Table of contents
- Driven by Passion for Coffee and People
- It's All About Processes
- Looking for Problem Solvers, Found an ERP
- Improvements at AGÁTA with Xentral
- Accounting Pains are History
- Profitable Prices and Products
- Other Areas Improved by Xentral at AGÁTA
- Benefits for Customers
- AGÁTA Today Thanks to Xentral
- What Elisabetta, Merle, and Johannes Say About Working with Xentral
- Is an ERP Worth It for Small Businesses?
- Outlook: What's Next for AGÁTA?
- Tips and Recommendations for Your Business
- 3 Tips from Johannes for Your Perfect Start in E-commerce
With a niche product and a passion for coffee, Elisabetta and her husband Johannes took the leap into e-commerce in 2016. After implementing Xentral, their coffee startup AGÁTA managed to increase their revenue tenfold in just three years. However, there's still enough time for what's important to them: personal interaction with coffee suppliers and customers.
Driven by Passion for Coffee and People
Morning ritual for some, caffeine kick for others: coffee has many facets. The goal of Elisabetta Epping-Rossi and her husband Johannes Epping is to make this versatility visible. Driven by a passion for coffee and social engagement, they founded the micro-roastery AGÁTA in Mannheim in 2016.
"I want to create communication about the topic of coffee," says Elisabetta, who personally roasts every bean as a master roaster. "I want many more people to appreciate coffee and see who is behind the end product." It starts with the personal selection of coffee farmers, from whom AGÁTA is supplied directly without intermediaries, and extends to the packaging: many coffee varieties bear the names of the coffee farmers.
When shopping at AGÁTA, customers receive high quality and the assurance that the involved farmers can work without price pressure. AGÁTA coffee is still a niche product. With the support of Xentral, however, the coffee founders manage to inspire more and more people with their philosophy and products.
"As a micro-roastery, we could work without an ERP system. But if you want to grow and not get lost in processes, then having software where everything is in one place is very convenient."
Elisabetta, Founder and CEO of AGÁTA
It's All About Processes
You know that moment: you open a package of coffee and are captivated by the incredibly enticing aroma of fresh beans. But before you can savor that moment, numerous process steps are necessary, steps that Elisabetta, Johannes, and their team aim to make transparent. However, they first had to reevaluate their own processes, which quickly became more complex than anticipated.
Initially, only an online shop was planned. A café in Mannheim was added, and now the founding couple also offers coffee accessories and has opened a second café. The coffee roasts are now available on Amazon, eBay, Kaufland, and soon on OTTO as well. For B2B customers, AGÁTA also offers a white-label model.
The startup's philosophy is to create connections—through the online shop, at coffee farms, and in their own café. "For us, creating connections means sharing a lot of information with producers and customers, and transparency is important in that," says Elisabetta. It's precisely this transparency that Xentral provides.
Looking for Problem Solvers, Found an ERP
While Elisabetta perfected coffee roasting, her husband Johannes optimized the business processes. Both come from the service sector and were suddenly confronted with new business processes due to the sale of physical products. Due to their growing success, they had to delve into process management.
"When dealing with physical products, it makes sense to structure processes clearly and cleanly right from the start. This saves you from having to design and adapt new processes later on," Johannes reflects. However, they didn't know exactly what they were looking for, and they certainly didn't know that an ERP could solve their problems. They discovered Xentral through other startups and saw how the business software resolved problems similar to theirs.
Before Xentral, the team used a separate tool for each platform. This brought about issues: "When a tool no longer supports an interface, you have to rebuild half of your tech stack. That's why I wanted to have as many business processes as possible in a single software," says Johannes, and he's glad they achieved that with Xentral.
Improvements at AGÁTA with Xentral
The ERP implementation was an ongoing process. AGÁTA communicated its needs to Xentral and gradually eliminated the most crucial pain points with the system's features. This sentiment is echoed by Merle Budek, who took over operational management at AGÁTA in 2021, responsible for controlling and finances: "With Xentral, many processes have changed and become significantly more structured."
The team saves a lot of effort, especially when packing packages, she says: "Warehouse employees automatically receive an overview of new orders and a picking list, and the process guides them through."
Accounting Pains are History
Accounting is also simpler now. "You often forget to send invoices. This is a big issue for small companies," says Elisabetta. "That no longer happens with Xentral." The ERP system now automates the sending of invoices for orders from all channels via email.
Merle particularly benefits during inventory: "Our entire warehouse is digitalized. This means we always have a current inventory value for accounting, which is reported monthly. At the end of the year, it's relatively simple to take inventory with Xentral."
Johannes is also relieved. "Our accounting processes were a disaster and were overwhelming us." He pauses for a moment and calculates that Xentral saves him 20 hours per month in accounting.
Profitable Prices and Products
Before Xentral, tangible values were missing in the company. Now, they can easily evaluate sales prices or cost of goods sold. Real-time statistics help identify products that are no longer profitable.
Price ranges on eBay or Amazon are also more easily adjusted with Xentral. Due to fluctuating supplier prices and price increases, the dynamics are high. Xentral provides averaged values, enabling daily adjustments.
"The introduction of Xentral was clearly necessary to expand our online business and be profitable on eBay and Amazon and to remain so."
Merle, Operational Manager at AGÁTA
Other Areas Improved by Xentral at AGÁTA
- Customer Support: Thanks to Xentral, almost the entire team can now work remotely. AGÁTA was able to integrate two support employees at international locations into the team. They find all necessary customer and order information in Xentral. The data is mapped to individual orders and can be extended to returns if needed.
