With many of its retail partners only able to stock a small proportion of products, how could Deknudt Frames ensure that consumers weren’t missing out on their favorite items?
To offer consumers and resellers easier access to a broader range of products, Deknudt launched an e-commerce platform powered by IBM i—enabling retail partners to streamline inventory management.
Integrateswith core systems to minimize effort as product line-up changes
Simplifiespayment processing and inventory management
OptimizesIT spend, with reduced administrative costs and lower TCO
Business challenge story
Framing the challenge
If you want to keep shoppers coming back for more, providing them with a rich selection of products is key. That’s why Belgian photo frame manufacturer Deknudt Frames manufactures over 8,000 different products, including wall decorations, photo albums, and gadgets.
To bring its products from the factory floor to consumers, Deknudt Frames works with a network of dedicated stores located across Europe.
Bruno Deknudt, CEO of Deknudt Frames, says: “We recognize that if our resellers are going to attract more customers, they must stock a wide variety of products, and be able to regularly replenish the styles they have in store. However, when you’re a retailer with limited shelf-space, keeping a huge number of items in stock is not feasible. With this physical limitation, our partners weren’t always able to give consumers access to our full range of products, leading to missed sales opportunities both for them and for us.
“For example, a reseller of our products who has ten meters of shelf space can have approximately 300 to 500 items stocked in store, which is only a small sample of what we offer. To remedy this, we decided to launch an e-commerce platform that our dedicated resellers could present as a seamless, fully branded element on their own websites. Many of our clients are small to midsize businesses who have limited ability to invest in their own e-commerce solutions. Equally, providing a centralized white label service meant that we could help our partner network to avoid duplication of effort whenever we introduced a new product range—because we would be able just to make the change a single time and have it cascade to all the partner sites.”
For its e-commerce site to be a success, Deknudt Frames required a reliable, flexible operating platform that could handle the complexity of the business rules supporting its operations.
“We need to ensure we’re delivering specific product ranges to specific customers, with specific prices, discounts, delivery agreements and so on for each one,” says Deknudt. “In technical terms, this translates into complex business rules, built up over the years on our core systems. It was important to integrate the new e-commerce platform as closely as possible with these systems, so that we could take advantage of the existing business rules and not have to re-code everything whenever we made a change.”
A picture-perfect solution
Working with IBM Business Partner CD Invest, Deknudt Frames built its new e-commerce platform using common open source web components—including Ghostscript and ImageMagick—running natively on IBM i on its existing IBM Power® System S814 server, alongside core systems also running on i.
“IBM i on Power has been the heart of our information strategy for many years,” explains Deknudt. “We struggled to think of another platform that would provide the same level of reliability, stability, and flexibility as IBM i, so we decided to keep using this solution that has a proven track record of enabling our business to prosper.
“One of the features that makes the IBM i platform so attractive is the integration of the IBM Db2® database with the operating system. Our product catalogue is very large and our database also contains specific, complex business rules associated with product pricing, promotions, and codes. These govern which products to display on our resellers’ sites, and which combinations of options are feasible. These rules were originally built on IBM i — we felt that no other platform would be able to execute them as efficiently and effectively.”
Deknudt continues: “As well as making it easier to integrate with our product database, migrating the web front-end to IBM i simplifies our environment and will reduce TCO in the longer term. The flexibility of IBM i is great: alongside the core systems that we have trusted to run our business for many years, we can also run a huge variety of the latest open source software—helping us to avoid vendor lock-in and innovate with whichever software package best suits our needs.”
Deknudt Frames’ retail partners can personalize almost everything in the e-commerce platform, changing the look-and-feel to match their own site and selecting the precise mix of products they wish to offer. They even have the power to provide discounts to their consumers—this is facilitated through a redemption code system, where the retailer essentially passes on part of their sales commission from Deknudt Frames to the end customer.
By building its e-commerce platform directly on IBM i, integrated at the level of the database and existing business rules, Deknudt ensures that updates to the product mix or configuration options immediately and effortlessly flow through to its retail partners and to end consumers.
A new horizon
By launching its new e-commerce platform on IBM i on the Power Systems platform, Deknudt Frames has expanded its market reach, given retail partners an out-of-the-box web store they can integrate into their own websites, streamlined payment and inventory processing, and reduced the cost of IT administration.
Deknudt says: “We have also enabled our retail partners to offer a much wider selection of our products to their customers. Now, retailers can stock the most popular items, and if a shopper would like something slightly different, the retailer can easily place an order with us. The solution is enabling us to broaden our market reach—we anticipate that this will soon drive higher revenues.”
The solution also opens up new revenue possibilities for Deknudt Frames’ retail partners. Previously, the minimum pack size might have made it impractical for smaller retailers to stock an item. Now that they can offer such items through the web store, with the option for the consumer to have the product delivered directly to their home, smaller retailers are able to close sales that would not have been possible before.
Deknudt adds: “With our core e-commerce workloads running seamlessly on IBM i, we have seen significant improvements in payment processing and inventory tracking. For instance, individuals or retailers now get instant and precise information about stock levels and delivery times.
“We’ve also largely eliminated human intervention in our sales and logistics processes. Orders arrive on the e-commerce platform, and are automatically confirmed by email, invoiced, and passed to our logistics partner for delivery. This means that administrative costs are lower and there’s less chance of human error.”
Energized by the launch of its white-label e-commerce solution, Deknudt Frames plans to innovate further by integrating email marketing, reminding consumers and retailers of promotional offers during the festive season and other occasions throughout the year.
Deknudt comments: “Our business has a proud history—it was founded by my grandfather in 1923—but we have never stood still or traded on our past reputation. As the market has changed, we have always looked to use innovative technology to stay ahead. We were one of the first businesses to embrace computerization, starting on the IBM System/32 in the late 1970s, and you can trace a direct line from that to today’s Power S814. In the late 1980s, we pioneered handheld devices to put product data and pricing at our employees’ fingertips when visiting retail clients.
“This e-commerce platform is another example of how we are using technology to generate competitive advantage. And what’s really interesting is that this up-to-date, open source solution runs side-by-side and fully integrated with trusted core business systems originally coded in the 1970s. In all the years we’ve used IBM i and the Power Systems platform, we’ve never experienced any issues around stability or security, which contributes to the low total cost of ownership—for us, IBM i is a phenomenally stable platform for business that is also open to all kinds of future possibility.”
Established in 1923, Deknudt Frames is a Belgian manufacturer specializing in the design, production, and distribution of picture frames and wall decorations. A family-run business with an international team of 100 employees, it exports to over 20 countries, delivers to 5,000 retail customers, and has an annual turnover of EUR 8 million. With a manufacturing plant in Slovakia and several business partners in the Far East, Deknudt Frames is a truly global company.
- Consumer Products: Digital Operations
- Consumer Products: Supply Chain
- IBM Power Systems running IBM i
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM i on IBM Power Systems, contact your IBM representative or Business Partner, or visit ibm.com/power/i
CD Invest delivers ICT and business consultancy services to help maximize its clients’ business potential. For more information, visit cdinvest.be/