Ten Thousand Villages
Ten Thousand Villages is a U.S.-based non-profit retail distributor.
Founded in 1946, Ten Thousand Villages was the first fair-trade organization in the U.S. and today is one of the world’s largest. It cultivates long-term buying relationships with artisans who receive a fair price, and work in safe conditions. Ten Thousand Villages sells through a chain of company-owned, franchise and pop-up stores, on top of an ecommerce site. The company also sells its products at hundreds of independent retailers across the U.S.
In need of a unified software platform
The company’s hundreds of employees and volunteers need to be able to communicate and share data across HQ, company owned stores, and franchised stores, called board stores. The company also sells both B2B and B2C. The brand’s mission, to provide jobs and income for people overseas and to work with suppliers who offer fair wages and quality products, requires smart buying, efficient operations, and effective accounting tools. Ten Thousand Villages had been using Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2003. The software had become outdated, and the business was facing multiple challenges:
- Due to heavy customization, including third-party add-ons and integrations and home-grown applications, upgrades were too complex.
- Multiple disparate systems meant siloed data. Ten Thousand Villages couldn’t produce reports that were accurate, consistent, and timely.
- Ten Thousand Villages relies on multiple business models: wholesale, retail sales through physical stores, and eCommerce. The company’s IT systems couldn’t easily support all these channels.
- The organization was relying on manual, paper-based processes and Excel spreadsheets, which were slow, unreliable, and often led to errors.
- The POS system the company was using, a SAP POS, was completely separate from the ERP, with which it communicated through a home-grown integration. As a result, inventory management was difficult and time consuming.
- The SAP POS system couldn’t provide the pricing and promotion management that the organization required.
The company started looking for a single platform that could offer consolidation of all data, omni-channel management, automations, and strong retail functionality.
“After evaluating the products on the market, we determined that there were only a very small number that actually provided all of that functionality or did it natively,” said Nate Shaffer, Consultant and Project Manager at Ten Thousand Villages. “There were lots of solutions that were very good at the retail end; there were others that were very good at the wholesale end, but we only came down to a few that were capable of doing it all.”
They narrowed the field down to two solutions, Oracle NetSuite and the LS Retail solution, built on Microsoft Dynamics ERP.
“Although NetSuite had all kinds of bells and whistles that made it appealing on the surface, it didn’t offer the functionality and the flexibility we needed,” said Chad Warfel, CFO of Ten Thousand Villages. “The pricing and promotion engine in LS Retail was exactly what we were looking for, and it also offered a mobile POS solution as well as a foundation for centralizing customer data across all of our sales channels.” The company also plans to implement the LS Retail loyalty functionality to make loyalty management part of the single platform.
To implement and support the new IT setup, Ten Thousand Villages looked for a technology partner with proven experience and expertise in Dynamics NAV/Business Central as well as in the retail industry. They selected ArcherPoint, a local LS Retail partner. “We just really felt like, throughout that process, ArcherPoint delivered the kind of customer service we were looking for,” said Tom Shaeffer, IT Manager.
ArcherPoint recommended a re-implementation of the Dynamics ERP, rather than an upgrade. Unlike an upgrade, which involves merging customizations and transferring data to the newer ERP version, a re-implementation requires installing the latest ERP version and then setting up the database as an entirely new system. In this case, a “clean slate” was deemed to be the smarter path.
Visibility and control
Nearly a year after the upgrade, Ten Thousand Villages is very happy with their solution and with their choice of a partner. “Some vendors are good at one thing but not another. ArcherPoint has been excellent across the board in terms of service and knowledge,” said Shaeffer.
Since implementing the LS Retail platform, Ten Thousand Villages has experienced benefits across the whole business.
- With all information unified with a single data source, the organization finally has data they can rely on. They can now understand and act on the needs of all areas of the organization, from forecasting to staffing.
- The new POS system is user friendly, making it easier for staff to learn and use. The possibility to run in on mobile devices gives the company flexibility, allowing it to operate the way they want to without having to do customizations. This means future upgrades will be simpler, too.
- Ten Thousand Villages can now use automated replenishment instead of the old manual, multi-step process that was inaccurate, slow, and cumbersome. Today, the new replenishment engine takes care of 85-90% of weekly replenishment orders, supplemented by a Power BI dashboard that pulls data directly out of the Dynamics ERP. This has streamlined the replenishment process across the board, and has resulted in a significant increase in sales.
- Having a flexible software with a single source of data means that managers at HQ and at the stores now have much greater visibility over data. They can now see activities, act on opportunities and address issues in real time, even during the busiest retail days.
Creating a sustainable, fair business future
As they become increasingly familiar with the solution, Ten Thousand Villages are adjusting processes and implementing new ones they could not even imagine before. The company is interviewing store employees and managers to measure and prioritize specific needs, with the goal of honing the solution to increase productivity.
They have also gained the ability to attribute to each product the actual importing cost, instead of relying on average cost. This will provide much more accurate information on profitability. “One thing that’s unique to us is that we care as much about the people making the product as we do about profit, so when we’re buying a product, it’s not just about finding the best product at the cheapest price,” said Chad. “We’re concerned about the artisans we’re intentionally working with, and that creates a complexity in our business model. With our technology solution, we get better visibility not only into profitability, but into sustainability, so we can stay in business and continue to help the artisans around the world that we support to stay in business—to provide a fair way to business. That’s our whole mission.”
The pricing and promotion engine in LS Retail was exactly what we were looking for, and it also offered a mobile POS solution as well as a foundation for centralizing customer data across all of our sales channels.Chad Warfel, CFO
LS Retail Partner
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