If you have a business specializing in groceries or general merchandise including apparel, housewares, office equipment, and small appliances, you may be familiar with BJ’s Wholesale Club.

As an operator of 216 membership-based warehouse clubs in 16 states along the East Coast of the United States, BJ’s serves more than five million member customers and generates more than $12.5 billion in annual revenue. As it looked to grow by improving the buying journey for its business-to-business (B2B) customers, BJ’s needed new technology it could use to turn data into insights, while also delivering more effective incentives to its sales team.

Look up in the Clouds…It’s a Solution

The wholesale club was running on a legacy spreadsheet-based system that was no longer scalable and could not support its growth goals. In addition to supporting those goals, the new solution would need to integrate well with the company’s existing SAP ERP Sales and Distribution (SD) module. “SAP Sales Cloud provided integration accelerators with prebuilt connection logic, which reduced the time and cost needed to go from design to production,” said Chandra Marubadu, senior manager, SAP, at BJ’s Wholesale Club.

From a system perspective, it provided a competitive set of features and options compared with other CRM solutions. Marubadu noted, “SAP Sales Cloud was the only solution that provided a similar look and feel to the SAP Fiori visualization screens that our sales team had already been using. This consistency between our existing and new systems helped us reduce the training time for our end users.”

Buckle up the Data

BJ’s was operating on an SAP ECC system, which ran all B2B purchases through a sales and distribution flow using a standard master data process. The plan was to migrate the B2B customer data to an SAP Cloud for Customer (C4C) solution.

There were no major challenges aside from not being able to match international region codes, which caused failures during the migration progress. “The solution,” said Prakash Bodicherla, SAP retail solution architect, “was to maintain translation (code values) in C4C to match the ECC values.” The team also needed to add some new entries in SAP ECC to sync with C4C.

“The easy part, Bodicherla added, “was to migrate complete account management design from SAP ECC to C4C. But some accounts in SAP ECC had data that was not properly maintained, so the cleanup was a bit challenging and led to some difficulty during the integration.”

The wholesale club worked with Bridge-x Technologies, Inc. for the new system implementation. “We were able to complete the design, build, and testing phases, along with the production rollout in a 15-week time frame,” Marubadu said.

All Aboard, We’re Riding the Cloud

BJ’s knew it needed a game plan for introducing the system and the new ways of doing business that came with it. So, it planned to gain buy-in from all parties that were involved and to prepare the appropriate amount of training.

“We knew some sales reps were concerned that a formal CRM tool would create a feeling of being micromanaged,” Marubadu said. “We engaged them throughout the entire process to address their concerns, starting with the design.”

Accelerating Sales Changes

BJ’s trained most teams in less than three weeks. It took a phased approach by training superusers first, and then a select group of the sales reps and managers who had shown interest in being early adopters. The remaining sales reps and managers were trained last to make sure the entire sales population was comfortable using the new system.

“There are always some slow adopters with any system change,” Marubadu said. “We were moving from essentially using paper to a true CRM tool, so we anticipated that hurdle. The ongoing adoption challenge we face is with driving behavior to make sure users are logging leads, contacts, and activities and then following up within the SAP Sales Cloud system. This situation is not unique to BJ’s or to SAP Sales Cloud. We were fully aware that this project would require a considerable amount of change management to be successful over the long term.”

One System, One Truth

As the B2B business grew to 1,400 customers, BJ’s was challenged with converting its fragmented business data. The retailer aimed to consolidate all of its customer master data and contact information into one system with the goal of selling more, faster.

Before moving to SAP Sales Cloud, BJ’s did not have a smooth process to manage its internal customer master data. The retailer required multiple teams to manually key redundant data into its systems. “It usually took one to five hours to create or edit a customer,” Marubadu said. “After the data was entered into the system, that was it. There was nothing more that the user could derive from that information.”

Goodbye Manual Processes, Hello New Customers

SAP Sales Cloud provided one place to not only store all customer data, but to learn how to engage with it. The B2B sales team gained customer insights by creating a central repository for all leads and prospects, which brought new visibility to its remote teams through reporting and sales operations data. Sales team members now have standard success metrics and real-time access to customer data, which has helped reduce manual processes.

Since the implementation, BJ’s B2B sales team has full access to customer data with the ability to add new and update existing customers in real time from anywhere. “This has been a huge win for the team and has greatly increased productivity by allowing sales reps to deliver quotes much faster than in the past,” Marubadu said.

The View from up Here

BJ’s is still in the process of understanding the full capabilities of SAP Sales Cloud. “We intend to use these tools to find additional growth opportunities with our existing customers,” Marubadu added.

“Because we were moving from a non-systemic solution, we intentionally decided to turn on limited SAP Sales Cloud features. We have not yet introduced sales planning and forecasting,” Marubadu noted. Both features are on the road map for 2019. To get more from SAP Sales Cloud, BJ’s is looking at adding SAP’s sales performance management and incentive compensation tools. It’s planning the work for this now with the goal of launching it in 2019.

Read more about SAP’s cloud products with what to expect from SAP C/4HANA. You can also read how SAP C/4HANA can connect your customer or track how SAP C/4HANA can guide you through your organization’s customer experience journey.