Update from China – terminal integration & debtor reconciliation delight Richemont

As any internationally-active retailer knows only too well, retail is never just retail. And even in the e-commerce sector, different markets have their own peculiarities – especially when it comes to the payment methods used and the processing and completion of payments.

So it couldn’t have been more exciting when, in late 2019, we were commissioned by the luxury goods company Richemont to implement automatic debtor reconciliation and integrate new terminals – for the entire Chinese market, no less!

Today, around one year later, this project has been completed, so it’s time for us to look back and take stock.

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How it all began – kicking off with a target-versus-actual analysis

To set the project in motion, treibauf’s project team travelled to China for a 5-day workshop in order to get to know Richemont’s in-country team and to get a precise impression of its requirements – as part of an ERP roll-out, not only a new POS system in the retail division, but also a new e-commerce system needed to be introduced.

Until then, Richemont had reconciled all of the payments from the retail and e-commerce sectors manually, but what it wanted to do now was to automate that process as much as possible using our Matchbox solution, thereby considerably reducing the costs incurred in its Finance department.

On the one hand, it was a case of integrating all of the payment methods commonly used in China, such as WeChat Pay, Alipay or China Union Pay, into the automated debtor reconciliation application, while also ensuring that payment options such as cash on delivery (COD) were included, as that is a service that delivery services in China offer their customers. All in all, therefore, this was not an easy task.

We had also been asked to supervise the integration of new terminal protocols into the new POS systems, based on our universal interface, Pepper.

Project workflow and collaboration – agility is what got us there!

Back home in Switzerland, we set to work straight away. During the course of the project, the customer’s original requirements were soon joined by some additional challenges. For example, the Chinese acquirers introduced further peculiarities to the project. What is more, it was a case of ensuring that transactions involving one-to-many matching were also taken into account within the debtor reconciliation system. In transactions of that type, a buyer makes use of more than one payment method to effect a payment.

In close collaboration with the Finance department and the IT team at Richemont, we started out on an iterative process to develop a solution to one challenge after another. Step by step, we successfully integrated all of the payment methods, the transactions involving one-to-many matching and even the COD payment data. One of the acquirers was even so accommodating as to adapt its formats at our request so that the data could be imported trouble-free.

Ready on time – despite a change request

While implementing this agile approach, an additional requirement was ultimately added, and it was not to be underestimated – alongside the company’s fixed retail outlets consisting of 135 boutiques and the webshops of eight brands, the inclusion of the TMALL marketplace meant that it was necessary for yet another, entirely new, sales channel to be integrated into the overarching payment matching system.

In order to achieve this, it was necessary to take account of a large number of new processes, to acquire the necessary data and to identify and manage complex commissions. Nevertheless, thanks to the excellent collaboration with the Finance department in China and the project team at Richemont, we were able to integrate that particular change request as part of the automatic debtor reconciliation without exceeding the scheduled duration of the project.

Results that enthral

  • Automatic payment reconciliation for eight brands with their own online shops, eight accounts on a single marketplace and 135 retail stores.
  • The integration of all of the payment methods and payment options required, including types that are regarded as exotic and/or one-off.
  • In the case of the retail stores, a matching rate of 97% to 98% at the go-live
  • Everything implemented in the context of a managed cloud service.
  • Upgrades for all POS systems and terminal integration based on our universal interface, Pepper.

No wonder, therefore, that the project managers in China were enthusiastic – from the team lead to C-level at Richemont, the feedback we received about our work was very positive, especially when you consider that another software company had previously attempted to solve all of these challenges, but had been unsuccessful.

„Matchbox has really impressed us: With a matching rate of 99% for retail boutiques and 96% for e-commerce sales, it has not only significantly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of payment reconciliation. It has also enhanced the monitoring and reporting of payments, both for our retail business and our e-commerce channels.

Furthermore, we really appreciated working together with the entire treibauf team, which did a truly excellent job, for example when it came to the perfect integration into the Richemont ERP system, acquiring specific API data from several Chinese acquirers such as UMS, China Pay, Alipay, Wechat Pay or adapting the matching methods for different payment channels according to our specific requirements.

We are looking forward to further collaborating with the treibauf support team and to evolve together in the highly agile Chinese marketplace.”

Isaac Lv, Finance Project Manager, Richemont Commercial Company Limited

All in all, this exciting project didn’t only give rise to new business connections. We’re pleased to say that we managed to forge genuine friendships with our project partners in China. As international projects go, this one couldn’t have gone any better!

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