Kao Taps Mendix to Deliver Sales Application 10x Faster Than Estimated

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Confronted with a pressing demand for a sales order entry app, Kao’s salon business sector, manufacturer of Goldwell and KMS California, faced a familiar dilemma: replace its existing Mobile Sales system or extend it with new functionality. Kao chose the latter-and the project was the smoothest “ever” thanks to Mendix's application platform and the experienced Magnus team. Mendix’s rapid development and SAP integration capabilities reduced time to market by 10 times, allowing Kao to deliver an iPad application that saves sales reps up to two hours per day.

  • Kao develops 12 interfaces in 2-3 days each, not the 30 days per interface estimated
  • SAP integration provides users with real-time inventory lookup and order entry
  • Project delivered on time despite starting two months late

Challenge

When the owners of elite salons and spas want to offer their clients the best beauty-care products, they turn to Kao, the multi-billion dollar global leader and maker of such top names as John Frieda, KMS California and Goldwell. But ordering new supplies – for their own use and for retail sale to clients – wasn’t always the smoothest process. Previously, Kao salon sales reps struggled to use a mobile sales laptop application that lacked integrated connectivity or real-time access to back-end data from the company’s SAP system.

“Rather than utilizing this laptop app – which disrupted the sales process – our sales team clung to manually taking orders on paper when meeting with the customer,” said Dan Gordon, Application Group Manager for Kao. “It wouldn’t be unusual for them to spend two hours at the end of each day transferring the paper orders into our SAP system.”

We had initially estimated about 30 days of development time for each interface. But with Mendix, we had working interfaces in two days. Without Mendix and Magnus, I don’t think that we could have developed this app. It was the smoothest go-live we’ve ever had, so I’m more than happy.

Matthias Bartels

Business Application Leader, Kao

Solution

“The sales team wanted a simple order-entry system and they needed it right away,” said Gordon. We were looking at a lengthy and expensive project, so we evaluated a number of application platforms and integration toolsets and selected Mendix. Mendix was easier to use, more flexible, and could quickly integrate with SAP on the back end.”

Given the tight timeline and complex integration requirements, Kao partnered with Magnus, a certified Mendix reseller partner with proven knowledge on both SAP and mobile apps. Magnus’ knowledge of the salon sales business processes and their skills in Mendix and mobile app development were essential for the project.

“The speed and flexibility of Mendix's application platform was exactly what we wanted—and ultimately needed,” said Matthias Bartels, Business Application Leader for Kao. “Even though we started a couple of months later than planned, we still delivered the new sales app on time – and the reason was Mendix. We had initially estimated about 30 days of development time for each interface. But with Mendix, we had working interfaces in two days. Without Mendix and Magnus, I don’t think that we could have developed this app. It was the smoothest go-live we’ve ever had, so I’m more than happy.”

Results

The new order entry iPad app is being rolled out to 300-400 Kao sales reps globally. The user-friendly app is fully integrated with SAP, giving them real-time access to inventory information and immediate entry of their sales orders, so customers receive product shipments faster.

“Our people love the app because it makes their lives much easier,” Bartels said.” They’re saving an average of two hours per day over manual order entry.”

Similarly, Mendix's application platform has made the lives of Kao’s IT team much easier. “It’s so simple that within a few hours, our people understood how to use it,” said Gordon. “We were able to get this application out extremely fast, and moving forward, we can react quickly to business requests for changes or new solutions. Since we have the integration with SAP in place, we’re already thinking about how we can use the Mendix platform to build additional applications to support our business.”

About Kao

Kao is one of the world’s largest companies and a leading manufacturer of premium beauty-care brands that are recognized around the world for their innovation and quality. These include prestige cosmetics and body care products such as facial and body cleansers, shampoos and conditioners, and hair styling agents. The Beauty Care business has separate channels to pursue mass-market sales and salon sales.