"With the process improvements we have achieved in logistics, we are able to cope with a significantly higher number of customers with our existing staff capacity."
Moritz Kottenhagen, Head of Finance at the Berlin-based Wein & Vinos GmbH
With an assortment of 1,800 wines and sparkling wines, Berlin-based Wein & Vinos GmbH is the largest German online retailer of Spanish wines. The company started out in 1996 as a traditional wine merchant. In 1997 it became one of the first German webshops with its "vinos.de" site. Today, the online trade is by far the most important part of the business: Now, 90% of its sales are generated through e-commerce. The company also operates seven wine stores in Berlin and Munich. Its 150 employees generated revenues of 46.1 million euros in 2016.
For a long time the steadily growing volume of business was handled by self-programmed software based on the Microsoft Access database. "The most important functions were covered - with the exception of financial accounting: the software handled goods management, payments and customer management. The tax consultants dealt with financial accounting," recalls Moritz Kottenhagen, head of finance at Wein & Vinos. Without financial accounting, however, the company did not have direct access to important business figures. In addition, its existing industry solution proved too inflexible for future extensions. After the wine merchant group Hawesko took a majority stake in the company, the decision was made to merge all business processes into one common ERP software system.
After an intensive selection process, Wein & Vinos chose Microsoft Dynamics NAV. "Dynamics NAV is a very flexible ERP system. Adaptations and connections to related applications can be realized simply and cost-effectively", explained Kottenhagen. The contract for the implementation was awarded to the COSMO CONSULT-Group, Europe's leading Microsoft Dynamics Partner. COSMO CONSULT complements the standard software with special industry modules and special solutions, especially for e-commerce companies. This includes, for example, the industry solution cc|e-commerce, which has, among other things, an interface to the webshop system. "The project methodology and the fact that the Berlin branch was so nearby were also important to us," stressed Kottenhagen. In addition, Cosmo Consult was able to show that they had implemented several successful e-commerce installations.
The project team used SCRUM as an implementation model. At the center of the agile project methodology was the close cooperation between key users and Cosmo Consult consultants. For this purpose, the entire plan for the project was divided into individual work packages - so-called "sprints" - which were then done over a pre-determined period. Together with the IT consultants, the many peculiarities of the wine trade were analyzed and suitable solutions were put in place immediately. "In this way, it was possible to avoid the creation of something on the drawing board behind closed doors, which in the end did not meet the requirements of the real world. All sprints were carried out directly on site," explains Kottenhagen.
There were some adjustments to software and processes in the field of logistics: The employees had previously first picked the ordered goods and placed them on a collection cart. On the basis of a picking list, several orders were collected and then sorted into the individual cartons at the dispatch location. This step is no longer required today. Instead of paper there are tablets, which automatically direct the employee to the next position, based on information directly taken from the ERP system. The data is provided by the additional module cc|mobile solution. It controls the entire exchange of data between the app on the tablet and the corporate server. A quick scan of the barcode at the storage location is all that is needed to mark an item as removed in Dynamics NAV. In parallel, the ERP system syncs the stock data with the picking requirements. This significantly reduces the risk of errors. When goods have been taken, this is immediately visible in the system. Picking is linked to orders and items go directly into the respective shipping box that the employees take along on their way through the warehouse. The entire process is thus more efficient and more reliable.
For a month, the specialists from COSMO CONSULT provided support for the launch of live operations. “That meant a lot of effort, but it was absolutely worth it. In the first days we needed a very large amount of service, which we could not have dealt with without external support,” recalls Kottenhagen. This made it possible to avoid any adverse effects on the business process.
Above all, with the new ERP system it was possible to optimize central processes. "Thanks to the improvements in picking, we are now able to cope with significantly higher numbers of orders with our existing staff," says Kottenhagen. Another advantage is the "transit of goods" function. This shows the sales employees the stock of goods that are not yet in the warehouse, but are underway. "The function informs the sales department transparently and reliably about future incoming goods. This lets us sell goods in advance without waiting to have them in stock. The "transit of goods" function ensures our ability to act in situations where things are tight logistically,” adds Kottenhagen. The easy integration of related applications brings additional efficiency: In this way, it is possible to check the creditworthiness of customers online as part of processing the order and submit the shipping data to the logistics partners. Moreover, thanks to the improved analysis possibilities, customer groups can be targeted more specifically for marketing campaigns. New wines can then be offered to those customers who have bought similar wines in the past.
With the switch to Dynamics NAV, it was possible to bring the financial accounting in house without adding staff. Today, current business figures from areas such as sales, purchasing and finance are available at the touch of a button. These include, for example, the sales performance of individual product segments, overviews of the current external balance or time series comparisons between different periods. The transparency gained is used by Wein & Vinos above all in campaign management. Here, costs and success are much easier to compare. According to Moritz Kottenhagen, this is still just beginning: "At the moment we are not using the full range of functions - but every day we are using more and more of what is possible."