360° Sales Planning and Analysis at Merz Lifecare
Supporting operational processes and creating complete transparency across sales, marketing, and the supply chain
Board provides Merz Lifecare (formerly Merz Consumer Care) a 360° view across all sales activities. In particular, this helps to map the pricing and terms system, detailing which products are in which markets and how sales and revenue are faring. As a result, Merz have greater control over their plan and control development, as well as a greater understanding of customer performance because they can analyze this in detail using various influencing factors, such as prices, discounts, listings, and promotions.
- Industry: Personal Care, Pharmaceutical & Healthcare
- Department: Marketing, Sales
- Founded: 1908
- Revenue: €100 million
Merz Lifecare is a company of the Merz Group. With its well-known brands, Tetesept and Merz Spezial, Merz Lifecare is one of the leading providers of innovative and high-quality mass-market health, well-being, and beauty products across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The company, which has been family-owned for more than 100 years, is based in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Challenge: Creating transparency and simulating impact
Due to the increasing internationalization of both retail in general and Merz Lifecare, the company decided a few years ago to restructure its existing pricing and terms system. With a decades-long history of growth, Merz’s pricing and terms system has developed a high degree of complexity across a number of acquisitions in the retail sector. The high manual effort required to maintain and analyze the system (i.e. with Excel and Access) costs the company a high number of resources.
Instead, they required a new system that could identify the financial effects of changes in pricing and terms, with detailed simulation capability at item and customer levels. Merz began their search for a suitable software solution that would undertake these tasks.
The Board solution: A user-friendly platform that delivers results
With Board, Merz Lifecare found a flexible Intelligent Planning Platform that can be used within the specialist department. Board’s ability to simply modify data models alongside its frontend display, on top of being able to perform what-if and scenario analyses, quickly swayed Merz’s decision in favor of the solution.
The first task was to implement the new pricing and terms system for Germany in Board. Mapping the new system in Board was an important milestone for us. By harmonizing structures, we achieved much greater transparency. Board also saves us plenty of manual work that used to take up too much of our time" explains Holger Schweikart, Head of Sales Controlling at Merz.
After a successful introduction in Germany, Board was further implemented in Austria and Switzerland, with a number of other areas of application identified along the way.
"The fact that Board can be used flexibly and individually to the needs of different user groups across Sales makes it the perfect software for us. The application soon established itself as an important controlling tool for our everyday sales activities!" states Holger.
The company now controls its entire budgeting and forecasting process in Board, instead of Excel. Among other things, the flexibility of the application allows them to distribute planning figures within customer and item structures according to any freely definable keyword (e.g. previous year figures). In this way, they can regularly record, simulate, and analyze business success across all customers and ranges.
The harmonized structures allow teams to check how the various KPIs are performing every day in Sales Reporting. For example, they can use a sales cockpit to view figures by day, month, year, or year-to-date. These distribution and profitability KPIs serve as an important controlling tool for operations.
Customer benefits: Extensive use in operations
In their day-to-day work, sales, marketing, and supply chain teams are seeing enormous benefits from the data and information provided by the Board platform. Sales create an 18-month monthly rolling forecast by month, item, and customer. The forecast numbers are aggregated and sent from Board to the SAP ERP system. From there, the supply chain team determines raw material requirements for the production and supply of the various products, while ensuring that delivery capacity is maintained.
To support sales planning, the sales data that is regularly provided can also be read and evaluated through Board.
While sales teams are primarily interested in the sales figures from trading partners, marketing views the figures from a product perspective. They can track commercial marketing campaigns – such as advertising products in weekly offer flyers – and map the impact on sales figures in a transparent way. With this, the company controls its advertising campaigns specific to each product.
The impact of these campaigns is also included in the forecast, which helps ensure delivery capacity. Marketing uses Board's simulation capabilities to replicate the likelihood of success with their new products. Teams can use what-if scenarios to change the different influencing variables and log the most promising parameters. These simulation features are also used in Transition Management, at various points in the product lifecycle, to avoid residual quantities, as well as to calculate quotas and the allocation of goods.
Lastly, field service teams at customer sites benefit from the possibilities of the Board platform. Not only can they plan customer visits with Board, but they also have an input screen on their tablet to enter details of local trading partners, (e.g. quantity and dimensions of the shelf space available to Merz). With internal staff loading the number of branches and listed products per trading partner in Board, sales representatives can see which items they can place there. They can also check out the competitive situation on the ground and react to changes.
Merz Lifecare is extremely happy with everything Board has been able to deliver for them.
"The Board platform offers us just the all-in-one solution we needed to improve our existing systems and structures" says Holger. "Without any programming effort required for Board, we were soon up and running and now we just design our reports and processes ourselves. The fact that Board can be used flexibly and individually to the needs of different user groups across Sales makes the software perfect for us. The application soon established itself as an important controlling tool for our everyday sales activities and delivers a 360° picture!”