When most people get ready for work each morning, they pay more attention to dressing for the weather than to the basic act of tying their shoes. But for people with mobility issues, simply bending over far enough to knot their shoelaces can be a real challenge.
One of those people is Billy Price, who has struggled with donning and removing his shoes ever since he broke his neck in an accident as a teenager. Those struggles led him to team up with Darin Donaldson in 2015 to create Billy Footwear. The company makes shoes with unobstructed entry, allowing people to simply set a foot onto the shoebed and then zip the upper around to secure it—no laces necessary.
If that sounds like a niche market, think again. The small startup saw sales growth of 260% from 2018 to 2019, putting a strain on its existing accounting, inventory management, and shipping processes. With no end to the growth in sight, company leaders launched a search for a “technology stack” that could meet their burgeoning needs.
They soon realized that could be a challenge. Billy Footwear sells shoes through multiple channels, including big retailers like Nordstrom and Macy’s, online marketplaces like Amazon and Zappos, and an array of smaller retailers along with its own e-commerce store. Because all of the various storefronts were drawing products from the same inventory pool, the job of managing inventory was becoming harder by the day, the footwear company says.
Given its recent track record and prospects for future growth, the company knew it had to find a fulfillment solution that was both scalable and robust. In the end, Billy Footwear chose SAP Business One as its new enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform and in short order, connected it with the ShipStation order fulfillment and shipping solution and omnichannel commerce platform Shopify.
One of the early benefits of the new technology stack was that it helped the footwear company connect with a better third-party logistics service provider (3PL). Previous 3PLs had mismanaged orders from big retailers. But once Billy Footwear switched to a new provider and completed the integration with the SAP system, the problems with business-to-business orders quickly dwindled.
In order to create a unified flow of information, the shoe company worked with California-based omnichannel fulfillment consultants OptiProERP to link the new ERP system to ShipStation and Shopify. Among other benefits, that integration made the scaling of Billy Footwear’s business-to-consumer (B2C) business manageable by allowing the manufacturer to view everything it needs in one spot. “By having it the way it’s set up right now, it allows our fulfillment team to [just do ther job and] not really think. Because every order they’re fulfilling, they’re fulfilling it the exact same way—[whether] it’s a business-to-business or business-to-consumer [transaction],” Price said in a statement.
According to Billy Footwear, ShipStation has allowed the shoe company to process more orders each day, while improving customer satisfaction. The company also reports that the system’s “scan to verify” function has helped ensure that the right products are in the right box and shipped to the right customer.
There are other benefits as well. For instance, the accuracy of the stock-availability data shared with external partners like Nordstrom and Amazon has jumped by 70%. Plus, Billy Footwear says it is now able to manage 40% more volume in its fulfillment operations without additional staff.