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Webstory Alnatura

Digitalisation for all: Alnatura counts on stratEDI
The tailored portal fulfils customer wishes 100 percent

Over 160 of its own shops, a pan-European network of large wholesalers and more than 600 suppliers: this is the structure that ensures Alnatura products are always available to consumers. To keep it all running smoothly, the organic company has been able to count on stratEDI as a partner for over 20 years. The main goal of the collaboration: to develop customer-specific solutions going far beyond classic EDI and which reflect the diversification of this trading network. Topics such as SAP connectivity or the provision of a communication server thus come to the fore. As Jan Kudernatsch, EDI Service Team Leader at Alnatura, puts it: “stratEDI always finds the solution we need, and daily business also flows without hindrance. It’s not often said, but we are 100 percent satisfied.”

How it all started:
digitalisation in the organic sector with stratEDI

The Alnatura brand rose to prominence through cooperation with a well-known German drug store. Already at the start, stratEDI was responsible at Alnatura for setting up digital structures. Initially, logistics were designed for the distribution of high volumes and to work with the company’s own markets and limited set of trading partners. Kudernatsch explains: “Data exchange via EDI is deeply embedded in Alnatura’s logistics and needs to represent the given processes as accurately as possible. Our initial digital structures may have been rather off-the-cuff, but it was clear to us that this was the only way we could work efficiently.”
When the cooperative agreement with the drug store chain came to an end, attention rapidly turned to establishing diversified structures involving many different trading partners and a comprehensive network of dealers both at home and abroad. Logistics needed to keep up with the new conditions and pace of digital exchange. Thorsten Georg, Managing Director of stratEDI, explains: “We supported Alnatura during this period and adapted the system piece by piece to the new requirements. One advantage, certainly, is that we often develop tailor-made solutions for our customers and can look back on many years of experience in this field.” In this context, aspects such as providing a SAP connection or communication server are simply part and parcel of the daily round of tasks that stratEDI takes over on behalf of Alnatura.

Change processes in the organic sector:
the Supply Chain Portal brings digitalisation for all

An important part of the Alnatura Supply Chain Portal developed by stratEDI includes classic EDI applications for large customers or suppliers that also work with EDI and are linked into the system. In this, the organic sector faces different challenges than the wider world of commerce, as many small-scale partners need to be integrated. Many of these initially didn’t have email or the internet – another problem that had to be addressed from the get-go. Kudernatsch explains: “For us, as a company, it was clear early on that digitalisation has huge benefits – but we needed to do a bit of convincing in various places. Today, it’s something nobody could think of doing without. The more so as our network continues to diversify and integrate partners from across Europe.”
The background: at a certain point in the company’s growth, handling orders by fax or post was just not possible any more, even though some partners still clung to these systems. Automated processes are much more efficient and less error-prone. Information is also immediately available, allowing the desired results to be achieved more rapidly by all. “Today, our merchandise management system sends an order to the supplier: either it arrives via EDI and is further processed or ends up on our web platform for smaller suppliers, a part of our Supply Chain Portal.” Nowadays, it has become easier to communicate to smaller partners that they themselves can profit from this solution, spending less time on administrative processes. Thus, together with stratEDI, Alnatura has helped to initiate a change process that is influencing a large swathe of the organic sector.

Web platform, storage position notification et al.:
nothing is impossible

The centre of the change process is the web platform developed for Alnatura, connecting small dealers to the wider system. It handles the entire order process and can be easily used by small organic suppliers with password-protected access. After an order is placed, they automatically receive a message from Alnatura which is stored in the system and can be printed. The order number allows suppliers to transfer information to the Alnatura ERP system regarding goods availability, volume planning and delivery dates, meaning material planning can also be carried out there in real time. In addition, the web platform can be used to generate a digital invoice using a pre-filled invoice template, with suppliers able to insert sequential invoice numbers using their own system. Kudernatsch states: “It is also very easy-to-use for suppliers: it’s fast, there’s no going to the post office, no postal charges, and our own orders are faster because they go out automatically.” At the same time, the solution offers secure archiving and is regularly approved by auditors.
A further component of the Supply Chain Portal is its storage position notifications, reporting how many pallets of goods, of what weight, are to be picked up. This information is important for Alnatura because the company has its own transport planning and collects goods itself.

100 percent excellent collaboration:
outstanding daily business, outstanding individualisation

Reliability and customer-orientation are two aspects of the relationship with stratEDI that Jan Kudernatsch has felt strongly now for over 20 years. Daily business runs smoothly, something that is extremely important for the digitalisation expert, as all data sent between partners and service providers pass through the stratEDI data hub. For larger projects such as the introduction of SAP, he says, queries have been reliably and rapidly answered, with a high level of commitment, Kudernatsch asserts. “Nowadays we are in a place where, if we have data problems, we are absolutely certain they are not down to stratEDI. Either they come from somewhere else or something has been detected by stratEDI and they report in at once.

Kudernatsch and his team also value highly the rapid, competent service rigorously provided by stratEDI for every query. In summary: “We, as a customer, are certainly not always easy to deal with, but whatever the matter is, if we put it clearly, stratEDI will look for and find a solution. This lets the system grow and change to meet our needs. You don’t say it often, but our collaboration is 100 percent perfect – there’s nothing we could consider improving on at the moment.”