Clip BV customer case
“Our biggest win is that your connector works stably, this is really the most important thing.”
ERP system: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS
E-commerce platform: Magento Open Source
Clip BV is a family business known for creating atmosphere and experience in the living room, kitchen and bathroom. Through the online sales of tableware, textiles, and paint products in the higher segment, Clip BV has grown into a worldwide high-quality player where both B2B and B2C customers have been happy to order their products for years.
Rick Harink, E-commerce & Operations Manager at Clip BV, talks about his experience in the digitalisation of business processes in combination with our Magento connector.
Can you introduce yourself? What function do you perform? For how long?
“My name is Rick Harink. The position I held until recently was Head of Sales and Operations. I recently became the E-commerce & Operations Manager. I have been with Clip for eight years now and have held various positions within the company. I started as an intern, and after graduating in business administration, there was such a good match between me and the owner that I joined Clip.”
“I am mainly involved in innovation, digitalisation and improving business processes, all of which are “sales” related. I am continuously involved in sales but not on the front line. I am not an Account Manager “on the road” but instead I operate in the background with various matters such as: building a dealer portal, building our webshops, implementing a new ERP system, onboarding new brands for which we’ve become a distributor, etc. I also have a lot of contact with our suppliers, however, I’m not the actual purchaser. I am the “middleman”, and I make sure that the various processes function properly. I always keep in the back of my mind how we can do business more efficiently to continue serving our customers in the best way possible.”
Could you describe your company, Clip BV?
“Clip BV is a family business that Björn Bakker and Ruchama Bakker are currently managing. Björn’s parents, Henk and Tet, founded the company 35 years ago. Originally, we were a wholesaler with many different brands, of which we were distributors, and we only supplied to B2B customers. From the warehouse, we made sales to stores and various retail chains throughout Europe. This gradually decreased, at which point we focused more on our brand Bunzlau Castle. Bunzlau Castle is our tableware brand produced in Poland, and we now supply to 600 retailers throughout Europe, Asia and America.”
“When I describe the Bunzlau Castle brand, I’d say that they are high-quality products that can be used on a daily basis. An important part of our catalogue is crockery, such as plates, bowls, mugs, etc. In addition, we also have an extensive textile collection, such as tea towels, towels, dishcloths, oven gloves, etc. So, we are well represented in the kitchen and the dining room, and the brand is gradually expanding into the living room with products such as vases, cushions, and throws. We are also expanding into the bathroom with our textile collection. They are all quality products produced in Europe by many different manufacturers. Most of our products come from Poland, Portugal, and Italy, and we have always chosen not to follow the trend towards China or other low-wage countries. This has been the company’s philosophy since Björn’s parents started Clip. The central question is: How can we produce beautiful quality products right here, in Europe?”
“The funny thing is that everyone went to China and low-wage countries at the time. Now we’re seeing the opposite happening, where companies are coming back. We also see many companies in the field of sustainability. Previously, this was not a theme at all. But nowadays, it obviously is! These companies are now looking much more into the following: how can we produce products closer to home? How can we maintain craft? Because once you stop doing something, you forget it, and it’s gone and never comes back. So, we work a lot with European producers, allowing us to supply high-quality products to customers in the higher segment. You won’t see us at the Blokker (Typical Dutch store in the lower segment) or the Action, but you will see us at the Bijenkorf (typical Dutch store in the higher segment)and the specialised local cooking shop.
In 2016, when I was at Clip for just one year, we gradually started to look at “ok, how can we sell to the B2C market directly (a trend that was already taking place) as a brand?” Our brand’s main goal was to be clearly visible online and protected online as well. Several providers had already sold our brand online, and at that time, we did have a website with information about our brand but no actual e-commerce webshop. We thought it was strange that a consumer could go to our website but not be able to order our products. We then started with a simple WooCommerce webshop and gradually expanded its functionality further. During the COVID pandemic, we have grown enormously, and last year (beginning in January 2022), we started with developing our new webshop via the Magento platform. The Magento webshop has recently been launched and is available in 4 languages!”
