Stepping Up Global Expansion

More than 125 years ago, Wolverine introduced the original boots that helped build the first railroads, erect skyscrapers and expand highways across the United States. More than a century later, the Rockford, Michigan-based retailer has been able to survive, thrive and today offers an extensive range of products that span beyond its trademark boots to include shoes, apparel and gear.

The Wolverine brand is in constant transition and has grown substantially with product innovation, brand development, increased social responsibility and expansion into Canada and Europe. The company's diversified portfolio of brands includes Bates, CAT (Caterpillar), Harley-Davidson, Hush Puppies, HyTest, Merrell, Patagonia Footwear, Sebago and Wolverine. Today, Wolverine owns 94 retail stores and its brands are sold in more than 4,900 stores across 180 countries.

In the past, the popular boots retailer was challenged by the limitations of its legacy systems which were expensive, complex, outdated and provided limited capabilities to support its plans for global expansion. The retailer also experienced time-to-market delays for some of its new products and brands. It was challenged by labor-intensive and inconsistent work practices and lacked fact-based reporting to support decision making.

To help solve these business challenges, Wolverine added an SAP application for apparel and footwear to align it processes. "With SAP, we have a flexible foundation for almost limitless growth and expansion, and a true partner willing to invest in our business while helping us achieve best-in-class operational and financial performance," says Dee Slater, CIO, Wolverine World Wide.

Since go-live in October 2008, the SAP application has helped Wolverine transform manual work practices into enterprise-wide processes. Using the SAP software, Wolverine has centralized its core functions such as customer service, procurement, distribution, logistics and accounting, as well as shared service operations.

"When selecting a technology partner, we always bring SAP to the table," says Slater. "We looked at quality, cost and the system's ability to streamline processes. This was a very vanilla implementation that was on-time and under budget. The biggest driver behind the success of this project was that the business drove the process every step of the way. Our employees gained a full understanding of the software and this was the key to our success."

For over a decade, Wolverine has partnered with SAP and has leveraged its software to expand globally, rapidly integrate new brands and launch new lines of business. Along with its SAP ERP application, SAP software provides Wolverine with the scalability it needs to extend its brand portfolio, grow into new markets and build up its e-commerce presence, according to Slater.

Wolverine has achieved significant improvements in operating efficiency since implementing SAP software in 1999, including a 68 percent improvement in electronic order rates, a 26 percent increase in inventory turns, a 75 percent reduction in time to close books and a 34 percent reduction in day sales outstanding.

Working in partnership with SAP, Wolverine has built a multi-year strategic IT plan designed to improve product lifecycle management, demand planning and financial supply chain management. As Wolverine continues to embark on its multi-year IT strategy, the retailer also has plans to ramp up its store base and add new storefronts.

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