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Case Study – Higma Service

Higma Service sp. z o. o. has been operating on the Polish market since 1998, it employs 50 workers, has 25 vehicles and over 1,000 m2 of warehouse space. The company is a major distributor of professional detergents of such brands as TORK, Diversey, Taski, 3M and Vermop. The company's customers are public institutions, the mechanical industry, the sector of catering, HoReCa and private companies.

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Description of the start of cooperation

Higma Service was trying to develop a concept of change concerning B2B activities. The ideas associated with were to be to implemented in real life. The created documentation concerning B2B activities became the basis of the description of an application for a project financed under Measure 8.2 IE OP "Supporting the implementation of B2B electronic business". In 2010, Higma Service received funding for the project. As a result of the selection procedure for a partner providing dedicated B2B systems, our companies developed a partnership. Works started with a pre-implementation analysis of the whole enterprise which showed in detail all the processes taking place in the company and the available resources. The analysis also included a scheme of the existing database with the development of a new system being created for the purpose. The resulting observations, combined with the strategy of development enabled development of an implementation plan, dividing the process into stages.

Identified challenges of the project

  • Efficient service for customers throughout the country
  • The mechanism of settlements of contract customers with multiple outlets
  • Sales process automation
  • A centralized information exchange system
  • Elimination of errors due to an increased base of compatible products
  • More efficient scheduling meetings
  • Offline access to current product catalogue
  • Frequent updates of inventory
  • Full integration of the ERP with the B2B system
  • Improvement of inventory management
  • Central management of sales and marketing
  • Reporting and verification of sales plans in real time

Stage I - infrastructure, CRM and ERP

he main objective of the first phase of the project was to maximize relief of the available resources by simplifying and automating repetitive processes.

The following objectives were listed:

  • development of a central information exchange system
  • enabling free flow of information about the stock availability
  • automation of the process of settlement
  • reporting and sales planning

The first step was to reflect the actual structures involving such elements such as modelling facilities, employees, producers, contractors and all products including their substitutes. The main role of control over the data is entrusted to a propriety CRM system whose architecture was designed to easily manage permissions distributed by between modules responsible for pricing, contracts, currencies, discounts, orders and customers.

Parallel to these activities a new ERP Comarch Optima system has been implemented, subjected to a double-sided system integration in the field of:

  • exchange of product information
  • synchronization of prices and inventory
  • synchronization of information about customers
  • synchronization of order information
  • transfer of documents (FA WZ, PA)
  • transmission of payment information

To maintain a constantly current database, an integrator is released automatically at defined intervals and upon the request of a user at every database update. As a result, all users of the system have constant access to current information.

Integrator during synchronisation

After collecting data and improving data circulation, it was time analyse it in an advanced manner. To accomplish this task, an innovative reporting module was developed to enable graphical presentation of data from various areas of the company in many sections and perspectives. The data can be generated in the form of a pivot table, a graph, a map or scorecards. Additionally, the module enables the creation of budgets and analysis of the state of their implementation, as well as enables the creation of own templates for reporting and making them available to particular groups of people. A partner can become a user of the module, they can, verifying order history, analyse cooperation with Higma Service and signal problems. Such analytical options improved control over the implementation of sales plans and indicated unprofitable sales areas.

Report module - sales plans tab

Automation also covered courier services within which the system automatically generates bills of lading and notifies the contractor of shipment status via e-mail or an SMS message.

Stage II - an increase in sales

The next stage of our work was to streamline the entire sales process with the creation of new tools to increase operational capabilities of the sales department employees.

We set at the following objectives:

  • improvement of contract customer service
  • simplification of tendering
  • mobile trade panel
  • offline access to the product catalogue

The priority was to launch the implementation of a system to support key customer service. We managed to achieve this goal by providing a platform for contract sales under which each partner institution has its own store adjusted to their individual conditions of contracts. Customer consultants, as a result of negotiations with customers, enter all facilities, set the available product groups, define pricing terms, discounts granted and limits for orders. The whole process of adding a new customer takes place from the trade panel, without IT interference. The final terms are accepted by the head of the region.

Defining a new partner in trade panel

As a result, those who order products in various branches of hotels, restaurants or banks see only selected products in their panel, with the prices or points calculated, as determined under the terms of their contract.

