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Cosnova: efficient shipping solution for integrating CEP service providers into SAP

cosnova has replaced its SAP-integrated IT solution for shipping via CEP service providers with a new solution that simplifies processing, provides automated shipment tracking and improves transparency. The transition was incredibly smooth.

Every month cosnova ships more than 7,000 packages with the three courier, express and package service providers DPD, TNT and trans-o-flex. Regina Kaune, cosnova’s IT Business Process Manager, explains, “We had reached a point where our daily shipping quantities had surpassed the capabilities of our previous shipping solution and we needed an alternative means for preparing shipments for our CEP service providers”. cosnova is an owner-operated cosmetics company employing some 500 people around the world. The company is represented on the international cosmetics market with brands including essence and CATRICE and incubators L.O.V and SIGN. essence is the best-selling decorative cosmetics brand across every price segment in Europe.

Shipping "limited quantities" directly in the solution

As Ms. Kaune explains, “Distributors receive our articles directly at their central and regional storage facilities, and then final delivery to the retail affiliates is completed by CEP service providers. Items such as nail polish remover are deemed to be hazardous goods or so-called “limited quantities”. Processing hazardous limited quantity orders increases our workload, so we need an effective solution that completely covers our shipping requirements, including those in designated limited quantities.

As the IT Business Process Manager, Ms. Kaune cites the company’s most important shipping requirements as being: stabile interfaces to the CEP service providers; integrated and automated shipment tracking per Track-&-Trace;and flexible processing of the shipping information by any employee. The former SAP-integrated shipping solution was not capable of adequately fulfilling these requirements. Under the old system, transferring data from the SAP system to the CEP service providers had to be monitored manually by the IT department because unstable interfaces meant connections to the CEP service providers would often break down. The new solution needed to automatically monitor the process in a way that was visible to the IT department at all times. In addition, processes that had been bound to specific workplaces, like editing incorrect addresses resulting from faulty master data, were to be adapted by the new solution in a way that enabled flexible processing at every packing station.

cosnova compared a number of IT programs in its search for the answer, inviting bids from three providers and evaluating their proposals on the basis of a requirements catalogue. “We chose the solution from Mercoline. The company was recommended to us from several sources and their solution did the best job of fulfilling our requirements”, says Regina Kaune. The M.TransportCommunicator software runs as an SAP add-on on the basis of SAP standard structures and supports SAP users in preparing orders for shipping companies and CEP service providers.

Introducing a new shipping solution

In preparation for the conversion to M.TransportCommunicator (TC), both the three CEP interfaces and cosnova’s requirements were first integrated into the solution. The solution initially went live after just three months which included comprehensive testing. Ms. Kaune reports, “Implementation was a rousing success and incredibly smooth, saving for an initial communication glitch with a single CEP service provider as a result of our CEP and CEP IT departments having had different labelling requirements. Thankfully, Mercoline was able to sort out the issue”.

The conversion required the integration of the SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM), SAP version ECC 6.0 and the HANA database. This could be readily accommodated as the Mercoline M.TransportCommunicator SAP add-on supports the migration to SAP S/4HANA.

Once the requirements of each CEP service provider have been integrated, the shipping labels can be printed for each specific CEP. This new shipping solution creates an SAP delivery document in the ERP system for each shipping order, and the responsible department now has access to the shipping information from the automated shipment tracking at all times. A traffic light function integrated into the SAP add-on displays the shipping status and immediately shows if there is an error.

The conversion has paid off

Nothing has changed for the packing station employees with the new solution: The SAP system user interface is the same one they are accustomed to. Shipping addresses can now be edited by all authorized employees. And with the tracking function, the customer service team can respond to customer inquiries at all times and view the current shipping status.

“This conversion has paid off for us. We havestabile interfaces to the CEPs, we can monitor the shipping procedure within the SAP system and our shipping of limited quantity hazardous goods is now more efficient”, says Regina Kaune of cosnova’s experience. Her high praise for new partner Mercoline speaks for itself: “This was a thoroughly satisfying collaboration, and it was clear from the get-go that it would work. The project manager from Mercoline addressed all of our questions and concerns, and there were no problems when we went live”.

About cosnova

cosnova is an owner-operated cosmetics enterprise with a slender organization and minimal bureaucracy, employing some 500 people worldwide. cosnova’s presence on the international cosmetics market is represented by brands including essence and CATRICE and business incubators L.O.V and SIGN. essence is the best-selling decorative cosmetics brand across every price segment in Europe (Euromonitor International, 2013).

Suitable solution

M.TransportCommunicator