“ Designers can approve samples while we’re discussing them which means that everyone can work more effectively. The time we save allows us to focus on activities that help us grow. ”
Mud Pie was founded in 1988 by current CEO Marcia Miller, originally producing a small collection of ceramic gifts. Based in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Mud Pie has grown to include thousands of “delightful gifts to inspire all of life’s sparkling moments”. Mud Pie’s custom-crafted gifts and clothing for style-conscious consumers are now available in over 16,000 retail outlets around the world as well as directly to consumers online at www.mudpie.com.
With the slogan ‘Every day is a gift’, Mud Pie produces gift items for every occasion, from major holidays to everyday celebrations. Mud Pie products are inspired by cutting edge design trends, interpreted by its team of designers to create unique gifts and clothing at an affordable price point. The company contains three divisions: Mud Pie Kids, Mud Pie Home and Mud Pie Fashion.
Mud Pie faced challenges associated with the growth of the business and reached a point where it became obvious that the company needed a PLM solution to support its design, product development and production processes.
As Katherine Bennie, Senior Home Merchandiser at Mud Pie explains, “We were working in an outdated database system and using email and Excel to communicate with overseas vendors. As we continued to grow, we had difficulties keeping track of the product lifecycle in one place. We realized that we regularly wasted a lot of time searching through emails for one little detail from months ago that we needed to make an important decision.”
“We wanted to find a more efficient and effective way to manage our SKUs across all three divisions. PLM was becoming more prominent in the industry, and other software vendors would frequently ask what PLM system we were using. This planted the seed and motivated us to begin a PLM selection project.”
Mud Pie used an external software ‘matchmaking’ service to compare different PLM vendors and systems, using a ratings system based on ease of use, functionality, calendar tracking abilities and inventory handling. After a series of interviews, demos, reference checks and RFPs, which narrowed their original list of vendors down to two leading contenders, Mud Pie finally selected Centric PLM™.
“We ultimately selected Centric because of the ease of use and functionality of the system,” says Bennie. “We knew we would have to implement it across a variety of departments, roles and people, so it had to be easy to use while delivering the requirements we wanted in terms of tracking products and making sure they get purchased. Centric’s Adobe Illustrator integration was also very important for us, as every product originates with our creative team and we needed to make sure our designers were comfortable using the system.”
Mud Pie kicked off an implementation project with Centric Software in March 2017, and the deployment of Centric PLM was completed on schedule in September 2017. The company implemented Centric’s Product Specification, Materials Management, Product Sourcing, Calendar Management and Merchandise Planning modules across all three product lines: Fashion, Kids and Home. Mud Pie’s suppliers in India and China are also connected to the system.
“We were able to go live across all departments and our overseas suppliers on time, while growing all three lines, and still hit all our deadlines for the season with no major issues,” says Bennie. “We’re very much an “all or nothing” type of company, so we just went ahead and did it! Of course, the support of the Centric team was critical. They worked with us every step of the way and were always available to answer our queries quickly and keep up the pace of implementation.”
Since going live in September 2017, Centric PLM has transformed the way people work at Mud Pie every day.
explains Bennie. “In meetings, we can pull up a style and see the whole history of that item. Before PLM, we would have wasted time searching emails, spreadsheets and our database for information. It’s much easier to track what stage of sampling we’re at, for instance.”
“Time saved is the major benefit,” Bennie continues. “Previously we weren’t even able to bring laptops to meetings since our database couldn’t be used on Wi-Fi. Now, merchandisers bring laptops and we do the actions we are talking about right there in the meeting rather than going back to our desks with a five-page to-do list. Designers can approve samples while we’re discussing them which means that everyone can work more effectively. The time we save allows us to focus on activities that help us grow.”
Mud Pie also recently adopted three of Centric’s innovative PLM mobile apps: Product Notes, Fit Review and Sample Review. As Bennie notes, these are invaluable on overseas research trips.
“We have been able to use the Product Notes app while we’re in India and China at fairs and booths taking photos and notes. Before, we took photos on a tablet with notes in notebooks and compiled it later. This allows us to do it right there and then, upload it to the system the same day and easily share details with suppliers.”
Although the implementation project has concluded, Mud Pie is now working with Centric on ways to integrate their existing purchase order system with PLM. As Bennie explains, it’s an ongoing and productive relationship.
“At each step of the implementation, once we had the basics in place, we looked at how we could make the system work even better for us,” says Bennie. “In the next six months to a year we will continue to evolve within the system and we don’t see a time when we will not be working with Centric to hone our processes because we’ve seen how effective it has been.”
“For companies that have serious ambitions for growth, a PLM solution is becoming a requirement rather than an option,” concludes Bennie. “It’s the most effective way of managing all of the moving parts in product development and retail. It also attracts people who want to work for innovative businesses. The Centric 8 system is modern, easy to use and completely online. It allows people to do their job effectively with the type of interface they’re already accustomed to using in everyday life.”