Light Through the Cloud
Regina Andrew did more than survive the pandemic—it thrived. "If you didn't do well in the home furnishing industry during the pandemic, then you were doing something wrong," says Jim Bonomo, the company's chief operating officer.
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Home décor and lighting brand Regina Andrew operates in both the B2B marketplace and as a direct-to-consumer e-tailer of distinctive furnishings designed to electrify a room literally and figuratively.
San Mateo, California-based NetSuite is a cloud computing company that provides software and services to manage business finances, operations, and customer relations. Founded in 1998, it was acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2016, prompting its name change to Oracle NetSuite.
Bonomo assumed his current role in 2015 after seven years of performing part-time accounting duties. "When I came on board full-time, I sought to hone operations and look at the efficiencies Regina Andrew can deliver," he says.
The company sprang from the imagination of real-life couple Carla Regina and James Andrew, who founded their Detroit-based business in 1998. Their initial focus centered on case goods—furniture such as chests, dressers, bookshelves, and cabinets designed for storage.
REGINA ANDREW SEEs THE Light
It was a foray into decorative lighting in the early 2000s that put them on the map. Today, Regina Andrew markets itself as a lifestyle brand specializing in lighting, furniture, and décor.
In simple terms, Regina Andrew creates beautiful products. It designs and fabricates prototypes stateside, manufactures with its partners overseas, and ships finished product to its Michigan headquarters where it is warehoused. Ultimately, products are picked and packed and delivered to customers.
First stop on the campaign to hone Regina Andrew's supply chain operations was to overhaul its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. It sought to gain an omnichannel commerce platform that would provide full visibility into its inventory and entire supply chain.
The company—which employs 44 full-time individuals and another 35 outside sale reps, and uses sourcing agencies in China, India and Vietnam—also wanted to ensure all its data was housed in one place so that each of its teams could easily access it. After considering several cloud computing companies, Regina Andrew landed on Oracle NetSuite in 2015 and has been a customer ever since.
"You've got to analyze the functionality and ask a lot of questions about any technology you invest in," advises Bonomo. "And then you have to tailor the solution to fit your business needs."
Leveraging Oracle Technology
One benefit to Regina Andrew's particular choice of cloud business management software is the ability to take advantage of the robust Oracle infrastructure while running the NetSuite application. It is possible to leverage Oracle technology such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.
"A nice benefit of Oracle NetSuite is its vast community," Bonomo notes. "You can reach out to the community to figure out how things are done and learn different ways to achieve your goals. Asking lots of questions is key."
As for tailoring a solution to meet Regina Andrew's challenges, Bonomo readily admits the process is ongoing. "It's never finished because there's always another efficiency to achieve," he says. "That's one way we manage to elevate our employees and our workforce. Instead of just throwing people at a challenge, we prefer to throw technology and to look at systems and processes."
"It's common for our product-based customers to outgrow their ERP and CRM systems," says Gavin Davidson, industry product manager at Oracle NetSuite. He points out that NetSuite was basically founded on three pillars—financials, commerce, and CRM.
"We find the use of CRM and commerce tools is higher for the vast majority of our product industries—manufacturers, distributors and retailers—than some other verticals," he says. "So, NetSuite fit in nicely with Regina Andrew's business model."
For any business coming from an environment where every division operates in a silo—meaning they can't share information because of system limitations—Oracle NetSuite cloud business management software frequently is a game changer.
"Users no longer have to fight fires dealing with siloed systems," says Chris Benner, a master industry principal at Oracle NetSuite. "They appreciate being able to look at all their data—financials, inventory, sales—in one place.
"The system also offers the ability to do what we call 'safe searches' where users can go in, make a query, and find any type of customer, transaction, or data," Benner adds. "Having it all at their fingertips is very appealing."
When COVID hit, there was the potential for the lights to go out, or at the very least dim, at Regina Andrew. As it turned out, they merely flickered.
"It's fortunate that we had NetSuite," recalls Bonomo. "When we sent our people home, we gave them a laptop or a computer to take along and set up their network. Meanwhile, our IT team made sure everything was secure so our employees could work from home and continue to handle orders and processes."
The only difficulty COVID posed was centered around the company's warehouse operations. "We lost a lot of our business partners, and we were shut down for about one month," says Bonomo. "Later we were able to work with a small group of people through shifts, incorporating COVID protocols to assemble teams."
FROM ADVERSITY TO OPPORTUNITY
Preferring to look on the bright side, Regina Andrew viewed the temporary warehouse situation as an opportunity.
"When we sent our customer and quality care people home to work remotely, it forced our warehouse team to dig in and ask a lot of NetSuite questions," Bonomo explains.
As they went about the business of processing orders, picking, packing, shipping, and receiving containers, there was no one else around if they ran into a problem. "Team members couldn't wander into someone's office and say, 'Hey, this order is stuck, go fix it.' They had to do it themselves.
"Remote work made them a lot more efficient," he adds. "Their ownership of the ability to tackle the problem was beneficial. It made us a much stronger company."
The warehouse team's experience reflects Oracle NetSuite culture. "One of our goals is that NetSuite not just be easy to use but also consistent to use," says Davidson. "We tell users if you learn to do one type of transaction—for instance, a quote or a sales order—then you can enter anything. Purchase orders, invoices, and work orders are all based on the same template. There is a lot of similarity across the system."
The consistency of the experience encourages users to stretch and try other things they may not have tried before.
Regina Andrew reported 108.8% year-over-year growth in May 2021. It considers itself lucky to be in the home goods industry since so many people have been decorating their homes over the past 18 months.
"Customers analyzed their virtual meeting backgrounds then decided to get rid of a table or floor lamp and replace it with something new," says Bonomo.
Shopping Forever Changed
For a business such as Regina Andrew, the pandemic has proved interesting.
"During much of last year we focused on delivering our products to people's houses through our various partners and our own website," says Bonomo.
However, even with stores and design centers re-opening and lots of product being bought, he doesn't see the traditional shopping experience coming back full force. "People are so used to shopping on their phone and through e-commerce that if a company is not online, its product is probably not going to be found," Bonomo says.
Keeping Customers in the Loop
Regina Andrew is pleased to be able to show real-time, as well as future, availability on its website. "We can offer that information to customers because the front end of our website is hooked into the back end of our website, which is NetSuite," Bonomo explains. "As we approve and process orders throughout the day, we can give these pieces of information to customers, so they experience a more enjoyable buying space."
For a business that was planning on a conservative growth ratio of 30% this year, Regina Andrew is actually on pace to grow 71% given its current run rate.
Its future shines bright.