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BoConcept

Furniture retailer ERP case study
Becoming a global brand

Once a manufacturer and now global furniture distributor enlists the help of Columbus

After an initial stage of funding and a period as an international furniture manufacturer BoConcept ® is now in its third phase, when it comes to the positioning of its brand globally. Modular design furniture is still being produced in Ølgod, Hornslet, Herning and China, but the main task for employees at the headquarters in Denmark is to ensure the efficient logistics between the BoConcept stores, factories, and suppliers.

"It does not matter if a customer orders furniture in a store in Tokyo, New York or Paris, the clerk will still give them a date for when the furniture will be delivered. We do not stock goods in individual stores - partly because our shops are centrally located and storage space is minimal. We work with centralized distribution centers, and in Denmark the challenge is to make logistics, distribution and in some cases production come together. Something may need to be produced in Ølgod and something in China, but it is up to us in Denmark to ensure that the clerk can give the customer an accurate time of delivery right away and we need to ensure that we meet this deadline, "says Joan Bjørnholdt, Retail Process Manager at BoConcept ®.

Builds own IT function

IT plays a central role in the logistics. So central that BoConcept ® has chosen to build their own IT competence center in the IT department with Stig Salskov Iversen as the head. This has been developed in parallel to the Retail Operations department, which has the commercial responsibility for developing and implementing the solution.

"We see IT as a major competitive factor and a necessary condition for being a reliable and competitive supplier," he says. "In the past IT was not one of our focus areas, but when we changed strategy and became more of a logistical company than a production company we scrapped the old solution in the stores and invested in Microsoft Dynamics AX."

Easy to be a seller

We chose Microsoft Dynamics AX because of the technology and the ability to have more countries running on the same solution. Another advantage of Dynamics AX was that it had been rolled out successfully by other companies in the retail industry, namely IDdesign which is name behind  Idé Møbler.  The BoCocept  Finance and IT manager Joan Bjørnholdt took part in developing and implementing the Dynamics AX solution at IDdesign.

"BoConcept ® has gone from being a producer to be a more retail-oriented business. Now we are thinking from the stores point of view. We must comply with the time frames that the seller has promised the customer. Therefore, we have purchased an ERP solution instead of a POS. And by choosing a Retail solution for make-to-order companies, we can give the seller the confidence they need when they are inputting a sales order. “says Joan Bjørnholdt.

The Retail solution from Columbus controls the flow of information throughout the chain. It is updated daily with product information, delivery times, etc., so that they always have current information in the stores. Recently, the solution was expanded with "Warehouse on the Water", so that a clerk in Tokyo, for example, can track shipments on the way to Japan.

Local competence

So far, 85 out of the approximately 150 BoConcept ® stores are up and running on the system. And as the Group has an aggressive growth strategy, it is of vital importance that the ERP solution can be rolled out quickly. In one month four to five shops can be connected. Then the challenge is to get people trained at the same rate.

Retail Operations arrives when Dynamics AX is being rolled out in a new country and builds knowledge locally so that they become as autonomous as possible. It is extremely important to have local expertise and super users.

"Things are best solved locally", says Joan Bjørnholdt. "Retail Operations are responsible for the set-up and dissemination of Best Practice in the organization. But it is also crucial that we have a strong Dynamics AX competence centrally. At all hours of the day we have BoConcept ® stores around the world that are open. We have therefore developed our own IT organization which in crisis situations is available 24 hours a day. "

The cooperation with Columbus is key. BoConcept ® possesses the knowledge needed for daily operations, while Columbus comes into play when there is a need for their core competencies. That has among other things been used in regard to the Columbus Galaxy solution that integrates data between the Retail solution and the part of the production that is not running on Dynamics AX.

Joan Bjørnholdt and Stig Salskov Iversen also like the fact that Columbus is a global. They expect to benefit greatly from Columbus’ experience when the Retail solution is implemented at stores in "new" countries.

Workable

The IT staff and the staff in the retail stores at BoConcept ® are all extremely pleased with the smooth running of the Dynamics AX solution. However, Stig Salskov Iversen is curious as to whether the solution will be able to keep up with the growth rate that Bo-Concept ® plans. "We are already close to 1,000 users now and we will continue to grow in the future. Therefore, I am pleased the Microsoft is moving upward in the ERP market in the next versions on Dynamics.”

"If we had to choose a solution again we would still choose Dynamics AX”, adds Joan Bjørnholdt. "All our diverse range of users including clerks, back office and warehouse workers have found the system easy to work with. Our starting point is that the system should be so easy that after two hours people should be able to make a retail sale - and they can. Therefore, the Retail solution from Columbus and Dynamics AX was a great choice for us."

Dynamics AX is now implemented in United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, USA, Japan, France and Spain. The next countries to implement the solution will be the Netherlands, Poland, Luxembourg and New Zealand.

Facts about BoConcept ®
BoConcept ® is a Danish-owned, global franchise chain with the vision to become the leading brand in interior design. The target audience is the conscious consumers in cities. From being a distinct furniture manufacturer BoConcept today focuses on international distribution, but still with its own production supplemented by external suppliers.
The franchise Chain BoConcept ® currently includes around 150 shops in major markets around the world: USA, France, Japan, Germany, Spain and Denmark. The aim is that the number of BoConcept stores in 2009 will be around 300. In Denmark, the plan is to complement the existing five stores with six this year and seven next year.
The Group is headquartered in Herning, while the largest production site and the main warehouse are in Ølgod.

Categories: Retail, Microsoft Dynamics AX

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