The Right ERP Can Be Exciting! Just Ask Superior Fireworks
When you talk about business software–like ERP, “exciting” is not the first adjective that comes to mind. But when it comes to fireworks, things get interesting. Here’s a story about how a major fireworks company was able to deliver more excitement with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and LS Retail’s unified commerce software.
Who doesn’t get energized when they see that first fireworks tent pop up in the days and weeks leading up to July 4th and the new year? If the sheer volume and variety of brightly colored packaging doesn’t entice you, then names like “Blue Thunder” and “Neon Cosmic Rain” are sure to. From sweet sparklers to heart-stopping artillery shells, repeaters, and rockets, fireworks are a perennial favorite.
So, where do all those brightly colored boxes of excitement come from? Chances are they’re brought to you by Superior Fireworks, an importer, wholesale distributor, and retailer of consumer fireworks, and the name behind Brothers, Cutting Edge, World Class, Winda, The Great American Fireworks Company, SFX Fireworks, and FX Show Line.
Superior provides fireworks across the country, from back yard celebrations to big events events put on by professionals. The company has grown rapidly since the beginning in 2001, earning a reputation for unique, high quality products, excellent service, and competitive prices. Not only are more and more resellers with their own stores and fireworks tents and stands across the country getting their supplies from Superior, but Superior has also expanded the retail store at their headquarters outside Jacksonville, Florida to 5,000 square feet. They also moved to a 25,000 square foot distribution center and have a secondary warehouse overseas.
Growth and Expansion Bring Challenges
Along with this rapid growth and expansion came some issues around technology. Superior had been using QuickBooks for financial processes, a separate warehouse management system, and an order management system, that pulled orders from the company’s multiple websites for processing and shipping. The problems included:
- The warehouse management system couldn’t accommodate a significantly larger warehouse and the second, overseas warehouse.
- The POS system could not support a large, stand-alone retail store.
- Container imports had increased and were requiring more robust supply chain functionality.
- QuickBooks could no longer handle financial requirements.
- The warehouse management system couldn’t accommodate multiple locations, requiring inventory to be manually added to QuickBooks.
- Nothing was unified.
In short, the technology could not support the company’s growth and expansion. A new, unified commerce solution was required to handle financials, retail, wholesale, and eCommerce. It needed to be sophisticated enough to accommodate different types of customers, pricing, and business rules, and it needed to simplify and streamline specific workflows and processes to help the company stay nimble, efficient, and customer friendly. Finally, it needed to provide visibility across the entire organization and be scalable, ready for continued growth and expansion for years to come.
A Unified Commerce Solution for Everything, from Financials to Point of Sale
After evaluating several ERP solutions, including NetSuite, Dynamics GP, and Microsoft Dynamics 365, Superior went with Dynamics for its cohesiveness and the backing of a solid company like Microsoft. They chose ArcherPoint as their implementation partner due to ArcherPoint’s experience and expertise in Microsoft Dynamics, manufacturing, distribution, and retail. In addition to Dynamics, the holistic solution included Channel Sales Manager (CSM) for eCommerce integration and LS Retail’s unified commerce solution.
CSM helped integrate four web stores—Superior Fireworks Retail, which offers online ordering for pickup at the retail store, Superior Fireworks Wholesale, Superior Celebrations, and Celebrations Wholesale. In addition, the company has launched three brand product information websites, each dedicated to a specific brand, to be used as a resource by resellers or consumers looking for information. Each site uses CSM to manage product listing information.
The LS Retail component includes point of sale, a complex pricing structure, membership management, discount offers and standards (e.g., military discounts), and mix-and-match promotions, all of which are very important to Superior. The unified commerce capabilities would ensure an exceptional customer experience, including:
- POS stations set up to handle extremely heavy transaction volumes during peak times.
- Customers must show ID to purchase fireworks, so the POS stations provide the ability to look up memberships or quickly add new members by scanning driver’s licenses
- Through a single pricing and offer mechanism, all discounts available at the point of sale are also available for wholesale orders.
The Results: 100% Growth with Continued Customer Satisfaction
After the new retail store opened and additional expansion completed, Superior grew 100 percent over a two-year period and has grown 24 percent each year since. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the new solution. The new unified commerce solution’s flexibility also handles the hyper-seasonality of the fireworks business. During the July 4th season, the company is running more than a thousand transactions a day through six POS stations in the store—and that’s not counting increases in online and wholesale transactions.
Then there is the supply chain. As we all know, this has been a serious issue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but even before that, Superior is in a business that does not tolerate disruptions in the the supply chain–or inventory, the warehouse, or the point of sale, in person or online, for that matter—during those peak times. For this reason, one of Superior’s key metrics is transaction time: transition completion in under two minutes is the goal. While this might seem very reasonable, the fact is that fireworks sales transactions take longer because customers must review and sign a terms of sale agreement. By integrating that into the checkout process to show up on the credit card pin pad, that two-minute goal can be met easily. Lines that wrap around the store can get through in under 10 minutes, which is nearly 200 transactions per hour.
The new unified commerce solution has enabled Superior to accomplish all this without substantially increasing full-time, back-office and distribution staff, which keeps costs down for customers, prompting the company to confidently say that it has been well worth the cost.
And it isn’t stopping there. Superior is building out additional CSM integration, expanding warehouse operations, adjusting order workflows to accommodate multiple locations, and finding new ways to automate and streamline processes, like managing pre-orders from wholesale customers. With ArcherPoint, Microsoft, and LS Retail, Superior Fireworks is poised to continue growing, expanding, and exciting customers for years to come.
Can Your Company Benefit from a Unified Commerce Solution?
Learn more about using technology to create a unified commerce experience and contact ArcherPoint to get started.