- Negotiations with Suppliers: The team reflects price developments with various suppliers and the entire order history in Xentral. This simplifies negotiations with suppliers.
- Peak Season: The company generates 70% of its e-commerce revenue in the last three months of the year. Thanks to Xentral, the peak season is no longer a problem. New personnel can handle warehouse processes quickly with the ERP—during peak season, AGÁTA manages 700 packages per day with three warehouse employees.
- Subscriptions: Thanks to Xentral, AGÁTA can offer subscriptions to customers. This simplifies customer retention and creates predictable revenues.
- White-Label Packages: In addition to subscriptions, AGÁTA offers white-labeling for B2B partners. They can connect to AGÁTA's shop system within minutes, and the startup takes care of order and shipping processes. "White labeling with Xentral is super easy," says Johannes. "You connect the customer's online shop, and everything runs completely automatically. We don't notice it, and we make money on the side. Pretty awesome."
- Product Information: Elisabetta creates new products with descriptions, prices, and expiration dates once in Xentral, and the information is transferred to the Tillhub POS system, the shop, and all other channels. Baristas and customers receive consistent information from a unified source, and AGÁTA gets an overview of revenues from all channels.
Benefits for Customers
"Our business is a relationship business," says Johannes. Data helps the team understand how customers interact with AGÁTA and derive actions. One example is the subscription offering: order data prompted the idea to propose subscriptions to customers, providing them added value.
Clean processes also give the team enough time to focus on customers alongside their daily tasks, enabling them to fulfill customer wishes more quickly. With Xentral, the team can set up individual logistics workflows for different channels, making it easier to differentiate between B2B and B2C, reducing error sources, and increasing customer satisfaction.
And most importantly, thanks to Xentral, Elisabetta can deliver freshly roasted coffee to all her customers. Using Xentral, she quickly gains an overview of coffee orders in the morning and receives all the data and documents needed for the day. After roasting the coffee, it's swiftly dispatched, filling the air with the intense aroma coffee enthusiasts adore.
AGÁTA Today Thanks to Xentral
- 3 Pillars: Marketplaces, Own Shop, and B2B Business
- 10x revenue growth within three years (pre-Xentral: €250,000, now just under €2 million)
- 10+ tons of coffee per year
- 17 employees
- 20% revenue increase in the year following Xentral implementation
- 100% delivery capability due to analysis capabilities and out-of-stock warnings
- 300 orders per day, 700 on peak days plus orders in physical stores
What Elisabetta, Merle, and Johannes Say About Working with Xentral
For AGÁTA, the combination of POS, e-commerce, and B2B business became possible thanks to Xentral. However, all processes remain streamlined and easy to manage. These are the benefits for the team:
- "I can finally do what an entrepreneur should do—work on the business," says Johannes. For him, it's essential to relieve his team and make his customers happy. Xentral provides the data necessary to achieve these goals.
- Elisabetta primarily gained more time: "I want to focus on my passion for coffee and not lose too much energy processing processes. When everything is in one place, it saves time."
- And what excites Merle the most? "The complexity. I have all the data I need in one software to understand what's happening in the company. I don't have to look in five different sources; I can directly export all the data from Xentral."
A data export is required at least once a week—namely before the management meeting on Friday. "On Fridays, we analyze the weekly figures and the composition of shopping carts to challenge our status quo and goals based on facts and develop together," explains Johannes. Instead of dealing with individual orders, he now only needs the data analysis on Friday to identify optimization potential.
"I want to have to deal with an order only when it arrives in the analysis."
Johannes, Founder and CEO of AGÁTA
Is an ERP Worth It for Small Businesses?
"The costs of Xentral are very low compared to the costs that arise when the business doesn't take off," Johannes finds. His wife agrees: "An ERP system has its price, but there's also value in return. If you fully utilize Xentral and demand that necessary processes be mapped, it's worth it."
Outlook: What's Next for AGÁTA?
The young team doesn't need to read their future in coffee grounds; thanks to Xentral, they can make concrete plans. Encounters will remain important, so the company aims to achieve more local visibility and leverage the brand's strength in online channels.
"Locality and e-commerce aren't contradictory," says Johannes. In his opinion, customers want to be served on all channels and also use the e-commerce offerings of local brands—most of AGÁTA's orders come from their own city. "Xentral enables us to sell the same products in the shop as online. It's already synchronized now and will improve even more in the future," says Merle.
Tips and Recommendations for Your Business
With Xentral, Elisabetta, her husband Johannes, and Merle benefit from structured processes that save them from many pain points. "Xentral has grown with small businesses. The processes are very well adapted to what you need in e-commerce to be successful," says Merle, recommending Xentral to all companies with a shipping process: "These processes, especially, are incredibly well represented with Xentral."
Elisabetta sees benefits, especially for small and medium-sized companies with growth aspirations: "It's important to start with a good system because it saves you time, and time is the most valuable thing small businesses have."
3 Tips from Johannes for Your Perfect Start in E-commerce
Finally, Johannes has a few learnings that your company can benefit from as well.
1. Establish clear processes—these are things you don't want to constantly deal with.
2. Experiment—test products, accept feedback, and analyze your results to continuously improve.
3. Invest in your team—with training for employees and a clear vision, you build a capable team that can grow together.
His conclusion: "When starting a startup today, plan it in a modern way." Johannes sees a lot of potential for digitization in business processes. However, he doesn't see added value in many manual processes: "Technology and manual work complement each other. The more time I need for processes that I consciously want to put manual work into, the more technology I have to use for the processes that take away that time."
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