Conrad Benelux successfully e-invoices with econnect - Sweden and Denmark will follow
Continuously examining how processes can be improved, that is what Kelly Soijo, Head of Quality & Process Management, and also Head of Operational Customer Care, at technical webshop Conrad deals with, among other things. Whether that is in logistics or within SAP, Kelly and her Q&P team monitor and manage it. This includes e-invoicing! Partly stimulated by the government's obligation to be able to receive e-invoices, the Peppol ball got rolling at Conrad too.
"We had heard of Peppol and Mercurius (ed. e-invoicing portal of the Belgian government), but thought at the time that it would be fine," says Kelly. Once the requirement for governments to be able to receive e-invoices became a reality, things got more serious. "Although we still notice that there are government institutions that prefer to receive a pdf invoice rather than an e-invoice. Or sometimes even still a paper invoice!", says Kelly somewhat surprised.
The transition to eConnect
To be able to send e-invoices, Conrad enthusiastically began working on enabling e-invoicing internally in 2018. Initially with another company, but this process proved more difficult than expected. "We ended up spending two years trying to get it done, but we didn't manage to generate the right file. It became too complex! And so last month we pulled the plug," Kelly says. In the meantime, Kelly was looking for an alternative and while googling, she came across eConnect. Initially, only a few invoices were needed, so they could easily be sent manually via the platform. "Creating an account happened really quickly. It worked very smooth and easy-and in addition, sending e-invoices is free!" she says enthusiastically.
There was a desire to automate this further and no longer have to send every e-invoice manually. But because the experience with the platform had been so positive, we worked with eConnect to find the right solution. And it came! In SAP, the software Conrad works with, it is indicated that an invoice should be sent via Peppol. SAP then generates the correct file and automatically puts it on a sftp server. Via eConnect's Procurement Service Bus (PSB), it checks every 15 minutes whether an e-invoice is ready to send. "I deliberately stayed out of this process and let our technical department switch directly with eConnect's. I don't want to be in the middle of that!", Kelly adds.
Where would be better?
Conrad's head office is in Hirschau, a small town in Bavaria, Germany, with a population of about 5,600. The Dutch office can be found in Oldenzaal, where 65 employees work for Conrad Benelux. By far the majority work in the marketing department, but there is also in-house customer service, where Kelly recently became Head of Operational Customer Care. The Quality & Process Management team consists of members, each with their own specialism, such as SAP, logistics or e-procurement.
Positive message from Germany
Meanwhile, Kelly has been lobbying for some time to generate interest in Peppol at headquarters in Germany. And last year, she got word from Germany: "The first customer had contacted the German customer service department requesting e-invoicing via Peppol. And then it became interesting for them, because this was one of their big customers."
From the Netherlands to Sweden and Denmark
At the time, Conrad Sweden and Denmark were also trying to get a connection to Peppol done with one of their national providers, but that too was proving difficult. "As I was now busy trying to establish the Peppol connection via eConnect, I gained more and more knowledge. Why is it so simple and easy with eConnect and why is it so complex for Sweden and Denmark?", Kelly wondered. Working with the management in Sweden, all the information was put side by side and they responded enthusiastically. "I could ask for a quotation from eConnect and if it was interesting, they would also go into business with eConnect." Meanwhile, implementation at Conrad Sweden is in full swing and Denmark will follow at a later stage.
Proud of her team
Kelly has now been working for Conrad for about 17 years. She started in the Customer Care department and in recent years worked her way up to Head of Quality & Process Management, where she gets to lead a team of process specialists, and since December she has also been responsible for the Operational Customer Care department. She deliberately uses the word manage, because it is all about working together and not managing. And she is obviously very proud of this: "We have a team and it's solid! We are incredibly well matched and know what we can do with each other." Kelly knows what she wants and what she is looking for in her Q&P team: "I selected all the people in the Quality and Process Management team myself, basically everyone comes from Conrad's customer service department. We have had employees from outside in the past, but you notice that that doesn't work as well given that it is really tailor-made. We work with so many different systems and the subject matter is sometimes so complex. We just need the right people with knowledge of the organisation for that!"
"Nothing is too much for us "
Kelly is happy with the collaboration and the words Johan Schaeffer, founder of eConnect said at the beginning of the partnership still stick with her: "Nothing is too much for us and we are willing to push boundaries." That was exactly what they were looking for. "With eConnect, I just had a good feeling. They are flexible and really involved in working with us." Plans for the future are abundant: "The great thing about eConnect is that it also offers possibilities for the future. Anything is possible!" she adds.
One last piece of advice
Kelly has one last piece of advice for other companies who also want to start e-invoicing: "Don't go looking for knowledge yourself, but get the knowledge in-house. If you start searching, you will be inundated with information that quickly becomes too technical. Get advice and rely on the knowledge of specialists!"