Customer Spotlight

Christophe Verstreken | Belgian Delights

Chocolatier Belgian Delights Launches D2C Channel and Sweetens Operations With NetSuite

Family-owned Belgian Delights has crafted European-style chocolates for over 30 years. The company skillfully combines traditional techniques with locally sourced ingredients to create a diverse mix of offerings. Belgian Delights supplies its premium confectionery creations to hotel chains, retailers, wholesalers, and consumers around Australia.

Belgian Delights has consistently grown over its three-decade history, acquiring production facilities and overcoming expansion challenges. Over the past five years, the business increased its customer count by 50% and developed its direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel.

Raising the Bar in Business Systems

Belgian Delights started out managing its finances using basic accounting software and spreadsheets. However, it had to purchase and integrate additional applications to support new initiatives like its D2C channel. The finance team spent considerable time reconciling data from various systems and spreadsheets each month, so the month-end close lasted two weeks or more.

Belgian Delights' CEO Christophe Verstreken sought a new solution with the functionality necessary to evolve alongside the company. He identified NetSuite as a solution that could support Belgian Delights’ planned growth and chose to implement the system while the business remained relatively small.

“Running simple systems like MYOB and spreadsheets and manually taking orders on paper is hard,” Verstreken said. “There comes a point when you need to upgrade. We chose NetSuite and haven’t looked back.”

ERP as the Key Ingredient for Success

Belgian Delights immediately benefited from having all inventory, manufacturing, and financial data consolidated in NetSuite ERP. The team could grow its use of the system along with the business by adding functionality as needs evolved and became more complex.

“NetSuite allows you to grow into the system,” Verstreken said. “You can switch on the functionality that you need and want to use. So as you grow, you can switch on more to complement your business and help you simplify operations. That was one of the benefits of jumping on the system early on.”

In NetSuite, Belgian Delights gained access to real-time financial, production, and distribution data, which facilitates reporting, improves cash flow management, and boosts forecast accuracy.

“NetSuite gives a great overview of our supply chain, which in turn gives us greater control of our cash flow and inventory,” Verstreken said. “We can rely on the data and trust that it’s correct.”

A Chocolate Box of Options

Belgian Delights had a growing product portfolio, the specifications of which emphasised the need for automation. With its old systems, the team manually extracted product specifications, like nutritional information and ingredients, from spreadsheets and entered them into a labelling system. Now, with all product data listed in NetSuite, Verstreken can export a CSV file directly into the labelling software in minutes. And anytime the team changes product specifications in NetSuite, the system automatically reflects them on Belgian Delights’ website.

Traceability is another important part of the business; Belgian Delights carefully tracks “best before” dates to ensure its products remain at peak freshness during and after their travels around the world. With NetSuite, the team inputs serial numbers against inventory items, and the system tracks the processes and materials used in production as well as the product’s full life cycle.

“As a business, we always have the best production facilities, equipment, and processes to make the best chocolates,” Verstreken said. “But now we have a technology partner in NetSuite to be the best in the back office as well.”

Belgian Delights’ D2C channel sells more than 240 products — double what the business could manage before — and month-end closes take just three days, Verstreken said.

The Future of Fine Confectionery

Belgian Delights is focusing on its D2C brand, Local Cocoa, which supports local communities by championing ethically grown and locally sourced products. The business integrated Shopify with NetSuite to support the ecommerce channel, an initiative Verstreken said was made possible by the technology underpinning it.

“We launched Local Cocoa with total confidence because we trusted the system behind it,” Verstreken said. “And we used data in NetSuite to analyse trends and respond to changing customer behaviours. That's just invaluable.”

For example, the team decided on specific flavours for Local Cocoa’s launch — like orange dark chocolate and cafe latte — based on NetSuite data about those items’ performance when released by the Belgian Delights brand.

Verstreken is optimistic about continuing Belgian Delights’ legacy, assured that he has a powerful system with all the functionality required to accommodate more growth and adapt to any challenges.

“We've been using NetSuite for 15 years now,” Verstreken said. “There's always room for growth, and we're always pushing the boundaries. NetSuite gives me total confidence for the future.”

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