015. Danforth Pewter now has the ability to accommodate real-time ordering, there is an accurate view of inventory, and executives use robust financial management and reporting tools to access data remotely and from mobile devices. End-of-period fiscal reports that previously took weeks to complete now require only a couple of days.
Customers and sales staff are also happier. “In the past, customer service reps had to take a call, write down the person’s name and information, and then pass the information to someone else so that it could be keyed into the system,” Kleppner says. The Acumatica system now populates the data for sales representatives automatically.
“The phone call is shorter, there’s less repetition, and they receive the order a couple of days sooner,” he adds. In addition, the system has simplified training requirements for employees, which makes a major difference during the holiday season, when the firm relies on temp workers.
Migrating the data from the legacy system to the integrated retail management platform was straightforward and relatively simple, Kleppner explains. This year, the company plans to add an Acumatica CRM module, along with more advanced analytics and reporting capabilities.
“We have gained enormous efficiencies and capabilities,” Kleppner reports. “And we are much better prepared to handle today’s business requirements.”
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline and CIO Insight. His most recent book is the Internet of Things from MIT Press.