Hans Anders is used to blazing trails. In 1982, the Hans Anders Retail Group opened its first store in the Netherlands, selling glasses at hugely discounted prices.
“When Hans Anders started, there was a huge margin on products in the optical market (frames and lenses),”said Michiel Hollander, IT Manager at Hans Anders. “Our margin was much lower and customer prices were therefore much lower as well.”
Not everyone was happy about the new strategy, but that didn’t stop Hans Anders.
“Some suppliers refused to deliver to us,” said Hollander. “On the other hand our customers were very happy with Hans Anders; because of the large number of products we sold, prices were low for them, while the quality of products was the same.”
The rest is history. Hans Anders was so successful that in 1999, they brought their discount expertise to the hearing care market as well.
“In 1999, we started with the hearing aids in the same way,” remembered Hollander. “Since then the market of both products has changed a lot, other opticians and audiologists followed our way of working and lowered their prices.”
Hans Anders’ pioneering spirit has paid dividends. Today, the chain includes over 250 shops in the Netherlands, as well as over 140 opticians in Belgium and France. Hans Anders sells hearing aids in most of their 250 Dutch locations.
391 locations – one software system
Last year when it came time to replace their aging Shop automation system, Hans Anders showed their pioneer spirit once more. On November 1st 2011, Hans Anders joined HIMSA as one of the first WSI members.
“One of our main goals was a connection between our new office business system and Noah,” said Hollander. “The old system didn’t have any connection to Noah at all, which meant our employees needed to enter customer and measurement data twice.“
When HIMSA mentioned the new Noah WSI feature, Hollander was ready and willing to give it a shot.
“It’s flexible, has a really low impact on program changes on both sides, and necessary changes are rather easy to make,” said Hollander. “Since we and our software partner AXI already had some experience with web services, it absolutely was the best option for us.”
Flexibility was also a key feature. With the web service interface, Noah WSI could provide measurement data just the way they wanted; only for the current day on a customer by customer basis.
A very fast rollout
“HIMSA and AXI did a great job together,” said Hollander. “When we received the specifications (actually the WSI itself) we started building it on the shop systems side and at the same time installing the new Noah System 4 version + WSI in our hardware.”
It only took a couple of weeks to start testing and in less than two months (April 2012), Hollander had already rolled out their new system (called FoCuS) to pilot shops throughout the Netherlands.
“Installation of WSI upfront was really important,” said Hollander. “When we went live with our new FoCuS version, we were able to start directly with the Noah System WSI connection at the same time.”
The pilot testing went well, and by June, all 250 shops in the Netherlands were up and running the new FoCuS system and Noah WSI.
“Because we have a central shop application, we had to rollout the new system as quickly as possible,” stated Hollander. “Most of it we could do remotely, so it just took about one month to implement.”
Six months later …
After six months of using the Noah WSI solution in 250 shops, is Hollander still happy with his choice?
“No doubt about that,” stated Hollander.
Perhaps more important, Hans Anders’ employees are very happy as well.
“For them it is a real big improvement that they don’t have to put in customer and measurement data twice. Furthermore it works without any problems, so they aren’t even aware: it just works fine!”