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“If we had to manage our stock with Excel during the pandemic period, we would have never met our demand,”

Kim de Jong

Demand & Supply Planner | Fatboy

Slimstock helps Fatboy through the hectic pandemic period

Fatboy was barely live with Slim4 when the pandemic struck and the demand for lifestyle items became extremely volatile.

Kim de Jong, Demand & Supply Planner at Fatboy explains how the supply chain was impacted by the uncertainty and how Slim4 helped: “We would have never have managed if we only had Excel to control our stock,”

Fatboy is a Dutch design brand that develops lifestyle items for the international market. From iconic beanbags to its classic range of lamps, The Fatboy signature style is recognizable throughout the industry. Kim de Jong explains: “In the 22 year’s since our inception,  our collection has grown into a versatile range of items for both indoor and outdoor use. This varies from lamps and rugs to side tables, hammocks, air loungers and a complete range of outdoor furniture.”

No insight with excel

As a demand & supply planner, De Jong works within a small team that is responsible for forecasting, purchasing and stock management of a total of 1,600 finished and semi-finished product lines. For a long time, they only had excel to manage the inventory. However, as the assortment grew, it became more and more difficult to keep the inventory in check.

“With excel, it was difficult for us to spot trends because we could only look back on 12 months of demand. We also had little control over seasonal patterns and demand outliers. The forecast was not adjustable so one-off peaks could not be ruled out. As a result, it took me a lot of time each week to prepare the right orders. You cannot factor in service levels in Excel. As a result, we often had too much safety stock for one product and not enough for another,” highlights De Jong.

Demand shoots up

De Jong and her colleagues decided it was high time to purchase an advanced inventory management tool, and opted for Slimstock. “I had used Slim4 in a previous role at another company and so I was already of the solution’s value. But we also looked seriously at several other solutions from different vendors. Ultimately, the user-friendliness of Slim4 and the people within the Slimstock organization were decisive.”

Following the decision to proceed with Slim4, the tool was implemented and fully functional within just a matter of weeks. “And then the corona crisis broke out,” says De Jong with a penetrating look in her eyes.

“It heralded the beginning of a period of great uncertainty, both on the supply and demand side. “At first we thought that turnover would drop, but after a few weeks that turned out not to be the case. On the contrary, demand for a lot of products shot up.”

Suppliers in trouble

Where she previously wanted to cancel purchase orders, she now had to pull out all the stops to place additional orders with suppliers, mainly from China, and try to speed up existing orders. But those suppliers also had a lot on their mind, they had just finished the Chinese New Year and were also in the middle of the corona chaos. Orders already placed were further delayed as a result and delivery times became increasingly difficult to predict.

Slim4 is a blessing

“It was all super hectic, but what a blessing that we had already started using the new supply chain software,” notes De Jong.

“Despite all the problems, we always kept a firm grip on control. Everything is visual in Slim4, so you can see exactly which articles should have the highest priority at any given time. When you are under time pressure, the focus is the most important thing; focus on your most important articles and focus on the actions you need to take first. This allowed us to always take the best possible measures to achieve maximum turnover and profit margin within the given situation.”

Explore scenarios

A function in the software that proved to be of great value during the crisis was the scenario planning functionality. “You don’t know how demand will develop further, but you do want to get a feel for the decisions you need to make. Slim4 allows you to explore the impact first. Suppose the demand for a certain product suddenly drops again, for how many months of stock is there in the pipeline? And do you want to take that risk? You also see when you are going out of stock and how long this is likely to happen. By making these kinds of analyses, we were able to make well-informed decisions despite all the uncertainty. We were also able to better inform our colleagues from sales and management about the state of affairs.”

Demand stabilises

Calm has now returned to Fatboy somewhat and Kim de Jong can concentrate on her regular tasks again. “It is now clear that Slim4 is of immense value in situations where the demand suddenly changes. However, in the coming period, we will take advantage of the other benefits of Slim4. We are at the start of the new season in which we will introduce a whole series of beautiful new articles. Slim4 will help us determine the initial forecast and anticipate the demand for these new products. Another goal is also to reduce our total stock. Most companies that purchase Slim4 start with this, but you can imagine that this has not been a priority for us in recent months.”