Wolverine Worldwide, a $2.69 billion footwear company--which owns brands like Sperry, Merrell, Saucony, Hush Puppies, Keds and Stride Rite--ships 100 million pairs of shoes annually to customers around the world.
With that kind of volume, Wolverine can't ensure accuracy and efficiency without clear visibility into its supply chain, which involves 110 factories in 20 countries, says Dee Slater, CIO and vice president of supply chain and shared services.
To gain that visibility, Wolverine uses a cloud-based global sourcing platform from GT Nexus, originally deployed in 2001 to replace paper processes. The online hub came in especially handy in October 2012 when Wolverine acquired Collective Brands' Performance and Lifestyle Group (PLG) for $1.24 billion.
"We doubled our business with that acquisition, but because they were already on GT Nexus, we just had to move them onto our account and our ERP system," Slater says.
The GT Nexus platform compiles data from Wolverine's ERP system as well as from electronic feeds from its manufacturing, shipping and logistic partners to create visibility throughout the stream.
Slater says Wolverine uses GT Nexus to access real-time information on the current state of its orders and shipments. The company can see where orders stand in the factories, when they leave factories, when they arrive at centers for export, and when they ship. Wolverine also uses the platform to pay the factories.
Because the system is cloud-based, Slater says Wolverine's team can securely access information from anywhere without having to log in to the company's own ERP system.
Gartner analyst William McNeill says companies use cloud-based platforms like GT Nexus to gain speed, consolidate orders and tap into an online ecosystem of buyers and sellers. So when a company like Wolverine buys this service, they get access not just to the technology but also to everyone in the ecosystem. That makes integrating acquisitions such as PLG go more smoothly.
This year, Slater plans to use the platform to consolidate purchase orders as they go to factories for bid, which could lower costs and increase speed to market. She also wants to adjust shipment destinations to more quickly respond to regional demands.
"Time is money and agility is more important than ever in the retail world. Everyone is moving faster," Slater says. "This will allow us not just to keep up but to stay ahead."
Read more about cloud computing in CIO's Cloud Computing Drilldown.