Three Outdoor Sports Companies Reach New Heights with Cloud ERP

Posted by Ranga Bodla, Wholesale Distribution Industry Lead at NetSuite

More than 141 million Americans, or 48 percent of the U.S. population, participated in an outdoor activity at least once in 2014, according to The Outdoor Foundation’s 2015 survey of participation.

As the outdoor sports market explodes, forward thinking businesses are investing in their business management systems. Three different companies have found extended success by moving to the cloud.

For example, Slingshot Sports, a manufacturer of kiteboards, paddleboards and wakeboards, replaced its Sage Peachtree application with NetSuite in 2007, and has more than doubled its revenue since then. Based in Hood River, Ore., Slingshot Sports, has customers in 54 countries today, but back in 2006 it was limited by the bookkeeping and inventory management capabilities of Peachtree. It needed a system that offered more customizable inventory management to help it manage its overseas manufacturers. After moving to NetSuite’s ERP, CRM and ecommerce applications, Slingshot was well positioned to manage its expansion into new markets.

In fact, cloud-based ERP is helping retailers, manufacturers and distributors to spot opportunities and manage the many challenges in the industry – such as working with U.S. and overseas suppliers, servicing far-flung customers, adapting to fluctuations in the costs, margins, availability and customer demand of their products. These companies are expanding their markets by partnering with large retail outlets and ecommerce leaders like Amazon and eBay, as well as developing their own branded ecommerce sites to serve both consumers and B2B customers. But to do that, they need to be agile enough to react to change.

The need for better, faster financial reporting was what spurred FootBalance North America—the San Diego-based subsidiary of Finnish manufacturer FootBalance--to move to the cloud. The company had been relying on an outside accounting firm that used Microsoft Dynamics GP. The move to NetSuite’s OneWorld reduced FootBalance’s costs while also reducing the time required to close the books and run reports. Its financial close time is now down from seven days to three. At the same time, it’s helped FootBalance expand and manage a larger network of retail partners – more than 200 in the U.S.—and help it achieve double digit growth.

“We have a much cleaner view of how transactions move through the system and greatly enhanced reporting,” explained Jeremy Town, the managing director for Foot Balance N.A.

Similarly, Grape Solar, which manufactures solar panels and which recently launched a new line of portable panels for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts needing to power their tablets, phones, and other small electronics, has also moved from a hosted environment to a true cloud platform in NetSuite.

When it was founded in 2009, the company made an early decision to outsource its IT to a cloud provider to avoid the cost and resources required to manage its own ERP, not to mention the very real risk of outgrowing the new ERP system.

The modular architecture of NetSuite means that Grape Solar was able to add the components it wants and postpone others. That has allowed its ERP system to grow with the company, which today has over 1,000 products and 50 suppliers, said Chad Ash, senior sales and customer service representative: “The visibility into day-to-day operations we have with NetSuite enables us to be very data-centric.”


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