Why SAP software and strawberry yoghurt are the perfect fit

The retail industry is seeing rapid change. A key element of this change is a modern IT architecture that is fit for the future – something ALDI SOUTH has found at SAP. 

ALDI SOUTH IT has decided to establish a centralised, integrated, modern and standardised system landscape. This move is centred around a comprehensive redesign of all associated processes. 

First of all, using a best-of-breed approach, we evaluated various different software solutions using multiple proof of concepts. In the best-of-breed approach, the best solutions are selected for each area and integrated into the overall context. Our search resulted in a shortlist of various standard solutions from different global software providers. Going forward, ALDI SOUTH will mainly focus on the portfolio of solutions from SAP, but also on software from Adobe and Salesforce.  

Which goods need to be delivered where? 

At the centre of the overall system landscape is an SAP S/4HANA system, which integrates all ERP functions, meaning all material and value flows. Satellite systems specialised for certain functions are then connected to this in order to support all processes in detail. SAP Ariba and SAP MDG, for example, map all of our buying and master data processes. SAP CAR is used to centrally store all data on the number of products sold, meaning all individual sales receipts produced in the stores every day. 

A forecasting and replenishment system then uses algorithms to determine which products need to be replenished for each country, in what quantity and to which store. In combination with the forecasting and replenishment system, these systems ensure that all merchandise can be replenished in the right quantities in line with the sales records across all stores worldwide. Since the new landscape will support all sections of the supply chain from finances to customer-related processes, several hundred integration points have to be designed and implemented. This is mainly done by using SAP PO as middleware technology, which forms an important technical component in the background, something most people do not see. 

Transformation requires new forms of cooperation 

SAP Solution Manager is used for the entire system landscape. Using this we can monitor the individual SAP components, for example. At the same time, SAP Solution Manager also supports the overall operation and further development of our SAP systems and associated IT processes. 

The task of restructuring the entire process and system landscape with standardised solutions in various forms – from on-premise solutions to cloud-based software or software-as-a-service solutions – poses a challenge to the entire company. On the one hand, the operation of running systems and ongoing business processes must not be impeded and, on the other, the introduction of the new systems needs to be coordinated. 

At the same time, however, change also gives rise to new exciting and creative tasks, which are also reflected in the new approaches to collaboration. What’s more, our corporate culture will be shaped by the international character of our fast-growing teams made up of both internal and external experts. 

Increased customer satisfaction 

ALDI SOUTH has always pursued the strategy of ensuring that the entire product range within a certain country is always available in every store. That’s nothing new. However, what will be new in the future is the level of detail of the additional data analyses that we perform, which will form the basis for making decisions. 

As an example, a supplier offers yoghurt in several different flavours: strawberry, banana, and vanilla. Currently, the computers in the POS system can only recognise the fact that yoghurt has been sold but not which flavour. As soon as the total stock of yoghurt available at the store becomes lower, replenishment stock is ordered. Subsequently, a defined combination of strawberry, banana, and vanilla yoghurt is then delivered. Using the new system, we are able to identify which flavours have been sold. This means that if vanilla is an absolute hit in store X, this store can have as many replenishment deliveries of vanilla yoghurt as it needs, and less banana and strawberry. This means better customer satisfaction, because the customer’s favourite flavour is available in the right quantity, ultimately generating more sales. 

The IT organisation is becoming more aligned with customer needs 

The new IT systems introduced by ALDI SOUTH will have a positive impact on customer experience in the stores. For employees at ALDI SOUTH, however, this presents a challenge. They have to completely change the way they think and design the IT operations in a way that enables us to bring the technological basis and possibilities closer to where they are needed and, ultimately, to the customers in the stores.  

The focus is always on the question of how to optimise processes, come up with new business models and join forces with all colleagues along the value chain to create added value for the customer. In keeping with this, the individual projects have many international members from the USA, Australia, and other nearby European countries. 

In these efforts, the innovative power of each individual counts. It’s important to take an entrepreneurial look at things. Be open, collaborative, and develop things further as a team. It is a matter of culture and attitude. Sharing ideas across the board is key to success. 

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