Posted by Ranga Bodla, Director of Industry Marketing, Manufacturing & Wholesale Distribution
Earth-Kind, the maker of the first natural rodent repellent EPA certified for indoor use, has a culture that’s easy to say -- “lean, mean and green,” -- but far harder to adhere to.
Operating under lean methodologies for continuous improvement, maintaining a 2 percent carbon footprint and growing a manufacturing operation at a 40 percent rate over the last six years while spurning calls to manufacture in China and instead doing all manufacturing domestically is no small task. So when Kari Block, Earth-Kind’s CEO and founder, started seeing the explosive growth that brought the company’s Fresh Cab rodent repellent to 20,000 retail stores around the country including Ace, True Value and Tractor Supply Company, she knew Earth-Kind would need a financial system that could keep pace.
Until this year, Earth-Kind was running a rat’s nest of siloed applications – QuickBooks for accounting, ShipRush, ProStores for the online shopping cart and others. That left employees doing “swivel chair entry,” inputting data into one system, spinning around and entering it again into another. Order management fulfillment required a great deal of repetitive work and was fraught with the potential for error and bad data.
With multiple channels, multiple customer types across national and regional chains as well as a B2C model through the company website that was helping to propel Earth-Kind’s rapid growth, the new system had some very specific requirements. Block looked at five different systems, but none were the right fit.
“It wasn’t scalable,” she said. “I would have to change my business to fit their program.”
Ultimately Earth-Kind selected NetSuite and quickly saw dramatic improvements. The company has seen a reduction in order entry time of 85 percent, particularly with NetSuite’s ecommerce seamless integration into financials and has seen ROI on NetSuite in less than a year thanks to labor savings on data entry. Customer, order and financial information is all in the same system and Earth-Kind can auto-ship to its customers through NetSuite. What’s more, NetSuite’s cloud-based platform fit in perfectly with Earth-Kind’s agile and green mission. With NetSuite managing the infrastructure in the cloud and spreading resources across its customer base, the application is creating economies of scale and reducing the energy requirements of the multiple data centers and servers that would be required by individual customers with on-premise systems. Earth-Kind employees are able to work from home with the browser-based access to the application and new employees can quickly be added.
“We’re very nimble and we haven’t invested in a fixed asset like buildings and plants and offices,” Block said. “We lease everything and we have employees in different locations so we’re all able to get on and see the same data and determine what to watch and how to react.”
With prior systems, it could take an employee a year and a half to learn all of the applications and how they interacted with one another. With NetSuite, that learning time has fallen dramatically.
NetSuite has led to significant improvements in order accuracy and facilitated same-day shipping by removing the multiple data entry points. It’s received A grades from its large retail customers, a major help in securing shelf space.
“It’s really important for a fast-growth business to quickly adapt and fulfill customers’ needs,” Block said. “NetSuite’s really the best program out there.”