Deli XL, a leading wholesale supplier to the Dutch foodservice market, offers and reliably delivers an assortment of over 60,000 food and related products and services to its 30,000 customers in the hospitality, catering and institutional markets. Deli XL receives over two million order lines per month, of which 60 percent arrive via Bestel XL, an interactive Web site based on LANSA technology. Deli XL also uses the Visual LANSA Framework for extensions to its core ERP system.
Arnold Hendriks, Application Development Manager at Deli XL, explains, "Because of Bestel XL’s flexible architecture, which allows our customers to set up their own Web and order preferences, we are able to support the order process of our large institutional customers, as well as the small restaurants."
We can support the order process of large institutional customers, as well as small restaurants
- Always a pioneer
- Continuous improvement
- Better Customer Service
- Complaints Management
- A Fantastic Score
- Company and System Information
Always a pioneer
Deli XL has been a pioneer in offering its customers online order facilities since 1999 and was at that time one of the first companies in the Netherlands to build its eCommerce Web site on the AS/400, the predecessor of the IBM i.
Hendriks explains, "We are a long time user of the IBM midrange platform, at first using the System 38 and after that the AS/400 and its successors. Initially we developed our systems with RPG, but in 1994 we decided to speed up the development process with a 4GL. After gaining advice and evaluating the options, we chose LANSA as it was the best fit for our organization."
"From then on we developed all new applications with LANSA and replaced some hard-to-maintain RPG applications with LANSA as well. LANSA is far more productive than RPG. Moreover we have improved the quality of our programs and reduced maintenance costs by centrally defining and maintaining the business rules in the LANSA Repository."
It was never the intention to invest in the redevelopment of RPG systems that ran without problems, according to Hendriks. That’s why there is still a lot of RPG logic to maintain today. Deli XL also uses packaged solutions, such as PeopleSoft Financials and specialized systems for sales support. When the Internet started to gain popularity, Deli XL was the first in the Dutch food service industry to offer its customers online ordering. "One of the most important criteria was that the Web site had to be fully integrated with the back-end ERP system, allowing customers to place their orders in real-time against the actual stock-on-hand. LANSA had just launched their first Web development tool in 1998, so we started working with that."
We have improved the quality of our programs and reduced maintenance costs
Since its initial launch, Deli XL has released a new Bestel XL version at least once a year. Initially all development was in-house, but Web development has been outsourced to LANSA partner SOLAR IT since 2004.
"The current version has a significantly improved ‘Search’ facility, which is essential with an assortment of over 60,000 products!" remarks Hendriks. "Customers can search within their ‘personal work-list’ of previously ordered products, or through the entire product offering. Bestel XL offers various search criteria, including description, product group, brand and item number. Customers can also search across all product groups and brands with a search argument such as ‘organic food’.
"In addition, we offer ‘Assortment Online’, a supplementary LANSA Web application which makes it easy to quickly find your way through the assortment," explains Hendriks. "Assortment Online very smartly clusters products in main groups and sub groups, allowing customers to explore the assortment superfast in a drill-down fashion."
Other recently introduced improvements include showing product images (at present restricted to non-food items); being able to work with fixed quantities; extended order history availability; enhancements to avoid double ordering; and wherever possible, displaying both per item and per kilo prices. Moreover, Bestel XL now remembers the user’s preferences, for example a specific sort sequence or whether to show prices including or excluding GST, removing the need to set the preferences for each order session.
Hendriks explains, "Our customers include hotel chains, restaurants, hospitals, retirement homes, detention centers, company restaurants, catering companies, recreation and theme parks, exhibition centers, petrol stations and more. The requirements of such a diverse group of customers differ immensely, but because of Bestel XL’s flexible architecture, which allows our customers to setup their own Web and order preferences, we are able to support the order process of our large institutional customers, as well as the small restaurants.""Customers can create a tailor-made order list to their exact specifications, either for their organization or for each branch-location separately. The system then applies that tailor-made list during the ordering process, making the order process very fast and efficient. "
Fast Search facilities are essential with an assortment of over 60,000 products
Better Customer Service
The Deli XL Customer Contact Centre is responsible for the application management of Bestel XL, from a functional point of view, making sure that relevant customer comments and suggestions are applied in the next version of the site.
Maarten van Riessen, Customer Contact Center Manager at Deli XL, explains how Bestel XL has improved the relationship with customers, "Bestel XL has changed our organization. Our overall contact with the customer has become more profound as the superficial routine of going through the order list is now taken care of by the site."
"Traditionally we were the order entry department. We were focused on the taking of a customer order and consequently our team members were recruited based on the number of key-strokes they could make per minute. Bestel XL was seen as a separate channel and some team members may even have considered the site as a threat to their job."
