Compass

Maritime fun - welcome on board!

Compass is Europe’s largest mail order company for motor boats and sailing supplies. The company has been independent and family-run since it was founded in 1979. As the second generation of owners, Michael Dehler and his wife have been managing the company for over 25 years. Today, the water sports mail order company presents an almost unlimited selection of products related to this activity, with more than 30,000 available items. Optimal customer care, personal advice on special orders and custom-made items and a perfect order and delivery service form the basis of their success. Creative Director Bettina Hilleke tells us how to optimally and efficiently balance sales and logistics.

Compass is Europe’s largest mail order company for motor boats and sailing supplies. The company has been independent and family-run since it was founded in 1979. As the second generation of owners, Michael Dehler and his wife have been managing the company for over 25 years. Today, the water sports mail order company presents an almost unlimited selection of products related to this activity, with more than 30,000 available items. Optimal customer care, personal advice on special orders and custom-made items and a perfect order and delivery service form the basis of their success. Creative Director Bettina Hilleke tells us how to optimally and efficiently balance sales and logistics.

Ms Hilleke, Compass launched its first 24-page catalogue in 1979. Today, your main catalogue has more than 450 pages. How do you keep finding new and innovative products to add to your range?

Filling a catalogue with more and more new products is a new challenge every year. Our philosophy is to select the best products in each area, test them and offer them to our customers. That is why our buyers constantly travel around the world trying to find new and innovative products that can be offered through bulk purchases and direct imports at unrivalled prices. But even tried and tested items are constantly checked and improved through dialogue with our customers and professional sailors. We are regularly recognised as test winners. Compass displays the expertise it has built up over decades, especially when it comes to developing its own exclusive products.

Filling a catalogue with more and more new products is a new challenge every year. Our philosophy is to select the best products in each area, test them and offer them to our customers. That is why our buyers constantly travel around the world trying to find new and innovative products that can be offered through bulk purchases and direct imports at unrivalled prices. But even tried and tested items are constantly checked and improved through dialogue with our customers and professional sailors. We are regularly recognised as test winners. Compass displays the expertise it has built up over decades, especially when it comes to developing its own exclusive products.

Anyone who is active in the field of water sports must be able to rely one hundred percent on their equipment and on the quality of the materials. How do you ensure that your products deliver what they promise?

A big advantage is, of course, that our managing director, Michael Dehler, is himself a passionate sailor, who puts his heart and soul into the sport, who regularly spends his leisure time on sailing and motor boats with his family, and who has achieved international success as a regatta sailor. Thanks to his experience and expertise, new products are discovered, evaluated and put through their paces. As an experienced skipper, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to the quality, reliability and practicality of equipment. Moreover, many of our employees are active water sports enthusiasts. Our personal passion and the technical know-how of each individual ensure that our products deliver what we promise.

A big advantage is, of course, that our managing director, Michael Dehler, is himself a passionate sailor, who puts his heart and soul into the sport, who regularly spends his leisure time on sailing and motor boats with his family, and who has achieved international success as a regatta sailor. Thanks to his experience and expertise, new products are discovered, evaluated and put through their paces. As an experienced skipper, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to the quality, reliability and practicality of equipment. Moreover, many of our employees are active water sports enthusiasts. Our personal passion and the technical know-how of each individual ensure that our products deliver what we promise.

With that in mind, to what extent do you work with experts from the water sports scene?

Sharing knowledge with professional sailors is of course not to be underestimated and is extremely important for us. Working with sailing experts is not only helpful to us in finding the best product, but it means that we can also test our products under the toughest conditions. The results of this directly influence the optimisation of our products.

Sharing knowledge with professional sailors is of course not to be underestimated and is extremely important for us. Working with sailing experts is not only helpful to us in finding the best product, but it means that we can also test our products under the toughest conditions. The results of this directly influence the optimisation of our products.

In addition to leafing through the print catalogues (over 6,000 pages per year), your customers can also browse through your products on the internet as the fancy takes them. How do you manage to achieve a range that is up-to-date and in line with the market across your channels?

Central data storage is an important aspect here. This means that all product information and associated assets (media data) is “collected” in one place. Moreover, this organised data structure enables us to distribute it in a targeted manner, despite the high volume of data. For example, we make optimal use of the necessary flexibility of an online channel (online shop) to bring the latest products onto the market quickly and, at the same time, to offer a huge range of over 30,000 products.

