Posted by Ranga Bodla, Wholesale Distribution Industry Lead
In the competitive outdoor sporting goods industry, the keys to business success are constant innovation and accurate insight into customers’ behaviors and market trends. Companies like Big Agnes, an award-winning camping and hiking gear manufacturer, devote most of their resources to learning what potential buyers want and then satisfying them. To do that, they need a reliable, integrated and easy-to-use IT system.
It was a focus on customer needs, along with rapid growth, that lead Big Agnes and its sister company Honey Stinger, both of Steamboat Springs, Colo., to upgrade their old QuickBooks and paper-based business systems to a modern enterprise IT solution that could give them the big-company accounting, CRM, fulfillment, reporting and other back-office applications, without requiring a heavy investment in IT infrastructure. They chose NetSuite’s cloud-based suite of enterprise applications in January 2012.
As Chris Tamucci, director of operations for Big Agnes/Honey Stinger explained, “We were adding 20 employees a year, which really shows the holes in your processes. NetSuite came at a time when we would have imploded in the next quarter had we not made the change. The processes we had at the time could not keep up with the pace.”
Today, Big Agnes/Honey Stinger is able to stay on top of its rapid growth, and invest more resources into improving its products and customer service instead of patching holes in outdated processes.
Founded by Bill Gamber, an entrepreneur and camping enthusiast, the two companies share a management team and, together, employ over 70 people – who are, for the most part, outdoor sports fans themselves. The companies and their employees also share a desire to encourage people to be active and lead healthy lives.
“We really truly want people to get out, ride bikes, ski, or go fishing, and [moving to] NetSuite lets us get back office things out of the way and concentrate on that core mission,” Tamucci said.
For Honey Stinger, a maker of sports nutrition products, that translates into keeping its customers healthy and energized with good-tasting, portable snacks. It requires them to understand their retail partners’ market needs and meet them with the right mix of flavors, ingredients and form factors—ranging from organic protein bars and waffles to flavored gels and chews, all in multiple flavors including dark chocolate, pink lemonade, gingersnap, sour citrus and, of course, honey.
For Big Agnes, it means providing tents, sleeping bags and equipment that make outdoor life enjoyable, like super-warm sleeping bag systems for ice fishers and ultra-light tents for mountain climbers. It also requires them to have a complete profile of their customer’s behaviors and feedback, and robust analysis and reporting to spot sales trends. Their focus on providing a better outdoor experience has resulted in innovative technologies such as its Insotect Flow technology for uniform heat distribution in sleeping bags and its mtnGLO™ Tent Light Technology where ambient LED lights are integrated into the tent body. It’s also earned them a slew of industry awards for best products from publications like Backpacker and National Geographic Adventure.
Both firms have benefited greatly from the move: each has netted a 100 percent increase in productivity in areas such as fulfillment, accounting and order and inventory management since migrating to NetSuite. By leveraging NetSuite’s all-in-one enterprise platform, Big Agnes/Honey Stinger can spend more time on their customers and less time chasing data locked in different silos or looking for workarounds to outdated applications and laborious manual processes.
“The biggest impact NetSuite has had on our business is to let us concentrate on our customers and retail partners, what they’re buying from us, what the opportunities are with them,” Tamucci said. “It’s allowed us to get the back office out of the way and concentrate our core mission.”