Marine Layer was born when founder and CEO Michael Natenshon's girlfriend threw away his favorite T-shirt. The plan was simple: Create a shirt so wonderful that he would never want to take it off.
From its founding in 2009, Marine Layer grew into a nationwide network of more than 40 stores selling — you guessed it — super-soft T-shirts, as well as other casual apparel, from kids’ sweatshirts to adult swimsuits. By 2019, it was clear that continuing on the company's planned growth path would test Marine Layer's ability to stay on top of store inventory, even with a previous implementation of NetSuite ERP(opens in new tab), which had supported expansion to that point.
Prior to NetSuite, Marine Layer’s planning team spent inordinate time manually building reports on inventory and actual sales from a 10-tab spreadsheet. In particular, the company struggled with inventory replenishment during seasonal transitions and the accompanying shifts in product demand, a challenge that grew along with the number of stores.
“We're always looking for opportunities to open more stores, and it's important that we have something that's able to scale," said Keri Garrison, director of planning and operations. "Trying to manage all of those stores with the more manual processes was certainly a reason to look for something that was more efficient."
Tackling Replenishment With NSPB
That “something” was NetSuite Planning and Budgeting (NSPB)(opens in new tab), which Marine Layer went live on in early 2020. The team worked with consultancy Promethean Analytics to implement NSPB for its unique needs as an apparel company — which will entail using the tool for demand planning(opens in new tab).
2020 gave the company a chance to look more closely at its inventory processes and consider how it would approach replenishment and forecasting with the new tool. The year’s supply chain complications further underscored the value of the NSPB module.
"One of the things that was really helpful was having the [planning tool] be a bit more dynamic," said Garrison. "We were able to change weeks of supply where we needed to for certain stores."
Now, Garrison’s team is using NSPB to continue making changes around seasonal curves and seeking ways to be more responsive to changing business needs. Perhaps most importantly, they're comparing the data in NSPB to Marine Layer's top-line information, to make sure it all aligns.
"It's one of those things that, until you have live data in there, it's hard to know how it's all going to work and flow," said Garrison.
Benefits Galore and a Taste for More
Even as it works on verifying data accuracy, Marine Layer is finding it has more insight into sales trends, making inventory replenishment a budding strength rather than the guessing game it was previously.
The team has also won back a few hours per week that they’d been spending on reporting, and another few hours previously spent on replenishment.
Garrison expects even more dramatic improvements when Marine Layer implements demand and supply planning for all SKUs — and by sales channel — within NSPB. She also aims to have NPSB provide a foundation for more accurate forecasting on a store-by-store basis.
Additionally, Garrison said she'd like to expand Marine Layer's use of the Smart View reporting add-on in NSPB(opens in new tab), which she currently uses to see data that’s not easily accessible in NetSuite reporting. She's currently experimenting with which details can be easily incorporated into NetSuite reports — and intends to continue experimenting until she's squeezed all value from the software.
"I know there are capabilities beyond what we're using," Garrison said. "There are still some opportunities to hone in on the right processes."
If Marine Layer continues to approach NetSuite the way it creates shirts, there's no telling what it might accomplish.