Perhaps one of the more unlikely trends served up in the last year has been the ‘crafting revolution’. Faced with less time at the office, school or travelling, many people are taking up hobbies such as papercraft and sewing and needlework, while more experienced crafters are embarking on even more elaborate creative projects. Crafting has even been found to offer a useful mental distraction.
This has proved a boon to Crafter’s Companion, which has tapped into this sudden growth spurt – but it has also seen it have to up its online game rapidly to cope with demand.
Crafter’s Companion was established in a university bedroom in 2005 by Sara Davies MBE, who spotted a gap in the market for a tool that could create bespoke envelopes for handmade cards. After a slot on shopping channel Ideal World, the product became a big hit and led Sara to expand further into the craft market.
Fast-forward 16 years and Crafter’s Companion is now a fast-growing global, multi-channel craft retailer. It stocks 20,000 products across 100 brands, sells to over 30 countries, and has headquarters and warehouse operations in both the UK and California. Its products are sold direct-to-consumer from its website, through bricks-and-mortar presence in retail outlets such as The Range, TK Maxx and Hobby Craft, and TV shopping channels QVC and HSN.
With the recent rise in crafting, Crafter’s Companion is reportedly on track for its best-ever year financially, stating that increased sales are contributing to a 20 percent year-over-year boost in revenue.
However, the sales boon has exacerbated some of the data gaps and efficiency challenges that meant Crafter’s Companion needed to adapt, fast.
“Because we’d hit the limits of some of our systems, and the fact they were patched together, getting information wasn’t easy,” says Max Lyne, head of IT, Crafter’s Companion. “There was a lot of duplication of tasks and trying to recognise data from one system in another. Information wasn’t readily available and reporting capabilities weren’t really there, which obviously causes problems as a growing business operating across multiple channels, experiencing high demand, and with big plans for the future”.
To tackle this Crafter’s Companion selected Oracle NetSuite to deliver a single, unified view across inventory, finance, planning, logistics and operations. And thanks in part to close collaboration with the NetSuite Professional Services team, Crafter’s Companion implemented its new system – remotely – in just 90 days. And the results have been clear.
Month-end is quicker than before, as its financial operations are now connected with the organisation’s vast inventory management requirements, with more than 25,000 (and counting) active SKUs. Information can now flow across the department teams that are critical to delivering an excellent customer experience and shipping orders promptly. Work orders and assemblies help enable Crafter’s Companion to both manage its complex supply chain and stock levels, as well as gather demand planning insights that feed into decision-making on inventory forecasting.
NetSuite is also integrated into Crafter’s Companion’s Magento ecommerce platform, as well as three separate US shipping carriers – UPS, FedEx and USPS and DG International in the UK, for continuous order fulfilment. 60 staff across multiple departments, including the company’s UK and US headquarters, are also improving operations and processes as a result.
“Information is more streamlined and readily available. As an organisation, our efficiency has improved by 30 percent as we are no longer duplicating tasks across disconnected systems. The impact on our ability to report and analyse what is happening across the business has been huge. NetSuite is already achieving everything we hoped it would, and we now have a system that will help us reach the next level in our growth journey,” says Lyne.