B&S is one of those Dutch, world-class B2B organizations with a truly global scope, that is still unknown to the general public. B&S trades and distributes more than 40,000 products of food and non-food goods in over 100 countries and are supplier to the largest organizations such as Amazon, Otto and Wehkamp. They serve special need markets such as; cruise lines, government and defence and remote industrial sites applying state-of-the-art logistics and expert knowledge in international trade and customs.
Building a future-proof E-commerce platform that can mirror B&S's ability to focus on the needs of very specific markets, and a differentiated assortment of food and non-food products posed serious challenges for B&S:
Having built their own ERP system from scratch, the expectations of B&S on the flexibility and stability of the new platform were high.
Being a pragmatic organization, B&S decided early-on to go for a ‘Best of Breed’ approach. Commercetools was chosen as the headless backbone for assortments, prices, promotions and transactions due to its ability to scale without limits and its flexibility to connect to all front-ends. On top of that Bloomreach CMS and -Search were selected to provide a rich customer experience.
Instead of starting with an organization-wide intake and analysis process, the internal dynamics required SQLI to immediately start with the implementation of the first webshop: Ankeramsterdamspirits.nl. But while building the Anker shop, we made sure that most of what we developed would be future-proof and re-usable for other businesses coming later.
We designed an architecture that combines maximal flexibility with minimal duplication of data and assets. The 3 main ingredients of the architecture are:
The in-house built ERP consists of 4 separate instances. Each instance has different prices and business rules that apply to one of the 4 main business areas: Liquor / Perfume / Food / Retail. The ERP feeds the system with Product data, Prices, Promotions and Customer data.
Consisting first on a headless, service-based, E-commerce foundation based on the Commercetools’ ‘PaaS’ solution that serves up to date, customer-, product-, price- and stock data coming from the ERP and is in charge of transactions.
In addition, a custom ‘B&S Commerce layer’ that combines the data from Commercetools and business rules from the ERP -instances. This layer makes sure that all data that is served to the frontend is specific for the BU that requests it. The commerce layer is based on the following principles:
It has been an exciting and rewarding adventure reaching milestone after milestone with new requests still continuing to pour in. While there is still room for improvement in different areas, we are proud of what we managed to deliver so far:
About our E-commerce and enterprise architecture services.