Beiersdorf has stood for innovative, high-quality skin and body care products and pioneering skin research for more than 140 years. Leading international brands such as NIVEA, EUCERIN, LA PRAIRIE, and HANSAPLAST impress millions of people around the world every day. Well-known brands such as Aquaphor, Coppertone, Chantecaille, Labello, 8×4, atrix, Hidrofugal, Maestro and Florena complement the broad portfolio of the Consumer business segment. Through its wholly owned affiliate tesa SE, Beiersdorf is also one of the world’s leading manufacturers of technical adhesive tapes and self-adhesive system solutions for industry, commerce, and consumers.
The company, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, generated sales of €8.8 billion and an operating profit (EBIT) of €1.2 billion in fiscal year 2022. Beiersdorf employs over 20,000 people worldwide who are united by shared values, a strong corporate culture, and Beiersdorf Purpose Care Beyond Skin.
With its C.A.R.E.+ strategy, the company is pursuing a multi-year investment program aimed at achieving competitive, sustainable growth. The program is in line with Beiersdorf’s ambitious sustainability agenda, which creates clear added value for consumers, society, and the environment.
With the Syndigo solution, Beiersdorf introduced the first PIM system in the company. Without a central technology to maintain, manage and provide product information, both sales and marketing faced major challenges. For example, sales representatives had to export the information that was fundamental to sales from SAP. The problem was not only the difficulty of obtaining this information, but also that it was not prepared in a customer-oriented way. Marketing was faced with the challenge of creating uniform product communication – this could hardly be accomplished with country-specific Excel lists, all of which were maintained differently. This was especially true since topics such as website presence and online store were imminent, so that the introduction of a central PIM system was without alternative.
At the beginning, the goal of the implementation project was to support the company’s web presence with the help of a central product information management system and to follow suit step by step with other countries and brands. This was to establish the PIM as a company-wide single source of truth for all product data. This also included a change process to anchor the new system in the working methods of employees in all country organizations. Over the years, further requirements were added, which had an impact in particular on the integration of the PIM with other channels. Finally, the continuous further development of data governance and the constant optimization of data quality is an important goal for Beiersdorf.
The need actually arose in many places in parallel. For example, before the PIM introduction, the field sales force was dependent on SAP exports for customer contact, which was of course neither promotional nor customer-oriented. These Excel lists contained only rudimentary product information, but nothing that was helpful in any way from a sales perspective. IT was therefore told that sales needed tools for customer contact, where the product data was prepared accordingly. The need was also great in the business, as required product information had to be gathered in different Excel lists and communication could not be prepared in a uniform manner due to inconsistent data maintenance. In addition, since the website and online store were to be addressed, it was clear that we had to introduce a PIM system.
One of the most important requirements for us was usability and this is still an important issue today – user-friendliness must be continuously optimized to make it as easy as possible for users to work in the system.
Another important requirement was the system’s integration capability. This applies both to the integration with SAP, where we maintain a great deal of product relevant data, but also to other channels and systems – it was already clear to us at the time that we wanted to use the data in the PIM system in many other places. In addition, the flexibility of the data model was important to us to ensure that the management and handling of the data took our individual needs into account.
Even though these basic needs have not changed over the years, the requirements have certainly been influenced by other projects – be it the website and online store, the rollout to other countries or the migration phase in the transition to the new version of Syndigo.
We have invested a lot of time to create a solid data base and now and in the future we have to make sure to use this data effectively – not only in our own context, but also flexible for the current need in the market.
Christian Renz already worked in project management during his computer science studies, he has been employed at Beiersdorf for 15 years and for the last nine years he accompanied marketing projects from the IT side.
Inefficient processes, an inconsistent brand presence, and a lack of transparency with regard to the relevant product information provided the impetus for the PIM project. At the time, it was clear to Beiersdorf that goals such as the implementation of the website and online store projects could not be achieved without central product data management. Selecting the right solution that would bring the necessary integration capability, usability and flexibility was a first step for Beiersdorf. Continuous further development, particularly with regard to data quality, usability and connection to additional channels, provides the framework for a continuous PIM program whose goal is the effective usability of the centrally maintained data.
In line with these challenges, special attention was paid in the selection process to improving data quality and transparency, standardizing and automating supplier data, avoiding manual entries for products, developing business-specific workflows and functions, and integrating the systems. Finally, the future viability of the new system also played a major role in the decision-making process.
In the selection process, a market research was first conducted to filter out the relevant candidates. For the implementation of the reference case, both the respective software provider and the integration partner proposed by the provider were invited, and in the end Syndigo and Advellence prevailed. The project started with the goal of supplying the NIVEA website for Germany with product information from the Syndigo PIM. Subsequently, the other countries followed suit and, in the next step, the other brands were also brought onto the system.
One challenge was the transformation of the Syndigo system into a true cloud native SaaS solution, which meant a great deal of effort and also a certain amount of risk for everyone involved. Nevertheless, it was clear to those responsible for the project that, as part of the cloud-first strategy, migration to the cloud was the only right way to go.
Both the change process at Beiersdorf and the establishment of strong data governance to ensure data quality were successfully implemented thanks to the immediately noticeable added value for all users, and this will remain the focus in the future.
In addition to the further optimization of data governance and data quality, the integration of the PIM into relevant systems and channels for the procurement, preparation and distribution of product data as well as the automation of processes are in the foreground. Among other things, this is intended to create comprehensive process control for the complete product life cycle in order to achieve transparency and a uniform status.
As an experienced digitization partner for companies of various sizes and industries, Advellence supports organizations in the sustainable development of their digitization strategy based on their existing IT landscape and process structure and stands by their side with great professional and technical know-how both in an advisory capacity and in the implementation and integration of systems, data and processes.
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