Central data storage is an important aspect here. This means that all product information and associated assets (media data) is “collected” in one place. Moreover, this organised data structure enables us to distribute it in a targeted manner, despite the high volume of data. For example, we make optimal use of the necessary flexibility of an online channel (online shop) to bring the latest products onto the market quickly and, at the same time, to offer a huge range of over 30,000 products.

In order to be able to control your print and online channels more efficiently, you started working on a joint project with apollon in 2013 and you are still in charge of this at Compass. What was your focus? What did you want to change, and why?Was wollten Sie verändern und weshalb?

Our company has been using an electronic database since 2001, but at that time it was still only a kind of “mini-PIM”. At that time, the focus was still clearly on the print sector, but we were able to produce multilingual catalogues efficiently with a very small team. In recent years, however, the online shop has become much more important. In addition to the number of products on offer, the data volume of (high quality) product information and media data has increased dramatically. The focus therefore shifted to combining all departments or channels into one omnichannel system. Another goal was to digitally map as many processes as possible in order to manage more extensive advertising materials and online product ranges with the same number of employees. Our purchasing department is already using this software to manage our future product range.

Our company has been using an electronic database since 2001, but at that time it was still only a kind of “mini-PIM”. At that time, the focus was still clearly on the print sector, but we were able to produce multilingual catalogues efficiently with a very small team. In recent years, however, the online shop has become much more important. In addition to the number of products on offer, the data volume of (high quality) product information and media data has increased dramatically. The focus therefore shifted to combining all departments or channels into one omnichannel system. Another goal was to digitally map as many processes as possible in order to manage more extensive advertising materials and online product ranges with the same number of employees. Our purchasing department is already using this software to manage our future product range.

What was particularly close to your heart when it came to media data, especially in terms of the print and online shop? What has been optimised? What did you want to change, and why?

An important factor that was achieved with the new system was an improvement in the data quality, as only one system is used for maintenance and control. Data security is also an important topic, as, to be efficient, it is of great importance that data is released smoothly into all channels. However, speed also plays a decisive role in meeting increasing demands. That means producing an ever-increasing number of pages and advertising materials – but with increasing quality. The premise here was that all data is available at any time and can be reused so that, for example, the online shop can be filled as quickly as possible.

An important factor that was achieved with the new system was an improvement in the data quality, as only one system is used for maintenance and control. Data security is also an important topic, as, to be efficient, it is of great importance that data is released smoothly into all channels. However, speed also plays a decisive role in meeting increasing demands. That means producing an ever-increasing number of pages and advertising materials – but with increasing quality. The premise here was that all data is available at any time and can be reused so that, for example, the online shop can be filled as quickly as possible.

Online Media Net has accompanied and supported you since then with many of your company processes from the beginning right up to the distribution across all channels. What positive effects does this partnership have on your day-to-day business?

A major advantage is certainly the central use of the software, which has already been briefly outlined. This has many benefits for individual colleagues and departments working together on a day-to-day basis. In this way, individual activities are directly interlinked, such as the maintenance of new product information, minimising parallel or duplicate work. The digitally mapped processes are another positive aspect. The status of individual workflows or of the entire production process can be viewed at any time. At the same time, we can continuously optimise or streamline individual workflows with the aid of the software. Moreover, other projects help us to constantly improve our range of products on the market. For example, since the beginning of the year we have been using 360-degree images of our products in our online shop, which are created directly by apollon and made available through a streamlined process.

A major advantage is certainly the central use of the software, which has already been briefly outlined. This has many benefits for individual colleagues and departments working together on a day-to-day basis. In this way, individual activities are directly interlinked, such as the maintenance of new product information, minimising parallel or duplicate work. The digitally mapped processes are another positive aspect. The status of individual workflows or of the entire production process can be viewed at any time. At the same time, we can continuously optimise or streamline individual workflows with the aid of the software. Moreover, other projects help us to constantly improve our range of products on the market. For example, since the beginning of the year we have been using 360-degree images of our products in our online shop, which are created directly by apollon and made available through a streamlined process.

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