Counterparty panel view

Additionally, the panel enables viewing order history, rapid renewal, tracking shipments, having access to invoices and downloading them as pdf files. An important aspect of the platform are its after-sales functionalities, such as service notifications, complaints and arranging and confirming business meetings. Implementation of the panel eliminated mistakes, shortened and improved the overall standard of service and ultimately increased the loyalty of this customer group. The introduction of platforms also influenced changing the scenario of meetings of sales representatives. Their new task was to train customers in the platform capabilities in order to make them independent in placing orders, the remaining time was used for product training and demonstration of new offers.

Another important source of trade orders are tenders for the supply of cleaning products for public facilities and offices. Manual creating offers under strictly defined requirements is very time-consuming.
This problem was solved by a tendering module which enables easy clicking all the parameters into the system and determining margins for the whole tender. The final offer is saved by the system in the form of a pdf file including all of the requirements of the tender. The implementation of the module shortened the development time of tenders by half.

In parallel with the work on the system, a B2B application for the Android platform was developed. Its mission is to provide access to the full offer of the company, in areas without permanent access to the Internet. The application, as a catalogue, is used by both merchants and customers during telephone orders. The catalogue has been designed so that the base of 2 500 products with images was downloaded to the device memory only once.

View of category in the application on mobile devices

Updates are performed automatically only when changing product information in the CRM system.

To increase the efficiency of merchants' working time in the field, a mobile module was developed for them. This is a panel available from a browser, made according to the responsive it provides access to all the information about customers, orders, contracts, statuses to which the given employee is entitled to. It has extensive calendar options with the possibility of planning, notes, scheduling visits accepted by both parties.

Merchant calendar view

Added values for both Higma Service and its partners include: shortening the time devoted to communication, eliminating human errors, full control over processes, essential for proper coordination.

Stage III - debt recovery and wholesale automation

The third stage of the work is to include all regular customers into a panel streamlining the sales process, service and debt recovery.

The objectives of this stage include:

  • increasing the efficiency of wholesale
  • improving after-sales services
  • automation of debt recovery proceedings

At this stage, a dedicated panel called E-DOK (Electronic Customer Service Department) was developed, giving access to the full range of all permanent customers with verified accounts in the system. After logging in, they can place orders for institutions to which they are assigned and have access to their order history. They can file a complaint, report the need for service and arrange meetings or presentations. All events take place directly in the mobile calendar assigned to a merchant who has the ability to accept or change dates. Customers with higher potential can negotiate purchasing prices by submitting an inquiry on specific products or sets.

E-dok panel view

The panel also provides downloadable content for customers, such as commercial presentations and specifications.

In order to automate control over payments, a debt recovery module was developed that assigns credibility statuses to customers. Each status means other payment options, credit limits and delivery options. In the case of a delay in payment or a limit, the customer can be automatically covered with more restrictions s or fully blocked until the payment settlement. When the status changes, internally predefined actions are also taken, such as automatic urging mails and contact command in the panel of the responsible merchant who sees them in the calendar and confirms execution.

Summary

The above-mentioned functionalities are only a selected part of the system, developed for the last 5 years. It is worth mentioning that the confidence, professionalism and incredible determination of the board of Higma Service had a huge impact on the ultimate success of the project.

Opinion of the President of Higma Service

Collaboration with i-systems was established during project implementation under Measure 8.2 OP IE »Supporting the implementation of B2B electronic business«. The i-systems team was actively involved at the design stage of the system to meet our expectations and make the system correspond to the specifics of the business. Thanks to the fruitful cooperation, Higma Service Sp. z o. o. possesses a unique tool that enables to optimize every day business processes between Higma Service and its partners and contractors.

After the implementation of the application, automation covered a series of processes, from the stage of offering products, through placing orders to generating documents. The introduction of innovative solutions enables us to change the nature of the work, avoid mistakes and thus improve the quality of the services provided. After the implementation period, the time and effort needed to service and execute orders were reduced by 50%.

Assessing our existing co-operation and the effects we obtained after the application has been deployed with, I can, with full responsibility, recommend i-systems as a professional and reliable partner, not only in software development but also as a tool for rationalization of business costs.

— Maciej Jaeschke, Chairman of the Management Board of Higma Service

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