Facilitating hyper growth with software
Kamera Express has been the definitive photo and video specialist in the Netherlands and Belgium for more than two decades. The company realized early on that it needed to add more value to its photo and video product offerings to stay relevant. Retail consumer electronics is a problematic segment with low margins, so that high volumes are needed for continuity. Kamera Express believed its strong growth could keep up with the leading e-commerce labels in consumer electronics, with a balanced combination of webshops and physical outlets.
Custom software was essential if Kamera Express’s high ambitions were to be achieved. An alternative for fulfilling its automation needs would have been multiple best-of-breed systems complemented with the necessary APIs and interfaces. To support the transformation to an omnichannel e-commerce strategy fully, the company needed a fully-integrated platform which could integrate acquired companies rapidly. Naturally the adoption of this technology should not be allowed to dilute its focus on its day-to-day retail business.
To realize its ambitious growth plan, Kamera Express decided to capture all its primary business processes on the Novulo platform, to achieve a common standard for commerce in the webshop and physical outlets. A single, crucial view of customers was realized in a major project, forming the basis of the commercial formula, financial administration, logistics processes, and back-office. Novulo laid the foundation for Kamera Express’s firm growth by gradually making the new business strategy a reality through flexible steps, without requiring a large development team at Kamera Express itself.
Omnichannel retail application
In 2014 Kamera Express commissioned Novulo to build an integrated omnichannel retail application in a co-creation agreement. Novulo expanded the number of reusable components on the platform significantly to meet the ambitions and dynamics of Kamera Express’s rapid growth. This enabled the new software to replace a broad array of separate best-of-breed applications gradually.
In the first phase, the in-store POS terminals were integrated into the web application, thus integrating them fully with the back office. This inclusion made the stock available in full and real-time in both the webshop and stores. The Kamera Express logistics process became far more efficient, the number of error-free orders increased, and customer waiting times reduced.
Low-code application platform
Novulo’s prescriptive low-code platform enabled the rapid development and deployment of e-commerce functionality based on existing reusable components. Order management improved by optimizing the workflow. Kamera Express also switched to combined purchasing and inventory management of a central warehouse, with inventory in stores. This decentral warehouse management system embedded in the Kamera Express application updates the catalog every five minutes, providing stock visibility both centrally and in stores.
This capability lets Kamera Express procure centrally from suppliers, while simultaneously rearranging the inventory between stores without any central warehouse intervention. Alongside optimizing the back-office, centralized stock record management reduces customer waiting times considerably.
Interaction stores and webshop
Kamera Express establishes the distinctive character of its omnichannel approach further with the Novulo platform. Store employees can sell a new camera or other stock item even though it’s not currently available on the shelf. Payments can be made against future transactions in-store, because the company can guarantee that items sold will be delivered within a few days. These future transactions are an essential factor in more conversion, thus offering a significant commercial advantage.
Sales like this currently occur dozens of times daily at Kamera Express, and are an excellent example of where the integral character of the Novulo platform stimulates the business of Kamera Express. The optimized distribution and interaction between webshop and stores also offers consumers the best possible overview of secondhand camera stock, a product category with a high margin potential.
The Novulo platform enabled the web application to grow over the years from a system for 30 users, to an application used by hundreds of employees simultaneously. Today this comprehensive application comprises more than 400 reusable functional components, together forming one integrated model that is transformed into one web application through code generation from the model. The software remains agile despite having more than 1,500 orders running through the platform daily, so that Kamera Express can respond to new growth opportunities quickly. The latest example clearly demonstrates this capability: a Kamera Express gift card that is supported fully in the cash registers, the webshop, and the warehouse behind it.
Twinkle top-20 e-commerce
The collaboration with Novulo has helped Kamera Express to be one of the few e-commerce players in Dutch Twinkle’s top 20 e-commerce giants, that deploys one platform to fulfill the complete automation needs without a dedicated team of developers. Weaving together the various components in the Novulo platform to facilitate full integration, and the commercial qualities of Kamera Express combined with the acquisitions of several chains of smaller photoshops, has all enabled the company to boost sales by a factor of four.
