Case Study

Custom-tailored packing, customized delivery

Product development of the verticalized system Pick & Pack for METRO AG

Wholesale · Logistics · Remote Teams

METRO AG had an ambitious plan: to convert the entire warehousing and delivery system to verticalization. In the successful transformation, INNOQ was responsible for product development and deployment of the system Pick & Pack.

In addition to the process definition, development of a corresponding architecture, and the rollout, the focus was on user experience (UX) design, knowhow transfer, and onboarding of new employees. One of the greatest challenges was to combine the country-specific particulars in a single standard software: Now at all METRO sites, the warehoused products can be collected simply, efficiently, and quickly in accordance with customer specifications and be packed optimally for transport.

METRO—The supplier for the food and hospitality sector

Customized delivery to the customer

METRO works continuously to maintain and expand its competitive edge through new concepts, solutions, and mechanisms. The delivery service of METRO, which supplies primarily the hotel and hospitality sector, meets this challenge using business domains and verticals in a scalable structure along the complete customer journey.

This is supported by a completely new version of the entire shop, pick & pack, and warehouse management system M|SUITE. The verticalization in M|SUITE, which is broken down into the areas of M|SHOP and M|FULFILL, is now based on about 100 microservices. FULFILL is comprised of six verticals: Checkout, Order Management, Depot Management, Pick & Pack, Transport, and Driver App. In the overall project, INNOQ had independent responsibility for the product development of the verticalized system Pick & Pack.

The daily, time-critical delivery process is the unique selling proposition of the verticalized system Pick & Pack and also the challenge for the team.

Tobias EckardtBusiness Analyst at INNOQ

As a rule, the customers supplied in the food and hospitality sector order their desired goods as late as 3:00 p.m., and in some countries even into the evening. On average, METRO handles 125,000 orders a week. The processes at METRO run full speed to ensure delivery of the goods the next day as ordered: Some goods still have to be procured; fresh goods are not delivered to the depot until nighttime; the transport containers (trolleys or boxes) are picked and packed during the night and loaded on trucks. A depot contains 5,000 to 10,000 items, which are used exclusively for deliveries to the customers.

An employee scans goods with the mobile Pick & Pack app
An employee scans goods with the mobile Pick & Pack app

The goal of the IT project is to ensure that products in the pick & pack area can be assembled as ordered in such a way that the deliveries can be picked and packed for transport as simply, efficiently, and quickly as possible. The response time for missing items was to be minimized and the narrow time window for central picking utilized optimally during the night.

The initial requirements were defined by METRONOM, the central IT unit at METRO, with the international METRO sales lines. INNOQ worked up and prioritized the concrete feature requests with the countries on the management level and also incorporated feedback from the individual depots into the next iteration.

Three questions to Olaf Bergmann, Product Owner M|FULFILL at METRO

In the project period of more than three years, during which up to 20 employees from INNOQ participated, there were various phases of development. In each phase of development, the team based its work on the site-related requirements of METRO.

Through user tests close to the users

Regular user tests and interviews ensured that the software would be aligned closely to the needs of the users. Slicing the M|FULFILL process into verticals made it important to consider not only the development in the system Pick & Pack, but also interdependencies with other verticals.

Development and support

Parallel to the original Pick & Pack software, the three INNOQ teams Picking, Wave Planning, and Outbound Monitoring developed important add-ons. In particular, this included a new, easier-to-use user interface for mobile picking devices and desktop picking, support for multi-order picking (one picker collects items for multiple orders in one warehouse run), and support for stock normalization (management of the inventory in regard to smallest package size). In addition, in multi-order picking, route optimization was implemented for the aisles traveled in the depot.

An example from the depot in Warsaw: in just the first two weeks, picking efficiency was raised by 17%.
An example from the depot in Warsaw: in just the first two weeks, picking efficiency was raised by 17%.

Thanks to automatic deployment and almost completely automated test methods, the system is updated every day, in order to integrate updates into operations on a continuing basis. To ensure that the customers supplied by METRO receive their deliveries without interruption, the INNOQ team has taken over 24/7 second level support. Deeply integrated system monitoring, consisting of centralized logging, analytics, and proactive monitoring of applications, makes it possible to see at a glance where intervention is needed, so that everything runs smoothly at METRO.

The consultants work agilely and understand a lot about change management in the context of digitalization. They are pros in verticalization and in software architecture.

Olaf BergmannProduct Owner M FULFILL at METRO

Onboarding and knowledge transfer

Throughout the entire period of the project, INNOQ continuously integrated new developers. In the final phase, METRONOM-internal developers from Germany and Romania were gradually familiarized with the project, so that they could provide support in the future. To ensure that new personnel could be integrated efficiently and quickly, the INNOQ team independently created a structure for onboarding and knowledge transfer. In addition to continuous reviews and pair programming between experienced and less experienced developers, continuous documentation and updating of the software and application case studies facilitated knowledge transfer. For instance, the findings from our user experience research were transferred reliably to software development and then, to the satisfaction of users, were implemented in the standard software.

Technologies used

Our contribution

  • Strategy consulting and conception
  • Independent project execution
  • Microservices architecture
  • UX design und research
  • Software development
  • Domain-driven design
  • Onboarding of developer teams in Germany and Romania
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Agile project management
  • Agile coaching

Questions regarding METRO Pick & Pack will be answered gladly by Christopher Stolle

We can also support your digitalization projects in your industry in all phases and look forward to talking with you.

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