Santa’s Shop Went Paperless and Saved $170,000

By katie simpson on December 19, 2014


  • Saved $170,000 in labor and material costs
  • Real time tracking of labor costs
  • Improved quality assurance for all toys

Apps Used

  • Toy quality assurance
  • Child behavoir report
  • Elf time card 


One of the oldest surviving toy businesses, Santa's Workshop has been providing amazing toys to children around the world for over a thousand years. His shop has worked tirelessly to provide joy to well deserving children around the world. 

But, in a more and more competitive environment, Santa's Workshop has had to compete against Amazon, Toys R Us, and the other major players in the toy sector. With growing populations, Santa's Workshop was struggling with growing documentation needs. With whole teams working on data entry, collecting information for reporting, his team was stretched thin and moving  slowly.

With a limited elf population on North Pole, Santa knew he needed every member of his company working on creating great toys. He decided it was time to for a strategic change. 

Solution and Results

In Feburary of 2014, Santa's Workshop moved to GoCanvas, the global leader in mobile apps for business. Thousands of organizations leverage Canvas’s cloud-based, “Software-as-a-Service” mobile app platform to replace cumbersome paper forms with highly customizable mobile business apps. 

Businesses can search from over 15,000 ready-made apps in the GoCanvas Application Store that can be customized to an individual business user's needs. In addition, GoCanvas offers a do-it-yourself app builder that enables non-technical users to build apps in minutes.

Over the past ten months multiple departments of Santa's Workshop ditched paper and started to use smartphones along with GoCanvas mobile apps. The company has discovered measurable results, including:

Easier tracking of naughty and nice list

Previously, Santa's Workshop struggled to have truly accurate lists. “The poor elves,” Santa said, “had to take so many notes about kids' behavior. Then, it would take days to compile these notes in our database and create our naught and nice lists. This made our production schedule way more hectic.”

After going mobile, Santa's team has saved hundreds of hours. “Reporting that once took days to collect and report is now done in minutes.” Santa explained, “Whether the reports are from Beijing or Budapest, they'll come back to the office in real time. In a few clicks, I export all the reports in a single excel spreadsheet.”

The manufacturing benefits have been huge for Santa's Workshop. “We've added a whole week onto our manufacturing schedule. The elves can focus on creating great work.”

More accurate purchase orders

Santa's Workshop, especially as the holidays approach, have to buy tons of materials. “Sometimes, especially when we were on paper, we'd accidentally get wrong purchases. I'd walk into the warehouse to seeing 100 too many wooden horses, but not enough of the latest Disney princess doll.”

Going with GoCanvas removes any confusion from purchase orders. GoCanvas gives them clear typed writing each and every time. They even use our Workflow feature. Every purchase order is double checked by a manager before being sent to Santa's suppliers.

“It's super fast,” Mary Sugerplum , the Requisition Manager said, “and ensures that we never have another repeat of the Christmas of '41. Too many toy guns and not enough slinkys, that was a nightmare.”

With better oversight, Santa's Workshop estimates labor savings cost $5,000/month and material savings of $2,000/month.  In one year? That's $70,000 in savings for 2014 alone.

Stronger quality assurance for all toys

With hundreds of elves working on thousands of toy types, the time crunch to Christmas often made safety difficult. “Our quality assurance team was pulling all-nighters the week before Christmas Eve,” said Bushy Evergreen, Head of QA/QS. “Before GoCanvas we needed whole team of elves doing data entry on these forms.”

Today, all 150 testers are using GoCanvas on mobile phones. “The Snowballs prefer Android and the Opensleas prefer the iPhone. With GoCanvas, team members bring in the devices they want.. It made getting started a lot easier.” 

The whole team now participates as testers. With everything now getting sent to the cloud, Bushy was able to move all seven data entry employees into testing positions. They no longer have to pull all-nighters to test the safety of toys.  Bushy estimates this has saved them 7,200 hours over November and December alone.

In addition, testing GoCanvas allows them to capture information more quickly with images, conditional fields, and required fields. “I get more accurate reports and no longer worry about missing or incomplete reports.” Bushy said, “Christmas is about bringing joy, not injuries.”

Real time tracking of labor costs

Santa's Workshop has always worked to provide the best to his employees. “I really value all my elves.” Santa explained, ” but with paper time cards, data entry and processing goes on the back burner the last few weeks before Christmas. But even in general, time cards easily got lost in the snow, or just indecipherable.” 

Today, all elves clock in and clock out their work on a tablet. Santa's Workshop gets all time cards in real time, no longer lost for any reason. “It's made paying our teams faster.” Maple Wintertree, head of HR smiled, “My team used to take a day or two to process each week, now happens in minutes.” 

By speeding up this process and reducing HR's workload, Maple estimates GoCanvas saves the HR department $10,000 a month in labor costs, adding up to $100,000 in savings in 2014.

Not only are the elves on the toy floor getting paid faster, but the Human Resources team can focus on larger strategic goals. They no longer have to do any data entry, or chase down missing time cards. They can focus on hiring, oversight, and creating the strongest program for happier and more productive elves. 

Easy to adapt and evolve with changing business needs

With over 1,000 year tradition of giving gifts to kids around the world, Santa's Workshop has had to evolve over time. “I can't tell you how much research I've had to do over the years, and the change keeps coming faster and faster,” Santa said while showing his research library. “Ten years ago it was all about furbies, and now? App this, touchscreen that. It's mind boggling to stay up to date.”

As the toys change, and the shop's needs change, their GoCanvas mobile apps evolve with them. “Ruby? C+? I don't speak any of those programming languages.” Bushy said, “with GoCanvas, I just drag and drop what I want onto the screen. Even our newest elves can do it.” 

Many other apps make updating cumbersome or expensive. By going with GoCanvas, Santa's Workshop can update and share apps quickly and easily for no additional cost. In a fast changing market, they're able to adapt quickly and easily. 

Whether it's two weeks before December or early March, life is always busy in Santa's Workshop. “We may have seasons of endless darkness, but we keep the lights on working every month of the year. Have to be in the 21st century.” Maple said, her desk already full of staggered vacation schedules for 2015. Santa's Workshop is looking ot expand their uses for GoCanvas, including integrations with their accounting books for even faster processes.

With GoCanvas, Santa's Workshop has saved $170,000 already this year. More than fiscal savings, the company enjoys real time oversight, better product management, and the ability quickly adapt in a competitive world. Easier reporting and documentation allows Santa's Workshop to focus on providing joy to children around the world during the holiday season.

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