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Case Alko: Fully automated B2B messages


“When a service has such an essential role in our daily operations, its reliability is of the utmost importance. OpusCapita’s ability to live up to their service level pledge is crucial,”

Petteri Kylänpää, ICT Development Manager at Alko

Challenge

In order to respond to customer demands rapidly and accurately in its over 350 stores and web shop, Alko needs a fully electronic order and delivery process. A reliable and disruption-free B2B messaging service plays an essential role in the chain of operations that ensure the shelves in Alko’s stores are always stocked with the right products at the right time.

Solution

OpusCapita’s B2B Integration service optimizes messaging in the order-to-delivery process. Orders, order confirmations and B2B invoices are sent and received automatically between Alko and all its suppliers. OpusCapita relays the messages and takes care of any format conversions that may be needed between Alko’s ERP and its suppliers’ systems. The rapid and reliable messaging service supports streamlined daily operations and optimizes stock volumes at the stores.

“A high quality of conversions is important to us, and in this sense, OpusCapita’s service has been impeccable.”

Fully automated B2B messages maintain Alko’s order-to-delivery efficiency and help streamline daily operations

Alko, Finland’s state-owned alcoholic beverage retailer, operates with approximately 200 suppliers in Finland and 280 abroad. An efficient and reliable B2B messaging service plays a central role in Alko’s streamlined order-to-delivery process and enables the 355 Alko stores to respond to customer demand rapidly and accurately. Alko is the sole retailer of alcoholic beverages in Finland and is fully owned by the Finnish state. Alko’s strategic goal is to provide the best customer experience and the best work, to be a proactive player in the community and to be an efficient company.

In 2017, Alko’s sales volume of alcoholic beverages to- taled 93.2 million liters and it had 57.3 million customer visits. Alko’s order-to-delivery process is entirely electronic and is based in part on OpusCapita’s B2B Integration service, which enables paperless communication between Alko and its hundreds of suppliers. OpusCapita has been Alko’s chosen partner since 2007.

Via OpusCapita’s B2B Integration service, Alko is able to handle messages with all its suppliers automatically, from sending orders to receiving order confirmations and invoices. OpusCapita takes care of relaying the messages and converting them from the XML format supported by Alko’s ERP system to EDIFACT messages or any other messaging formats and types used by suppliers, and vice versa.

“The messaging service needs to be available at all times to keep our order-to-delivery process efficient. The reliability of the service is of utmost importance. Our cooperation with OpusCapita works well.”

Petteri Kylänpää, ICT Development Manager, Alko

KEEPING THE CUSTOMER PROMISE

In Finland, Alko is known for offering its customers a personal service. The stores in different parts of Finland adapt the selections on their shelves to local preferences and customer wishes. The business also has clear seasonal variances, as the stores need to stock festive sparkling wine for First of May picnics and mulled wine to warm up at Christmas time.

“The stock levels carried in the stores are optimized and so the ordering cycle is fast. The messaging service needs to be available at all times to keep the order-to-delivery process efficient. Any hiccup in the message flows would immediately affect the business in our “A high quality of conversions is important to us, and in this sense, Opus- Capita’s service has been impeccable.” stores and their ability to respond to customer demand,” Petteri Kylänpää explains.

In November 2016, Alko opened a web shop where consumers can order products to be picked up in a brick-and-mortar store. This new sales channel has further emphasized the importance of a reliable messaging service.

“We are operating in a near real-time environment. In the webshop, we promise our customers a certain delivery time, and every part of our order-to-delivery process must operate without disruptions to keep it.”

SUPPLIER PORTAL HELPS TO ACHIEVE FULL AUTOMATION

Alko also makes good use of the supplier web portal, an additional part of the B2B Integration service. Maintained by OpusCapita, the easy-to-use online portal enables even small suppliers to receive electronic orders from Alko and to send back order confirmations and invoices in the right electronic format.

“For us, it allows the entire order-to-delivery process to be electronic and automated, no matter where the suppliers are located or what kind of system capabilities they have,” Kylänpää says.

The long cooperation has established OpusCapita’s role as a link in Alko’s chain of operations and has created a solid partnership between Alko and OpusCapita. “We have been happy with the service provided by OpusCapita and both our cooperation and the daily operations work well.”

Alko is an independent operating limited company that is fully owned by the Finnish state. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for the ownership, steering, and supervision of Alko. Established in 1932, Alko specializes in the retail sale of alcoholic beverages, and in 2017, its net sales amounted to EUR 1,174.8 million. Alko employs approximately 2,401 people and has 355 stores and 60 collection points throughout Finland. For more information, visit www.alko.fi/en.

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