Søstrene Grene: Overview and control are crucial for our digital transformation. 

A few years ago, Søstrene Grene’s internal logistics was based on paper and analogue solutions. A strategic overarching development and a big investment in a new warehouse placed various demands on the warehouse management. The modern WMS solution was found at Apport Systems. 

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“Only five or six years ago, we were completely analogue. And three years ago, we built some sort of a WMS solution into our ERP system. Now, we have taken the logical conclusion by getting a dedicated WMS solution.”

– Mikkel Grene, CEO at Søstrene Grene

From physical retailer to omnichannel-business

Søstrene Grene aims at meeting its ambitious goals for the future. Soon, we will be writing in 2020, and in just a few years the Danish business chain has almost doubled the number of franchise stores in the 17 countries, in which the business is housed.

To handle the great flows of goods from all the stores, Søstrene Grene has invested in a large, new, and modern logistics centre in Årslev, west of Aarhus. The new WMS solution is a crucial tool for the business’ digital development with, among others, a new omnichannel business model.

“Only five or six years ago, we were completely analogous. And three years ago, we built some sort of a WMS solution into our ERP system. Now, we have taken the logical conclusion by getting a dedicated and modern WMS solution,” explains Mikkel Grene, CEO of Søstrene Grene.

Søstrene Grene is experiencing rapid development with its plenty of new stores. However, the digital development and the customers’ requirements for an online presence have placed new demands on the firm’s management of large quantities of goods.

“The development of our internal logistics has been important to us, as we face a digital transformation at which we progress from being a classic physical retailer to becoming an omnichannel business. This places completely new demands on us. On the one hand, we must streamline our current logistics solution that services the stores. On the other hand, we additionally face entirely new requirements since we need to follow new ways of selling our products, such as via webshop, click & collect, and so on. This has meant that we took the plunge and had a modern WMS-solution implemented, thus, allowing us to have utterly control over exactly where our products are during the processes and enable us to optimise our processes additionally,” tells Mikkel Grene.


“Open heart surgery”

CEO of Søstrene Grene, Mikkel Grene, describes the ongoing transformation from a traditional retail business to a modern omnichannel mindset as an “open heart-surgery.” All at once, the business must operate the many stores as before, and build a completely new landscape of systems. 

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The solution Søstrene Grene got may look similar to many others on the surface. However, several of the solutions, we provide, has quite specific requirements for the concrete tasks in each firm. CSO at Apport Systems, Asger Sandberg Petersen, explains;

“Many great ideas have been thought through and are now integrated into the system.”

“The solution made for Søstrene Grene covers all functions right from every item in and to every item out, which is the same as the system basically handles for all our other customers. Nevertheless, Søstrene Grene’s solution differentiates as all order picking is immensely optimised to the store deliveries, and the solution is moreover integrated with different automation processes that are available in Søstrene Grene’s huge warehouse. Various great ideas have been thought through and are now integrated into the system,” says Asger Sandberg Petersen.

STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN

Digital infrastructure

As explained above, the development of the new WMS has been a crucial element in Søstrene Grene’s strategic development plan regarding both its new, large warehouse in Årslev and its web warehouse in Viby, which, among others, helps to support Søstrene Grene’s new webshop. In both the current- and future competitive situation, it is a matter of reducing the handling costs and making the best possible use of capacity.

Lager hos Søstrene Grene

“It has been a prerequisite for our development that our logistics have become more efficient, and we are thus able to reduce costs. Thus, because we now have control of our digital infrastructure, several automation possibilities are made available,” explains Mikkel Grene and adds:

“We must allow for new creativity in our business. For example, it is about managing one order picking and be able to deliver it directly to the end-user wherever in Europe. Beforehand, such deliveries were exclusively possible through our partner stores. Thus, this solution enables an entirely new business dimension. Accordingly, the new WMS provides prerequisites, such as overview and control that prepares us for the future,” tells Mikkel Grene.

FOCUS

Customers enter the stores

While Søstrene Grene generally invests in online sales and presence, it is especially the interaction between the internal and the external logistics that is important. The goal is to create customer flows in the physical stores, which mainly are owned by franchisees.

