The writer is Wolfgang Harbaum, Account & Solution Manager for the trade industry, itelligence AG
The requirements of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are growing continuously, the global markets are shifting, and today’s customers expect more than just the right goods at the right place and the right price. With the SAP Business All-in-One solution “it.trade”, itelligence has created a solution that reflects the current requirements of the market and is capable of rapidly implementing future requirements – all within the stable environment of an SAP system.
It is now 10 years since the first version of the “it.trade” solution was developed and taken live in conjunction with the customers of two ERP projects for the technical trade. Both customers still use the solution today – a newer version, of course. The certification and qualification of the industry solution by SAP began shortly afterwards: a sign of quality for ERP providers in terms of the quality and features of a solution for customers. “it.trade” is now marketed internationally in Europe, the USA and the Far East and is in live operation at more than 100 small and medium-sized enterprises around the world.
In accordance with the requirements of the market, the features of the solution in its current form stretch far beyond those of a simple ERP solution for the purchase and sale of goods. Various requirements in terms of logistics and warehousing are fulfilled using different functions and processes: for example, in-house inventory management, the integration of logistics service providers and CEP integration are all mapped in detail.
The customer market is served differently in the various sub-sectors of wholesale and specialist trade. Whether in the technical trade over the counter or at the checkout, consumer goods trading via eCommerce and telephone, or distance selling via webshops, “it.trade” connects the various sales channels and meets customer needs as required. Multiple channels can be used simultaneously for a sales process. It is no longer a question of simply selling goods – wholesale increasingly also involves additional services such as leasing, maintenance and finishing. These supplementary services must be included in the ERP system in an optimal and user-friendly form. With this approach, the industry is expanding its service range, thereby allowing it to tap new markets and ensuring customer retention throughout the entire product lifecycle. These additional services form part of the scope of the “it.trade” solution and can be taken live quickly thanks to preset processes.
Changes in global markets lead to changes in the industry structure. Today’s manufacturers with production facilities in Europe may be tomorrow’s system integrators, with no in-house production but a wide range of sales channels. Although still marketing their products under the same brands, they no longer manufacture them internally; instead, they are designed in-house then produced to specification by contract manufacturers, usually in the Far East. In this process, manufacturing companies and producers of consumer goods evolve into system integrators and distribution firms with exacting requirements in terms of enterprise resource planning. Some retail brands refer to manufacturers that no longer run their own production facilities. The corresponding processes are mapped in “it.trade” with a strong import/export focus.
A strong solution needs a strong team. At a global level and in terms of local project support for customers alike, itelligence operates in this industry segment with knowledgeable staff. An in-house team of experts in Europe and the USA ensures further development and support for the solution, supplemented by offshore and nearshore locations within the NTT Data Group.
“it.trade is now more than 10 years old, but it reinvents itself every year to reflect the increased and expanded requirements of the market – indeed, the market itself helps to keep the solution young.”