When COVID-19 hit, TaylorMade reached into its bag for cloud-based data that kept its global supply chain, and the whole business, running.
For TaylorMade Golf Company, 2020 proved about as unpredictable as a green at the Masters.
When the innovation leader in golf equipment and balls teed off the year, it was on a roll. Sales of its products, favored by some of the best tour professionals, several major champions, and passionate enthusiasts alike, had been growing steadily. Then came COVID-19.
Like many brands, TaylorMade saw its manufacturing in China grind to a halt. Soon retail stores, the company’s top sales channel, closed their doors. Across the world, ports shut down, warehouses scrambled to deal with outbreaks, and shipping containers became hard to find. “Supply chain disruption” became a trending term.
“It was like someone said, ‘Stop everything,’” says Dave Brownie, TaylorMade Golf’s senior vice president of global operations. “We go from hitting records one day to orders all being put on hold overnight. ”
As spring gave way to summer, though, demand surged, with golf courses and retailers partially reopening, consumers flocking online, and factories beginning to resume operations. People hit the links in droves for socially distanced fun while polishing their game and enjoying a little fresh air.
The industry went on to record one of its best years. Golf Datatech reported that recreational participation rose by 13.9% in 2020 versus 2019, and retail sales of golf equipment increased by 10.1%. Beginning in May, TaylorMade saw one record-breaking quarter after another.
Through it all, the company’s supply chain proved flexible and resilient, thanks to a prescient move to Oracle Cloud.
TaylorMade moved its supply chain operations to Oracle Cloud Supply Chain Management and Manufacturing in 2018, gaining improved demand planning and order management. One key benefit: integrated data across numerous systems, updated more frequently for better accuracy. The company could fulfill customer orders with greater precision, based on product availability and lead time. In other words, the right product got to the right customer at the right time. With more self-service capabilities, the new platform made it easier to see bottlenecks in the supply chain, plus respond faster to broader business needs.
These improvements made a crucial difference in 2020—when the golfing industry stalled and again when it roared back. “Our ability to take new information and build plans around it, and to run our systems quickly, was critical,” Brownie says. “We were able to understand what we had to do when demand dropped off, and also when it started taking off again. We had to do this multiple times as the situation changed.”
With Oracle Supply Chain Planning, TaylorMade was able to prioritize orders and meet higher demand with less inventory. Items flowed through distribution centers much faster, spending only days on warehouse floors before shipping out.
“Having more robust systems helped us flow our inventory,” says Brownie. “After golf reopened we were immediately shipping record demand with much less inventory.” TaylorMade achieved all this while prioritizing safety and social distancing in its global warehouses, allowing sick workers time to quarantine, and scrambling to find every available means of product transport.
There was yet another twist, too. While TaylorMade had a solid direct-to-consumer online business, most of its sales go through sporting goods retailers. Last summer, online purchasing soared, stretching TaylorMade’s ability to quickly fill direct-to-consumer orders.
“When your demand surges and your supply chain gets stretched, you’re more aware there are golfers waiting for your product,” says Brownie. “And when you have limited inventories, better systems ensure you’re moving as much of it as possible—and that it’s getting into a consumer’s hands quickly.”
As 2021 unfolds and more people get COVID-19 vaccines, allowing economies to reopen and indoor activities to resume, interest in golf continues to grow. With demand strong this spring, TaylorMade Golf expects seasonal buying to return to normal.
“It’s not just the pandemic that’s driven interest, it’s our products and how well they’re received,” Brownie says. New brand positioning, promoted in ads featuring golfers who are “beyond driven,” has helped move high-performance products like the SIM2 line of clubs and TP5 and TP5x golf balls.
TaylorMade is bullish as it prepares for the second half of 2021. “More people than ever are playing golf, whether they’re dedicated enthusiasts or trying it for the first time,” he says. “We’ve gone from a strong late 2020, where the seasonality was upside down, into a strong spring.”
Supply chain challenges linger—for example, the availability of ports and containers is still unpredictable—so managing logistics remains an agility test. “Fortunately, we have a great logistics team that has been very systematic in bringing inbound product through alternate ports, securing containers, and staying on top of changing air rates,” Brownie says.
When major disruptions happen, “All plans are out the door,” Brownie says. “You need systems that let you change your plans by the day or even the hour. That’s how we transformed 2020 from a year of survival into an incredible success.”
Our ability to take new information and build plans around it, and to run our systems quickly, was critical.
Senior Vice President of Global Operations, TaylorMade