"Smart IT has been extremely responsive from the beginning, and quickly grasped the complexity of a difficult, fast-changing business model. IT can potentially be a business bottleneck but that never happens with Smart IT – they are always fast to move and implement effective solutions to business requirements.
"Smart IT really have become part of the Zelus team and ‘own’ projects like an employee would. The passion displayed by individual members of staff is truly engrained in the company culture. Smart IT is effectively managing the IT transformation of our business. We can’t fault them."
Zelus Sports is the only UK-based company with the rights to distribute Nike Teamwear – customisable apparel and equipment from the sports and leisurewear giant. The company was formed in 2019 and has grown quickly by serving grassroots teams, schools and universities, as well as professional clubs and federations around the world. It offers an end-to-end service, from design to fulfilment.
As a Nike Inc. exclusive authorised licensee for Team Sports, Zelus is a fast-growing, fast-paced start-up with the power of the Nike brand behind it. That impressive brand recognition has powered fierce growth – but also means that the business quickly found its back-end systems failing to keep up with the size and operations of the company it had become. Different business functions operated in disparate silos.
Furthermore, Zelus’s business model is complex and fast-moving. Nothing is manufactured by Zelus – rather, it procures clothing, outsources embellishment and distributes the clothing through a third-party logistics company. As such, seamless information-sharing with these various third parties is critical.
With highly ambitious growth plans over the next five years, it was time to introduce an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution.
In late 2019, Zelus began researching ERP vendors and selected the Odoo platform to move forwards with because it offered the perfect combination of ‘out of the box’ functionality and easy customisation. Having decided on Odoo as its ERP platform, Barney Keeler, Chief Operations Officer at Zelus shortlisted a number of Odoo partners including Smart IT, the UK’s largest and most accomplished Odoo Gold partner. Mr. Keeler selected Smart IT to move forwards with its project since the consultancy immediately understood Zelus’s complex business model and how its ERP solution needed to be responsive to its business needs.
The initial project involved setting up Odoo ERP out of the box with 15 users. However, very quickly some more complex integrations were required in order to empower Zelus’s complex business model.
Slick Stich, for example, is a third-party provider of warehousing and personalisation on team products, such as team numbers and player initials. It is the leading embellishment and fulfilment company in Europe and the Middle East with wider global expansion planned. Setting up the integration with Slick Stitch involved extensive customisation work from Smart IT to ensure that all variable entries are captured. This was a particularly complex workflow since all items can be highly personalised with names, positions, numbers, crests and logos added.
Additionally, there are a number of Big Commerce websites, run for Universities by Zelus, where non-personalised and personalised Nike Team wear can be ordered. This, too, required Odoo integration so that the order from each Big Commerce site can be received by Odoo and from there the purchase order sent to Slick Stitch.
Meanwhile, to support distribution of Nike Team wear to the Australian Football Association, including clubs such as Sydney Swans and Collingwood FC, a further integration has been completed with DT Oceania Clothing. DT Oceania is one of Australia’s largest third-party logistics companies. There are ongoing projects to Integrate with a warehouse In Australia and connect EDI to large retailer In Australia Rebel Sports.
The work order process is fairly complex so the customisations required to support this were very involved.
Orders are received into Odoo sales team orders or Big Commerce with up to 1000 orders a week. Odoo then sends the order to Slick Stitch. Slick Stitch receives the order and relevant shipping information along with the consignment details and designs. When the order is despatched, that information is passed back into Odoo. Invoicing and payments are all processed through Odoo, and Odoo holds complete purchase information as well as whole customer lifecycle information.
The initial implementation was quickly scaled up as employees embraced the new system and understood its power to streamline operations and dramatically increase efficiency. Currently there are 52 users, mainly in the UK but also including some in Europe and Australia. Zelus anticipates user numbers will increase by 25% in 2021.
Zelus’s Odoo system is hosted by Smart IT, as is the company’s entire IT infrastructure, which is now a cloud-based Office 365 solution.
The implementation of Odoo has had a dramatic impact on Zelus’s speed and efficiency. Automation of warehouse logistics has speeded up processes by more than 80%, with 100% accuracy. Odoo has also eradicated order processing duplication and reduced the administrative burden of fulfilling orders, meaning that Zelus can reassign resource on more strategic or creative tasks.
This project involved a really interesting business model – the combination of a start-up’s agility and novelty with the major clout of a multinational brand like Nike. We knew from the outset that Odoo’s ‘out of the box’ functionality and rich opportunities for customisation would offer an ideal solution.
100% of customer lifecycle information is captured within Odoo, arming Zelus with the rich data and centralised processes it needs to fulfil its ambitious growth plans.
Smart IT has been extremely responsive from the beginning, and quickly grasped the complexity of a difficult, fast-changing business model. IT can potentially be a business bottleneck but that never happens with Smart IT – they are always fast to move and implement effective solutions to business requirements.
Smart IT really have become part of the Zelus team and ‘own’ projects like an employee would. The passion displayed by individual members of staff is truly engrained in the company culture. Smart IT is effectively managing the IT transformation of our business. We can’t fault them.
Automation of warehouse logistics has speeded up the process by more than 80% with 100% accuracy.
Eradicated order processing duplication and reduced administrative burden.
100% customer lifecycle information is captured in Odoo which supports account management leading to better customer satisfaction.
The system has proved highly customisable which has ensured the ERP maps exactly to Zelus’ processes thereby increasing productivity.
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