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Organic Food Boom Leads Alnatura to New Retail Solution

June 27, 2016 by David Trites 29

Global demand for organic foods is growing rapidly. Not because organic is new, or because a giant health craze is sweeping the globe. It’s because people can’t be kept in the dark anymore.

Information about how food is created and handled can be found and shared with the world in an instant. We know that an apple isn’t just an apple, and a chicken isn’t just a chicken. And it’s pretty obvious that harmful fertilizers, pesticides, and growth hormones are meant to make people wealthier not healthier.

As awareness rises about the benefits of organic foods so do sales for organic grocers. Alnatura, one of the first and now largest organic supermarket chains in and around Germany, opened its first natural market in Mannheim in 1987, and has grown to over 100 stores.

In an interview with Richard Kneis, CIO of Alnatura, he said, “In the four and a half years that I’ve been with Alnatura, both the number of employees and company revenue have doubled.”

This rapid pace of growth put such a strain on Alnatura’s IT landscape that Kneis had to completely rethink the IT strategy of the company. He needed a future-oriented technology platform that could sustain continued growth.

Kneis and his team gathered the company’s business and IT requirements, reviewed the best enterprise software solutions for the retail industry, and selected SAP.

“SAP ERP integrates all the business processes that are vital in the retail industry and they can still be customized easily in order to comply with any company specific needs,” said Kneis.

The SAP implementation was the largest IT project in Alnatura history. A key ingredient to its success was the great teamwork across the entire organization and with its implementation partner. In addition, the project was considered a business project, not just an IT project, and pulled the entire company together.

“Today we can talk and discuss with the various departments on a different level. They seem to be more open to new approaches and subject matter,” explained Kneis.

There have been significant business benefits too. Business processes have been reduced in numbers and simplified throughout the company. The integrated nature of the ERP solution also improved workflow and collaboration between departments.

“We are able to manage all processes, from product development to sales, in one central system,” said Kneis.

These improvements extend beyond company headquarters and into the branches. The visibility Alnatura gained across its stores resulted in new insight and opportunities for improvement.

“SAP will enable us to react to changes more quickly and more dynamically in the future. That was not possible before,” said Kneis.

Now that it has a solid IT platform in place, Alnatura has the flexibility to push the business in new directions with more speed and confidence.

“Digitization of branches, Big Data, and SAP S/4HANA are topics we are quite interested in and that is the big advantage we are experiencing today,” concluded Kneis.

That’s an IT strategy that will help people live healthier lives.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

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