Dylan's Candy Bar takes a Bite out of Data Inefficiency

The confectioner overhauled its database management system to deliver better customer experiences.

From children to adults, Dylan's Candy Bar aims to satisfy every sweet tooth with more than 7,000 types of treats. Until recently, a peek into the company's inventory management system that supplies the many different sugar-coated confections would have revealed an aged legacy system struggling to keep up with Dylan's recent growth.

Dylan Lauren, daughter of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, founded Dylan's Candy Bar in 2001 and has since opened stores in New York City,Los Angeles, Chicago,andMiami Beach, among other locations. But as the business prospered and its inventory expanded to include accessories and apparel, disparate legacy applications were hampering the company's growth.

The company handled inventory management across a number of different platforms along with separate sales platforms for each of its channels including its retail stores, e-commerce, and wholesale division. Application silos limited visibility into the business, and data management was a cumbersome process, recalls Erica Stevens, vice president of supply chain and IT at Dylan's Candy Bar.

The data silos were making it increasingly difficult for the company to get a comprehensive view of its customers across channels in addition to tracking inventory. Unless changes were made, these issues were only going to get worse as the company expanded.

"We wanted to have a better relationship with our customers, but to do that we needed a more unified view of our customers," Stevens says. The company selected NetSuite in 2014 to help it streamline its business operations, starting with its accounting and inventory management functions. Within a few months, the confectioner also added its warehousing and CRM business processes to NetSuite's platform.

Dylan's Candy Bar now operates a central database where it stores all of its customer information from across multiple channels, and uses the data to deploy personalized marketing campaigns. For example, the company delivers personalized emails about local store events and product updates based on a customer's zip code and purchase history. The platform also makes it easy for associates to sign consumers up for the company's loyalty program, Sweet Rewards, from the retailer's point-of-sale systems.

Moving its inventory management to a single system of record has also enabled Dylan's Candy Bar to cut inventory discrepancies by 65 percent through more efficient purchasing, warehousing, and sales decisions. As a result of adding more efficiency to its business operations, the company has been able to more than double its retail locations from four flagship stores and three licensed shops in 2014 to 16 flagship and licensed locations in January 2016.

And the company continues to look for opportunities to enhance the customer experience. While Stevens declined to elaborate on the details, she says the company is working on adding more mobile-focused features to its site as well as expanding its party and events service and its licensing agreements.

For other business leaders who are also exploring opportunities to enhance their companies' customer experiences, Stevens advises them to first focus on consolidating their customer data. "A lot of companies go with the best-in-class solutions for separate things and there's always something that gets lost in translation when you're integrating lots of systems," Stevens notes. "And so the most important piece of advice that I can give is to focus on creating one system of record."