bofrost*: Delivering new business opportunities with a system to support sales on the doorstep

About bofrost*

Founded in 1966, bofrost* is a European market leader among direct distributors of frozen food, supplying around four million households through 5,500 sales vehicles.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: Germany

About adesso

With 29 locations across Germany and Austria, adesso offers its customers tailor-made IT strategies, providing the right mix of technical expertise and business know-how.

bofrost* launched its digital transformation with a new POS system on Google Cloud, for better customer satisfaction, easier doorstep sales for its staff, and new business models for the future.

Google Cloud results

  • Creates opportunities for upsells and personalized customer recommendations with an always-online POS system
  • Enables salespeople to work faster, with integrated sales and navigation functions in one device
  • Supports multichannel retail strategy by centralizing communication and offering new payment methods

Daily admin time reduced by up to two hours

As busy lifestyles lead more and more people to rely on food that’s quick and easy to prepare, the market for frozen foods is growing globally and is projected to reach $282.50 billion by 2023. An early pioneer of this trend is German company bofrost*, which has 5,500 vans delivering frozen goods in 12 European countries. Founded in 1966, bofrost* has been bringing frozen food to people’s homes for more than 50 years and is the European market leader in direct sales of ice cream and frozen food specialities. bofrost* has been able to gain this position by offering customers a high level of product quality and customer service, but it’s now looking to evolve its business model.

“In Germany, our market share is around 70% and we supply around 2.3 million households,” says Catalin Barbulescu, CIO at bofrost*. “So far, our business model has relied on the close relationship between the salesperson and the customer: the salespeople visit every day and bring the goods right into the kitchen. We know our customers very well.” However, competition is increasing in the home delivery market, and the behavior of customers has been evolving too. “Our customers tend to be aged 55 and over, but younger customers have different expectations,” explains Catalin. “They want to order online and have a choice of payment methods, and they aren’t at home as much. They want much more flexibility and therefore we need to adapt our business model to their needs.”

“Our salespeople are central to our business, so we decided to start the transformation of bofrost* with point of sale devices. With this infrastructure in place, taking a cloud-first approach, we can now develop new ways of interacting with our customers and enable multichannel models for promotion and sales.”

Catalin Barbulescu, CIO, bofrost*

To keep offering the high level of customer interaction it’s known for, bofrost* decided to transform its IT infrastructure in order to enable new ways of meeting its customers needs. The first step in this process of digital transformation was building a new point of sale (POS) platform. The system would be used by its salespeople to streamline their delivery schedule and provide details such as customer preferences and personalized suggestions to facilitate opportunities for upselling in the kitchen or on the doorstep. It would also give customers more choice and flexibility in the ordering and delivery process. After testing the services of several other providers, it chose Google Cloud as the best fit for its vision.

“Our salespeople are central to our business, so we decided to start the transformation of bofrost* with point of sale devices,” says Catalin. “With this infrastructure in place, taking a cloud-first approach, we can now develop new ways of interacting with our customers and enable multichannel models for promotion and sales.”

Building a scalable infrastructure for better sales support

Like many companies who have been trading for more than half a century, bofrost*’s IT infrastructure relied on legacy systems. “We had two on-premises data centers, in Germany and Italy, and even though we had completed an outsourcing project, the hardware was very difficult to scale and required significant investment to keep up to date,” explains Catalin. Information about products was provided to customers via a twice-yearly print catalog, and salespeople used a very basic device to access details about orders to be delivered, but they couldn’t access multichannel order histories and other additional information. “Our best salespeople have a wealth of customer knowledge stored in their head on customers’ likes, dislikes, and preferred delivery frequency. We wanted to make sure all our reps could access the data they needed to make the best suggestions, enhancing the customer experience as well as making their jobs easier and enabling them to serve customers faster,” says Catalin.

Working with implementation partner adesso, Catalin and his team designed and built a new POS infrastructure based on Google Kubernetes Engine, Cloud Storage, and Cloud Functions. “We need a system that’s always online,” says Catalin. “That means when salespeople arrive at a customer’s doorstep, they already have the latest information on customer interactions, such as whether they’ve already interacted with the call center team or the website as well as product recommendations, at their fingertips.”

