Clothing / Apparel Import & Distribution – Knit-Set Canada Ltd.


Based in Montréal, Knit-Set Canada Ltd. is an importer of ladies’ sweaters. Knit-Set works with a number of designers to create sweaters inspired by looks seen on international fashion runways. The sweaters are manufactured in Korea and then shipped to Montréal for distribution to a variety of retail locations across Canada. Knit-Set imports a large number of sweaters each year, in a variety of colors and designs.

Sweater styles change year to year, so Knit-Set needed an integrated IT system to provide management with real-time, accurate information about product SKU’s. As well, the company wanted to improve employee productivity within a secure environment, to prepare for anticipated growth. With the help of Microsoft® Certified Partner Blue Link Associates Limited, Knit-Set implemented a solution based on Microsoft Windows® Small Business Server 2003.

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Knit-Set was looking for an integrated IT system that would help improve employee productivity, provide management with timely and accurate information, and combine faxing and e-mail functions, all within a secure environment.

The company was running a number of disconnected software programs and paper-based processes to manage inventory, sales orders, purchasing, tracking of shipments, accounting information and financial statements. The outdated DOS-based software in use for order entry and accounting applications was minimally supported and could no longer be upgraded. The system in place was not accessible by reporting and analysis tools. Inventory management and shipment tracking were performed using manually updated Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets. Purchase orders were manually produced using Microsoft Word.

“We buy our goods in U.S. dollars, therefore, letters of credit must be checked and double-checked to ensure accuracy,” says Manfred Sandler, V.P. Finance, Knit-Set Canada Ltd. “We needed to track and manage data pertaining to letters of credit and provide real-time reports, to allow our employees to focus on key tasks that impact the business, instead of tedious manual exercises.”

“Most of our key business information – inventory quantities, financial information, and cash flow data – was updated over several days or several weeks, so our sales team did not have access to timely and accurate information to help complete a sale,” says Sandler. “In addition, generation of purchase orders and tracking of shipments and inventory could take up to 40 percent of the operations manager’s time.”

“Our sales staff can now sell immediately on the phone instead of having to ask someone else about product availability before accepting an order.”

– Manfred Sandler, V.P. Finance


With the help of Blue Link Associates Limited, a Microsoft® Certified Partner, Knit-Set implemented a solution based on Microsoft Windows® Small Business Server 2003.

“The product offers incredible value for small businesses because they benefit from the kind of top-of-the-line networking and e-mail services used by big firms to boost productivity and improve customer service at an affordable price,” says, Mark Canes, president, Blue Link Associates Limited.

Microsoft SQL Server 2000, together with the stored procedures and views created by Blue Link, helped the company improve processes and retrieve large amounts of business data quickly. The Blue Link consultants educated users on how to easily link Excel spreadsheets to the SQL database for live-linked analysis using tools such as Pivot Tables. Blue Link’s apparel software functionality helped Knit-Set replace its old system with a single server running Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition.

“Knit-Set was completely bogged down by manual processes,” says Canes. “The company needed a solution that not only tracked the flow of inventory but its entire business process, in a timely and accurate manner.”

Windows Small Business Server 2003, includes tools that will provide Knit-Set with a solution that helps improve security, both externally and internally. For example, Internet Security and Acceleration ISA Server 2004 is an integrated firewall that helps protect the company’s network from outside attacks. The line of business application that accomplishes this is SQL Server 2000 secured by the security module which was implemented at Knit-Set, in conjunction with Active Directory to help prevent unauthorized external access to key business data and restrict employee access to only the appropriate systems and data.

Remote Connectivity
Knit-Set added an additional server to enable Terminal Server providing Knit-Set with access remotely and the Blue Link application was implemented to allow remote access from any Internet connection. The remote capabilities reduced the need for frequent visits to Montréal by distant management and allowed salespeople to remain out of office on road trips. Since most employees are at customer locations or traveling to manufacturers the remote functionality provides each employee with the flexibility and accessibility required for the job.

Apparel Software


Enhanced Productivity
An integrated IT solution has helped Knit-Set improve productivity across the organization. Access to comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date information is enabling employees to focus on key tasks instead of tedious manual work. Duplicated data-entry has been eliminated, saving staff 10-15 days per month in time. Better visibility into product status is also helping to improve customer service.

“Our sales staff can now sell immediately on the phone instead of having to ask someone else about product availability before accepting an order,” says Sandler.

Lower Cost of Operation
Windows Small Business Server 2003 is also helping Knit-Set improve its bottom line by providing management with access to timely and accurate information needed to make sound business decisions. The result is better visibility into inventory status, which helps ensure that sales obligations are fulfilled, while also maximizing inventory turnover and reducing the costs associated with warehousing excess product.

“Ensuring we don’t have overstock is important to our business because leftovers mean reduced revenue – typically we have surplus inventory at the end of the season,” says Sandler. “Having access to inventory information helps us identify and sell any surplus, and enables us to plan for the following season because we can clearly see what colors and styles sold well.”

Improved Performance and Reliability
Windows Small Business Server 2003 provides a robust solution that will be able to grow with the company. The solution helped to create a secure network, kept it up-and-running, and automatically protected business information.

“We are confident that we are working in a business environment that Knit-Set can depend on,” says Canes. “Microsoft SQL Server 2000 provides a robust, reliable and scalable database. It helps protect business information and prevents lost productivity with a secure infrastructure that includes built-in firewall protection and secure remote access.”

With the help of the solution implemented by Blue Link Associates Limited, Knit-Set Canada Ltd. has accrued the following tangible benefits:

  • Saved 10-15 working days a year
  • Improved inventory management
  • Reduced travel costs
  • Improved security
  • Eliminate manual processes