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Digital Teams January 17, 2020

Key insights from a corporate startup

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This article was originally published in Business Chief.

Digital transformation is a necessary step for many businesses but there is not just one way of accomplishing this. At one end of the spectrum, companies are increasingly selling products online, while others still operate in analogue. Digital agency Dept now successfully offers digital transformation as one of its services following the development of DigiB, the start-up offshoot of chemical distribution manufacturer, Brenntag.

Brenntag owns 500 warehouses worldwide which are used to store and distribute chemical products. Though the company is forward-thinking and guarantees safe and sustainable operations, it still largely operates as a traditional B2B company – with many orders made via telephone and e-mail. DigiB launched in Amsterdam in 2017 after an initial period testing concepts in Berlin. The corporate start-up was founded to stand apart from its parent company and act as a platform for working on new digital innovations as well as allow Brenntag to be more efficient and prioritise their customers’ experience.

FINDING THE RIGHT PARTNER AND PLATFORMS

Dept came on board to facilitate Brenntag with the design and development of new platforms, Brenntag Source and Brenntag Connect, as well as digitise and centralise its analogue processes with its team. Albers: “Our team possesses a range of skillsets to provide us with the flexibility to keep up. We know that we can provide teams with bolstered creativity, technology and data, which is why it was a no-brainer to help DigiB across all three of these axes. From brand development to digital products and digital marketing, there was no aspect of this process that we weren’t comfortable
getting involved with.” Brenntag Source is an innovative tool that helps to boost the company’s internal efficiency by ensuring that data can be easily shared across the company’s subsidiaries. Brenntag Source allows them to retain a local presence within each market and enables Brenntag to use its purchasing power more effectively to optimize spend. “The fact that we can enjoy savings with a relatively simple innovation illustrates the incredible potential digital transformation offers us,” said Maarten Stramrood, Chief Digital Officer at Brenntag. Brenntag Connect, on the other hand, is a customer-facing platform providing consumers with the option to order products digitally with access to individual documentation, historic purchasing data and other self-service components. Since its launch six months ago, Brenntag Connect is now live in Germany and North America with other countries to follow shortly.

on a mission to reinvent b2b

MARKETING ACTIVITIES IN ACTION

These digital marketing transformations have helped elevate Brenntag to the position of global market leader in chemical distribution – a sector that has remained largely untapped by the digital evolution. Dimi Albers, CEO at Dept, said: “The DigiB infrastructure is one of the most advanced architectures we have. A lot of time was spent on continuous integration, which makes it possible for Brenntag to onboard new developers and roll out functions quickly to make the business more successful.”

LOOKING FORWARD

By setting up DigiB as an innovation hub outside of the parent company, Brenntag is able to optimise the complex digital processes inherent to an international B2B player and remain competitive. Dept helped the company transition from a traditional company to a digitally-minded one seamlessly. Stramrood said: “DigiB is building the digital future of Brenntag. We opted for a launch-and-learn approach, so that we can easily make adjustments based on feedback and demonstrate the added value of digital applications more quickly.”

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