Columbia Road was asked to help Servaali, one of the largest private alcohol beverage importers in the Finnish market, digitalise their product order process for B2B customers by building a mobile ordering system integrated with their existing backend tools and systems.
The tool would be used by restaurant and bar managers to order products easily. It would give Servaali more control, visibility and means to manage efficiency better for stock management and availability and a more precise sales funnel, improving customer loyalty and brand awareness. The key objectives were to facilitate, streamline and simplify the current manual order process to be faster and smoother.
Since Servaali launched their webshop, I've been shopping also from new product categories that are now easier to reach, and will for sure buy more from them since it's so convenient to order.
Four business objectives were set:
- Increase the average purchase order size by making it easier to order
- Increase order frequency and repeat orders to build loyalty
- Create a more efficient internal process (automatic order processing)
- Increase brand awareness amongst customers and competitors
Servaali had an initial idea of their customer base after having interviewed a few restaurants and made the first prototype interface of what features were needed for the ordering tool. We did a few workshops following the Lean Service Creation framework to dive deeper into business objectives, clarify the vision and target audience, and scope out MVP specifications. It was essential to build something that would work in the interim and understand where Servaali wants to be in the future and how they will best serve their clients looking ahead. We gathered people from sales, marketing, finance, clients, operations, and product management in the same room to get everyone’s vision and needs for the tool.
With the outcomes from the workshops, Columbia Road designed the mobile site based on these needs and created a new digital interface for Servaali inspired by the Momentin Group brand. We quickly prototyped a first version which we put in the hands of a few customers to validate that we were building the right priorities first and that it matched their expectations.
One of the key challenges was to manage and build a solid platform around the business logic and how to separate orders and pre-orders and plan for a sustainable solution as the business grew. The frontend part was fairly simple, but the heavy lifting lay in the backend integrations. Running bi-weekly sprints ensured we could solve any upcoming challenges with the relevant team.
Because of the nature of the current architecture, we built a unique custom microservices backend to run fast so that each service could run independently from others to minimise errors and to fit the business case and the client's needs in the best way.
We built and customised different services for customer information, availability, product data, ordering, and enriched product information. These services were then integrated with Epicor, MEG and PIM, Servaali’s ERP and pricing systems attached to their warehouses. Overall, we operated a small, efficient developer team building over 10 microservices.
We also established a monitoring system and dashboard for the client to track errors and discrepancies more easily and troubleshoot where information was missing.
We have worked iteratively, and as it’s a big change from the current ordering system, a group of beta restaurants was first invited to make orders on the new website. As the new ordering process is being adapted, Servaali invites more customers to transition to the new platform. When digitalising new services, it is important to adopt the business and service teams progressively and in line with sales, marketing, internal communication, and support.
Further ahead, the plan is to use the mobile ordering website as new communication and marketing channel for new and existing customers.