“It is absolutely vital for Søstrene Grene to develop an omnichannel mindset. It is not about making the Søstrene Grene Group to focus on having a webshop. Instead, our focus is on evolving the stores in the digital transformation and the new customer journey. We aim at driving as much sales as possible into the stores,” emphasizes Mikkel Grene.

Before, Søstrene Grene only had a small selection of the products online with no purchase option. Now, with the very new website will practically all products be available for sale online. The new WMS has, among others, made this possible.

“We know that many of our customers starts the shopping experience on their mobile, thus, we need to ensure that they get the opportunity to find exactly what they are looking for at Søstrene Grene, if it is something in our assortment.”

“It is absolutely vital for Søstrene Grene to develop an omnichannel mindset.”

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CHOOSING APPORT

A modern WMS that points into the future

“Apport has great references, and it seemed like a beneficial match for us regarding both the solution Apport could deliver, as well as the chemistry between our businesses. In addition, we valued having a partner who was able to be physically close. With a foreign firm, it might be harder to develop the same close dialogue, as we currently have with Apport. Without getting a too complex solution, we wanted a modern WMS that points into the future. And together with Apport, we have achieved this,” says Mikkel Grene. 

At Apport Systems, Asger Sandberg Petersen agrees that the collaboration regarding the development of the new WMS has been exemplary, and it has simultaneously been inspiring to experience the special corporate culture at Søstrene Grene.

“The task at Søstrene Grene has been both exciting and challenging.”

“Challenging, since it was not a pure standard solution, and exciting as the collaboration, related to the solution, with Søstrene Grene has been characterised by professionals and a professional approach. Generally, the collaboration has been governed by really pleasant people who all were solution oriented. Clearly, this has additionally affected one wanting to go the extra mile for Søstrene Grene when necessary. Challenges always arise, but as each is measured in accordance to how it must be managed, the collaboration has been impeccable,” tells Asger Sandberg Petersen.

IN HINDSIGHT

Experiences and optimisation

As you know, there is hardly anything else as unbearably as looking hindsight. And subsequently a process of development and the implementation of a new WMS, there is particular one thing that Mikkel Grene would like to do differently if he had to go through the process again.

“We chose to shorten the system’s test period because we wanted to get started with all the new, important digital opportunities and our digital transformation. In hindsight, we planned a too short test period, and it negatively affected us later when we had to make changes after the instalment. We could have done without this,” tells Mikkel Grene.

“Even though it was a deliberate decision, it was not correct, and it can definitely not be recommended,” emphasizes Mikkel Grene, who is pleased that the system is now running as it should and delivers the desired results.

The collaboration with Apport Systems is strongly recognised at Søstrene Grene. “We felt that Apport Systems focused on getting to know the Søstrene Grene organisation properly. Moreover, Apport has been good at managing the process and delivered on time in correspondence to the agreed content. It has gone well, and we have been in good hands,” explains Mikkel Grene and looks confidently towards new goals with complete control of warehouse and logistics in Denmark.

In the future, one or more satellite warehouses may be established in Europe, however, the years to come will focus on the development of customer-oriented functions.

Medarbejder på Søstrene Grene lager

“Surely, we will continue to focus on streamlining our logistics and hereby allow the realisation of the potential that definitely lies ahead, due to how we progress our experience with workflows and processes,” says Mikkel Grene.

As explained, we at Apport Systems look back on an exciting and great collaboration of the first project. Even though we have crossed the finish line, the journey does not stop here.

“We have started developing e-com WMS for Søstrene Grene, and we are very proud to be chosen for this project too. We truly look forward to spending time with Søstrene Grene in the future and as with the first project, we will do our utmost to be Søstrene Grene’s logistics partner,” says Asger Sandberg Petersen.

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Would you like to know more?

If you have further inquiries or questions about this customer case, you are welcome to contact CSO Asger Sandberg Petersen at Apport at:

+45 41 77 35 50 asp@apportsystems.com