“We have streamlined our entire purchasing process.”

Sabrina Paetzold

Head of Purchasing | Bionatic

Bionatic master unpredictable demand during the corona crisis to maintain strong growth

As one of the leading German wholesalers of sustainable foodservice packaging, Bionatic distributes a complete range of disposable tableware and organic disposable cups made from renewable and recycled raw materials. Following a turbulent year, the specialist packaging distributors look back in reflection.

The young Bremen-based company attained record growth of over 70% during the pandemic amidst lockdowns, significant volatility and fluctuating demand. This, combined with long manufacturer long times of up to four months, posed major challenges for purchasing. However, with the help of Slimstock’s inventory optimisation solution, Slim4, Bionatic were able to master these supply chain hurdles.

From best-sellers to slow-movers & vice-versa

First implemented in 2016, Slim4 helped the business to attain a reduction in inventory and a significant reduction in process costs and out-of-stocks. During the crisis, the solution provided invaluable transparency over the inventory with exception-based alerts and simulations of possible scenarios. Given that the high levels of volatility from the start of the pandemic, Slim4 offered immediate support.

Gülistan Piskin, Head of Purchasing at Bionatic GmbH & CO. KG explains: “With the introduction of a national lockdown, many of our bestselling products within the catering category suddenly became slow-movers. Meanwhile, we recorded a 200% increase across the takeaway range. Furthermore, demand fluctuated from one day to the next. This can also be seen in our stock turn which in the last 18 months has increased from 3 to 5. For some products, the stock turn has increased to over 20. At first glance, it seemed impossible to determine what products we should fill our warehouse with. But thanks to the clear analysis dashboards in Slim4, we had complete transparency. As a result, we were able to react promptly and thus absorb the strong demand fluctuations to minimise out of stocks,”

Oliver Bünting, Purchase & Merchandise Planner at Bionatic GmbH & CO. KG, adds: “The ever-changing developments and decisions of the federal and state governments had a great influence on incoming orders and led to lengthy delays throughout the supply chain. Sales in the catering segment immediately increased as a region re-opened. However, there was a risk of overstocking takeaway products as sudden incident-related closures or restaurants and restrictions on events lead to sudden changes in demand.”

At first, these fluctuations could hardly be predicted, but the alerts and to-do functions within the inventory management solution provided Bionatic with a comprehensive overview. This enabled the planning team to make daily adjustments to automate supply chain processes.

“The Slim4 warning system saved us because it showed us at a glance every day which products, we needed to pay special attention on to remain responsive. Given that supply conditions are also considered, we could easily see which items were at risk of excess. For example, we were able to prioritise certain products with our suppliers and take countermeasures at short notice, “says Bünting.

Scenario simulations set the basis for strategic alignment

Unpredictability is a defining characteristic of a crisis. And this is particularly noticeable in the current pandemic. Especially when it comes to purchasing from a leading wholesaler. To ensure strategic alignment, Bionatic depends on the scenario planning capability of Slim4.

“Throughout the pandemic, we switched to 7-day forecasts and used Slim4 to simulate how long we would be out-of-stock. This allowed us to understand exactly which products we urgently needed to source from an alternative local supplier. As a results, we have remained agile and adjusted our sources of supply accordingly. Before the corona pandemic, we sourced 75% of our goods from Asia. Now 55% of our suppliers are based in Central Europe and primarily in Germany. This change was already considered for reasons of sustainability and flexibility. However, this move has been brought forward,” explains Oliver Bünting.

“To guarantee high product availability for our customers amidst all the adverse purchase conditions, we also adjusted our service levels. With Slim4, we could automatically apply parameter changes at an item level. Therefore, we could quickly adapt our entire approach to inventory management,” states Gülistan Piskin.

Instant access to analysis, planning and management insights via web client

Bionatic, Europe’s first supplier of foodservice packaging to offset all CO2 emissions, currently supplies over 18,000 customers and trading partners across Germany and worldwide with a range of 100% climate-neutral products. Slim4 is now used to manage the entire inventory at the main warehouse in Bremen as well as the external warehouse for B2C sales.

Connected as an add-on to the existing Microtech Büro + ERP system via an interface, Slim4 Web enables access to all analysis, planning and management elements.

“We are often the first to take advantage of the new updates. Since I am responsible for Slim4 on the IT side, I am in regular contact with the Slimstock IT and support team. At we regularly discuss upcoming innovations or developments and we have always been able to count on Slimstock’s support. Even in the case of an IT problem triggered by a server change on our part, the Slimstock team jumped into action and found a solution within 24 hours,” says Oliver Bünting, describing his experience with the software provider.

Oliver Bünting goes on to add: “We maintain a friendly relationship with Slimstock’s consultancy team. We meet every few months to offer support, train new employees and discuss upcoming goals,”

Gülistan Piskin adds: “While we originally introduced Slim4 to reduce inventories, cut costs and subsequently increase stock turn, the system helped us to tackle the crisis to attain strong growth while avoiding the build-up of unnecessary inventory. Ultimately, Slim4 has helped us to build the optimal buffer to deal with the peaks in demand.”

“With the single-use plastic ban now in force which encompasses biodegradable plastic, an extensive change in the range is on the agenda as we replace affected items. The number of reusable products in our portfolio is also growing. However, thanks to Slim4, there is no need to build a new warehouse,” concludes Gülistan Piskin.

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