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Henkel ducks problems by sticking with CRM

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Henkel Consumer Adhesives Inc., a $304 million Avon, Ohio-based marketer of adhesive products, has spent the last five years building and evangelizing its customer relationship management system. The company markets all its products under its "Duck" brand name through a small group of large retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores and Office Depot.

Formerly Manco Inc.—the name was changed this June, four years after the company was acquired by The Henkel Group—the company originally built an Oracle customer data warehouse and reporting structure alongside an upgrade of its J.D. Edwards enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

"We knew we weren’t going to get the analysis we wanted out of [the updated ERP system]," said Matt Rhoades, team leader of data warehouse and advanced technologies at Henkel Consumer Adhesives. That was a problem because HCA needed to provide its giant retailer customers with point-of-sale and product information. But it also needed to add insight and analysis.

With its top 25 customers representing 90% of its business, HCA wanted to be considered a "retailing information expert" for these customers. At the same time, it needed to track internal processes such as accounts receivable, shipment delivery dates and warehouse staff productivity levels.

Henkel added Ascential Software Corp.’s Datastage application to its CRM portfolio. Ascential’s tool extracts, cleanses and analyzes data before putting it into one of several data warehouses. The J.D. Edwards system and Oracle database, together with Datastage, enable data retrieval within minutes. Previously, the same function might have taken more than 250 hours a month.

Not only did Datastage let the company provide information about its own line of products to retailers, it also gave these customers access to detailed data analysis of shoppers. And that level of analysis has made HCA more attractive than its competitors.

"Anyone can go buy duct tape from anyone," Rhoades said. "It’s a fairly commodity item. Driving innovation keeps customers coming to us."

The CRM system allowed HCA to save time and reduce staff by five people, while adding three employees to focus on data analysis rather than report generation.

Currently, a four-person team led by Rhoades has been asked to replicate its CRM system for all Henkel subsidiaries, which include 10 North American companies and more than 6,000 employees. That process began about three months ago.

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