“An accurate sales forecast now takes 5 minutes instead of 10 working days”

Cebeo (part of Sonepar) is the market leader in electrical equipment with 56 branches in Belgium. This omnichannel wholesaler has grown significantly in recent years. A smarter, proactive approach has proved indispensable to managing this growth. “The time savings are huge, the predictions are much more accurate and the results are perfectly substantiated.” 

Cebeo uses RetailSonar’s smart location planning software to build a profitable and future-proof branch network. Alexander Dewulf (CEO until the end of 2020 and now the top man at parent company Sonepar) and David Dekyvere (Data Scientist) share their experiences.


Increasingly complex location questions 

According to Alexander, before Cebeo worked with RetailSonar, the company had a “reactive and opportunistic” response to new locations that were proposed. David adds: “Making business cases with my homemade model was a time-consuming process. One sales forecast easily took 10 working days.”

“We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss any interesting locations.


“Furthermore, we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss any interesting locations. How complete is our network? We needed the answer to that question in order to optimise further. In addition, we were encountering technical limitations when looking at our increasingly broad and complex location questions. RetailSonar’s expertise was exactly what we were looking for.”


Network optimisation & performance

“We use the RetailSonar platform for our location planning and to explore opportunities to optimise our network. In-store and digital sales are both rising. So there are definitely still opportunities for new branches. In which regions are we not yet present, which still have sufficient market space? What kind of store concept suits which type of location? Can we possibly relocate stores, and what would the consequences be?”

“We already had an idea of our competitors, but now we were really taking them into account.”


“Together with RetailSonar, we quantified all revenue-determining parameters. We already had an idea of our competitors, but now we were really taking them into account. We also gained insight into all relevant factors around our stores and their surroundings such as visibility, accessibility and the strength of our ‘perfect neighbours’. The proximity of B2B retailers with a (partly) competitive range often has a positive impact on sales figures.”

“The insight into the travel behaviour of our customers is also interesting. Some branches are used much more locally than others. The catchment areas were found to be the largest in the highly urbanised areas (e.g. Brussels periphery). These longer travel times require longer opening hours.”

Cebeo now also has insight into store performance. David says: “We now have a very accurate estimate of the sales potential of all our branches. We also know exactly what action is needed to make our branches perform optimally.”


Co-creation

When David is asked how the collaboration went, he responds: “I only have positive things to say about our collaboration with RetailSonar. We immediately found ourselves on the same wavelength in terms of possibilities and mutual expectations.”

“RetailSonar’s people are empathetic, progressive and co-creative


“Their progressiveness is reflected in their constant willingness to further refine the platform. I was also impressed that they not only asked us how we do things, but also why. What are our strategic objectives? To what extent is the interpretation of these objectives still the same and how can we translate this into the platform?”

Alexander adds: “The platform was truly the result of co-creation. And I was always involved in the necessary – technically advanced – meetings. I thought that was very good. The people at RetailSonar are empathetic, progressive, co-creative and have a strong willingness to listen.”


Future-proof location strategy

In order to keep up with its own growth and market developments, Cebeo is actively working on its future location strategy. David says: “We are working with RetailSonar to address these challenges. We will further develop the model to optimally support our strategy.”

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