“We chose to build our system using container technology and Google Kubernetes Engine, and the scalability of the platform is quite astonishing. It means we will be able to roll out the system on a pay-as-you-go basis, scaling up only as and when we need to.”

Catalin Barbulescu, CIO, bofrost*

With a single touchscreen tablet, bofrost* was able to replace both its old POS device and its separate navigation device used for the delivery schedule. The tablet also serves as a multichannel communication point. Salespeople can use the tablet to take online orders, or take care of the customer over the phone, or via messaging services. “The salespeople now have a large screen with all the information they need,” says Catalin. “In the future, everything will be loaded onto the tablets in the morning ready to go, saving each salesperson a couple of hours a day in administration tasks.”

The back end, hosted on Google Cloud, powers an Android app on the tablet, and this is how salespeople access the system. “We choose Google because of different factors: Google Android Platform and the synergy of Google Cloud Services,” says Catalin. “We’re also using Android to develop other applications for our call center teams, and for our customers.” While the customer base is currently stable, bofrost* anticipates an increase in new customers following the launch of its new applications and multichannel strategy.

“We chose to build our system using container technology and Google Kubernetes Engine, and the scalability of the platform is quite astonishing,” says Catalin. “It means we’ll be able to roll out the system on a pay-as-you-go basis, scaling up only as and when we need to.”

Creating an enhanced customer experience

As well as transforming the experience of its salespeople, the new POS platform will have a positive impact on the experience of bofrost*’s customers. “Because it’s integrated with an online web portal, we can now offer ‘just-in-time’ delivery services,” says Catalin. “Our customers can order online, and delivery is scheduled within the same day, as our vans are already on the streets.” Customers can order via the web or through the call center, and soon will be able to use a customer app to order from bofrost*.

“Having different touchpoints for customer interaction is also enabling us to evolve the brand and reach new sectors,” explains Catalin. “For example, we’re taking food trucks to festivals and other locations so customers can try the food and place an order on the spot. We’re also promoting products through our The TastyTable site, which promotes bofrost*products using social media influencers with recipes, community interaction, and the possibility for suppliers to open their own webshop featuring bofrost* products.” The new system also means customers have a choice of payment options including credit cards and vouchers.

bofrost* also plans to use machine learning to offer its customers personalized recommendations as well as optimize the daily schedule for its salespeople. Using algorithms trained with TensorFlow and other machine learning libraries running on Compute Engine virtual machines, it calculates the probability that a customer will order a product, enabling salespeople to target the customers who are most likely to want to place an order.

“With the new POS device, our salespeople can work faster. Taking into account additional customers on the route and the potential for upsells and cross-sales. But the really important point is that our salespeople can now work in completely new ways with one device for several tasks.”

Catalin Barbulescu, CIO, bofrost*

Rolling out the platform to the entire company

So far, bofrost* has completed a six-month trial of the new system and has received very positive feedback from its sales reps. “With the new POS device, our salespeople can work faster,” says Catalin. “Taking into account additional customers on the route and the potential for upsells and cross-sales. But the really important point is that our salespeople can now work in completely new ways with one device for several tasks.” By the end of 2019, around 50 subsidiaries in Europe will be using the system, and all other subsidiaries will follow shortly afterwards.

With the POS system in place, the next steps in bofrost*’s digital transformation will be to develop new CRM and goods management systems, as well as a new ecommerce platform and customer app. “We have a lot of projects to complete over the next four years, as the POS system was just the first step,” says Catalin. This includes migrating its salespeople to G Suite for faster and easier internal and external communication. bofrost* also plans to use BigQuery for its data warehouse and leverage Cloud Speech-to-Text so that salespeople can use voice commands and dictate orders on the go.

“One of the reasons I chose Google Cloud for this project is that I want to work with cutting-edge technologies,” says Catalin. “This platform will serve bofrost* for the next 50 years, so we want to make sure we get it right.”

About bofrost*

Founded in 1966, bofrost* is a European market leader among direct distributors of frozen food, supplying around four million households through 5,500 sales vehicles.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: Germany

About adesso

With 29 locations across Germany and Austria, adesso offers its customers tailor-made IT strategies, providing the right mix of technical expertise and business know-how.

Google Cloud Platform logo

12 Months FREE TRIAL

Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

TRY IT FREE
Google Cloud Platform logo

12 Months FREE TRIAL

Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

TRY IT FREE