How to overcome uncertainty and elevate customer experiences with artificial intelligence

zeelandia woman blog header 

September 6, 2022

Zeelandia enhances customer experiences with AI-driven recommendations

Global supply chain challenges created by the pandemic are now amplified by the conflict in Ukraine, contributing to inflation and soaring prices for agricultural raw materials. Ukraine and Russia are the suppliers of 30% of the world’s wheat and barley exports. Now, the war has created uncertainty for exporting grain, wheat, and vegetable oil.

Zeelandia Group, a global player in the bakery ingredients business, is feeling the pain of this uncertainty across their operations in over 30 countries and sales in about 100 countries. Their business is focused on repeated sales to long-term customers; therefore, it is critical for Zeelandia to strengthen their relationship with customers and differentiate to negate alternative buying channels.

Building agility through transformation

Fortunately, Zeelandia is agile, having begun their digital transformation journey in 2017 with Infor to move their ERP to the cloud with Infor CloudSuite Food & Beverage. Live with the cloud ERP in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Zeelandia is leveraging the power of Infor’s integrated cloud platform technology to improve the accuracy and speed of key business processes that help sustain business growth despite current market challenges.

man baking mural
Michal Rada, transformation leader and group ICT director for AI at Zeelandia

“Digitization allows us to explore the wealth of data and information we have in our systems and how we can use it to improve our business and our organization as well as our service to customers and to make our world a better place. This can only be achieved with a strong partner like Infor because digitization is not our core business. Our core business is bakery ingredients,” said Michal Rada, Corporate ICT Director and Transformation Leader at Zeelandia.

When the opportunity to leverage digitization to fortify connections internally as an organization, and externally with customers, Michal seized the moment. “Our business is repeated sales to our long-term customers. We saw a significant drop in sales in the first months of the pandemic in 2020, but since then the business has recovered. We were able to adapt to new ways of working together and create new sales and marketing strategies to stay intimate with our customers now that they are moving online.”

Realizing business value with technology

CloudSuite Food & Beverage is where Zeelandia sales orders are processed and automatically pushed into the Infor Data Lake, a single source for all data-driven business insights. Zeelandia saw the potential of using integrated Infor Coleman AI services with the Data Lake to create machine generated recommendations. Augmenting more accurate and intelligent recommendations for products, pricing, and opportunities would not only save time for the sales and marketing teams, but also bring modernization and personalization to the customer experience, keeping them loyal and happy.

In working closely with Infor’s Coleman and AI team, Zeelandia was able to implement the first use case of Product Recommender in less than 90 days. Michal added, “The first outcome we expected from using the Product Recommender was that we would be able to offer the most appropriate products to our customer and live up to our value strategy, which is about customer intimacy. This will increase the bond we have with our customers because we are helping their businesses grow further with the right products. The second outcome we expected was revenue growth from increasing share of wallet with customers. Last, we expected productivity gains in the sales and marketing teams, saving them hours of manual work preparing for sales visits and marketing campaigns.”

Prior to implementing Product Recommender, when a salesperson was preparing to meet with a customer, they encountered a very manual sales reporting process to determine what the selling opportunities were based on what a customer was buying. Zeelandia has a very large product portfolio to sort through to make personalized and accurate product recommendations for each customer. If the salesperson was new or time constrained, offering the most appropriate product could be a challenge, potentially wasting both salesperson and customer time.

software program screen
Photo courtesy of Zeelandia

Now, with AI-driven product recommendations, sales and marketing enjoy the following benefits:

  • Elevated speed–83% faster to prepare product recommendations for a customer, down from 30 minutes to 5 minutes
  • Better customer experience with intelligent and personalized product recommendations
  • Increased revenue per transaction and share of wallet per customer
  • Improved marketing conversion for new products or products that are about to expire

Assisting Zeelandia’s efficiency, Product Recommender generates the top five products to recommend to customers, ranked by the probability of success. Presented through a web or mobile dashboard using democratized analytics infused with artificial intelligence from Infor Birst, a salesperson simply selects a customer and recommendations are displayed. A salesperson can schedule up to five customer meetings in one day, so Product Recommender can save them almost a third of a day of prep work.

After making the product recommendations, pricing the products is the next step. With the constant change in cost and unavailability of goods, pricing of products must be adjusted more frequently. This has been a challenge for Zeelandia as they used a spreadsheet-driven process for pricing thousands of products for thousands of customers. It is a time-consuming and error-prone process, and no longer scalable with the need to frequently adjust pricing.

man woman laptop office Zeelandia
Photo courtesy of Zeelandia

Expanding AI for additional efficiencies

With Infor’s help, Zeelandia applied the same concept of AI recommendations to pricing, expecting the following benefits:

  • Improve customer loyalty, offering the right price and understanding why
  • Meet profitability goals with optimal pricing
  • Reduce time and costs through machine generated pricing

“Zeelandia has a very complex pricing setup that includes thousands of individual prices,” Michal explained. “With the current market fluctuations and uncertainty, it is even more challenging to maintain. We used to have to manually manipulate the data in Microsoft Excel, which is, first, very labor intensive, but also error prone. So, the pricing in general was the next obvious target to see what we can do with Infor using artificial intelligence and data science. And to come up with the intelligent price recommendations for the combination of customer and product to find the sweet spot between customer satisfaction and company profits.”

man kneading dough in kitchen
Photo courtesy of Zeelandia

The innovation journey continues at Zeelandia with Infor Coleman and AI being applied to customer relationship management (CRM) data to provide customer or opportunity recommendations. Next, Zeelandia plans to be an early adopter of Infor’s hyper-automation solutions to gain more efficiencies. Michal concludes: “We plan to continue this journey with Infor, being early adopters of robotic process automation, to improve our efficiencies and to find the best balance between human and machine.”

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Mona Patel
Industry & Solution Strategy Director
Infor Platform Technology Team

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