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Changes in the purchasing behavior of B2B customers persuaded hollu to implement its first web store. “The decision-makers in the catering industry are getting younger and they are demanding new, modern channels through which they can place orders,” says Marco Stecher, Head of IT at hollu.
Competition has also influenced the decision to set up an online sales channel. Selling goods online is already widely practiced in the industry. However, no adequate online ordering platform for hollu customers existed until now. The company’s first web store was created by Sana Commerce.
Primarily, we wanted to provide customers with the option to place orders themselves 24/7. This enabled us to ensure that the field service is relieved and assumes more of the role of a specialist consultant.
Marco Stecher | Head of IT at hollu Systemhygiene GmbH
When choosing the right e-commerce software, seamless integration into the existing system landscape was of enormous importance. Without having to develop corresponding interfaces, the seamless integration of the web store into the Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP system and the Perfion PIM system was top priority in the selection of the perfect solution. Only then was the fast implementation of the e-commerce project, given the resources, made possible.
hollu compared many online store solutions available on the market, but quickly discovered that Sana Commerce was one of the few providers to offer direct integration into the existing ERP system as standard.
For the choice of e-commerce software, it was also important that B2B-specific data and calculations could be displayed within the web store. One important criterion was that customers should be able to choose their assigned delivery addresses during the checkout process. The assignment of delivery addresses to a hollu customer is regulated via customer numbers, which deviates from the standard setting in Microsoft Dynamics AX. Sana was able to map this function for hollu by displaying the customer information directly from the ERP system in the e-commerce site.
The e-commerce project started with a pre-project in which the software selection took place. This was followed by the implementation project, which was managed by the sales area manager with support from the sales, IT, marketing and product management.
After the decision was reached for Sana to become the e-commerce software provider, the implementation of the new web store had to be completed within just three months. To be able to meet the deadline for the launch of the Sana web store, strong prioritization and pragmatic thinking were needed.
For this reason, hollu decided to first go live with the Sana standard store and address possible adjustments after the initial launch. The productive cooperation between the Sana project manager, the Sana development team and the responsible employees of hollu contributed to the successful introduction of the web store, which went live as planned at the end of April 2019.
It was also very important to us that the web store could access product data and attachments such as safety data sheets and product information sheets from Perfion, our PIM system.
With the introduction of the online channel, hollu never intended to reduce the number of field staff, but rather use the existing workforce more effectively. The focus is now to create more time for high-quality expert consultations with the customers.
The company did not need any additional human resources to implement or maintain the web store, as it will be maintained by the internal sales department. The IT department will be responsible for the actual maintenance and further development of the e-commerce software.
Since the launch of the web store in late April, hollu has seen continued growth in online sales and the number of online customers. Part of this turnover is generated by 66 new online customers, but also by redistribution from the traditional channels to the web store. “Our customers are very curious and the reactions to the web store have been very positive,” explains Stecher.
“Any initial doubts about how the entire organization of the project and handling of the software would run as well as the first online orders during normal day-to-day operations have fortunately been resolved simply by the software’s ease of use,” says Stecher. According to him, there were never any doubts about whether the customers would accept the web store and actually use it as a shopping channel.
The online store is the result of the changing purchasing and ordering behavior of our customers. Here, the demand for hybrid access to our services is increasing — on the one hand, through personal expert consultations with our hollu employees on site; on the other hand, via the availability of our services 24/7. We are finally able to offer exactly this to our customers.
Markus Wendlinger | Managing Director of Sales & Service at hollu Systemhygiene GmbH
Much like the company’s other services, hollu wants to continually develop the e-commerce site and increase online sales. This is mostly achieved by the fact that more and more existing customers will switch from traditional shopping channels, such as fax and telephone, to the web store. In order to achieve this, hollu relies on promotion of the web store by the expert field consultants.
A final tip from the Head of IT
According to Stecher, and as good advice to other companies, it is wise to approach the web store project pragmatically. “Initially, there will be an enormous amount of ideas by all involved, and it will take a lot of courage to discard certain things and focus on the essential business first,” he says.
“A web store is not rocket science. We could trust Sana that the things set out in the standard would actually make sense. One should accept that and not compulsively try to reinvent the wheel.”
Stecher also recommends not to assign the project management to the IT department, but to the sales department, since the latter will actually use the new distribution channel the most and has to promote it externally as well as internally in the future. However, IT should be heavily involved in planning and integration at all times.
For me, integration into the existing IT landscape is still the guarantor of success.
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