VP of Supply Chain and Information Technology, Dylan’s Candy Bar
SuperNova Award Category:
Founded in 2001 by Dylan Lauren, daughter of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, Dylan’s Candy Bar has disrupted the candy industry by merging candy with the worlds of art, fashion and pop culture. With a mission to awaken the creative spirit and inner child in everyone, Dylan's Candy Bar evokes a modern-day version of Willy Wonka's factory with an ultra-sensory experience and pop-art installations such as oversized lollipop trees, candy cane columns, dripping chocolate shelves, kaleidoscopic candy wallpaper and candy-embedded staircases that epitomize "retail-tainment." Offering more than 7,000 confections and a range of lifestyle, apparel and gift products, the NYC-based omnichannel retailer is on track to have 15 retail and licensed stores by the end of 2015.
Dylan’s Candy Bar found itself at a crossroads in 2013. Having attracted millions of local and tourist shoppers to its flagship brick-and-mortar stores and built a loyal and passionate fan base, Dylan’s wanted to build on its success by continuing to innovate, enter new markets, expand its ecommerce and physical channels, and deliver a true omnichannel retail experience to customers. As the business grew, Dylan’s Candy Bar was increasingly limited by its on-premise legacy applications which included Sage MAS 90 for accounting, JDS Solutions WinRetail for inventory and a custom-built warehouse management system. These application silos made it virtually impossible to monitor key business metrics and lacked the flexibility Dylan’s needed to innovate and grow. Specific problems included:
No single source of reliable, timely dataLack of customer insights to deliver an omnichannel experienceStruggles with multi-location inventory managementKey business decisions based on guesswork, rather than hard dataHigh degree of manual data work that impacted efficiency
As one option to modernize its IT environment, Dylan’s explored the potential to expand its MAS 90 and WinRetail applications with add-on solutions or shifting its IT and business strategy to cloud-based ERP and CRM, eliminating its in-house systems and alleviating IT resource requirements for maintenance, backups, upgrades and troubleshooting.
In Dylan’s evaluation of options, NetSuite emerged as a solution that offered what the company needed to manage its growth: a broad range of built-in ERP and CRM functionality; customization ability to meet specific business needs; and integration capacity to interoperate with other 3rd-party applications. NetSuite’s retail-specific functionality and cloud architecture with anywhere, anytime access and automated upgrades twice a year were key considerations in the selection process. Today, Dylan’s uses NetSuite’s end-to-end platform for financials, inventory/operations, warehousing, CRM, and all back-end processes for the company’s ecommerce platforms and in-store point-of-sale (POS) systems. Dylan’s also utilizes the NetSuite Work Orders and Assemblies module to package candy into baskets and other vessels.
Live in July 2014, NetSuite has transformed Dylan’s Candy Bar by enabling management and personnel to run and grow a more agile, efficient and data-driven business. Dylan’s ability to better control all fundamental business processes and access real-time information on-demand has empowered the company to grow its innovative brand and continue disrupting the high-end candy industry. Results in several key areas include:
Store expansion. Before NetSuite, Dylan’s had four flagship stores. The total of company-owned and licensed locations is on track to reach 15 by the end of 2015.
“If we didn’t have a good handle on operations with NetSuite, our exponential growth couldn’t happen,” said Erica Stevens, VP of Supply Chain and IT. “NetSuite is a platform that enables radical step changes for organizations. We’ve been able to craft the platform around Dylan’s mission to transform the shopping experience and bring joy and wonder to our customers’ lives.”
Complex SKU management. NetSuite provides flexibility for Dylan’s to manage up to 12,000 SKUs a year, with as many as 6,000 active at any time. Visibility and control simplifies SKU management as Dylan’s rotates seasonal offerings and adds or removes products based on partnerships to leverage well-known brand mascots such as Hello Kitty and Minions.
Since adopting NetSuite, Dylan’s Candy Bar has realized gains in several key areas.
3x faster order processing. In the ecommerce channel, time needed to process orders has been reduced from 6 hours a day to 2 hours thanks to automation.
65% reduction in inventory discrepancies. Having one system of record for all inventory movement has allowed Dylan’s the ability to implement daily and weekly cycle counting procedures to maintain tighter inventory controls, without the complication of inventory reconciliations and integration import timing with multiple systems. As a result, Dylan’s saw a 65% reduction in inventory shrink in the first year of operation.
Better omnichannel experience. Dylan’s has grown its customer database exponentially with NetSuite CRM, more than doubling the number of records over the last three months, enabling segmentation and online marketing.
Scalability for rising order volumes. NetSuite has helped Dylan’s streamline order management while scaling to handle a 32% increase in order volumes since the solution went live.
Faster product assembly. NetSuite Work Orders and Assemblies has helped Dylan’s accelerate its assembly of candy-filled baskets, boxes, buckets and other vessels. Better insight into component product expiration and inventory allocation allowed for just in time inventory with less than 5% stock out issues.
Dylan’s Candy Bar uses NetSuite as an end-to-end cloud platform for all core business processes, including accounting, inventory operations, warehousing, CRM and back-end support for ecommerce and POS channels. “Our focus with NetSuite has been on increased efficiency and making better decisions based on analytics,” Stevens said. “NetSuite is our single source of real-time information, and its flexibility for customizations and integration has been valuable.”
Dylan’s Candy Bar has been a disruptive force in the candy industry since its inception as it created the category of experiential candy retail. Its flagship New York City store attracts more than 1.5 million visitors each year, earning it a spot on the top 10 list of NYC tourist destinations. The company strives to deliver a unique multi-sensory experience to store visitors, with additional attractions including party rooms, candy cocktail bars and cafes. An array of delectable smells, a candy timeline, and a vast milieu of candy songs and commercials accentuate the unique Dylan’s experience.
Dylan's transition to a cloud based business management platform equips the omnichannel retailer to continue disrupting the market with greater agility and without the inefficiencies, delays and limited visibility it experienced in its legacy environment. While many have tried to replicate the model, Dylan’s Candy Bar has been able to stay ahead of the curve by innovation and execution in merging the worlds of fashion, art and pop culture through product development that extends the boundaries of a traditional candy shop and partnerships with leading franchise and brand names such as the Willy Wonka, Minions, Barbie, Hello Kitty, Havaianas and others.
A shining moment for Dylan’s Candy Bar came when both NetSuite and the fully integrated POS system launched across our stores. Staff members from across the company (from store sales managers to the CFO) were able to see real-time sales data from across the country on their mobile phones through the NetSuite mobile app. Never before has the company been so connected to our customer’s transactions and to company sales trends.