With a mission to empower local artisans, Nkuku combines traditional crafts and natural materials to offer a timeless collection of ethical and environmentally friendly homeware products. Faced with increasingly unpredictable demand as the cost-of-living crisis puts pressure on consumer spending, the homeware specialist needed to enhance visibility throughout its end-to-end supply chain planning process.
Challenges & Goals
As a business that sources skills and materials from all corners of the world, the planning team at Nkuku is familiar with the challenges that come with managing long-lead-time products. However, with record-high container costs and fluctuating currency markets, the upstream supply chain has become far more volatile.
Furthermore, with fierce competition, high promotional pressure and soaring costs of living, customers have also become far more discerning. As a result, demand is more unpredictable than ever before.
Emma Morgan, Lead Merchandiser at Nkuku explains: “Our manual processes were too slow to react. As a result, we were missing out on opportunities as we could not guarantee the availability of the products that matter most to our customers.”
Nkuku embarked on a digital transformation project to enable more strategic decision-making with the goal of unifying the cross-functional teams involved throughout the end-to-end planning process.
To address its supply chain challenges, Nkuku joined forces with Slimstock. As part of the transformation initiative, the homewares specialist implemented Slimstock’s advanced supply chain planning platform, Slim4.
Explaining the partnership and the decision to take advantage of the Slim4 platform, Emma states: “We explored several options. However, based on the positive recommendation from one of Slimstock’s other customers, it was clear that they were the right partner to help us transform our supply chain.”
Utilising machine learning-enabled forecast algorithms, the award-winning Slim4 platform provides the planning team with the insight required to anticipate and respond to disruption with confidence. By adopting a data-driven approach to supply chain planning, Nkuku has already attained significant performance improvements throughout its network:
- Improved resilience against supply chain disruption
- Increased availability on top product lines to 99%+
- Enhanced end-to-end visibility
Following the successful implementation of the Slim4 platform, Nkuku is now better positioned to anticipate potential disruption on the horizon. By providing Nkuku with responsive exception-based alerts, the planning team can now take proactive steps to mitigate risk before it hits the customer.
“In the past, managing forecast exceptions was a labour-intensive task. Often, by the time we had detected the issue, it was too late. With Slim4, the time it takes to review our forecasts has been massively reduced. More importantly, we can instantly see where demand is higher or lower than expected. As a result, we can adapt to the dynamics of the market.”
In addition to enhancing visibility over customer demand, Nkuku has also attained greater insight into supplier performance: “With Slim4’s powerful reporting functionality, our planning team are able to mitigate lead time variability and evolving supplier parameters to make more intelligent purchasing decisions.”
Emma goes on to highlight the benefit of Slim4’s graphical user experience: “The board feel more informed about our purchasing strategy and has greater confidence in where we need to take risks to secure availability. The results speak for themselves: excess stock has been reduced by 3.4% while availability across our key product lines has increased to over 99%.”
Focused on unlocking further performance improvements, Nkuku will continue working with Slimstock’s team of supply chain experts to support the business’ continued growth. “For us, the Slim4 platform has been a game-changer. And we are only scratching the surface of what is possible,” concludes Emma.