Even Online the Customer is King

Feature Article | February 20, 2006 by admin

If you open a package with fragile contents, you will usually find the precious goods packed in small, lightweight chips made of yellow polystyrene. The protective packaging may look simple, but boasts a range of intelligent properties that make it essential for shipping sensitive goods. It is lightweight, has excellent padding qualities, protects against heat and cold, is damp-resistant, can be stored for an unlimited period, is non-toxic, free from CFCs, and can be recycled.

Storopack company profile

Storopack company profile

But Styrofill, as the chips are called, is just one of a total of 8,000 products that the family-run Storopack, a company based in Metzingen, Germany, offers the world of packaging. Today’s consumers expect products tailored to their individual requirements, and this is as true of packaging as of anything else. As a result, the 600,000 meat trays transported every day from the Storopack plant are all food-safe, and the polystyrene moldings that provide protective transport packaging for 50,000 computers a day absorb all kinds of impact.

Strategic role for IT

With its packaging solutions, Storopack is active on numerous markets, from the automotive industry through to home entertainment. The company also provides a wide range of services for its customers, for example the picking and packing of their products. In view of this broad spectrum, IT plays a strategic role. Storopack uses a large number of different systems, including an electronic planning platform, the online market place for the automotive industry SupplyOn, and EDI (electronic data interchange) solutions. The Corporate IT department in Metzingen is responsible for all applications.
Since the beginning of the Nineties, SAP R/3 has been the company’s IT backbone for order fulfillment, materials management, financial accounting, and cost accounting. In 2000, Storopack decided to pursue new opportunities in sales and set up an online store for its standard packaging materials. At that time, the company could not envisage its customers using the production system to submit their inquiries, as this could have led to excessive load, and therefore decided to implement an “upstream” server for an internet solution based on the IMPRESS/OIS Java software.
SAP partner NEO from Hannover was responsible for the process integration between SAP/R3 and the internet. The result was a user-friendly connection that offers customers and interested parties extensive search and information options. The “Packaging Guide,” as the Storopack store is called, rapidly developed into an important point of contact. However, one distinct disadvantage was the length of time the Java application took to load. The lack of Java expertise within Storopack also made it difficult to develop the store further.

More service for customers

In 2004, the company decided to implement mySAP ERP, to create a future-proof basis for its online sales. The solution, which runs on the SAP NetWeaver technology platform, offers an extensive, fully integrated range of functions based on web services, and among other things enables Storopack to connect up its business partners. The priority was the implementation of mySAP Customer Relationship Management, with the focus on internet sales and campaign management.
In January 2005, in close cooperation with the Packaging Division in Germany, Storopack launched a project called ‘Direkt@Online’ with the aim of intensifying the direct and internet business. As a future goal, it was important for the company to fully map the Packaging Guide within SAP and to provide comprehensive marketing and service functionalities. In view of this, the existing store needed to be replaced. One important factor here was the need to run and develop the sales platform in future using the company’s internal SAP expertise.

High potential for sales

Goals and factors for success

Goals and factors for success

Once the results of a preliminary study were available in March 2005, the company began with the implementation of mySAP CRM 4.0. The first step, which lasted until the end of September 2005, involved implementing order fulfillment and meeting the requirements for marketing campaigns. With the complete integration of the Packaging Guide in the backend system, sales orders can now be created automatically in SAP.
The tests with personalized email campaigns and newsletters were successful, and achieved response rates of up to 25 percent. With 25,000 subscribers and another 10,000 Storopack customers on top of this, the potential for direct sales is huge, particularly with small and midsize enterprises. But the company also wanted to encourage large customers to order standard products over the internet. This goal can be supported by cross-selling functions, which Storopack uses to draw customers’ attention to related products and services when they make inquiries. For example, if a customer orders boxes, the online store asks if adhesive tape or bubble wrap should be ordered too.

End-to-end transparency

The new sales platform has been up and running since the beginning of February 2006, and offers advantages for both sides. Storopack is able to execute direct marketing measures on the basis of standardized data in a clear and process-oriented way. And as there are no integration gaps, customers are also able to navigate easily through the store. Thanks to tight integration with SAP, just a few mouse clicks are needed to find and order the required products. In Central Europe, Storopack now has a comprehensive system for managing and controlling all information and processes relating to the customers.
At the same time, the solution maps the complete value chain from ordering through to picking and dispatch. Orders can be created automatically, availability is checked electronically, and cross-selling products are identified. The newsletter is linked to the online store, so customers can quickly order the products they are interested in. The order tracking option also enables purchasing transactions to be tracked, so the order status can be determined at any time. Interested parties, who are not registered as customers, are also able to browse the store. Registration is only necessary if someone actually wants to place an order.
To provide further support for customers’ internet transactions, Storopack wants to add more features to its Packaging Guide. In future, for example, customers will be able to look up their purchasing history, and thus find out which products they ordered, and when. The company also plans to introduce payment by credit card.
Following implementation of the electronic sales platform in Germany, 2006 will also see the step-by-step introduction of country versions for Switzerland and the Benelux countries. A release upgrade to mySAP ERP is also planned for this year. Possible follow-up projects at Storopack include the introduction of a complete customer management system and the implementation of SAP Business Information Warehouse.

Thomas Mühleisen

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