Exclusive Q&A: Real-time data supports effective response to COVID-19

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Exclusive Q&A: Real-time data supports effective response to COVID-19

By Dan Berthiaume - 06/26/2020
Dr. Joel Schlessinger
Dr. Joel Schlessinger

An independent omnichannel specialty cosmetics retailer is managing pandemic-related demand surges by centralizing enterprise data access.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Dr. Joel Schlessinger, president of Omaha, Neb.-based LovelySkin.com, about how his company leveraged cloud-based ERP technology to create a single, real-time data repository. Armed with this resource, Lovelyskin.com has been able to keep pace with spikes in online orders and traffic and make effective decisions across the enterprise.

Can you briefly describe LovelySkin’s business model?
LovelySkin.com is an online retailer of cosmeceuticals (cosmetics with pharmaceutical benefits), haircare, beauty tools and makeup with a brick-and-mortar store in Omaha, Neb. 

Our products are generally sold in dermatologists' offices and high-end spas and comprise over 15,000 products from more than 350 manufacturers. Our top brands include SkinCeuticals, Obagi, and SkinMedica, but there are quite a few that are unique in our space. We sent our first order out in 1999 and over the years have built an online customer base of over 1 million customers.

How quickly did you experience a dramatic increase in orders? 
We initially saw an increase in orders beginning mid-March, but this came to a crescendo in early April when Amazon halted shipments from third-party vendors for non-essential items from its warehouse. This left many customers without an option for these items, except from outside vendors such as LovelySkin. 

Shoppers that would have traditionally come through Amazon’s marketplace were now coming directly to our site. We ended up swelling our daily order total to six times our normal volume and had to compensate for challenges in multiple areas within our business, including the supply chain, delivery services, and our staffing.

What technology did you install to meet this sudden surge in demand?
Like every organization, business performance and financials drive many of the decisions we make for our brand. In this environment, it has been crucial to have access to real-time information in order to make the best decisions quickly. At LovelySkin, we leverage NetSuite across our entire organization from financials, order-to-cash, procure-to-pay, CRM, and supply chain management. 

NetSuite ties into many aspects of our operations including custom-built solutions by our in-house team to sales orders, warehouse management, LovelySkin.com + marketplaces, and more. The platform gives us a central place of record for all business data.  

In hindsight, having a cloud-based ERP has been critical during the pandemic. We transitioned to NetSuite from QuickBooks because we were experiencing a huge disconnect in our inventory and financials, and we had ultimately outgrown its performance capabilities. Having one comprehensive platform with NetSuite has given us incredible visibility, control, and agility into our business to make better decisions both now and in the future.  

How has using one unified ERP platform helped you effectively meet sudden surge in ordering? Are there other technologies that were involved?
Our NetSuite ERP platform has allowed us to maximize our potential without implementing any other layers. We were at approximately 100% more volume than normal for the entire month of April, but there were days that we were over six times our normal activity and that was all done without any hiccups. 

I would like to point out individual areas of assistance, but the totality is what really counts, in my opinion. From warehouse management to customer care assistance and inventory analysis, all of it was accomplished flawlessly because we are working through one unified platform.