“In addition to our brand Bunzlau Castle, we also have two other brands that we distribute throughout Europe. Both brands come from England. A paint brand Annie Sloan and also a tableware brand Denby. These are more B2B oriented brands, focused on retail, utensils and, once again, aimed at the higher segment. We are a small company in terms of people, but big in what we do. As a result, we work very lean and efficient. We are good at product development, marketing, sales and logistics. Around this, we gather partners. You can think of suppliers, but certainly also IT partners.”
Do you only sell the products digitally or also through physical stores or retailers?
“95% of our orders are digital via e-commerce. Both B2B via our dealer portal and directly to B2C through our own webshop. We still have some revenue through “Cash and Carry” (a physical shop where the customer buys goods in bulk packaging, pays in cash and takes the product(s) right away). Since we carry out the entire logistics ourselves, we have an open warehouse with a large showroom. A customer can see and touch all products in the showroom. They can then proceed to purchase the product(s) via our open warehouse. In addition to the logistical process, our warehouse also aims for customers to shop there. That’s quite unique and makes it really fun. Customers love to stop by to browse and see our products. The challenge is ensuring that the logistics and digital processes do not get in the way of customers while shopping. Last year we made a digitalisation step while preserving our core values so that customers not only look in the showroom but are also motivated to check out the warehouse.”
“Our warehouse employees are also our ambassadors/sellers towards our customers that visit the store. All Clip employees are highly independent and professional in order to answer incoming phone calls, know the entire collection, and be able to sell the products to our customers in their own unique way. The entire building also has glass walls throughout, even in the warehouse. All our staff also eat together, and it’s really nice to see everyone in their value, and because of that, I think we’ve built a strong customer base. For example, some retailers we work with have been customers for over 20 years now and first started working with Björn’s parents all these years ago. We have a very loyal B2B customer portfolio, which is really nice!”
What are important goals for you?
“When we look at our brand, Bunzlau Castle, we want to be more visible to B2C customers. We want to continue to grow internationally. We want to become more active in Germany, France, and the US. We see many new opportunities for our brand and its products. These are beautiful markets that should fit our products well. Several characteristics of our products are solidity, handmade, and beautiful appearance. This fits in well with the customers from the countries mentioned above. These customers are also typically able to afford our products. For example, a mug costs about €18, and a dinner plate goes towards €40 to €45, so we have to continue to reach our customers internationally.”
“We also want to position our brand in such a way that it’s present in the various rooms in the house, so in addition to the kitchen, also the living room and bathroom.”
“The reason for choosing you was the reliability and professionalism.”
How did Clip BV first come into contact with Tinx-IT? And what was the reason for choosing us?
“We came into contact with you through our ERP partner ABC-E-business. The reason for choosing you was your reliability and professionalism. You guys just had it right. We started the sales process by discussing all the integration options via a list on which we could select what was and wasn’t necessary. We quickly went from a very broad selection to a much narrower scope that better suited our needs, all in just two scoping sessions. This made it concrete. I was also looking for a partner who would actually give me good advice based on my wishes. That is why I conducted the conversations with you and our e-commerce partner, Mooore. Mooore was also convinced of your expertise and approach. The fact that you are not a “single-person company” but a professional company with an entire team, combined with a track record of integration projects dating back to 2012, was the deciding factor for us. You have a number of more than 300 customers, so, you know, “ok, these guys are not amateurs, otherwise, you can never have that many customers.”
Looking back to the time before the integration, what were your e-commerce challenges?
“There were quite a few challenges. Before we entered into discussions with Tinx, we worked with two other parties, but one of them could never realise a proper integration. The other one supplied the link between Business Central and WooCommerce. The challenge there was that the integration frequently jammed. Especially the part that took care of the stock synchronisation failed frequently. As a result, the stock was not always up to date. They also offered no support desk, so we could never reach anyone when there were problems. To summarise, we were already quite far with our digitalisation, but our previous partners just couldn’t keep to their agreements.”
How did the need arise for you to integrate Magento and Business Central?
“This had to be done. We already had Business Central in use, and we decided that there would be a new Magento webshop which, of course, had to be integrated into BC. The choice for Magento was mainly because of its manageability. We had a WooCommerce webshop in three languages, but these were actually three single webshops, so we had to keep up with product management in three different places. We have about 7000 items. Multiply that by three and imagine that if you made a small mistake somewhere, you would have to adjust it three times. We really wanted to get rid of this. I said, “I want to have a separate PIM platform, and from there, I want to do the entire product management.”
