Progress means change: STIHL takes the path to e-commerce

True to the motto: "Fast, efficient and reliable." STIHL has established itself in the market as a supplier of engine-powered equipment for forestry, gardening, landscaping and the construction industry, and has known how to offer its customers the highest level of reliability, quality and service for over 90 years. In order to be able to maintain the company's future viability in the long term, STIHL decided at an early stage to modernise and expand its warehouse logistics - first in Germany and then in France - and has since been a long-standing customer of S&P Computersysteme GmbH.

Following the successful modernisation of the logistics centre at the STIHL sales headquarters in Dieburg in 2011, the STIHL Group decided to implement the SuPCIS-L8 warehouse management system from S&P at the warehouse locations in France as well, in order to be able to handle and manage the continuously increasing sales and volume growth in the best possible way. In total, STIHL has extensive storage areas at the French locations around Paris for the diverse product range - from chainsaws and hedge trimmers to accessories for forestry and landscape maintenance to spare parts. The warehouse management system helps to increase efficiency in both Germany and France through optimised logistical processes.

For the warehouse strategies, the project partners focused on uniform processes across the countries. Processes and strategies that are used with the WMS SuPCIS-L8 in Germany can also be found in the two existing warehouse locations in France. The conversion to multi-order picking with mobile terminals ensures route-optimised and paperless picking in the STIHL warehouse. Mobile consolidation, packaging and loading processes were introduced and optimised with regard to small and large order processing. Automatic container storage systems are used in both countries. However, some differences can be identified: while in Germany, for example, pick-by-light picking is used, in France a shipping sorter ensures that the packages are sorted according to shipping relations. At the same time, the multi-stage replenishment processes ensure stock availability at STIHL. A high-availability architecture also ensures that logistics operations cannot be impaired by damage to the server systems. The use of mobile printers also makes it possible to label the goods and apply shipping labels to the packages ready for dispatch during order picking, thus reducing both the time spent at the packing station and the packaging material required. The result: modern warehousing with minimised travel times and the highest possible efficiency.

Steady growth means breaking new ground

STIHL's traditional distribution channel used to be exclusively the specialist trade. Anyone who wanted a chainsaw could get individual advice from a specialist dealer and buy the products on the spot. For some years now, however, there have also been cooperations with specialised DIY stores that are allowed to sell STIHL products - but this requires a separate Stihl specialist shop with competent and well-trained employees. In the midst of the age of digitalisation, however, the trend among consumers is increasingly moving towards e-commerce. In order to be able to meet these growing market demands in the future, STIHL has taken a pioneering step and decided to use online trade as a further sales channel. S&P supported STIHL with new processes and optimisations in the warehouse management system specifically for intralogistics in direct sales (B2C).

In addition to the introduction of new carriers and a route determination for identifying carriers, the cockpits integrated in the system were also adapted to the new requirements. Furthermore, new control parameters were used in the project depending on the distribution route and the carriers used, and the consolidation process was changed. Adjustments to packing and loading processes complete the necessary measures in SuPCIS-L8 and overall provide an essential foundation for STIHL's online trading. In Germany, the supplier went live with this as early as March 2020. Only a short time later, in November 2020, and thus much earlier than planned, the French online shop was also launched. Whether tools, chainsaws or hedge trimmers - STIHL customers in Germany and France can order online quickly and easily.

"The flexibility and customisability of SuPCIS-L8 convinces us time and again. We are happy to place our full trust at any time in our long-standing and reliable partner S&P, with whose expertise and know-how at our side we are already looking confidently to the future," say Michael Kausch (Head of Sales Logistics at STIHL) and Jérôme Forstendicher (Logistics Managerat STIHL).