Heineken.

Mäd answered the question of how to scale a digital supply chain across 500,000 locations across a multitude of use cases.

Heineken.

Beer is big business.  

And big business requires big thinking.

Heineken partnered with Mäd to design and develop a digital ordering solutions for outlets, agents and vendors to order products and merchandise, while keeping track of various loyalty promotions.

It's a known fact that distributing across a frontier economy is tough. We stepped in and brought some sanity to the process via our product design methodology. The goals of the project was to completely revolutionize the supply chain management for Heineken both in Cambodia and eventually the region.

This would enable Heineken to have close to real-time visibility of the stock levels at the various outlets, as well as offer outlets an easy way to keep track of their orders and loyalty points, to ensure that that they can quickly redeem loyalty points.

Research.

The key challenge in this project was that Heineken's customer was extremely diverse, ranging from large regional brands with head offices and purchasing teams, all the way to owner-operated beer gardens and even the typical family-run drinks shops that can be found across most of Asia. The skillset and use cases of these varied types of users were very different.

We also had to consider other types of users such as sales agents, distributors, key Heineken stakeholders that needed dashboards, as well as the finance and administration teams that needed key data and dashboards in real time.

Additionally, we didn't want to simply digitize the current offline processes, because digital transformation is about much more than just that. It's the perfect time to take a long deep look at the way an organization is handling key process and discover inefficiencies, duplications, and error-prone ways of doing things.

We researched and analyzed the  process and relevant user preferences from different stakeholders and users through:

  • Interviews with internal stakeholders. We conducted interviews with senior management and operational staff to understand their understanding of the current way of doing things, and where they perceived there was the largest potential for improvement.
  • Customer Interviews. Hearing it from the Heineken team themselves was on thing, but of course we needed to verify information on the ground and also understand the pain points of real customers. We visited dozens of different customer types and understood what they real day-to-day struggles and aspirations were. We understood the cash-flow requirements of small drink shops and how they didn't like the fact that they always had to pay upfront for the product while larger businesses had up to 30 day payment terms.
  • A Design Sprint. We held a collaborative two day Design Sprint with the client at our offices to get deep understanding of their business as well as brainstorm potential solutions and narrow down the various possibilities. This then allowed us to better shape our interviews and requirement gathering while giving key stakeholders a chance to voice their vision for the project.
  • Key Business Requirements. We created a in-depth BRS (Business Requirement Specification) that outlined all key requirements from a business point of view, to ensure that the end solution would actually add value to the organization itself and that everyone was working with a shared understanding of what the end solution would actually provide to all users.

Design.

Based on the research phase, it quickly became apparent that it would be difficult to manage an entire suite of mobile applications, each tailored to suit the precise needs of each type of user.

So, we opted to design one mobile application that would dynamically offer different features and functionalities to different types of user depending on which phone number was used to login.

This had the advantaged of radically simplifying the underlining architecture, and also made the mobile app distribution much simpler as there was only one application for everyone to download (and for us to manage and maintain).

Armed with an array of data from the research phase, we initiated the second stage of the product design process.

We took the findings from the Design Sprint and stakeholder and customer interviews, and started to prototype a low fidelity solution that we could then test on a subset of customers to understand their reactions, objections, and gauge to see if they felt we were solving their problems.  

The benefits of this type of usability testing with low-level wireframes cannot be underestimated. By spending a few days building and testing these rough prototypes, we gained valuable additional insights that ensured a higher degree of confidence in the final decisions before commencing the full design and development.

The natural next step was to then design each and every flow of the application so that everyone could see how the final intended solution was actually going to work. This set of design, along with the BRS (Business Requirement Specifications) gave us a very clear picture of what was actually going to be built.

For the UI (User Interface) Design, we used the Heineken Brand Guidelines as our starting point and created a simple, yet effective UI that provided a large amount of usability to the even the most unsophisticated part of the user base, with a distinct color code for each main main function of the application.

The end result was a refreshingly simple UI that could scale with future requirements

One of the key ideas for outlets was to reduce the number of taps required to complete an order successfully, as the fewer steps required to complete an order means less friction and a larger number of orders.

We designed a four-tap order process that ensured that at each step the end user had all the information they required to make an informed decision and move on to the next part of the buying process.

The same type of thinking was, of course, applied for the distributor mobile application where they could see the current and past orders, and move each order through the delivery process.

This helped Heineken's distributors move away from a disorganized and error-prone paper-based ordering system to a fully digital solution, where orders would never be lost or forgotten, ensuring that the end customers had the best possible ordering experience.

Stage 3 - Development Phase

With the design ready, and data to support, we were able to enter the development phase to truly craft an effective application.

Because we knew that the digital ordering solution had to be used at scale, we decided on using NodeJS (Javascript) as the programming language of choice for the backend system that would manage the business logic. NodeJS is extremely good at concurrency, which means that large amount of simultaneous users or orders would not bring our system to a standstill.

We also had to integrate the Heineken's DIS (Distributor Information System) that was running on an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning System) called Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Fortunately, Mad was well positioned for this integration as we've previously worked on a significant number of integrations with Microsoft Dynamics as  our client Votiva (who also invested in Mad) are the largest Microsoft Dynamics partner in South-East Asia.

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For the dashboards, we used VueJS which allowed us to quickly create interactive dashboards that measured all the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that the senior team at Heineken deemed to be important.

Conclusion.

Heineken is a global leader in the alcohol beverage industry, and Mäd ensured our high-quality work reflected the huge success of their well-established brand. The project had an enormous range of demands to meet, and we rose to the occasion.

We approached the project sensibly, outlining the main objectives of the digital ordering solution and ensuring all key stakeholders had a coherent understanding of the goals and had plenty of opportunities to provide feedback and input.  

The digital ordering solution surpassed $1m in orders in less than 14 days, and was widely appreciated by the outlets included in the pilot test phase, which placed it well to eventually roll out to 30,000 national outlets and also to offer the 26,000 wedding couples that choose Heineken products for their special day a better way to order products.