“The product flow is now as follows: from BC, the product shoots through to Magento via your Magento connector, the PIM platform then retrieves the product, enriches it with extra information, and sends it back to Magento. This allows us to import, export and enrich products much faster without affecting our website. Also, because the systems run on separate servers, it works much faster. WooCommerce is great. In fact, it is quite simple, cheap and fast. But once you get more products, more websites and want to do more on a technical level, Magento is a better platform.”
“We now have much more peace of mind in the organization.”
Which functions of the Tinx-IT connector do you use at the moment?
“We start with the basic functionality of sending a product from BC to Magento, including the price and a few basic attributes. The stock is also pushed.”
“Also, we receive the webshop orders from Magento into BC.”
“In terms of customers, we work with standard customer templates. We have chosen not to register every customer uniquely in BC for now. It remains a difficult choice; one says, “do it”, and the other says “, don’t do it.” For us, it is not necessary at this moment in time. This can pollute your system, and we won’t do any marketing activities towards customers from BC either. We have standard customer templates for every European country, and for outside of Europe, we have created one external standard customer template.”
How do you experience the Tinx-IT connector? What do you like? What is the profit?
“Our biggest gain is that your connector works stably, this is really the most important thing. The stock levels are correct, the webshop orders match on both platforms, and the web order statuses are updated correctly. This is a huge win for us. It gives the organisation much peace of mind, mainly because we are a small team and are not specialised in IT. The back office can now safely assume that the correct stock levels are sent to the webshop. It’s a lot of transactions for both B2C and B2B. It, therefore, demands quite a bit from the connector, and so far, it does that with flying colours, so that’s great!”
“The moment we sell something that we ultimately don’t have, problems will arise in various departments. I think that we have some 15 to 30 minutes of additional work for every order we cannot deliver. Actually, I think 30 minutes is more likely than 15 now that I think about it. You have to imagine that the warehouse is jammed in such an event because the product is not there, the order has to be separately put on hold, and our customer service has to contact the customer to offer an alternative. If the customer is not present, we have to contact them a second time. In the worst case, we have to cancel the entire order and refund the money. Our warehouse then has to put all products that were already ready for shipment back on the shelves. We would rather not have to deal with these additional steps, and above all, we don’t want to have a dissatisfied customer.”
“Imagine someone has ordered something for Grandma’s birthday, and the products don’t arrive. Then we have an angry customer, a bad review, and a lot of negativity just because an integration tool didn’t adjust the stock from 1 to 0 when we received an order from a different source than the webshop (like a B2B order). Of course, Magento keeps track of its webshop stock based on Magento’s own webshop orders. But because we handle the entire B2B order and stock flow within Business Central, which uses the same warehouse as the webshop, including “Cash and Carry”, we want the webshop to be updated with any kind of, let’s say, external stock changes as soon as possible. There should not be a possibility where this process gets stuck and that we find out three days later that no stock movements have taken place. Especially with peaks such as during Christmas or Sinterklaas, this process should work stable and well. If you can’t complete 10 out of 100 orders due to a stock mismatch, you should see how much time you lose. So, the biggest gain is that your connector works stably, and the stocks are correct.”
“We stayed within budget and on schedule, which is quite unique and impressive!”
How did you experience the overall project?
“I’ve frequently been told that e-commerce projects usually don’t meet the timeline deadlines. That can have several reasons. In our case, we worked with a dedicated sprint team. At Clip, we had two people available for this project, our e-commerce partner Mooore for the webshop part and Tinx-IT for the integration of Magento into Business Central. As a result, we stayed within budget and also on time. That’s quite unique and impressive!”
If you had to tell someone at another company about Tinx-IT, what would you tell them?
“That he or she should definitely talk to you!”
Do you have any tips for Tinx-IT?
“No, I think if you keep doing what you’re doing at this moment and maintain the stability, customers will be happy, and they will Spread the word to potential other new customers.”
Tinx-IT E-commerce Magento connector