After it became clear in 2019 that e-commerce sales would continue to rise significantly, the growth process of online trading received a further boost from Corona in 2020: After the brief stagnation in the first quarter, the Internet business grew in the second quarter 2020 by 16.5 percent compared to the previous year. Even before this development was foreseeable, the animal feed specialist MERA decided to optimize its online offer: The focus was on integrating the entire range, which is aimed at different target groups, in a central shop system and with the existing merchandise management system interlock. zdrei.com developed a customized solution with Shopware.
MERA Petfood is very popular for end customers and professionals with its range of dog and cat food, which is tailored to individual animal needs with high-quality nutritional concepts. The aim of the shop development was to market the entire range specifically for the different target groups dealers, breeders and private pet owners via an integrated shop system. B2B customers were already able to purchase professional products from MERA using the previous version of the shop. With the new shop system, both B2C customers and B2B customers should now be able to access MERA products - professionals, however, with an expanded range and additional services: For example, dealers and growers with differentiated access rights can get exclusive products, free test campaigns or additional features for the Logistics and payment processing provided.
An essential requirement of the shop development was to optimize the digital company processes and make them even more efficient via the interfaces to the existing ERP system and internal logistics.
To develop a tailor-made solution, the Shopware system had to be expanded for individual customer requirements. An example: Since MERA processes large orders via a forwarding agent who coordinates the delivery with the recipient by telephone, the storage of a telephone number had to be integrated into the ordering process. This feature is not provided by default in Shopware.
The specification of the customer billing had to be adapted to the different target groups so that the billing for B2B customers, for example, allows discounts and is more detailed than the B2C version.
In addition, the application now also enables back-end orders: A sales representative can use this to enter an order into the system for a customer he is looking after, without the customer necessarily having to have his own customer access.
Since customer data was stored in the previously used Magento shop system that could not be transferred from Shopware using the standard migration script, zdrei.com expanded the migration script so that the customer data records could be completely transferred.
The transfer of the already stored customer passwords also appeared problematic because Magento and Shopware use different encryption techniques. Here, however, zdrei.com developed a solution that also made it possible to migrate this sensitive data while taking all security standards into account.
Thanks to the digital mapping of sales processes and the integration of additional features, MERA now has a complex and extremely powerful online shop. All processes are neatly interconnected.
The MERA Shop is connected via several interfaces to various payment service providers as well as to logistics companies . All processes related to payment processing (e.g. with an automatic bank account comparison) and the differentiated shipping logistics for different orders are automated and have been written into the existing ERP.
From the order to the receipt of payment and the creation of the shipping order to the generation of the invoice, the ordering process is automatic and is designed in such a way that not only different payment methods and target group-specific differences (B2B, B2C) are taken into account, but compliance with all legal regulations is also ensured.
End customers do not have to keep making the decision to buy from MERA again and again: for example, pet owners with the subscription model can be supplied with animal feed regularly at certain time intervals without explicit re-ordering. In cooperation with the linked payment service providers, default risks are minimized through regular credit checks.
Loyal customers are “rewarded” for various actions with the discount and bonus points system and the resulting purchasing benefits. Actions such as orders, newsletter registrations or participation in customer-refer-customer programs are rated with points according to defined rules. The resulting discounts can be used directly during the ordering process.
With the MERAVITAL product line, MERA has developed special products for dogs with health restrictions. With a code-based veterinarian-end customer link, MERA offers a special service that was implemented via a code manager: Veterinarians can recommend selected MERA products tailored to the dog's health and provide affected pet owners with a code. To save money, this code can then be entered in the online shop when placing the order.
The integration of Salesforce supports MERA in the management of customer relationships by exchanging system data and optimizing marketing, sales, trading or service processes via several interfaces.
With the recognized Trusted Shops seal of approval, the MERA online shop documents its quality, especially with regard to security from a neutral point of view: The seal confirms the identity of the retailer and signals to the user that the shop operator will only use customer data with consent within the framework of the legal requirements and that it is sufficiently protected against abuse. In this way, the seal creates trust among potential new customers.
High quality, sustainable, innovative: MERA Petfood
The family company MERA Tiernahrung GmbH from Kevelaer on the Lower Rhine was founded in 1949 and is now managed by the third generation. MERA produces 60,000 tons of animal feed each year, which is exported to over 40 countries worldwide. As a premium manufacturer, MERA aims to produce sustainably produced, nutritionally high-quality pet food for the appropriate nutrition of dogs and cats.
With a comprehensive range of products, MERA's range is aimed at both private animal owners and professional B2B customers such as dealers, breeders and veterinarians.
Our cooperation with MERA was an impressive success story even before the shop was developed: The company's website, programmed by zdrei.com and developed by us after MERA's new branding in 2018, won the 14th International TYPO3 Conference 2019 The TYPO3 Awards 2019 in The Hague as "Best Website of the Year".
Against this background, we are of course very pleased that MERA is continuing the constructive and trusting cooperation with us and giving us the opportunity not only to demonstrate our competence as TYPO3 specialists, but also as developers of shop applications.