Off to new spheres: Klingel gears up for omnichannel

Artikel_prokom_Klingel_parsionateBuzzwords like omnichannel and customer journey have meanwhile established in the daily routine of trading companies. They are based on a perfectly integrated IT-landscape as well as high-quality product data. Many companies therefor work on the maturity level of their product information system.

But what happens after the implementation and rollout of a PIM-software?

More than 70 web shops, over 800,000 items and several million orders every year– the Klingel Group has developed to one of the biggest mail order companies in Europe during the past. Besides the focused specialization on niches products, the strong future-oriented management is a key factor for their success. While the print catalogues in the past were the leading sales medium, e-commerce meanwhile has developed to a substantial part of the overall sales. With the basic change to becoming an omnichannel trader, Klingel positions for the future and conforms to the increasing expectations of the consumers on a consistent and comprehensive shopping experience across all channels and touch points.

Being a privilege of a younger target group in the past, E-Commerce rather has arrived in all age- and target groups. This meanwhile matured sales channel offers not only a chance for mail order companies. It is also a big challenge for their IT and marketing departments.

While previously consumers chose initially the trader via shop or catalogue and afterwards the product – oriented on the offered assortment – their behavior now changed drastically to the opposite. The connection of the channels has become a standard in our households in the meantime: the online price check of goods, that have been chosen and tried on in the shop, is meanwhile completely normal. Consumers more and more frequently choose the product first – gladly welcoming the support of the internet and without any assortment restriction. Afterwards the trader will be chosen – and this normally happens based on the best available price, due to the oversupply in the market. From this, an enormous price war of the traders for the best positions at Amazon & co arose. Also the expectations of the consumers regarding the scope of the assortment, delivery times and product information are increasing steadily. Good and consistent product information across all sales channels means a crucial competitive advantage.

The innovative Pforzheim-based company therefor relies on the consequent extension, enhancement of their channels as well as connecting all of those efficiently. Through this, they offer their customers a clear additional value. Started with replacing their leading medium with the e-commerce-channel, personalized printed buying recommendation as packet supplement right up to the seamless conjunction of the sales channels by a unified data source: Klingel moved omnichannel as company strategy to a new level of perfection.

„The development of an appropriate IT landscape that allows this level of networking and an efficient data management, was the first necessary step towards omnichannel”, declares Sebastian Klumpp, IT Project Manager at Klingel. In 2012, the company decided to integrate a powerful PIM system into its IT landscape. The aim was to optimize data quality with a simultaneous increase of efficiency in the process. As an interface between ERP and the downstream trade channels, the product data is maintained here, processed for each print and online media, and will be finally published into the channels automatically. Nevertheless, it quickly became apparent that the enormous amount of products is hard to manage with the default configuration of the system. Customer-specific extensions were necessary to optimally adapt the system to the requirements and processes of Klingel’s employees, thus enabling the use of the system performance. Many professionals know this problem: Although software vendors support in implementing the system, companies however often feel left alone in customizing as well as in the daily operation of the PIM system. Klingel has therefore taken an experienced partner on board in the phase of the software launch. With the omnichannel-specialized consulting company parsionate, the rollout of the software has been precisely planned and executed. But what happens after the implementation? We all know it: One buys a new mobile phone, installs it, migrates his data from an old backup, maybe reads the instruction manual – and yet you still find new features after months, install new apps and optimize the device to your individual needs. The same goes  for software. In most cases, it is not done with the installation. Training of users, adapting the processes, bug fixes, individual extensions, user support – the daily use will bring up many hints for optimizing software.

In the specific case of PIM systems one of the most critical tasks is to ensure the daily proper operation: Is the system permanently available? Are all systems and distribution channels supplied with product data as planned? Are all imports running correctly? Especially the support of the users in the initial phase is an important component. Because only those users who can utilize a software easily and receive a quick and pragmatic assistance on issues, like working with it and are open to get familiar. And already this fact alone has a significant impact on the quality of the product data in the system as well as its acceptance among the users. At Klingel something that was similar to many other projects happened: There were no internal resources and experience with such software products and processes. Therefore, parsionate supported Klingel during the introduction of the system by a competent Application Management – from system optimization and custom extensions all the way to end user support. As part of this continuous system optimization were, among others, individual data exports to additional distribution channels such as online marketplaces, as well as integrated and exports channel-specific optimizations. Through a state-based delta-export, the existing publishing solution Lago has been integrated as well. The automation of these processes and exports saves Klingel manual effort and brought significant reduction of the print production durations.

Furthermore, the quality rules, applied before the data publication, make sure that just high-quality and complete data will be published. A real added-value for the consumers: Klingel offers consistent information along the entire customer journey and creates trust through this. Due to the strong automation of the processes, the efficiency of the system obviously also increased in total.

Also typical for many PIM systems is the missing transparency of the data quality. While the management needs an overview on the online status of the entire assortment, the product manager or the buyer just want to know the specific products and the concrete lags. Both standardly receive the same confusing excel file with full reporting information though. Therefore Klingel decided to use a custom monitoring tool, which combines data from different systems (PIM, Webshop, TMS) and the stakeholders which provide the relevant data. With the new report cockpit, the employees get a fast and simple overview on the products that require data maintenance as well as a management summary on the overall status of the assortments. This opportunity to be able to react efficiently, increases the product data quality again considerably. Sebastian Klumpp sums up: “parsionate is the perfect partner for PIM. With their experience we were able to implement the new system optimally into our established IT landscape and could adjust it to our demands in the most efficient way.”

This article was also published in the Q1/2015 issue of the German Magazin “Prokom – Das Produktkulturmagazin”.