To thrive in the age of online retail, wine merchant Wijnen Van Maele wanted to offer high-quality e-commerce experiences for its customers. How could it support these services cost-effectively?
To create a security-rich, high-performance platform for e-commerce, Wijnen Van Maele worked with CD Invest to migrate to a cloud-based version of IBM i on an IBM Power® System S924 with POWER9™ processors.
EnablesWijnen Van Maele to reach B2C customers, boosting revenues
Supportsinnovative blockchain solutions, helping to meet new B2B requirements
Avoidscapital costs by embracing a managed-services platform from CD Invest
Business challenge story
Catering to changing retail tastes
To compete effectively in the age of online shopping, brick-and-mortar retailers of all sizes are under growing pressure to offer e-commerce capabilities. The wine trade is no exception, and Belgian firm Wijnen Van Maele is always looking for innovative ways to adapt its business to the demands of a changing market.
Axelle Van Maele, daughter of the CEO of Wijnen Van Maele, explains: “We are a family-run business, and have been operating in Bruges since 1949. We’re primarily a B2B retailer, and we offer a comprehensive range of 900 different wines to caterers, hotels, and other clients in Bruges and the surrounding area. We also see great growth potential in the B2C space. Looking ahead, we aim to market our wines to consumers across Europe—we wanted a way to reach those new customers without sending our costs soaring.”
To build its B2C business quickly and cost-effectively, Wijnen Van Maele decided to launch an online store. The company knew it needed a reliable, high-performance IT platform to support a transactional e-commerce site, and engaged its trusted partner CD Invest to help find a solution.
“We have relied on IBM technology to support our business for many years,” Van Maele continues. “Our positive experience with IBM gave us the confidence that they could deliver the dependable server platform and responsive support we needed to achieve our e-commerce goals.”
Preparing for growth in the cloud
To lay the foundation for e-commerce, Wijnen Van Maele migrated its databases and business systems to a cloud-based version of the IBM i operating system, running on an IBM POWER9 processor-based IBM Power System S924 server. Delivered as a managed service from CD Invest's data center, the solution offers Wijnen Van Maele the performance it needs to deliver a modern e-commerce site while avoiding the capital and operational costs of deploying and maintaining an on-premises platform.
Working together with CD Invest and IBM, Wijnen Van Maele migrated its applications and customer data to the cloud with seamless continuity for its business users.
“Our migration project was a great success, and the entire process went very smoothly,” adds Van Maele. “Not only did the CD Invest team help us migrate our existing applications to IBM i in the cloud, they also helped us design new ones.”
Following the migration, Wijnen Van Maele launched a new version of its company website, running on IBM i and based on the Drupal content-management framework.
“We are currently in the process of building our e-commerce site, which will enable us to pivot to a more B2C-focused model,” Van Maele explains. “With IBM i in the cloud as the foundation of our new digital retail experience, we are confident we will have the performance and scalability to deliver high-quality customer journeys even as our number of online visitors increases.”
Building a future-ready business
With an e-commerce site running on IBM i, Wijnen Van Maele will be in a strong position to achieve its goal of connecting with thousands of B2C customers cost-effectively.
“When we first launched our new, non-transactional website, we received thousands of visitors in just a few days, which shows we already have a substantial B2C audience to engage with,” says Axelle Van Maele. “With our e-commerce launch just around the corner, we are at the dawn of a new age for our retail business. Once customers can place orders anytime and from any connected device, we predict a substantial increase in revenues.”
Wijnen Van Maele’s new IT platform is also enabling it to prepare for changes in the B2B industry. Increasingly, large wine distributors require their suppliers to provide granular data around the quality of grapes and the length of time bottles have been stored for. By developing a blockchain application on IBM i, the company will be able to deliver a complete audit trail for every stage of the product lifecycle.
“We have always focused on the stories behind the wine we sell, and our new blockchain application is a logical extension of this approach,” says Van Maele. “We can now demonstrate, with hard data, just where our wine has been, from grape to bottle to glass. We predict that traceability will be a crucial selling point for many wine distributors and retailers and the near future, and with our own blockchain application on IBM i we can ensure we remain ahead of the curve.”
The company has plans to expand and update its existing sales campaigns, and potentially increase its market presence outside of Bruges.
“With IBM and CD Invest on our side, we have the potential to dramatically increase our market share, as well as providing greater levels of service to our long-term clients,” says Van Maele. “For example, we are currently working with CD Invest to expand our existing telesales applications. This will give our employees access to more and better data about which customers order what wines, when, and how often, enabling us to better tailor our products to individual clients’ needs.”
Axelle Van Maele concludes: “Our industry is evolving, and our IBM i platform will play a key role in helping us keep pace with the changes on the horizon. Thanks to our partnership with IBM and CD Invest, we are building the digital retail capabilities we need to thrive in B2B and B2C markets, and we’re excited by what the future holds.”
Wijnen Van Maele
Wijnen Van Maele is a Belgian wine retailer. Founded in 1949 and based in Bruges, it stands for a unique, personal selection of wines at affordable prices.
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/it-infrastructure/power/os/ibm-i