"The level of automation is significantly higher with Dynamics NAV. But for us, something else is crucial: We now have a way to continue to grow on the basis of a healthy infrastructure."
Hannes Schrödter, Head of Product Management of Mister Spex GmbH
On the internet there is nothing that does not exist. Nevertheless, late in 2007 Dirk Graber found a real gap in the market: eyewear was significantly underrepresented online. Together with three partners, he founded the online eyeglass shop Mister Spex. When the start-up entered the market in the spring of 2008, the industry was skeptical.
"However, it soon became clear that we put an emphasis on quality and value for money. We are therefore now one of the few online retailers in Europe to be directly supplied by all major manufacturers," says Dirk Graber, Managing Director of Mister Spex.
People who wear glasses will be glad: they get eyeglasses including lenses with their individual prescription as a complete package up to 60 percent below the recommended retail price. Success was not long in coming: sales rose from half a million euros in the first year to 17 million euros in 2011.
The decisive factors for this rapid development were mainly customer service, a huge selection of more than 5,000 different kinds of corrective eyeglasses and sunglasses and the attractive presentation of the online shop. Numerous filter functions help you put together the glasses you want in just a few steps by choosing the frame, lenses and, if desired, the tint. In terms of enterprise software, Mister Spex initially relied on something they had developed themselves, which was supplemented by an accounting system. However, due to their rapid growth they had to set priorities. "We still have big plans and want to continue to concentrate completely on the front-end. In order to give ourselves the necessary room to manouevre, it made sense to standardize and outsource the processes in accounting, order processing and logistics, " explains Hannes Schrödter, Head of Product Management at Mister Spex.
Armed with a detailed questionnaire, the project team started to survey the market in late 2010. One important aspect was the flexibility of the program structure. In the end, it was a question of being able to incorporate the many special features of eyecare products and to integrate with the existing e-commerce system. "It was a real challenge to find an ERP system that can easily accommodate the many dimensions of the contact lenses and the countless combinations of prescription specifications and properties of the corrective lenses," said Hannes Schrödter, adding "We looked at a few live installations and quickly realized that Microsoft enjoys a good reputation with SMEs."
At the end of 2010, they chose the Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP system. The contract for the implementation was awarded to COSMO CONSULT GmbH, a Microsoft Partner. "Because we would be cooperating closely with our software partner over a long period of time, it was important to us to find a partner that had not only the necessary professional competence but was also located close to us. We got to know the project team and project manager from COSMO CONSULT before getting started. This gave us confidence quickly," recalled Hannes Schrödter.
The financial accounting department was first in line in the implementation process at the end of January 2011. In spring the conversion of operating activities followed with a detailed process analysis. The flow chart program Microsoft Visio and its Sure Step project methodology helped. In addition, the project team used COSMO CONSULT´s workflow module "cc|workflow" to map the business processes in Navision. "We had many of our own ideas about optimization, but we adhered to the standard of Dynamics NAV wherever possible," explains Hannes Schrödter, Head of Product Management. With special features such as the possibility to try-on glasses at home for free and the management of returns, individual adjustments were inevitable.
There were also interfaces to various payment services and the in-house e-commerce system to be accounted for. The latter was connected to Dynamics NAV by means of specially developed web services. A challenge of a different kind was the high volume of data. About half a million records were to be imported from the previous system - and at peak times up to 3,000 additional orders arrived daily via the online shop on top of this.
These efforts were rewarded: since September 2011, highly automated processes have been in place to support the business activities of Mister Spex. Navision automatically sends customers email confirmations for all changes to orders. Incoming payments are usually logged automatically by the business software. On the logistics side, product reservations and ordering suggestions ensure process efficiency. "The level of automation is significantly higher today. But for us, something else is crucial: We now have a way to continue to grow on the basis of a healthy infrastructure and outsource parts of the IT system as needed," Hannes Schrödter is pleased to report.
In addition, data transparency has improved. The members of the financial controlling department can produce multi-dimensional analyses using the additional module "Targit Business Analytics" on their own - without assistance from IT. "This gives our IT department more time for new tasks," says Hannes Schrödter, Head of Product Management. The software partner can also take some credit for the project's quick success. "With its open communication, professional quality management and well-prepared workshops, COSMO CONSULT has confirmed that we made the right decision," says Hannes Schrödter. This is a perfect foundation for follow-up projects such as process integration with suppliers.