Inventory Management Partnership Spotlight: Triple S Sporting Supplies, SAP Business One and Third Wave

Inventory management is tricky business, especially for growing businesses. Frequently, the processes that worked in the past don’t scale and can even stifle growth. And outdated systems keep businesses from keeping pace with the big mega-retailers.

In today’s inventory management partnership spotlight, you’ll learn how one growing business, Triple S Sporting Supplies, overcame their inventory management challenges thanks to SAP Business One, Valogix, and Third Wave Business Systems.

About Triple S

Triple S Sporting Supplies is a fishing and outdoor supply wholesaler serving tackle dealers and other businesses in the Great Lakes region and worldwide since 1969. A family-run business with around 30 employees, Triple S has grown considerably over the years— especially since the rise of B2B eCommerce.

As the company grew, both its customer base and its inventory became larger and more complex. Today, the company works with over 300 vendors and has over 18,000 stock items that rotate with the four seasons. It sells primarily to retailers and other wholesale customers and maintains a small amount of direct-to-consumer business.

The Inventory Management Challenges Triple S Faced

About a decade ago, the leadership at Triple S saw the mounting complexities of growth. They knew they needed to implement better tools to grow well.

The company’s inventory and operational scale had clearly outgrown existing systems and processes, and it simply wasn’t possible to maintain such a large inventory using a dated Unix green screen system.

It would take a small army of inventory specialists to stay on top of an inventory of over 18,000 items that way, and Triple S didn’t have a small army. They had two people— and one of those two could give only half time to allocating inventory.

Add to that the intense seasonality of the outdoors industry: Triple S is a four-season company, but stock levels and sales rates vary, often significantly. (For example, people only buy ice-fishing supplies for a small slice of the year.)

They partnered with Third Wave Business Systems to find an ideal mix of solutions based on SAP Business One and Valogix Planner, an advanced inventory planning integration for Business One.

Visibility: The Primary Driver to SAP Business One

Asked what specifically spurred the move to SAP Business one (not just for allocating inventory but for the company’s broader ERP needs), Cliff Harris, Vice President of Triple S, put it this way:

“It’s about having visibility into your business. Before SAP Business One, we never knew where we were financially until year end when we did the books and a physical inventory.”

Cliff went on to tell us that moving warehouse and inventory management to SAP Business One vastly increased their accuracy—and their inventory confidence:

“So that first step of SAP Business One and the WMS [warehouse management system], within a year our inventory was 99% correct. Now we can tell a customer with confidence whether we have something without manually checking in the warehouse each time.”

Unexpected Benefit: Speed to Efficiency

One unexpected benefit Cliff and the Triple S team discovered after switching to SAP Business One was how quickly new hires could get up to speed and become efficient, productive team members.

In a business with such seasonality, hiring temporary workers for the busy season makes sense. But if a business has old, disconnected systems that are difficult to learn, speed to efficiency plummets.

Cliff’s perspective:

“[Before moving inventory to SAP Business One] we couldn’t bring on a team member and have them be efficient rapidly. Now we can bring someone in, teach them to use a scanner, and within one week they’re efficient in our warehouse.”

Before the efficiency and visibility of SAP Business One, products often weren’t in prescribed locations, so new hires practically had to memorize the warehouse before becoming efficient.

Inventory Management Optimizations Made Possible by SAP Business One and Valogix

Third Wave spent time learning the specific issues that Triple S needed to solve, then designed and implemented an SAP Business One environment that delivered. Between that initial rollout and the eventual addition of the Valogix integration, Triple S gained all these capabilities and benefits:

It’s safe to say that unlocking all these SAP Business One capabilities has transformed the way Triple S approaches inventory management and enabled the business to better serve a growing customer base.

Other Benefits

Triple S enjoys numerous other benefits since switching to SAP Business One, including these:

These, along with the core functions of inventory, warehousing, procurement, and more, transformed the business’s capabilities and prepared them to overcome unforeseen obstacles.

