Baby clothing company Cheeky Chompers relied on Excel to manage manufacturing, stock and customer orders. This made it difficult to deal with a complex supply chain and keep on top of orders.
The team began to get overwhelmed when the business got to 100 product varieties and significant export business. The spreadsheet had “become very long and wide”, and the procurement manager spent most of her time working out what to buy and when, according to director Julie Wilson.
When the challenge was identified, Wilson tasked the IT department with testing the different systems that were available.
Cheeky Chompers buys individual components and manufactures the clothing in Glasgow. The new system had to be able to take into account holding stock in different places around the world, manufacturing, and processing orders from retailers, distributors and direct customers.
The solution was to make a significant investment in material requirements planning software, which could manage the process from manufacturing to delivery. This meant the different team members were all using the same system.
The software’s helped with everything from stock control to customer service. For example, it can now automate communication with customers and knows exactly how much fabric is required and when. It’s helped free up the procurement manager to take a more strategic role, too.
Having all of the information in one place has allowed Cheeky Chompers to generate reports to learn about the business and take advantage of opportunities. It can now tell that a particular dinosaur print is the most popular in a particular location, for example, and what product has the best margin.
The company’s since grown to 130 varieties and has sold 1.4m products across 35 countries. It has 11 staff at head office, with around 25 who employed by the brand’s manufacturer. Wilson said this growth wouldn’t have been possible without the processes the new software has created.
“The investment feels like a risk at the time but we were starting to creak at the seams with the spreadsheet,” said Wilson. “You need to be at the right scale to do it and there are so many choices out there. We got support from Scottish Enterprise to bring it in. It’s horses for courses because it’s expensive, but it’s been worth its weight in gold.”