Oliberté is a Canadian based shoe company in the garment wholesale industry that owns the world’s first fair trade certified shoe factory located in Ethiopia. The company operated this factory for nearly a decade with the view of “treating everyone with respect, every step of the way.” Today, Oliberté has shifted manufacturing to primarily in Canada, building on their vision to support workers’ rights and environmental stewardship worldwide.
Each pair of shoes is handcrafted using the finest materials and created in small batches to ensure an unmatched quality in each pair that is backed by their lifetime warranty. During the Covid Pandemic, Oliberté used their energy and resources to manufacture masks to aid friends, family and the community that needed the help. Aside from mask production, the company sells primarily direct to consumer through their website and large retailers. They are currently selling in Canada, the US and about 50 other countries.
Oliberté found the need to integrate all three areas of the business: The warehouses, the retail side and the eCommerce website. As a small company, Oliberté was using systems that were not compliant with EDI integration in order to work with the big retailers that would help scale their business. Being EDI compliant meant they could easily trade documents with their retail partners with no issues.
Since the company was originally manufacturing in Ethiopia and adding final touches in Canada, the need to understand true costs of the product such as freight, duty and brokerage was evident. At this point they were not able to factor these costs into the inventory value and cost of goods sold. Without tracking landed costs, the company has no way of knowing what to expect for future accounts payable and made it a tedious task when analyzing profitability and fair salaries.
Inventory management was another challenge Oliberté faced. As a company in the apparel industry, it was a tough task to create and manage inventory and seamlessly integrate that data to their eCommerce website. Every single shoe is individually handcrafted so customization would be an advantageous function and a key factor for company growth. Oliberté was also using two different 3PL’s (3rd party warehouses) that presented further complications with inventory management. The company was unable to integrate data from both warehouses, again an important requirement when analyzing profitability and reducing manual processes (such as the need to re-key data).
In order to facilitate growth and tie all components of the company together, Tal, founder and president of Oliberté knew that the benefit of investing in the right software from the start will assist with company operations and facilitate growth. Tal knew that the best solution was to find an all-in-one ERP software to manage the company’s challenges. Blue Link’s ability for EDI integration, inventory management and accounting seemed to be the perfect fit for even a small company such as Oliberté.
Blue Link and Oliberté met with the Blue Link leadership team and liked the idea of working together but agreed that it’s best to do things right instead of fast. The Blue Link team and the Oliberté team worked together to create customizations and functionalities required for Oliberté and took their time ensuring everything would work accurately.
Since budget is always on the back of a business owners mind, Tal found it beneficial to explore options using flat files/text files/CSV to exchange data as an alternative to EDI. This still would require integration functionality through Blue Link but did not present any issues and still allowed Oliberté to work with large retail giants like Nordstrom.
Blue Link’s landed cost tracking system allowed Oliberté to account for all costs associated with getting inventory to their warehouses — the true inventory costs. As a distributor with multiple warehouses, knowing the true costs of the product is beneficial for profitability reporting. Also, Oliberté prides themselves on being a social company who pay their people fairly, providing them jobs that will last forever. The landed cost tracking function in Blue Link allows the company to do just that.
Product Matrix functionality is perfect for a company like Oliberté as it allows their staff to build out their inventory quickly both on a color and base product standpoint. Looking at a lot of SKU’s can get confusing and be time-consuming to analyze. Blue Link’s Product Matrix function streamlines the ordering processes of these products by inputting orders through a grid format – which is the most productive way. Not only does the matrix allow Oliberté’s employees to input products and quantities more efficiently, but it also gives them insight into their inventory management by allowing them to see which products (by color or size) are available and will not show them the quantities already allocated.
Since the company is growing their direct-to-consumer aspect of the business, the real time data available in Blue Link gives Oliberté a better understanding of their inventory, costs, and provides a seamless flow of information from warehouse to warehouse. Now with the ability for data exchange between Oliberté and retailers, the company has successfully created partnerships with large retailers and have been able to grow their business. “The support from a tech and customer standpoint is one of Blue Link’s biggest aspects.” You don’t just get the software; you get ongoing support and reliability.
Blue Link is a unique environment in terms of you have to be ready to embrace it, but if you’re willing to really make that effort from a company standpoint and you really get your staff on board, it’s pretty phenomenal.