There is an inviting, modern commercial property on the Rietveldstraat in Zwolle which houses the head office and central warehouse of the Huisdiervoordeelshop.The third and fourth generation of the Witteveen family work there every day
with their dedicated team. And not without success, the Huisdiervoordeelshop is doing very well. In this case study we will take a close look at the success of the enterprise and, in particularly, at the role of automation in this success.
The company started in 1925 as forage traders in the agricultural sector. The company grew to include pet shops. At the end of the nineties, the current director and major shareholder, Albert Witteveen, came to the conclusion that it was time for change. They were not distinctive enough in respect to large chains of pet shops, supermarkets and the new online shops. Under his leadership, the transition was made from Witteveen Dierenspeciaalzaken to the modern Huisdiervoordeelshop. This was all done in close harmony with his wife, Frieda Witteveen. The advantage formula still offered by Huisdiervoordeelshop today is a clear added value in respect to the competition.
Jarik Witteveen, Master of Science in commercial economy and accountancy, is at the centre of the family business: “As Huisdiervoordeelshop, we have consciously and emphatically chosen the strategy of cost leadership. You could compare us with Action. We have built up a position as cost leader in the sector by keen purchasing and careful steering by costs and margins. We got rid of everything in the shops that was unnecessary or too costly, for example, livestock and luxury items. We have made very sharp agreements with eight regular suppliers. Despite being a medium-sized player, we are still given the best conditions because they are confident that we know what we are doing. We import containers from China for our own private label; I arrange that myself and it can’t be beaten in respect to margin.”
At the moment, the enterprise has ten shops and a central warehouse. Future growth is not excluded, in Jarik’s words: “We want peaceful, autonomous growth, we will grab opportunities as they occur.” The shops are run by managers. Rielou Witteveen is formula manager and often visits the shops. About 30% of the assortment is supplied from their own central warehouse. Inter-branch deliveries also go through the central warehouse so the head office can keep track and control. The other 70% is ordered by the shops from the regular suppliers and delivered directly.
When asked what automation can do for the company, Jarik gets right down to business: “We use the ASPOS retail platform from Valk Solutions. ASPOS guides the entire sales process, including ordering and stock management, in the shops and centrally. The shops place their order using an order advice at min / max values. The stock value is optimised because ASPOS steers by turnover rate. I see clear results here, the total stock value has been reduced by 20%, with constant or even higher turnovers. We look for the limit here to have no empty shelves and no-sells. This is how ASPOS contributes to our cost leadership. We do everything with the system, well almost everything, but we are including more and more. For example, the Exact bookkeeping is linked to ASPOS and we are going to link the ASPOS time sheets to our personnel administration.”
“The stocks in the shops are no longer counted each year, that was a bother and you were never abreast of things. With ASPOS we have a centrally controlled periodical roll-over audit, so that we audit the whole shop every six months. Exchange of stock between the shops, for instance items that threaten to exceed their shelf life, is cleverly controlled by ASPOS. That used to be done using Excel spreadsheets, but that is no longer necessary. The central warehouse works on ASPOS, complete with pick lists and digital invoicing for the shops. By automating and integrating all the processes in ASPOS, we have saved a whole FTE at the head office. That is a lot in our small team.”
The purchase prices are strictly confidential at Huisdiervoordeelshop. “That works well with the user profiles and authorisations in ASPOS. You can regulate what information may be seen by whom and who can do what. We have made a distinction between part-timers, substitutes, managers and head office. Employees individually log in to the system and have the rights that belong with their position. For example, returns may not be booked by part-timers. And purchase prices are only accessible by the head office. The pre-paid postage limit has been set so that managers always come out above it in their orders.”
Margins are extremely important in this advantage formula. Accurate checks are made of the invoices. The larger suppliers support the digital packing lists that are automatically made ready in ASPOS. Jarik: “Purchasing invoices are available in ASPOS with the actual custom-made discount agreements. This way, we have reports with the actual margins at our disposal. We are also very pleased with the ASPOS business intelligence dashboard based on Qlikview. We use this a lot. More and more improvements and renewals are available in new versions of ASPOS, resulting in the ability to integrate more and save even more time.”
What are the benefits of the cloud system? Jarik answers in a flash: “Everything is quicker. Numbers are available immediately, online and in real time. You can see all the transactions coming into a shop immediately. We don’t do this often, but it is possible. It can be useful during a folder period, or in the case of a new shop; it provides insight and control. And we no longer need a central server at the head office. Valk Solutions organises this for us now, they host our workplaces in the private cloud, very reliably in XS4All’s secure data centre. New employees can be added by IP address, home offices as well. That is really genius.”
Jarik Witteveen: “We are pleased with the service from Valk Solutions. We have a regular consultant as contact person who knows our company well and knows what we consider to be important. The Customer Service department will deal with breakdowns and user support as part of the service contract. We can see that the Customer Service department is well-organised, they work with protected tickets that you receive feedback about, that works perfectly. We were an early ASPOS customer, in other words, we were one of the first customers to transfer to Valk Solutions. That sort of transfer requires energy from both parties; they listened well to our recommendations which were largely included in new versions. These new versions are part of the service contract, so improvements are passed on every year.”
This case study shows a splendid family company where people work with much care and attention. The strategy of cost leadership is as steady as a rock and remains current. The role of automation has proved to be important in it. By using ASPOS properly, Huisdiervoordeelshop has an excellent grip on costs and margins. There is substantially less stock than previously and savings in personnel costs have been implemented. The perspective for the future is good. Valk Solutions compliments Huisdiervoordeelshop on its success and wishes them many good business opportunities in the future.
Zwolle – Montfoort, May 2016
Huisdiervoordeelshop Centrale Diensten B.V.
Rietveldstraat 16 | 8013 RW Zwolle