Hardware group Isero on the cusp of digital transformation

How the strategy of the technical wholesaler laid the foundation for a modern ICT infrastructure.

Being and remaining of high added value for the customer, that is the core of Isero's strategy. How do you ensure you stay relevant, offer distinctive propositions, and innovate at the same time, for example, with online services? Mark Kahlmann, Director of Logistics & ICT at Isero, talks about the strategy of the technical wholesaler, the role of technology, and the partnership with HSO.

Isero aims to continuously improve knowledge and service

Mark Kahlmann: "You may not (yet) be familiar with the name Isero, but you probably know our brands, such as Gerritse IJzerwaren, Breur Ceintuurbaan, and Gunters en Meuser. Our customers are construction professionals and technical services. We supply everyone from self-employed professionals to large national builders, as well as maintenance services for housing corporations, for example. Half of our customers work directly on construction sites, while the other half includes installers, painting companies, and finishing companies.

We basically supply everything that fits in a van. We specialize mainly in door and window hardware, tools, ironware, fasteners, workwear, and personal protective equipment. Our added value lies in our employees' knowledge of our products, enabling them to provide excellent customer assistance. Additionally, we maintain significant local inventories and can deliver to construction sites twice a day through a fine-mesh logistics network."

Innovating with distinctive concepts

Being an engaged partner for customers, genuinely helping and striving to do better in the eyes of our customers, is in Isero's DNA. To remain a market leader and continue providing added value, the company is developing new propositions. Mark: "Our current focus is on developing concepts to fully unburden large groups of customers. For example, we deliver containers to construction sites containing a customer-specific assortment of materials with smart inventory management. We are also heavily investing in our online proposition, including a mobile ordering app, to ensure that the younger generation of customers can find us. Such innovative concepts require intelligent ICT solutions."

Journey to the cloud

The backbone of Isero group's ICT and its logistics and customer-related processes is AX 2009, which HSO implemented several years ago. Mark: "In recent years, we have opened many branches and integrated several acquisitions, doubling the number of our branches. We also transitioned the new companies to AX 2009. Having one system allows us to fulfill our delivery and service promises from more and more locations. However, due to all these acquisitions, it is not always easy for management to have a clear overview of relevant business data. That's why we recently started a project with HSO's Business Analytics team. HSO is assisting us with Power BI to elevate our management information to a higher level."

"We expect increasing synergy between the companies, including in ICT. We anticipate approaching our digital transformation together."

Mark Kahlmann | Director of Logistics & IT at Isero

Preparing for the future, step by step

Isero consciously chose to manage the application's maintenance and upkeep itself. But it is expected that the collaboration with HSO will intensify in the coming years. Mark: "In 2019, Isero's parent company, Grafton, acquired building wholesaler Polvo. We expect increasing synergy between the companies, including in ICT. We are on the eve of significant changes, such as transitioning to the cloud, and foresee that we cannot manage all the maintenance and development of our ICT platform ourselves. Given our past positive cooperation and recent projects, we have complete confidence that we can tackle this challenge together with HSO."

Mark: "Step by step, we are preparing for further digitization. The project we started with Quadira is an example of this. With Quadira's Advanced-Forms®, we can easily deliver documents to the customer, and it also serves as a preparation step for the upcoming versions of AX, in which document formatting is no longer standard in the software. In the future, I also expect that we will need a separate CRM system integrated with our Intershop web platform to further strengthen our online strategy."

Online strategy

While the majority of sales currently occur via phone or in-person at the counter, Isero is heavily investing in its online strategy. Mark: "Many customers still place offline orders. Nevertheless, we are strongly committed to our online proposition to ensure that the younger generation can find us. We recently developed a new web platform based on Intershop technology. Intershop has also become an HSO partner recently. We are now able to make all information about inventory, delivery times, and customer-specific prices available online in real-time. A robust webshop will also help us to serve our different target groups in a targeted manner, including all those companies 'around the construction site'."

"We expect the collaboration with HSO to intensify in the coming years."

Mark Kahlmann Director of Logistics & ICT at Isero

A fully-fledged omnichannel company with a modern IT infrastructure

How does Mark envision Isero in 3-5 years? "Our market is undergoing extensive consolidation. This means that we must continue to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. That's why we are actively developing smart concepts to better serve large groups of customers. For the customer, everything is possible, but on the backend, we want to streamline processes as much as possible.

In three to five years, I expect us to have become a fully-fledged omnichannel company, and our journey to the cloud will be well underway or even completed. This is necessary to develop and deliver new forms of services, new concepts more quickly and extensively, and to maintain the quality and service to our customers. We are delighted to embark on this journey together with HSO."

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