Customer solutions today must be user-friendly and tailored to market demands, but hidden behind beautiful frontends we often find cumbersome manual work processes. Salt.no on the other hand is an example of the opposite.
Saltimport is a leading player in the distribution of all types of salt in Norway. Today's largest segments are the road contracting industry (which keeps the roads safe) and the fishery producers (which export large quantities of salted fish abroad). The food industry and agriculture are stable and growing during and after the pandemic.
Road salt and fisheries are industries characterized by uncertainty - primarily it’s challenging to predict the weather. It is easy to assume that the coldest weather and snow will occur in winter, but exactly where and when is difficult to foresee. This means that the demand for road salt varies. The fisheries also have unpredictable challenges - suddenly they get a large catch that eats away at the salt reserves. When this occurs, they need more salt, immediately. The consequence of lacking salt is large amounts of spoiled fish. In other words, salt is always critical.
Saltimport's entire ordering solution was based on manual sales processes through direct contact with a customer manager. While this does provide a personal and customized experience for the customer, it lacks the overview and automation customers are expecting from suppliers today. Saltimports saw their customers' need for a good overview, purchase control, and the possibility of self-service.
They decided to create a complete user portal where their customers could order and manage their salt easily with a good overview of the products. It had to be as easy as a phone call or email and as adaptable as personal interaction while also facilitating improved personal service. And, they wanted it ready before the beginning of the coming winter season.
“The platform and solutions have optimized our operations and the purchasing experience for our customers as well as our support department,” says Bettina Grimelund, Supply Chain Manager at Saltimport.
Approach: we focused on innovation, sustainability, user-friendliness, flexibility, and personal service.
Salt.no represented a great case for Appfarm's no-code platform. Saltimport needed a fast and flexible solution that was agile and easy to build up and maintain. They also had high requirements for functionality, such as customized pricing, personal and tailored communication flow, complex transportation ecosystems, and much more. In other words, they required more flexibility than what standard e-commerce off-the-shelf products could offer.
“Using Appfarm, we were able to develop Saltimport’s solution faster than with traditional development and code. The no-code platform also takes care of the basic functions such as security, hosting, and accesses, and has a wealth of complete components that make development a breeze,” says Anders Horn, project leader and Senior Manager at Avo Consulting.
Avo consulting use Appfarm as part of their service area called RAD - Rapid App Development. Avo is of the mindset that technology should never be an obstacle for the people in an organization.
“Appfarm’s no-code platform makes it easier than ever to iterate and create solid solutions and applications that actually work,” Anders Horn says.
Avo offered an agile process that began with an MVP (minimum viable product), with two developers, a design expert, and a project leader. Bleed was in charge of the visual profile. As Saltimport already provided good personal service, the new solution had to deliver functionality that stood out from the existing.
“With the iterative approach that no-code enables, it was possible to include the end-users through the development process, receive feedback and change functionality on the go,” Anders Horn says.
The solution is built from the ground up with a website, users, design, visual profile, ordering systems and so on. The website is developed as a industry oriented living source to insight and a funnel to the customer portal. After creating a user, the customer will be able to order salt, invite colleagues, and look up orders and invoices.
Saltimport didn’t want their solution to disable the option for direct communication completely, but rather offer an extension of the customer experience in a digital arena and streamline internal processes.
“We are very satisfied with all the solutions the platform has provided us and I think it’s innovative, very easy to use, and it’s rational. We are proud of the product,” says Bettina Grimelund.
Saltimport’s users have gotten a much better overview of their salt purchases and the response has been very positive. Even if a dock manager doesn’t want to purchase the salt through a web application rather than making a phone call, they are still able to check invoices, past orders, alternative products and plan for the season ahead. A local food producer claimed the solution was easier than email and loved the option to drop the password in favor of a one-time pin code.
Through the project, Saltimport has turned every stone and elevated their digital competence. Together with Avo in an agile process, they have improved, quality-assured and streamlined their processes, and found new ways to delight their customers while simultaneously preserving and strengthening their focus on every single customer’s need. The new ordering platform also represents a unique competitive advantage through a clear differentiation in the marketplace.
“All in all, Avo is proud to have been able to contribute to closing part of the technology gap in the salt industry,” Anders Horn finishes.
Written by: Anders Horn, Avo Consulting