Sales Order Management Software: How One Company Uses It To Scale Their Business

Sarah Leung
January 15, 2015

Kitsch, a jewelry and hair accessory company, has been taking the world by storm since its founding in 2011. From humble beginnings in co-founder Cassandra Thurswell’s apartment, the business now boasts 150 sales reps, 12 office employees, 6 overseas factories, and products in 5,000 stores in 27 countries. While Kitsch does some retail business, selling directly to consumers on their website, the majority of their business is wholesale. They have now sold their products to retailers like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, and Ann Taylor Loft, as well as pharmacies, fitness studios, and other independent retailers around the world. They have sales reps in major territories across the United States, and also report strong sales in overseas markets like Japan, Norway, and Sweden. It’s understandable, then, why scalability was the number one concern in Kitsch’s search for a sales order management software platform. We recently sat down with Jeremy Thurswell, one of Kitsch’s co-founders, and talked order writing, technology, and Kitsch’s phenomenal growth over the past three years. He shared his insights on how order management technology became a necessary component of Kitsch’s growth strategy, and how it has impacted their bottom line.

Using Sales Order Management Software to Scale Business

Growing Pains

Like many successful entrepreneurial ventures, Kitsch began in a garage, but it didn’t stay there for long. An “always say yes” strategy on the part of the Thurswells brought new opportunities and significant customers to the table. Though Kitsch began as a private label company, it quickly became a brand in its own right. As the brand expanded into stores around the country--and the world--the problems presented by handwritten orders quickly became a major pain point for the business. Kitsch has an enormous force of independent sales reps, and many of them were still using handwritten purchase orders. The company had to deal with the headaches of illegibility, pricing mistakes, and even mistakes with shipping addresses. “We were sending the wrong products to the wrong addresses,” says Thurswell. “At that point, we had to spend time emailing reps, either letting them know that a PO had been filled out incorrectly, or trying to confirm what they’d written.” As the business grew, these kinds of problems became more than a minor annoyance. They were a significant drain on resources. Kitsch participates in 12-16 trade shows each year in addition to store visits, and now manages hundreds of SKUs (a far cry from the twelve SKUs they started with). They needed to find a better system.

The Order Management Software Solution

After Kitsch got started with sales order management software, they quickly saw a positive impact on their business. According to Thurswell, “The number one benefit is the elimination of data entry. You don’t realize this is a huge problem until you’re doing a high volume of business.” Indeed, Kitsch has been able to reduce the equivalent of 2-3 hours of data entry work each day among their reps to mere minutes. The problems of illegibility are no longer an issue with reps using the tool, and their orders are shipped error-free as a result. Sales order management software has also proven to be incredibly useful during trade show season. Kitsch often has multiple shows going on in different territories simultaneously. In the past, their office would be inundated with 100-200 paper orders that they then had to enter in their system before they could even think about shipping those orders out. With hundreds of SKUs, checking pricing and order accuracy was a nightmare. According to Thurswell, it could take a week or more to sort through the mountains of paper. Today, says Thurswell, “we can send orders to pack within 15 minutes of when they were written.” There’s no need to pay staff solely to do data entry, and they’re able to run more shows simultaneously.

The Importance of Scalability

Whether you’re a business already growing as fast as Kitsch or have longer-term goals for growth, it’s not only important to think about the reliability of an order management tool, it’s also extremely important to consider whether it can scale with your business. When attempting to determine reliability, many prospective users evaluate sales order management software with a simple check to make sure the product runs without bugs and crashes throughout a short trial period. However, this cursory vetting process doesn’t take into account what happens once more data is added to the equation. Adding tens of thousands more products and customers to the database--not to mention the addition of more reps all using the product at the same time--can mean slow operation or crashes on an app that wasn’t built to scale. For Kitsch, and for any business with eyes on that kind of success, the scalability of your order management platform should be of paramount importance.   No matter when you decide to get started with sales order management software--whether your wholesale brand is in its early stages or is already well established--it’s critical to think about your future growth. In fact, this should be at the forefront of your mind as you consider implementing any kind of new system. You don’t want to make a significant investment in a tool only to find that it can’t handle the volume of your business down the road. Getting it right the first time has never been more important.