Nimble Group: Revolutionising the manufacturing industry with a custom ERP built using low-code

"We built our entire business with Zoho Creator. That's why we love Creator—we know it will grow with us. Anything we need, we can create later, at any given point in time, very easily and without any roadblocks. There's just boundless scope for development; we're not restricted and we're not worried."

Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

Created by : Nimble Group

Use case : Custom ERP tool

Industry : Manufacturing

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Nimble Group's story

Nimble Group, based in China, began as a product development provider for IKEA in 2012, and has since grown to become one of the largest producers, suppliers, agents, and distributors of food contact products, hard goods, and textiles to international retailers.

They currently export goods worth about $100 million USD annually, and have a presence in more than six countries worldwide. Nimble Group is known for providing items that are higher quality, less expensive, safer for consumers, and have a longer shelf life.

Nimble Group offers various vertical services—from product design to manufacturing, packaging, and distribution. They create items from raw materials and tooling to production and distribution by operating in four business segments—manufacturing, production and trading, sourcing, and distribution.

The need

Nimble Group offers a highly diverse product line and business style. They manufacture and trade goods by buying from one supplier and selling to the client, as opposed to sourcing, which involves supplier management rather than the buy-sell model. These three business models are supported by multiple entities and offices worldwide. Furthermore, the thousands of products they have necessitate that they have a complete ERP system to assist them in organizing their business.

What a day at Nimble Group looks like

They have three functions, called The Triangle Team, where one person is the merchant, who deals with the client directly when the client or buyer sends a new request. The merchant's task is to learn the client's specific requirements. After this, the quality engineer will be responsible for checking the product, consolidating the client's requirements, and getting the job done.

QA demonstrates whether the product is feasible, including the material, packaging, and technical aspects. Lastly, they have a supply chain or sourcing person who will work with the direct, domestic, or third-party vendors to source the right product for the customer.

The challenge

  • Keeping up with the flow of different projects was hectic.

"We use different systems to manage different steps. For example, staff will log in to their account to receive the email, record everything, and then send the document, maybe by WeChat or another tool, to their colleague. Then they'll click to open another piece of software to do their part."

- Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

When new employees join, they also needed to train them in the various tools they use to manage the business, which is time-consuming.

  • The quantity of documents to maintain manually became tedious, as they expanded their business.

"When we were just starting, we had only one or two clients; for these two, they usually had around 20 products. That means we had just three to four suppliers. It was relatively easy to manage them, and we could create folders on our computers. As we grew, not only did the quantity grow but our customers' needs also became more diverse."

- Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

Their customers wanted to know when their order was shipped and have a more direct relationship with their supplier. But it wasn't feasible for Nimble Group to sort through the different groups or create thousands of folders and subfolders to find the right documents.

The key to all of their problems? Digitising their operations and building a database.

So that's exactly what they did.

They discovered Zoho Creator and built a custom ERP system for their process.

The solution

"We required a centralised gateway to run our business end-to-end. That's why we went to Zoho Creator, a very smart tool that allows us to customize our business while simultaneously providing standard access to everyone."

- Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

To handle all aspects of their business, from trading to sourcing, Nimble Group created an ERP system that integrated various modules into a single tool. They use the ERP system for both supplier management and serving their clients.

There are two different directions in which they need to manage these relationships—and both sides require a huge amount of service, which might take months. That's why they wanted this connection to be very transparent.

Their vision is that, for any order, whether it's an incoming order from the client or an incoming and outgoing order placed with a supplier, they'll place both of them on the app built on Zoho Creator and track the order status. They'll then record the manufacturing status in the app, so that both the client and supplier can see it transparently from the system.

With the help of the app, they can also track the financial payment and project status easily for both sides, which can be shown using Creator's customizable dashboard. Their clients can keep track of the order status and how the suppliers are performing, and the suppliers can check to see whether they have enough stock available for the orders placed.

"We were able to build and store the material and the documents, and we can create different access levels for different team members, allowing them relevant access to the system without breaching any privacy issues."

- Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

The benefits

  • Digitization: With their Zoho Creator app, they're now able to effectively organise the data themselves. So when a user clicks on the product, the life of the product, the status, the supplier, the client, or whatever else is present on the same page is displayed in a single app.

"When our business grew and we moved on to more diversified offices around the globe, they could no longer ask our overseas employees to run searches for them. We needed to have one centralised platform, which is why we moved to Zoho Creator—and it really works!"

- Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

  • Smart integrations: The majority of Nimble Group's communication is still handled via email, but they also reach out to leads using LinkedIn. The problem is that they didn't want to lose any communication with their prospects. Now they can record it in CRM, and Zoho will remind them, for example, that they haven't contacted a person for a few days, and then set up a reminder.

"We want to send users a very targeted business update instead of searching through thousands of emails to find what the person's needs are every time. This is now an effortless and efficient way for us to manage any potential clients. Then, when the potential grows and the user finally transfers to Zoho Creator as a real client, we start the journey again."

- Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

  • Generating reports: They needed to track performance, products, and forms at different levels, and couldn't afford the time and resources of creating a report by themselves.

"Zoho Creator is very smart at generating customisable reports. With other ERP systems, they can record things like flows, but they can't generate what you actually want. But the ERP app we built on Creator can combine information and create things automatically. For example, for the receipt, an invoice, and a dashboard, we can create the group, grab the key information, and then create the documents we want."

Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

  • User access control: There are different stakeholders accessing different data using the app. Nimble Group was in need of a system that offered the right role-based or user-controlled access in order to prevent any data privacy issues.

"Zoho Creator is also very smart at dividing different functions—we can set up access to different levels, unlike on other ERPs. So once you create access, it's there, but for Zoho Creator, we can divide different functions and give them different accounts with authorization, so people can access the right level of information."

Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

Looking forward

"We built our entire business with Zoho Creator. That's why we love Creator—we know it will grow with us. Anything we need, we can create later, at any given point in time, very easily and without any roadblocks. There's just boundless scope for development; we're not restricted and we're not worried."

- Nicole Zhang, Executive Assistant, Nimble Group

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What is Zoho Creator?

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Applications built on Zoho Creator are built to auto-scale—the back-end infrastructure seamlessly scales as business demand grows. Currently 14,000+ customers across are using over 6 million applications built using Zoho Creator, a testimony to the power of the platform.

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