In the latest WWD-produced webinar, Courtney Velasco, industry marketing lead at Oracle NetSuite, and Nathan Newman, cofounder and chief operating officer at Winky Lux, joined WWD executive editor Arthur Zaczkiewicz in discussing new challenges on the global supply chain, building an infrastructure to support sales, and launching a product line during the holidays.
Since its conception, Winky Lux has stood out in the market with its joyful messaging, engaging a multigenerational demographic with its luxury products at attainable price points sold at Nordstrom, Macy’s, Target, and throughout retailers both in the U.S. and internationally.
One of the brand’s most popular products, the Flower Balm, the only lip balm to feature a real chrysanthemum inside, is not only eye-catching but delivers a promise of cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and phthalate-free ingredients. It is these “joyful and happy” products, Newman said, that have built the brand up to what it is today and have served as a bright point for consumers during a hard year.
According to data from Oracle NetSuite, 73 percent of companies experienced supply-side disruption due to the pandemic. For Winky Lux, this meant shifting focus across multiple departments and pivoting to new ways of planning for the future. Change, said Newman, was led by asking “what will be new when the pandemic is over, where are we going to be as a company, [and] how are we going to push the same way we’ve been pushing before the pandemic to get the growth that we hope to [see].”
One of the most pivotal changes the company made during the pandemic was its decision to upgrade and deploy its business systems. The decision came after launching in Target stores in March, which came with new requirements on importing and exporting.
“We decided on NetSuite for a few different reasons,” said Newman. “I needed to be able to work with the data. We launched in July, but [started] implementation from about March. It was quite the experience of trying to get that up and running as so many things in the business were also changing at that time.”
Through NetSuite, Winky Lux is able to run all programs on a single platform, also allowing systems to talk to one another. “We issue purchase orders and communicate with all of our factories in one place,” said Newman. “And I think that’s really what the change was, everything lives in one place you don’t have to go through so many different programs. We use [multiple] communication programs, whether it’s Dropbox or Skype, WeChat, and Slack, so there’s a lot that can get lost. I think that’s the goal, for somebody to make sure that they’re organized and that everything stays in one place.”
And with so many disruptions in the supply chain, due to the pandemic, knowing the status of orders across the supply chain has provided visibility and ultimately the power to get ahead of something going wrong before it becomes a problem.
With its newly deployed systems, Winky Lux was able to feel comfortable entering the holiday shopping season with a plan to launch 40 new stockkeeping units between now and February. Notably, the holiday season is considered the most important revenue-generating time of the year and responsible for up to 30 percent of annual sales for many businesses.
To launch 40 new sku’s at the busiest time of the year, Newman said organization, communication, and intelligent systems are going to be key.
“You have to coordinate with all departments, so we have our systems and that’s why it’s great but [our employees also] need to be on top of it all,” said Newman. “We’ve been working from home since March so not only do we have to stay organized within our own jobs, but we have to be able to coordinate. I think that’s the biggest challenge, just being able to talk amongst different departments in groups and be able to stay on track. If you don’t have all of those pieces together working at the same time you’re going to fall behind on one and that’s really where you run into problems. [And] now with our systems, we can really just point at the screen [for references]. I think that’s what changes the game and allows everybody to do it right.”
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