Axfood, Sweden’s second largest food retailer, worked with SAP to develop a new solution for assortment planning, now available as a standard SAP product.
Long-time SAP customer Axfood places innovation as a key component of its sustainability strategy, fulfilling its mission to provide quality, sustainable food at affordable prices. Axfood embraces new trends, customer behaviors and technology as a way to secure its position as a challenger and forward-looking company. For its assortment planning needs, Axfood welcomed the opportunity to innovate its existing SAP solution to create a more differentiated and customer-centric one. At the top of that agenda was creating a solution that users would “love working with the system”.
Better assortment planning for a more sustainable business
Assortment planning refers to the process of selecting the products that a supermarket carries and sells. But it’s not just about putting the right products on the shelves. As shelf life dictates product shelf life, intelligent assortment planning can help by limiting unnecessary waste and providing targeted product attributes such as organic, fair trade and carbon neutral in a traceable way. It plays an important role in a retailer’s sustainability strategy.
In order to make good assortment decisions, businesses require large amounts of data from sales history, forecasts, customer data, and competitive analysis. It is also important that the solution is intuitive to use, as large amounts of data are brought together on his one screen. For Dick Due Pedersen, his Price and Assortment Division Manager at Axfood IT, this means he doesn’t have to think too much about how to use the system and can focus on the data being displayed and make the right decisions easily. To do.
From Problem to Working Prototype in 4 Days
This work started in November 2019 with Axfood joining the SAP Fiori Makers program with the aim of improving the user experience for some applications. These programs are his four-day intensive hands-on workshops where SAP design experts collaborate with business people and end-users to transform the user experience (UX) processes of companies around the world. Accelerate. On this occasion, a team of 20 experts, including IT professionals and Axfood end users, came together with SAP’s key architects and developers.
During the program, Axfood was carefully guided through the design and development process, including identifying use cases requiring special attention and pain points to be resolved. The team allowed him to work closely for four days to create the first working prototypes of several assortment planning scenarios in his actual SAP environment. After seeing what they could achieve with SAP’s design system, Axfood was excited to continue iterating with the SAP assortment planning team beyond the programme. As Pedersen explains, it was a win-win situation to keep working on improving the solution.
Design new world-class solutions with user insights
In their decision to modernize their existing product for SAP Assortment Planning, one of the main concerns Axfood wanted to target was user experience. “We want our users to enjoy working with the system, to actually use it, and not to dare to use other tools. application her specialist Anna Ihme explains:
Addressing lingering pain points in previous solutions was critical to retaining users. This includes poor performance, inability to plan multiple assortments simultaneously, insufficient customer-centricity in the decision-making process, and the need to use separate systems such as Microsoft Excel to perform cluster analysis. There was one thing involved.
A key design challenge was to easily provide the data they needed at their fingertips without overwhelming the user. To do this, SAP’s designers relied heavily on user research and insights to inform the design. As user experience design specialist Daphne Schimetschek tells us, we needed to get a detailed understanding of her users’ goals, needs, and pain points. Usually a planner she needs a lot of information on one screen. At first, it was difficult to tell when users needed what information. With different players spread across the globe, such as Axfood from Sweden, developers from the US, India, Romania, product owners from Switzerland and designers from Germany, it is important to maintain close collaboration and weekly check-ins. was. team.
When it came to designing the solution, it was important to balance creativity, innovation and practicality. “Every project needs a vision,” he explains Schimetschek. “But it takes small steps to get there. This is where SAP’s design system comes to the rescue. With standardized processes, you can use your existing design language and not have to rethink everything. It gives us time to focus on forward-thinking ideas and develop new concepts that will influence future design systems.”
“SAP scaled the system to fit our vision,” says Pedersen. This new solution allows users to see all the data they need on the same screen, while retaining the benefits of Excel and adding artificial intelligence (AI) and mass maintenance only possible in SAP’s design systems. It enables real-time simulation and uses predictive analytics to cluster based on attributes, KPIs, or any custom criteria, allowing manual adjustments or overrides as needed.
As Dr. Guido Menkhaus, chief product owner of SAP’s Retail Product Management, explains, a big advantage of SAP is the flexibility it offers to its users. You need a very manual way to select products for a particular store, or a fully automated way if you plan your assortment using lots of data and artificial intelligence. ”
Customer innovation for a better future
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Andrea Waisgluss works at SAP Design.