Stationary furniture retailers are not immune to the growing pressure from pure players. Even large items of furniture, including entire living room sets, are now being sold online, assembled at home, and quickly and easily returned. The returns rate for furniture is between 3% and 10%. North German family business dodenhof decided to tackle the challenges of digitization head on.
dodenhof is the largest shopping center operator in north Germany. What’s more, the company is a retailer, with its own large-scale furniture, fashion, sporting goods, technology, and grocery retailing operations, occupying some 180,000 square meters of floor space. And around 50 shop areas are rented to companies such as H&M, Esprit, and Aldi. Three enterprise resource planning systems and a financial software package had to be replaced. Digital front ends had to be introduced for mobile commerce, and informative data provided to support cross-selling processes. The functional areas lacked a common understanding of the processes. The aim was to transition the organization from function- and process-based thinking and action as rapidly as possible. The highly complex retail functions in furniture retailing and their integration into the overall process model posed a particular challenge. Integrated real-time processes in the background are essential to enable customers to configure products in line with their specific wishes. Purely retailing functions such as sales via cash register – in other words, B2C functions – had to be integrated with B2B processes for ordering and order processing. In addition, two million article master data records had to be consolidated and migrated to the production system.
dodenhof is the first company in Germany to implement SAP for Retail for furniture retailing based on the KPS best practice model. During the project, which was completed in just 20 months, processes for all business units were standardized and integrated. In addition, a state-of-the-art technology infrastructure was created, which can rapidly exploit the latest software developments going forward. General and detailed process steps were developed interactively. Close monitoring was carried out using progress plans with more than 4,000 test points. The new SAP system replaced all the legacy systems for enterprise resource planning and financial accounting. Interfaces were developed using the EAI bus, and the specialist department accepted final tests based on precise test plans. Business processes at dodenhof were aligned with the KPS industry reference model and mapped in the SAP system in a few weeks using Rapid Prototyping. To ensure successful change management, employees were kept up to speed by “change agents” throughout the project and also received special support during the hyper care phase.
To help salespeople advise store customers, KPS developed the tablet-based iFurniture order cockpit. This solution enables sales staff to find products that ideally match customers’ particular needs while triggering the integrated business processes for picking, order processing, delivery, service, or assembly orders in the background in real time. General furniture-sector requirements and dodenhof’s specific needs are taken into account in both the system and the processes, ensuring the greatest possible acceptance within the company. dodenhof now has the IT infrastructure it requires, flexible business processes, and the data needed to develop solutions in other areas. These include digital customer management geared to increasing customer loyalty, as well as personalized offerings in furniture retailing and beyond (for example, in fashion, grocery retailing, electronics, and sporting goods). The KPS AMS – Application Management Services – team handled technical support and provided advice and assistance for users following go-live.
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