Case Study

Perfect Products Require Perfect Order Management

Amber Road

With a ferocity for crafting the perfect fit, this leading footwear manufacturer has grown into a preeminent company recognized globally for its tenacity and creativity in crafting the perfect shoe. Started in 1878, the company’s portfolio now includes 15 brands ranging from athletic footwear to women’s high fashion to children’s sports shoes, and a booming retail segment boasting 1,200 stores in the US, Canada and China. Its production facilities in the U.S., UK, China and Vietnam support $3 billion in annual sales.

THE CHALLENGE

This company’s manufacturing operations start with over 3,000 patterns in the design phase, and 11,000 plus materials and colors in play during any given season, leading to 200,000 SKUs when size and width variations are considered. This complicates the production tasks when completing orders.

The aging infrastructure system included a mainframe-based operating system, differing systems for the branded and wholesale teams, and several homegrown bolt-ons. The situation resulted in multiple “versions of the truth” and an IT environment that didn’t facilitate future growth and agility.

The product team was generally reactive – get an order, place an order. This led to poor speed-to-market and shortfalls for demand of the most-desired shoes.

SAP ERP and PTC FlexPLM were introduced to manage the design and order generation. However, these systems are solely used by internal teams. To properly manage the production processes, one synchronous end-to-end supply chain platform, connecting the factories with important product and order data, was needed.

THE SOLUTION

Amber Road's Purchase Order Management solution was implemented in a cloud-based environment to execute and collaborate on POs, packing lists and invoices. Direct integration was built to pull and push order, product and vendor data from SAP and PTC. All of the PO changes flow through the platform at the various stages of the order. With this solution in place, the Amber Road team equipped its raw material suppliers and finished goods factories with a collaborative platform that streamlines the product lifecycle by issuing purchase orders in iterative stages.

THE BENEFITS

With Amber Road’s solution and integration to the other systems, this company now has full visibility into the PO management, factory production and pre-shipment processes. The quantifiable results include:

  • Increased fill rates by 10-15 percent
  • Re-utilization of 12 full-time employees
  • Common uniform data being used throughout the process
  • Visibility at each stage of the lifecycle
  • PLM & ERP helped get own house in order while Amber Road helped connect with the partners
  • The greater flexibility helped as the company moved its sourcing operations out of China
  • Seamless process design to delivery – moving from reactive to proactive
  • Accrued $150K case label rebates
  • The company analyzed the return on investment and realized payback in months

The Amber Road platform enabled a workflow:

  • The vendor/factory first receives an “Unsized PO” – without size information but with quantity and style information which allows them to place material orders and plan for capacity.
  • A “Sized PO” is then generated with appropriate size and width requirements included in the packing instructions.
  • Other incremental orders in the system provide visibility to factory commitments, raw material orders, and sample orders.
  • Finally, a “Finished Good PO” is issued providing customer and ship-to information.
  • Acknowledgements and PO change requests are executed in the Amber Road platform and pushed back to SAP.
  • ASN, BOL, commercial invoice, and other shipping docs are automatically created and interfaced to ERP for payment, reducing human errors through automation.
  • Replacing a third-party label provider that printed off-site, the Amber Road solution provided factory-based case label printing capabilities.
  • Certain PO actions prompt alerts to the internal teams, triggering other tasks and parties to take action, i.e., quality inspections can be scheduled based on production milestones.