"Now we are the Customer Contact Center and Bestel XL forms a completely integrated part of our customer service. We have 100 members in our team who are each responsible for their own group of customers, both for the order coordination, and the sales, as well as for the resolving of questions and complaints. Our staff increasingly views Bestel XL as an aid, allowing us to offer our customers the intimacy of a dedicated contact person, despite the scale of our operation."
"By letting the site take care of order entry, we have been able to develop additional activities, allowing us to get more out of our team. We improved customer service significantly by closely communicating with customers and by actively engaging our team in campaigns. The focus is on the customer and how the customer places their order is only one of the topics of conversation."
"Our team is able to realize better results and improved efficiency for their customers. The higher the percentage of electronic orders, the more time we have to get involved with customers, rather than processing orders."
"Accuracy has improved throughout the entire sales process. We now have less than ten per mille erroneous order lines. That’s even including errors caused by the customers themselves, so it is an extremely low error rate."
"The 24 by 7 availability of Bestel XL is also of importance. Some of our small hospitality customers only know in the evening what they want to order for the next day. Using Bestel XL, customers are always up-to-date with the latest assortment changes and inventory. There is no other media that contributes so much to customer satisfaction."
We improved customer service significantly
Deli XL recently implemented a new Complaints Management System (KMS) to support the registering and processing/resolving of problems and complaints. The KMS, developed with Visual LANSA Framework, is deployed on Windows rich-clients and uses the IBM i as a database server.
Up to a few years ago Deli XL had a very simple complaints registration system that didn’t offer any real support for the resolution process. Now the KMS supports the entire process of registering and resolving a complaint, providing access to every staff member that may need to get involved, from corporate accounting to branch delivery.
In the last few years, as the order-entry workload in the branch offices has evaporated, Deli XL has been gradually working towards a central customer contact center. But the deliveries still take place from local branches. Without a smart Complaints Management System that is accessible by staff throughout all departments and branches, it would be impossible to solve urgent problems quickly.
Customer complaints are now centrally reported and registered. The customer automatically and instantly receives a KMS generated email message as a confirmation that their complaint has been registered. At the same time, email alerts, explaining the problem and the desired solution, are sent to the responsible branch (in case a logistic action is needed) or the responsible department (in case a financial transaction is needed). The KMS is instantly updated with any status changes to the complaint and its resolution.
"The KMS runs very smoothly," explains van Riessen. "It also supports us tremendously in gaining a better understanding of complaint data and statistics. In addition, some of our customers receive weekly KMS reports. This is especially useful for our bigger accounts where the head office wants to know what complaints their branch locations have reported to us. This overview of Key Performance Indicators is a high quality additional service that we can now offer our customers."
"We deliver a total food and drink service and many customers are completely dependent on us for being able to serve their guests the right meal. Being able to resolve complaints quickly and fix potential problems is of the utmost importance. Complaint management equals customer management. Our annual customer satisfaction survey clearly demonstrates the appreciation our customers have for the new efficient KMS ," says van Riessen."We receive on average 2,000 customer calls per week regarding issues that are worth formally registering. With that kind of volume it may be interesting to offer online registration as an alternative. However, even in the online scenario, our thinking is always to follow up with a personal phone call."
The KPI overview is a high-quality additional service that we can now offer our customers
A Fantastic Score
"In addition to collecting 60 percent of our orders via Bestel XL, another ten percent arrives via XML," says Hendriks. "So altogether we receive 70 percent of our orders electronically. That’s a fantastic score, positioning us well ahead of the pack. The benefit of Bestel XL above the XML order method is that the site immediately shows whether there is enough inventory, and in case there isn’t, it will propose a comparable alternative."
"We have more or less achieved our goal in providing our customers with a choice of efficient ordering methods. We now consider offering additional functionality via the Web, such as online inquiries to invoice and account details," concludes Hendriks.
Altogether we receive 70 percent of our orders electronically, a fantastic score
Company and System Information
- Deli XL employs over 2,000 staff at 18 branch offices through the Netherlands and its head office in Ede. Almost all branches make use of the LANSA and IBM i based ERP system. Just a few branches use another platform, but will be converted to the main ERP system in the near future. Deli XL has over 30,000 customers, including hotel chains, leading restaurants, fast service companies, hospitals, retirement homes, detention centers, company restaurants, catering companies, recreation and theme parks, convention centers and petrol stations.
- Deli XL is a member of the Bidvest Group, an international trading and distribution organization headquartered in South Africa. Up to 2005, Deli XL was a part of Ahold. Deli XL Belgium, a sister company, serves the Belgian market, using their own ERP system, which is hosted on the IBM i platform in the Netherlands.
- Deli XL has 2 IBM i systems, both model 550, containing the production, development and mirror systems for the Netherlands and Belgium.
- Web serving is from two Sun Blade servers with Sun Sparc processors, with a LANSA Apache module connecting to the IBM i-based Bestel XL system.
- For more information visit www.delixl.nl.