The retail chain Dille & Kamille has been thriving for nearly half a century and is now more popular than ever. To support continued growth and keep a handle on costs, they’ve implemented a new supply chain planning system, with Slim4 as the digital foundation. The initial results have been nothing short of impressive. Still, as Harold Reusink, the supply chain manager at Dille & Kamille, and Peter Bocken, the retail director at Slimstock, highlight, this is just the beginning.
When you step into a Dille & Kamille store, the last things on your mind are “digital transformation” or “supply chain planning tools.” However, an exceptionally well-organised supply chain operation is concealed within the charming, thoughtfully adorned retail stores stocked with eco-friendly home, garden, and kitchen supplies.
Harold Reusink, Supply Chain Manager at Dille & Kamille, explains: “We’ve dedicated significant effort to this aspect in recent years. When I joined the board just shy of five years ago, my department didn’t even exist. The individuals responsible for purchasing and store replenishment were scattered throughout the company. We unified them into a single supply chain team to ensure sustained, healthy growth with top-tier service and without excessive inventory levels. That was our initial step.”
“Out-of-stocks at the DC level have been reduced by over half. Customer experience is one of the most crucial KPIs for our department, so that’s a fantastic kick-off.”
Harold Reusink | Supply Chain Manager
Dille & Kamille has 47 stores spanning three countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. A single central distribution centre in Waddinxveen, The Netherlands, serves all these stores and stores over 3,000 different products. The entire range is produced on behalf of Dille & Kamille, under its own label, by approximately 200 suppliers worldwide.
Until recently, the planning team relied on spreadsheets to calculate orders for these suppliers. Reusink explains: “When you experience the rapid growth we’ve seen in recent years, you eventually hit a roadblock. We had already embarked on a digital transformation journey, scrutinising all our business systems. As part of this process, we began our search for a sophisticated tool to support our omnichannel planning requirements. We opted for Slimstock because of their profound retail expertise and ability to provide us with industry best practices.”
Tough Trading Conditions
To arm themselves against the current challenging market conditions, retailers such as Dille & Kamille must exert greater control over their omnichannel supply chain. Slimstock’s retail expert, Peter Bocken, states: “The impact of factors like the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and particularly inflation have been substantial in this industry. With rising prices and declining sales volumes, the inventory levels of numerous retailers have surged by over 25% within a single year. Predicting how the market will evolve next year is a tough task. Remaining profitable requires swift and agile actions. This means effectively managing the entire supply chain – encompassing suppliers, distribution centres, in-store inventories, and online channels – through a centralised system.”
Out-of-stocks more than halved
Dille & Kamille is in the midst of a two-stage Slim4 implementation. First, the retailer automated planning throughout the distribution centre (DC), and then they turned their attention to dynamic replenishment across the store network. The initial phase was completed six months ago and has yielded positive results.
“Out-of-stocks at the DC level have been reduced by over half. Customer experience is one of the most crucial KPIs for our department, so that’s a fantastic kick-off,” remarks Reusink. He goes on to mention that other KPIs, like turnover rate and the financial stock value, are expected to show continuous improvement. Peter Bocken
Peter Bocken emphasises: “Slim4 elevates availability through placing additional optimised orders. However, the platform cannot accelerate the sale of existing overstock. It’s a process that takes some adjustment and might require a few months, but the potential is clearly visible.”
Control over costs
Thanks to the adoption of the Slim4 platform, Reusink and his team have gained better control over costs. Inventory reserved for the webshop has already decreased by 40% while maintaining a higher level of service. Excess stock in the distribution centre and stores is expected to gradually decrease as well.
“With Slim4, you can precisely track how the financial value of our inventory is evolving and identify which levers you need to pull to create further performance improvements,” explains Reusink. “As a supply chain department, we’ve become a significant contributor to strategic discussions within the company. Once we implement Slim4 across our store network, we can manage the entire chain from a single system. Ultimately, this will empower the supply chain team to make an even more significant financial impact.”
The introduction of Slim4 has transformed the role of inventory managers. The system now automates the previously hands-on operational ordering process. Reusink explains, “It has become a moving train where we are less dependent on the knowledge of individual people. Nonetheless, our planners remain essential. They’re responsible for keeping the train on the right track and setting tactical parameters to ensure the system makes the right decisions. They also step in when there are anomalies or significant fluctuations in demand. How they handle these situations can significantly impact profitability, so it’s crucial that they maintain their focus within Slim4.”
Reusink further highlights that the work of buyers and planners has become more engaging thanks to Slim4. “With our head office moving from Amsterdam to Utrecht, we’ve brought in new inventory managers who eagerly embraced the new system. Young professionals are eager to advance quickly and gain practical experience. The advanced software, the consultants’ expertise, and the extensive training programs at the Slimstock Academy provide the ideal platform for their development. In that sense, Slimstock ensures ongoing progress, and that’s a welcome side effect of the implementation.”
Dealing with scarcity
In the project’s second phase, Slim4 will be rolled out to optimise store replenishment orders. Reusink explains how this will help enhance the performance of the entire supply chain: “We’ll gain a deeper understanding of presentation stocks and make more intelligent decisions.”
Beautifully merchandised, fully stocked shelves are a priority for Dille & Kamille, but the business cannot ignore the risk of product obsolescence. Managing scarce and end-of-life stock is equally important, as highlighted by Peter Bocken. “Imagine you have ten items remaining in your distribution centre. Do you allocate them to a store looking to replenish its presentation stock or to the webshop? I’d recommend the latter because running out of stock means an immediate loss of sales. With Slim4, you can establish business rules that optimise the allocation of items autonomously for maximum profitability.”
This approach will empower Reusink and his team to fine-tune the retail operation continuously. “We can increasingly take precise shots instead of relying on broad strokes,” Reusink explains. By capitalising on sales opportunities, maintaining cost control, and ensuring job satisfaction among the team, Dille & Kamille has established a strong foundation for its fiftieth-anniversary celebration, all thanks to the digital transformation delivered by Slimstock.