At a time when generating more cash can be tougher than getting a hole-in-one at the Black Course at Bethpage State Park, TaylorMade-adidas Golf Co., a maker of golf clubs, drivers, and various golfing equipment for the pros, found a way.
To sustain its three-year, double-digit growth while maintaining competitive prices for golfers and healthy margins for its chain of retailers, the company opted to attack inventory costs--particularly its inventory turn cycle. "The life cycle for our products is typically 18 to 24 months. To pick up growth we needed to turn over equipment faster," says Rob McClellan, global e-marketing manager at TaylorMade-adidas Golf.
Tracking and moving inventory in independently owned golf retail locations and specialty pro shops proved to be a challenge for TaylorMade, because many of these golf pro shops and retail stores run either unsophisticated inventory management applications or none at all. Consequently the company's field salespeople are forced to spend 60 percent of their time during monthly sales visits conducting inventory management tasks to determine the size of the next order.
Adding to the challenge, there was no way for the field sales staff to access inventory information or to place orders while on a sales call--most of TaylorMade's suppliers are in Asia, so orders are placed via the Web--and customers could not get real-time order tracking information. So making accurate product availability promises at the customer site, without having immediate access to partners' inventory levels, was no more scientific than guesswork.
TaylorMade turned to mobile computing to address these problems. On the back-end the company uses i2 Technologies Inc.'s inventory planning, product scheduling, and forecasting tools. That relationship was a key driver in TaylorMade's decision to select i2's new Mobile Solution field sales application.
Using Symbol mobile computers configured with the new i2 Mobile Solution, TaylorMade sales reps can now capture retail inventory levels, using the Symbol devices to scan inventory instead of conducting a manual count. What once took 90 minutes to count can now take only 20 minutes, McClellan says.
The system enables enhanced visibility into TaylorMade's supply chain while functioning as a key entry point to its order management process. This allows reps to look up customer-specific pricing, collaborate on orders, and provide real-time, available-to-promise data from inside the pro shop or specialty golf retail location.
"We're going front-door to back-door with i2," McClellan says. "Now we can open it all up to customers, so they have access to their order information."
TaylorMade sales reps can remotely
Capture inventory levels
Look up customer-specific pricing
Collaborate on orders
Provide real-time, accurate inventory