The System That Supported Success
In the 1980s a widely publicized series of gruesome and extreme experiments on macaque monkeys at the Institute of Behavioral Research in Silver Spring, MD, led to changes in the Animal Welfare Act and had a big impact on the world of fashion.
It also led to the founding of Fabulous-Furs by Donna Salyers, a talented seamstress who, after sewing a faux-fur coat for herself, soon realized there was a large market for finely crafted luxury faux fur. Today the company’s extensive range of products for men, women, and children also includes scarves and a wide choice of home accessories, from pillows and throws to rugs and bedding. So it’s no surprise that Fabulous-Furs is regularly featured in a wide range of magazines, blogs and TV shows.
Half of the company’s product line is produced and made in the U.S. at the company’s headquarters in Covington, Kentucky. These products, which also include faux leather, faux wool, and faux suede, are sold via their wholesale division in high-end retail stores such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Lord & Taylor. In addition, this multi-channel organization sells direct-to-consumer via its catalog and very successful website, fabulousfurs.com, which accounts for seventy percent of the company’s sales.
A Multichannel Approach
The company’s growth has seen a steady progression into related enterprises, including Donna Salyer’s Fabulous-Bridal and The Madison Event Center for weddings, receptions and corporate events. The company also purchases and rehabs historic buildings in the Covington central business district and owns a boutique hotel in town.
In 2007 a young woman named Lauri Sullivan began working with them as a consulting accountant. The relationship she forged with the company was so dynamic and successful that she became the Chief Financial Officer for all Salyer’s companies in 2010 and the Chief Operating Officer for Fabulous-Furs in 2013. The company currently has over two hundred full-time employees and about 80 seasonal workers.
One of the biggest changes Sullivan made was to transition Fabulous-Furs off an “orphan” legacy OMS/WMS onto a newer and much more flexible solution, the Comprehensive Commerce Suite (CCS) Order Management System from Ability Commerce headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida. She started the search for a new platform in the summer of 2016, narrowing the field down to Ability and a solution from a much larger company by early fall. Donna and Lauri both preferred a smaller company as a systems partner, and when Ability’s owners came up from Florida to visit with them, that sealed the deal. They signed a contract with Ability in November.
“One of the things that appealed to us the most,” notes Sullivan, “is that Ability demonstrated how the system would quickly pay for itself – and it did. Ability’s managers told us that if we make money, they make money, so there was a feeling of genuine commitment both ways. We felt they have the same business values we do.
“Ability’s integrated ecommerce platform, SmartSite, was also appealing. Plus, the fact that it is mobile-enabled is a nice advantage with mobile purchasing such a growing trend. The same interface is used for Ability’s tablet platform.”
The icing on the cake was Ability’s own call center which replaced both an in-house call center and a third-party service bureau Fabulous-Furs had used to handle after-hours calls. “Ability’s call center agents exceeded our expectations,” notes Sullivan. “They have an outstanding workforce management system and a flair for the product knowledge necessary to sell our full product line.
“In addition, Ability’s reporting tools use a drill-down approach with an appealing user interface that is both easy to use and highly functional.”
Social Media Management
Fabulous-Furs handles social media with its in-house staff, which also functions as its public relations arm, lining up TV appearances and arranging for feature story placement.
“We’re working on expanding our presence on Facebook at the moment with some advertising, as well as on Pinterest, which really holds a lot of potential for us,” notes Sullivan. “We’re already active on these platforms, but we think we can do a lot more outreach on both of them.”
Sullivan adds one final thought about what has enabled the growth of Fabulous-Furs on the Ability solution. “Their system gives us real-time multi-channel inventory visibility. It supports all kinds of marketing campaigns and payment types, and has seamless integration with our shipping providers. We manage our finances on an integrated Sage accounting platform, and have actionable information on all the aspects of our business that are critical to our future growth and standards of excellence.
“It seems like all too often companies waste a lot of time babysitting their systems, tweaking them to achieve their objectives. That was one of the big drawbacks of our legacy solution. We were always bogged down implementing workarounds for things that didn’t work the way we needed them to. We don’t have to do any of that now.
“It’s not that we don’t want new features and functions. But getting these into place happens with the same collaborative spirit that convinced us to partner with Ability in the first place. And we continue to be happy that we did.
“As technology continues to evolve and we continue to grow, we look forward to collaborating with Ability to stay competitive in our industry.”