Located in St. Germain des Prés, in Paris, Nobilis is an internationally famous designer and manufacturer of fabrics, carpets, wallpaper and furniture. Founded in 1928, Nobilis is a family company operating via approximately 200 partners worldwide. Nobilis’ current collection, including its furniture catalogue, 3,000 lines of fabric, carpet, soft furnishings and trimmings, as well as more than 2,500 different wall papers and wall coverings are sold by 200 partners worldwide to the world’s most prestigious clientele.
A LANSA customer for over eight years, in 2001, the firm equipped itself with LANSA Commerce Edition to evolve its company’s corporate website into an exhaustive catalogue comprising almost the totality of the Nobilis range. In addition, the site also offers an Extranet B2B for the company’s subsidiaries and business partners to access, in real-time, services such as stock levels and order status.
“LANSA offers the speed and ease of development that are necessary for a small IT team to be reactive. By capitalizing on what was already there, LANSA for the web allows the user to develop Internet applications, opened on the company’s information system, with both power and ease,” say Franck Papon, Nobilis’ head of engineering for studies and production within the IT department.
LANSA offers the speed and ease of development that are necessary for a small IT team to be reactive.
For more than eight years, Nobilis has trusted the development tools offered by LANSA as Franck Papon, Nobilis’ head of engineering for studies and production within the IT department explains. “The architecture of the firm’s IT system is built on the iSeries. Almost all of the applications used by Nobilis, with the exception of payroll, are in-house developments. This includes commercial administration, purchasing, invoicing and reminders, general accounting, administration of stocks, cutting of fabrics, freight, statistics and so on. The LANSA tools were ideal to help us in our work”
The Nobilis IT department of four people functions as an independent system integrator, continues Papon. “We function in a reduced configuration and we look after all of Nobilis’ information technology. This is where we find the primary advantage of the LANSA product set – speed and ease of development. These are essential elements for a small team. We must be able to do things very fast.”
“Another advantage of LANSA’s development tools is the freedom which they provide. For example, we have to modify the process through which orders are captured every four months or so. A solution built around an ERP package would not give as much flexibility, or it would be much too expensive”.
The primary advantage of the LANSA product set is speed and ease of development.
Capitalizing on this trust born of a long-term use of LANSA tools, Nobilis naturally turned towards LANSA for the Web when developing its Internet site. “Nobilis started its web adventure in 2001 with a corporate non-interactive site, excessively simple, not linked to the company’s IT systems”, continues Papon. “We developed the site with the tools we had in-house.”
“From the increasing number of daily web hits, it became evident that this medium was generating more business. We then realized that the website’s secondary advantage was that it represented a real return on investment. Its evolution towards new Internet services was the natural way from there.”
Logically, Nobilis turned towards LANSA to open up, amongst others, its B2B services for subsidiaries, importers and distributors. With LANSA Commerce Edition, after less than a month of development, Nobilis produced its first online electronic catalogue, presenting its total furniture range.
“It was an immediate success, not only did our clients love it, but also our partners and distributors who use it as a tool of reference”, says Papon. “This catalogue turned out to be better, by the way, than the paper version as far as technical descriptions of products are concerned, however the web has the advantage over paper in terms of costs.”
Carried by the success of its first application, Nobilis then undertook the development of the fabric catalogue and went on-line in July 2001. “The next step will be the development of the catalogue presenting our wall and floor coverings,” says Papon.
The catalogue was an immediate success, not only did our clients love it, but also our partners and distributors, who use it as a tool of reference.
The Nobilis web enhancements were not limited to the catalogues. Using LANSA for the Web, a special client space has been created on the site, allowing registered users, essentially distribution partners, real-time access to stock details, such as the availability of products and re-order dates, and to follow up on the status of their orders online.
The first of these services was launched in March 2003 and the second in August. LANSA for the Web allows integration directly between the Internet site and Nobilis’ core production systems.
“This type of service complements the traditional tools utilized by our clients and partners for these transactions, the fax and the phone. In that way, the web answers a real need for overseas distributors: the cost of communication becomes negligible for them and time difference between countries disappears, continues Papon. “It is even possible from the site to track orders when these are in transit with DHL”.
Whilst awaiting the development of new services, notably the facility to order directly on Nobilis’ website, the partners are already sold on the idea.
“The site’s main advantage for us is the capability to check our suppliers’ stock levels in real time”, comments Daniella van Egmond, office manager with Vilhelmine Van Aerssen, Nobilis’ exclusive distributor in The Netherlands. “The electronic catalogue is also a plus, since it lets us improve our relationship with our clients and to satisfy their needs faster and in a more interactive manner.”
The site’s main advantage for us is the capability to check our suppliers’ stock levels in real time.
Since the beginning of Nobilis’ web adventure, the natural choice of LANSA for the Web and Commerce Edition has never been questioned by the company’s development teams. “The quality of LANSA for the Web is up there with the best, as is the rest of what’s on offer from LANSA,” says Papon with obvious enthusiasm.
“This tool allows us to complete and fast development, since it is built on the same development principles as LANSA’s 4GL. However, while the development language is the same, we are nevertheless talking about a totally different tool, offering new functionalities. The product is very resourceful and offers a solution to every problem”.
Nobilis dedicated an existing iSeries to act as the web server and host the development environment that comes with it. So as well as leveraging their existing development tool set, Nobilis did not have to invest in a new hardware, as all that was required was the reallocation of an existing machine, which was not being utilized.
As well as providing additional savings, it is also and most importantly a security guarantee. By its very nature, an iSeries system hosting a web server is much better protected from possible outside attacks than Unix or especially Windows, which remain the main target for Internet hackers.
With LANSA, Nobilis is working in a constant environment and puts to profitable use all the expertise derived from year of experience with the LANSA tool set. Capitalizing on what was already there allows the company to save development time and as such to save money.
The quality of LANSA for the Web is up there with the best, as is the rest of what’s on offer from LANSA.