Case study by SpearIT
The retail aspect of construction materials and tools cannot escape digital transformation. Gedimat La Vallée is taking the plunge and equipping its 900 m2 store with an Electronic Shelf Labeling system (ESL). Profitability and customer experience lie at the core.
Technology at its best
It all began in Quebec about ten years ago. Claude Florent, currently the director of Gedimat La Vallée, was an executive with a major construction materials trader at the time. One day, a letter he received in the post attracted his attention. It contained a sample of an electronic price tag. “This technique had not yet been perfected as it has today, but I soon realized the potential it could have for our sector. When my business partner, Vito Di Bellan and I opened our first sales outlet at the start of this year, we didn’t hesitate to introduce this technology for a second.”
The chance to perform more fulfilling tasks
Our construction materials specialist faces a large-scale pricing update. Out of the 40,000 product references in the catalogue, 14,000 are to be found in- store. “Our prices not only have to be in line with the market, but also with the rates charged by our suppliers. The frequent price changes involve a fair amount of work for our sales staff and it’s not a particularly fulfilling task. Now, the time saved thanks to automated price change management can be devoted to advising customers and to further training, which are far more profitable in the long term,” Claude confirms.
Wi-Fi and instant updating
It is finally possible to display and modify prices remotely throughout the sales area and in the cash till system. ESL uses a central database, the access keys to which are the product bar code and the IP address of the electronic labels in the store. Nothing terribly impressive so far. “But a product reference provides a whole range of logistic and commercial information that can be included on the label. Information that is useful for the customer but also for our staff,” Claude stressed. “Thanks to our Wi-Fi network, we are potentially capable of updating our 14,000 product references in one night.”
Geolocation and stock management
The geolocation of each label enables dynamic stock displays. “The quantity in stock is indicated in real time. When restocking orders are placed, the computing system takes account of sales over the past six months. An article, or even a whole shelf, recording a poor rotation is instantly noted. So we can optimize our range and our stocks.” Claude knows all the possibilities of his ESL system: “I dream of being able to integrate this technology into my e-marketing strategy, of guiding the customer in the store automatically and - why not – of adding a short video to the labels. That would really boost the customer experience, wouldn’t it?”
A pilot project and more – if it goes down well
Behind the introduction of the ESL technology at Gedimat La Vallée lie the company SES-imagotag, which specializes in electronic labeling, and Proximus, for the installation and the network aspect. “The aim was to install the system without any ifs and buts. The key to success is the great collaboration within the ecosystem made up of a delocalized, specialized player and a local operator.” The pilot project led by Vito Di Bella and Claude is now inspiring the entire Gedimat Group. “This year, we organized an open-door weekend. An opportunity for our customers to discover our innovations and for our colleagues at Gedimat to experience Electronic Shelf Labeling, hands on”.
“An article, or even a whole shelf, recording a poor rotation is instantly noted. So we can optimize our range and our stocks.”
Tips for a successful transition
When Claude talks about his project, he stresses the importance of the choice of business partners, but also the importance of good internal communication: “The state of mind must be one of development, in order to show staff that digitization will benefit them and not the opposite. And then each decision must be made basically taking account of the customer.”
Claude Florent is the director of Gedimat La Vallée in Hastière. After a career spanning 30 years in the construction materials trade, in 2019 he embarked on the great adventure of managing a Gedimat brand together with his business partner, Vito Di Bella.
Gedimat La Vallée is a brand affiliated to the Gedimat group, an independent consortium of traders in construction materials and tools. The Hastière sales outlet employs 28 staff and has a catalogue of 40,000 product references.