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Customer Snapshot: Overview

Distributing 60 million cases of beverages annually

In a distribution warehouse, work can stop when a product isn’t where it needs to be. That can increase costs and plague customer service. The Charmer Sunbelt Group believes it can improve business commitments and strengthen relationships with the brands it carries by using data analytics, one bottle at a time.

The Charmer Sunbelt Group

US$5 billion (2012)

Number of Employees

Line of Business
Platform and Technology, Supply Chain

SAP Solutions

New York, New York, USA

Customer Website

Microsoft Analysis Services

Wholesale Distribution

Customer Snapshot: History

The Second Tier of Post-Prohibition Laws

After the rampant lawlessness of bootleggers and moonshiners during Prohibition, the United States created a three-tier system for the newly re-legalized manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages. Distributors like the Charmer Sunbelt Group are the vital link between distillers, brewers, and vintners, and the retail marketplaces for their goods. CSG continues to grow by harnessing its data to make sure the right beverage gets from the manufacturer to the right retailer at the right time.

The Challenge

The Inefficiencies of Manual Analytics

Efficiently distributing 70,000 unique products from 21 different locations to 100,000 customers requires precise coordination to avoid delays and inaccuracies. To ensure operational excellence and customer satisfaction, CSG determined that manually analyzing and reporting from batch data was no longer sufficient.

Enter SAP

Removing Costs from the Supply Chain

Because CSG grew from decades of acquiring smaller regional distributors, they didn’t consolidate the various IT, finance, HR and other systems until about 8 years ago, when they chose SAP for managing many critical functions, including order-to-cash process, procure-to-pay process, and human capital management.

To evolve as a distributor, CSG wants to deliver more value to suppliers and customers, and remove costs from the supply chain. This means improving the sophistication of finance, technology, operations, sales, and marketing activities through data analytics. To establish a foundation for their anticipated reliance on real-time data analysis, CSG turned to SAP HANA.

Enter SAP: The SAP Experience

Working Together to Integrate and Leverage Data

To ensure the successful implementation of SAP HANA, the two companies worked together for more than a year, including about six months with members from SAP Active Global Support who provided on-site implementation assistance. The challenge was to leverage real-time data from four separate operations systems including warehouse conveyor systems, a program that monitors the pace of bottle picking operations, and the company’s SAP inventory, warehouse, and order management suite.

Better Business

CSG had been benchmarking warehouse operations by manually tracking 85 key metrics. Creating one monthly report from batch data took three days—but with SAP HANA it takes 40 seconds to process the same data.

Better Business: Benefits

Adjusting Sails in Real-Time

SAP also helps CSG visualize the data and what it means. Color-coded results are displayed on large, flat-panel monitors that allow warehouse managers to quickly view key information, such as remaining inventories of specific product SKUs, estimates of truck unloading time, and whether a forklift driver needs to change locations to prevent a conveyor line from stopping.

Better Business: Run Simple

Embracing Change and New Ideas

The reaction to the SAP HANA data analysis by the roughly 100 users in CSG warehouses has been overwhelmingly positive. As warehouse managers are becoming more familiar with the systems and how they work, they are developing other ways to use the data to improve operations, such as creating their own reports based on the data available in HANA.

Journey Ahead

Expanding and Going Mobile

Following the successful rollout of SAP HANA in operations, CSG is planning to implement analytics in other areas including Pricing, Customer Service, HR, Purchasing, Finance, and Marketing.

The next steps for CSG also include mobile devices. Some warehouse managers have requested expanding the visual operations dashboards to tablets, alongside an initiative underway to provide approximately 2,500 sales representatives with real-time inventory data via mobile devices. The representatives serve 15 distinct geographic markets in the United States, and CSG views real-time data at the point of sale as a competitive differentiator.

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