"Rüedu - this thing is supposed to be called Rüedu? Really?"
IT strategy, Rüedu story, business process, system overview, user stories, detailed specification for the app, system selection, project support, .
The idea of selling fresh and local food around the clock in refrigerated wooden containers is getting a decisive boost from Corona Spring 2020. The first location should be up and running by summer. The company "Rüedu AG" is founded in the summer. My company is contracted to set up and operate the technological solution.
"These are not containers, these are small, mobile neighbourhood shops made of wood that gives of a special lifestyle"
Rüedu AG needs an integrated IT infrastructure in the course of 2020 in order to be able to implement the business model formulated above. I will develop and introduce a digital solution that fits in best with the organisation and processes of Rüedu. To ensure that this succeeds, we jointly define the IT-relevant cornerstones of the strategy and then write the Rüedu Story. From the encounters with the suppliers to the work of the employees in managing the containers to the customer experience in the unique container.
Rüedu wants to guarantee freshness and regionality around the clock. Supplier should deliver what he has at the moment and how he can. He delivers the goods to the warehouse, directly into the container or Rüedu collects them from the yard. The distance from the supplier to the sales containers should be kept as short as possible.
The containers are located around the corner. The fine distribution to the residential neighbourhoods is therefore very granular. Containers are small and fit into a car park. Goods are offered for sale in self-service, and payment is made via a self-check-out cash register or via an app. At night, access is only through the app. Cameras monitor what is happening in the containers.
The location of a container can be moved quickly and easily. At least one intermediate storage facility is organised per region so that a constant supply can be guaranteed. A small office in Bern is available for meetings with each other or with business partners. Management, control and monitoring of all processes must be mobile and device-independent.
The buyer uses the assortment policy and the supplier information to plan the assortment. Order proposals are derived from this, which the buyer uses for his orders. Goods are received in the yard, in the intermediate storage or in the container by Rüedu Logistics. Goods are moved between the locations by means of route planning based on target values. Intermediately stored goods are distributed to different storage zones. In the container, the customer scans, weighs and pays for the goods himself. This is done by means of a mobile app or via the self-checkout.
The Rüedu Story is the starting point for the conception of the business process, the system overview and the individual user stories. In addition, the basic requirements for all systems emerge during the refinement of the objects. The work in this phase runs in parallel. We started with the business process.
The activities of the Rüedu Story are inserted into an activity diagram and connected by arrow. From the resulting business process, we recognise the roles for the buyer, the warehouse employee and the customer. This is because each of these roles works in different environments with different devices. We define three main business activity areas; procurement, logistics and sales.
We derive a procurement system (ERP), a logistics system (SCS) and a sales system (app and/or cash register) from the main fields of activity of the business process. We also derive the data flows from the business process:
Article and supplier master data must be synchronised from the ERP with all peripheral systems. The SCS must have the orders from the ERP for the goods receipt. The transactions from the app and the cash register must be reported to the ERP. In this way, purchasing and sales can be monitored in the same system, in the ERP. In order that stock movements can also be managed in a single system, the SCS should report all stock movements to the ERP. In the designed system architecture, the ERP becomes the central location for business data.
We record a user story for each activity. In this user story, the reader recognises the user's goal and in which environment he or she achieves it and how. The compiled user stories can be combined into a separate area story for each specialist area. In this way, we have area-specific requirements documentation when searching for suitable system suppliers.
Not only the communication to and from the checkout, but also the opening of the door, the monitoring of the temperature and the surveillance of the camera has to be done remotely. This means that every location, including the interim storage facility, must be connected to the company network. Due to the mobile nature of the containers, only a connection to the company network of the containers via mobile radio comes into question. We want to avoid a company headquarters with a server farm in the first phase. The servers of the corresponding systems should run in the cloud and provide extensive APIs for data exchange via the network. The logistics system must be operable on the move. The customer will find identical operation on the app and at the checkout.
"The goods must reach the points of sale with the minimum loss of time, continuously and in the most direct way possible."
Armed with the stories, the business process, the system overview and the basic requirements, we go in search of the system suppliers. We realise that there will probably be more than three systems. At least in the sales area, we will probably not be able to map all processes in one system. However, we decide to confront the system suppliers with the desired process and only then make adjustments. With the information, notes and offers of all viable systems, we retreat to the Bernese Alps for a two-day workshop.
There are few providers of affordable cash registers with self-check-out and a cloud-capable backend, and none had a mobile cash register application. Unsurprisingly, we decide to go with the cash register provider who can layout the cash register interface according to our wishes. We develop the app ourselves and adapt the interface of the cash register to the app design.
We all have retail experience and have worked with different supply chain systems. By chance, two of us propose the same system for the supply chain. This SCS meets all our requirements and has a built-in interface to a low-cost cloud ERP. An ERP that, on closer analysis, turns out to be much more suitable than our ERP of choice.
It quickly becomes clear that remote operation must be secured; too many and too important systems are connected to the network. In addition, the cash registers and the mobile devices of the SCS as well as the building technology require a constant connection. We were looking for a provider who could offer a firewall, mobile WAN, LAN/WLAN and building services connection from a single source. We found a Swiss IOT platform that offers exactly that in a single product. A VPN cloud set up especially for Rüedu connects servers, mobile devices and building technology.
"The app will be the ultimate device for the Rüedu."
It is only through a mobile app that the unique characteristics of the business model open up for Rüedu. This app does not exist on the market and must be developed in-house. Our concepts, built on stories and diagrams, are not detailed enough for in-house development. A requirements specification for the APP will be written in the course of autumn 2020. Because in-house developments take longer, the opening of the containers was not made dependent on the app.
Rüedu builds on trust. Customers are monitored by camera, but they are alone in the container. To be allowed to shop at Rüedu's at night, customers should register with their mobile number, domicile and email. The functionality of the app is completed by a mobile check-out. This allows the customer to scan the goods with his mobile, pay for them and put them directly into his bag. This saves the walk through the self-scanning checkout. This app opens up a wide range of possibilities for Rüedu to improve the availability of goods by analysing customer behaviour.
In the specification, we describe all use cases from all systems that directly or indirectly trigger an action in the web app. This results in the data structures and the business rules as well as the user flows for the creation of the screens. When designing the screens, we make sure that they look exactly like the screens of the cash register. We give all these documents to the development company for programming. We decide to proceed in two phases. In phase 1, only the opening of the container is developed and in phase 2 the mobile check-out. This way, the containers can be set to 7 × 24 already in the same year. Phase 2 will go live in the course of 2021.