DIGITAL IS BIG BUSINESS
It’s often said that the retailer of the future is a technology company. While software and data are gaining importance, smart entrepreneurship remains the essential driving force for success. It was entrepreneurship combined with a rapid expansion of software functionality, along with optimal process automation from back-office to front-end, which accelerated the growth of Kamera Express, notes COO Koen Van Doorn in this interview.
WHAT DEFINES THE GROWTH STRATEGY OF KAMERA EXPRESS?
“Over the two years since I joined Kamera Express, turnover has increased from 120 million euros to 180 million. The most critical factor was the expansion of the company through acquisitions in the Netherlands and abroad. Today we are well-positioned in the Netherlands as the camera and video equipment market leader. The contribution to revenue is now fifty-fifty between online and offline.
You need both a good webshop and physical stores to grow strongly in the Kamera Express product segment. Customers want to touch an expensive device before they buy it. That’s why Kamera Express has 20 stores in the Benelux and one in Germany. Ideally, every customer only needs a half-hour drive to reach one of our stores.
“In a successful strategy, you can’t do without the physical shopping experience. Omnichannel is an essential aspect of the customer journey, where a webshop with 40,000 items is combined with an optimized network of physical stores. Together with Novulo, we grew to support virtually all the processes from three stores in the Netherlands five years ago, to become an international organization today. We know from this omnichannel experience that a sophisticated balance between online and offline is essential for growth in the surrounding countries. We have launched this strategy abroad. In recent years we opened three physical stores in Belgium.
We also have a shop in Germany through the acquisition of the Konijnenberg formula. Experience has shown that growth in other European countries where we operate is slower because we’re not present in these countries’ shopping streets. That’s why we will be opening stores in these countries in the years ahead.”
WHAT ROLE DOES THE NOVULO SOFTWARE PLAY IN THE GROWTH AMBITIONS OF KAMERA EXPRESS?
“Ben Cornelisse (CEO) and Joop Peekstok (CIO) chose Novulo in 2013 in their search for a new omnichannel e-commerce platform. The Novulo web application has been the basis for the Kamera Express omnichannel and growth strategy right from the start. Several acquisitions of small chains and photography specialty stores have contributed to the physical store network’s growth. The most significant increase was in 2017, when the acquisition of our new owner Vendis Capital was finalized at the end of that year. Kamera Express acquired the Dutch retail formulas Photo Konijnenberg and Verschoe Camera & Photo Services in the aftermath of that transaction. These retail outlets couldn’t compete with the upcoming e-commerce juggernauts in consumer electronics.
“The Novulo software enabled fast integration of physical stores without cumbersome and time-consuming conversions or interfaces. After a takeover, we would go to a store, count the inventory, enter this information in the Novulo software, and teach the new employees to work with the POS. New stores were opened in a matter of days rather than weeks.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WORK WITH NOVULO? WHAT IS A POSITIVE FACTOR, AND WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED?
“On the commercial side, Kamera Express employees are very enthusiastic about the software, because Novulo supports the omnichannel approach we are pursuing to the fullest. Customer contact points in the webshop and the stores are fully integrated, and all processes are aligned with a central customer view. All communication channels with the customer, and the supporting software this requires, are designed and orchestrated so that the customer has a consistent user experience.
The integration of all back-office functionality in the Novulo application also has significant advantages. The software ensures a reliable and fast ordering process. This streamlined process guarantees the lowest possible error margin, which also works well during peak times.
“With the current growth of Kamera Express, you can see that we’ve reached an enterprise level. I have a very positive attitude about the way the web application is being updated, the delivery speed, and creativity. An operational excellence organization is needed for entering the next phase of international growth. We are currently taking this giant step forward together to facilitate this. Software development must continue its firm pace to keep up with business demand.”
What can Novulo do for you?
This Kamera Express example shows that retail organizations can take their omnichannel approach to the next level with Novulo. The software platform is designed to let organizations build their application environment step-by-step, in a controlled manner, and closely interwoven with the business strategy, all without employing a large team of developers themselves. Major brands build their e-commerce platforms with extensive development teams.
Growing to the top of the list is now possible without this scarce knowledge and excessive resources, even if margins are under pressure. If you’d like to know more about the added value of Novulo’s integrated, easily expandable web application, please complete this form. A product specialist will then contact you to schedule an appointment for a customized demo. Thank you for your attention and confidence in Novulo.