Helly Hansen has a workwear supply contract for ski resorts, where a lack of automation was causing a lot of admin work on both sides. Their client asked for a punchout store to be fully integrated with their Coupa procurement system in order to cut out that effort and remove all manual data entry.
A ski resort has lots of staff in different roles, different uniforms for the summer and winter seasons, all branded with the various resort logos. Additionally there might be orders for events, giveaways and new starters during the year. The uniforms have to be ordered in advance so that the factories have enough time to make the items, so these orders can be hundreds of lines long. The manual checking and keying in of data was causing some errors and a large amount of work. Add to this a tricky user interface, where users had to get not just the product code but also the barcode correct when manually entering purchase orders, and you have a costly problem causing difficulty for all involved.
Helly Hansen’s IT team knew that integration work is difficult, particularly when you’re getting multiple companies involved in different aspects, so they looked for a provider who could handle the entire build – the e-commerce portal, punchout, orders, invoicing and shipment notices, all with automatically-updated product data, pulled from several sources.
GetJohn is one of the few companies providing the whole solution. Our team spent several months really digging into the problem, testing connections, learning about the ordering process and the product data, eventually finding enough to create a specification and a project plan. We worked closely with the finance, IT, and customer service teams on both sides to learn about how everyone’s needs could be met by one solution.
For the store, we selected Magento, because Helly Hansen already had experience in using it, and its flexibility in dealing with large sets of product data was needed. Getting product data was a large part of the process, because in widely distributed fashion and clothing, photography really matters, as does pricing. So five different systems needed to be combined to create a definitive set of product data, with multiple departments involved in agreeing how the data would be used and formatted.
Getting Good Product Data is a Hard Problem
It sounds easy… a Magento store, imported product data, our existing Punchout solution, and simply transforming data as it goes between systems!
We started with the problem of “create a definitive set of product data.” It gets a little more complex when you add
- Up to twelve prices per product, depending on when, where and how it’s sold
- Product availability determined by stock, order type, delivery date and country
- Creating definitive product data by combining info from 5 different sources – XML files, CSV files, and some 3rd party systems for product and image management
- Updating it regularly, automatically
This type of setup is typical in large companies, so our expertise came in handy, allowing us to rapidly develop a prototype, and work with the marketing and IT teams, and the end customer, to determine things like product availability and correct display of the images.
Testing is a hard problem with so much product data. In a B2B situation, “product availability” and “price” aren’t just determined once for all your customers – they can be determined per contract. In this case, each 6-month season (Winter and Summer) brings a new set of contracted prices and products for staff uniforms. This had to be reflected with minimal effort, so we built a method for importing multiple price lists directly from Helly Hansen’s ERP system, which puts full control in the hands of their customer operations team. Testing this involved creating multiple scenarios, automatically created by a tool which looks at the product data, and then having users on both sides test those scenarios.
Visual Presentation of Product Data
The Helly Hansen brand is very strong, and appealing to the resort staff. Part of a strong brand like this is brand guidelines, but the marketing team at Helly Hansen created a “design system”, allowing us to build branding consistent with other Helly Hansen websites.
Using some off-the-shelf and some customised modules provided by Amasty, a supplier of high quality Magento add-ons, we provided a great customer experience – filtering of products by many criteria, a good quality search engine, and ordering
In a B2B setting, especially ordering large quantities of items, it was important to provide experienced buyers with the ability to upload a spreadsheet of the items they needed. This made placing large orders quick and easy.
Punchout Hub connects the buyer’s system to the supplier’s website. In this case, before they could shop, we needed to collect the user’s country, delivery date, and destination.
Although the client is experienced in setting up punchout connections, some experimenting was needed to get the file format correct for invoices and dispatch notes. This is because of issues like providing a breakdown of GST and PST tax for Canada, and ensuring that line numbering matches between the systems. Punchout Hub allows customised mapping, and in this case, custom code to ensure the right customer accounts were mapped to the right countries.
Dispatch notices include the courier and shipment tracking number, and with the Coupa procurement software’s ability to track dispatches, staff can place an order, and then watch its progress through to delivery.
When you have thousands of buyers in a client organisation, it’s really important to educate them on how to use the store. Even though it’s similar to a regular online shop, it’s important to reassure end users by explaining the process, from end to end, so that they can shop confidently. This also helps to answer basic questions, and so saves your customer services team from answering the same questions. We worked with the procurement team in the client organisation to create a guide that was easy to follow, and helpful.
In the next step, when the system is ready to be used, a process for migrating data from the old to the new system must be created, and tested – in this case, the website was new and so there was no old data to be migrated. Your data is one of the most valuable assets your business owns, so it’s important to know where it all is, and how it is secured.
Before this system, a lot of staff time was spent keying in and correcting purchase orders and invoices. Shipments were not easy to track, and Helly Hansen’s customer operations team had to spend a lot of time just answering questions about orders.
In addition, the end users weren’t always aware of which products could be ordered, and when they could be delivered.
Now, all of that data entry is automated, and end users are immediately told which products are available, the prices, and can view high quality images before ordering. Feedback from end users arrived quickly, and was very positive.