Shimano’s North American Bicycle Business Rides with Cloud Smoothie?

Shimano’s North American bicycle business manufactures and distributes thousands of high-end cycling components and accessories. The company distributes through a variety of channels including bike shops, national sporting goods chains, distributors, and direct to consumer. As retail channels are being redefined, and direct to consumer marketplaces like Amazon have flourished, Shimano needed to optimize product assortments and availability for each channel in what had become a highly dynamic marketplace. They needed to optimize the production and replenishments for their 60,000 item-locations, and they wanted to be able to sense and respond with agility to rapidly-changing channels and consumer preferences. After extensive analysis, they decided to replace the sales, inventory and operations planning capabilities of their Oracle ERP platform with a best of breed solution.

Selection Process

The company formed a team consisting of technical and functional team members to research and analyze alternatives. The team identified several alternatives including a specialized solution offered by their ERP provider, but they eventually selected Cloud Smoothie? by Demand Works. Cloud Smoothie’s cloud-centric architecture was able to scale to support the large number of items offered by Shimano. It also offered the full range of forecasting, inventory optimization, financial and operational planning capabilities that were needed, and it leveraged a proprietary multi-level planning technology called Pivot Forecasting? that enabled attribute-based planning along product, geographic, and channel dimensions.


“It only took about a month to integrate Cloud Smoothie with our Oracle ERP system, and our planning immediately became more agile”, said Rick Barrosa, Sr. Manager of Supply Chain. “For example, it helped us to respond with precision to the growing importance of Amazon’s marketplace. We were able to make improvements in the way we planned for that channel in the first week. We were amazed at the flexibility and depth of the analysis that we were able to perform. We can easily select the customers that we want to forecast individually. Previously, these types of changes would have required IT prioritization and took much longer to complete. Now, we can add new key customers or channels in no time flat, experiment with alternative hierarchies and roll-ups, and formulate new insights, all without consuming valuable IT resources.”

“Cloud Smoothie’s attribute-based planning has helped in other ways as well”, said Barrosa. For example, we are now able to categorize product lifecycles with multiple dimensions, while our ERP system only had a single field for this purpose. The additional attributes have made it much easier for us to plan for new product introductions, extensions, and improvements. Not only has it improved forecast accuracy, but we have been able to leverage the additional product information to prioritize inventory levels, placement, and production timing.”

About Shimano North America

In 1961, a 3-speed bicycle hub displayed at the New York Toy Show was the catalyst for what would eventually become Shimano American Corporation. The popularity of 20-inch wheeled bikes with hi-rise handle bars fueled a demand for multi-speed hubs and Shimano was producing an affordable and reliable version that caught the attention of the industry. So much so, that by 1965, Shimano opened its first ever overseas sales office in New York City. The main purpose of doing this was to get quicker product feedback and to provide technical and warranty assistance to retailers selling bikes equipped with Shimano parts.

Shimano America has grown from that first modest office staffed by only three people to multiple distribution centers and sales and marketing offices. Today in North America, Shimano’s presence has grown to include Shimano North America Holding Inc., Shimano North America Bicycle Inc., Shimano North America Fishing Inc., G. Loomis, ITI, and Pearl Izumi.

Even with changes in company name and the addition of other market leading brands, all Shimano companies maintain the same goals as when the offices first opened: To ensure that Shimano always has a listening ear to provide feedback on relevant trends and needs of the North American market for both bicycle and fishing products, and to make those a reality for our customers. The company prides itself on providing exceptional support, staffing offices with customer service personnel to handle issues via phone or online. Shimano also participates positively in the countries where it operates. Through advocacy programs, ISO 14001 certification, and commuter/car pool programs for employees, Shimano practices good local citizenship, supports continued access to those areas that are enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts, and is committed to minimizing the impact on our shared environment.

About Demand Works

Originally founded in 1993 as Advanced Planning Systems, Demand Works provides demand and supply planning solutions that deliver large-scale improvements in forecast accuracy, coordination and asset management. Demand Works is exclusively focused on the areas of forecasting, demand and supply planning, and S&OP, and we support hundreds of companies throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe and other parts of the world. The solutions are currently available in six languages, and customers include manufacturers and distributors of many well-recognized household brands as well as countless industrial and other manufactured goods.