How Third Wave and SAP Business One Prepared Triple S for COVID Disruption

It’s impossible to tell an inventory management story today without mentioning the massive disruption to buying, supply chains, and inventory brought on by the pandemic. Triple S wasn’t immune to these challenges, but it was much better prepared to face them thanks to their previous investment in inventory optimization via SAP Business One.

From 2020 through part of 2022, the supply chain was a mess. Ports backed up with containers, factories undergoing intermittent shutdowns, and everything in between led to all sorts of weird dynamics with buying and thus with inventory management.

Add to that the market Triple S serves: fishing and outdoor supplies. People were stuck isolating at home, and many had money to spend. Interest in outdoor goods and individualized activities (like fishing) soared, and Triple S saw unprecedented sales.

Thanks to Business One, they were prepared—and they could adjust more quickly than before.

Then, as purchasing habits returned to more typical levels, many retailers got caught with far too much stock and no clear idea what or how much to order. Triple S was unfazed: thanks to their investments in inventory management before the pandemic, they had actionable data from 2018 and 2019 that gave them a clear sense of pre-pandemic inventory levels.

Projecting forward into a post-COVID landscape was infinitely easier as a result—especially once the company implemented Valogix alongside SAP Business One.

Valogix: An Integrated Solution for Even More Powerful Inventory Management

As powerful as SAP Business One is for inventory management and allocation, the ERP suite is designed to cover a wide range of horizontal functions for businesses of all shapes and sizes. As a result, its stock inventory capabilities were a bit too shallow for the inventory complexities at Triple S.

So in the wake of the pandemic, Third Wave worked with Triple S to add another tool to the mix: Valogix Planner.

With Valogix and SAP Business One working together, Triple S further refined its inventory strategy, adding safety stock, automating purchasing, improving fill rates, and reaching a more ideal inventory level.

Gleaning useful information from data also improved with Valogix. Where people may have spent three hours in the past creating a complex purchase order and calculating the right amounts, now they spend just 20 minutes.

The Beauty of Business One

This combination of SAP Business One and Valogix is a beautiful thing, and it exists only because of SAP Business One’s unique architecture (and a dedicated outside partner tying the pieces together).

SAP Business One is a powerful platform that gives growing businesses a solid foundation of tools built as a single unified core, allowing businesses to consolidate financials, operations, and business processes into a single source of truth. It’s the best ERP for growing businesses, particularly those in retail, wholesale, and distribution.

But as powerful as SAP Business One is, it isn’t intended to be a closed, all-sufficient ecosystem. That’s why it’s built on an open API model: SAP Business One enjoys a network of partners producing additional tools and integrations that extend and add functionality to the core.

Valogix is one of these. And at Third Wave, we’ve built several of our own, with our class-leading integration and web apps suite: Bizweaver and Versago.

The Value of Working with a Proven Outside Partner

SAP Business One can be overwhelming for many growing businesses to implement on their own, and navigating the vast number of third party integrations presents a similar challenge. That’s where the value of working with a truly independent partner comes in.

Third Wave Business Solutions helps businesses implement, integrate, and succeed with SAP Business One. But we aren’t locked into a single setup, nor do we attempt to squeeze clients into an identical mold.

We take a business-first approach: we take the time to truly understand your business and what it needs, and then we help you pick the very best add-on solutions for SAP Business One.

With Triple S, that meant Valogix (along with several of our own add-ons and modules).

But we know your business needs are unique.

We’ll take the time to find the optimal setup for your business. We can leverage our special expertise in integrating SAP Business One with a wide range of tools because we’ve built some of those tools ourselves—including tools like Bizweaver that extend Business One’s integration possibilities even further, connecting the ERP to any eCommerce platform, along with CRM, EDI, 3PL, and other tools.

Get the Most Out of SAP Business One

SAP Business One is an incredibly powerful ERP solution perfect for growing businesses. But to gain the most you can from SAP Business One, you need a dedicated, proven partner to advise, configure, and implement Business One—along with any third-party tools or integrations you need now or may need down the road.

Third Wave has the experience, the track record, and the approach you’re looking for. Ready to talk? Reach out to our team today through the form below.

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