E-Business Hotting Up

Poggenpohl kitchen
Poggenpohl kitchen

Poggenpohl kitchens are at home anywhere in the world. The brand stands for quality, innovation, contemporary design, and tradition. Cabinet maker Friedemir Poggenpohl established the company in 1892 with the goal of improving the kitchen. Poggenpohl has remained true to this ideal for more than 110 years. With its high-class kitchens, the manufacturer from the small town of Herford, Germany has enjoyed global success.

From cabinet making to global group
From cabinet making to global group

Poggenpohl is part of the Swedish Nobia group and is successful in a difficult market characterized by predatory competition. The company’s positioning in the area of exclusive kitchen elements is paying off. Poggenpohl is also benefiting from its high proportion of exports, which has compensated for the currently poor economic situation in Germany. The company exports its kitchens to more than 60 countries, and has subsidiaries in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, among others. Indirect sales through authorized and qualified, international kitchen stockists have also proved successful.

Media fragmentation holds up the information flow

Poggenpohl believed it could optimize sales and after-sales business for its kitchens by improving the information flow between the company head office, subsidiaries, and international stockists, because media fragmentation was standing in the way of a fully integrated process. For example, if a stockist requested assembly or maintenance instructions, internal sales staff in the company head office had to print out the relevant documents, and send them to the relevant sales partner by fax or post.
To solve this problem, the kitchen manufacturer decided to implement a modern information system that would supply stockists with product data, price lists, delivery times, and maintenance and assembly instructions as required, and would also allow the company to send out customer circulars and information about special offers. An end-to-end information flow, tighter business processes, and a higher degree of transparency would improve sales partner collaboration and customer service, and ensure the company’s competitive advantage.
As the first step, the company therefore decided to set up a partner Extranet as the primary medium for communication with stockists. The aim was to make all kinds of information available over the Internet with the help of a content management system. In a second step, Poggenpohl, planned to introduce SAP Internet Sales R/3 Edition. The e-commerce solution was to help stockists enter orders for replacements and individual parts over the Internet and to track the status of their orders, regardless of where they were located. The kitchen manufacturer selected experienced SAP partner company NEO Business Partners, based in Hannover, as the consulting firm for the two projects, and for the technical implementation.

Low level of maintenance required for current information

In February 2003 the information portal for stocks was up and running. The start-up of the Extranet coincided with the relaunch of Poggenpohl’s international website, which is now available in six languages and presents “one face” to all subsidiaries. (www.poggenpohl.de). The information portal is based on the content management system RedDot, which enables data to be maintained locally. As a result, the content can be adapted more easily to the requirements of the individual countries.

Modern J2EE technology a winner

Building on the Extranet project, Poggenpohl started the implementation of SAP Internet Sales R/3 Edition in summer 2003. The company, a satisfied user of SAP R/3, was quick to choose the e-commerce solution, not least because it can be seamlessly integrated in the ERP software. Further factors that led to the decision included the wide functional scope of SAP Internet Sales within the standard system, and the modern J2EE technology based on SAP Web Application Server 6.20. At the same time, Poggenpohl saw SAP as a reliable partner that continuously enhances its solutions, ensuring that investments are protected.
Following a detailed analysis on the basis of interviews with marketing, product management, sales, logistics, and IT departments, and on the standardized process description UML (unified modeling language), the main task during implementation of the software was to compare Poggenpohl’s requirements with the standard features of SAP Internet Sales R/3 Edition, and to make the necessary modifications. For example, the project team added product pictures of individual parts and replacements to the article numbers and descriptions, and adjusted the layout. The aim was to achieve more user friendliness, so that stockists could navigate through the application easily and with just a few mouse clicks.
SAP Internet Sales is connected to the SAP R/3 backend system by BAPI interfaces. Stockists can therefore access the relevant processes directly in the business software, for example to determine the availability of products and to enter new purchase orders. With the exception of the product catalog, all processes are exchanged with SAP R/3 4.0B online. For reasons of performance and system load, the catalog is held on SAP Internet Sales Server.
Stockists can access SAP Internet Sales from the Poggenpohl Extranet via single sign-on, so multiple login is not required. With the e-commerce solution, information on the status of all orders – for new kitchens and replacement parts – can be called up regardless of location, and new orders for replacement parts can be entered. The sales partners can also access the IXOS document archive and display documents or download them as PDFs. Two other standard functions in SAP Internet Sales are also particularly useful, namely the calculation of customer-specific prices, and the access to old purchase orders. Stockists can use these for repeat orders, and therefore do not have to enter all the items again.
At the moment, SAP Internet Sales R/3 Edition at Poggenpohl is in the test phase, and the start of production is planned for this summer. The company already regards its e-business project as a success. The Extranet portal keeps stockists around the world up to date, so that they can provide quick and competent answers to customer questions. For Poggenpohl, the new information and sales platform is a strategic base from which to map further customer processes over the Internet.

Jens Beier
Jens Beier