Recently, working with our partner MSP AG and our client REWE , we published a brand new retail case study sharing the experience of this major European retailer in dealing with the challenges and opportunities of this digitally disrupted industry, serving a diverse but localized audience in a competitive market, while still maintaining the efficiency of central orchestration to manage costs.
If you haven’t heard of the brand, REWE Markt GmbH is part of the REWE Group, a leading trade and tourism group in Germany and Europe, was established in 1927, employs 330,000 people and operates 15,000 stores in 20 European countries.
I sat down with MSP CTO, Max Pusch , to find out more about this interesting project.
Welcome Max, tell me a bit about MSP, what’s your specialism?
MSP is a technology focused company, we concentrate on software implementation, development, consulting, support and infrastructure. Our aim is to maintain all data and media without redundancies and keep them constantly up-to-date across international and department borders. Our work with REWE gives us great insight into retail and we specialize in implementing and customizing censhare products.
What were the business challenges which REWE faced at the start of the project?
The German market represents a serious challenge for retailers, with over 80 million residents across 16 federal states and a diverse demographic. Grocery chains have to act local enough to cater to this broad range of regional tastes and yet employ all the centralized efficiencies necessary to remaining price competitive.
Specifically, we worked with REWE to solve the challenge of the complexity of maintaining product information and delivering this consistent localized experience to the consumer. They needed a solution which ensured regional buyers, category managers, and head office were in-synch, that merchandise data management, pricing and inventory control were centrally maintained, and that consistent campaigns could be quickly developed and deployed.
Wow, that must have been exciting for you and the team, sounds like a great project, what were the top requirements?
The first requirement was to create single view of their products and related merchandising by creating a centralized system which gave an oversight of all product information, marketing materials, related digital assets, and pricing.
The second was to remove the operational and system silos, and provide a secure workspace to enable communication and collaboration between the different teams on the production of these materials.
The third was around marketing - the all-in-one management of promotions and campaigns through centralized and streamlined production of advertising orders and layouts in one system for all regions and target groups.
Sounds like a significant digital transformation project! How did your team approach this?
Well, of course we used censhare! [laughs] We had a very tough and fun first project phase in which we built up the system from the scratch within eight months.
We used a requirement document to define all the technical duties we had to deliver. Internally, of course, we used agile methods to streamline our development. Overall, we had a great collaboration with REWE to discuss, define, test, and go live with single requirements.
Since 2009, we are using a single change request method to develop the system architecture to REWE’s needs.
Can you summarize the solution you built?
We found that these needs were not unique to REWE, so we took the decision to develop an ‘out of the box’ retail module which addresses the specialized needs of retailers, built, of course, on top of the censhare platform.
This solution enables REWE to automate their processes for the production, marketing, and advertising departments, allowing category managers and buyers to collaborate using a common central repository of promotion data, images, pricing and product information.
The REWE team can now quickly create campaigns, weekly sales brochures, publish to the website and to supply specific markets with individualized advertising brochures. Managing the process from the idea, through creation and approval, to the print or web publishing process.
A truly multichannel content management challenge! Why did you choose censhare for this project?
Our experience with censhare as a platform, the flexibility of the data model provided by the semantic database enables us to deploy it to cover a wide range of use cases which are separate systems in many organizations, from product information management, campaign management and publishing to the web, it was essential for REWE that our solution reflected the holistic needs of their organization.
So, a no-silo solution, excellent! What were the results?
REWE has been able to make the production of advertising materials 75 percent more efficient, as we moved them from an approval and collaboration process based on email and physical printed materials, to a digital process, implemented in a single system. It also increased accuracy, eliminating potential pricing mistakes that could occur. All of which saved cost, resources and freed the team to do more.
Great, thank you Max, any last thoughts on the project?
It’s been a great collaboration so far. A modern retail group like REWE requires a flexible system which can grow alongside the company and as a tools/client partnership we are able to quickly implement new ideas and solutions and adapt to the changing market that is today’s retail.
Thank you Max!
Ian Truscott was chatting to Max Push, CTO at MSP AG . Max Pusch has been working at MSP for more than ten years and on the Management Board since 2008. He collected his previous experience at an IT department of a large retailer. At MSP, he is responsible for software projects, marketing and human resources.