New finance tool provides with insight and flexibility

29 June 2020 6 min. read

Dutch online retailer is growing rapidly, both autonomously and by developing new business models. This requires the finance department to become agile. To achieve this, the ecommerce player adopted Vena Solutions for a more detailed and flexible insight in virtual store performance. 

For, responding to market changes and focussing on details is of great importance. Erik van Rossem, senior business planning controller at, emphasises this: “We want to be able to forecast on a granular level for each of our online stores.” operates a decentral organisation, which enables each of the 40 virtual stores to work quite autonomously. 

“Previously, we used one big Excel model for the input from all the stores combined. This strategy lead to losing a lot of time gathering data and making a solid forecast, instead of using this time to understand the drivers,” explains Juriaan Verberck, who works at

Growth in numbers and business models

Since launching back in 1999, has booked massive growth, both in revenue and in its product range. Initially, the platform focussed on selling books online, however, fast forward to today and the store sells 22 million articles to more than 10 million customers. In addition to the sale of its own products, more than twenty thousand partners sell their goods on the platform.

New finance tool provides with insight and flexibility

This immense growth is twofold, according to Erik: “We record both autonomous growth, with dozens of percent each year, as well as growth by developing new business models.” Against this backdrop, changing to a performance management makes sense. Erik: “We want to be able to summarise the company’s state of affairs in numbers, to establish where our focus should be in the future. If this is clear, we can effectively steer towards that with driver-based objectives.”

Neutral perspective during thorough tool selection took its choice for a performance management solution seriously. A wide-ranging selection process was organised, with a 12 party longlist. This longlist then narrowed down to eight demos and 3 Proof of Concepts (POC’s). 

During the tool selection, consultants from Finext played an important role. “We wanted to involve Finext in the process due to their neutral perspective. Every software vendor obviously promotes its own solution, but Finext implements all tools, which enables them to put together a realistic image of what the market has to offer.”

Maarten Bronda from Finext was involved in the process. “Every situation is different from one another. This requires a carefully weighed up process to eventually decide on the tool that fits the organisation and its objectives best.”

The decision eventually feel in favour of Vena Solutions, which stood out for its functionality and flexibility. “It turned out that in Vena, we could easily break apart a country or add a new online store,” Jurriaan comments. “We do not want to wait for IT to help us every time something changes. If something switches in our business, we want to adjust it quickly in the tool ourselves.” 

“Vena is flexible and easy to understand for ‘financials.’ For the implementation, we were really able to work together with This contributed significantly to the final results,” says Rogier Louter, a consultant at Finext who was closely involved in the implementation process at 

Rapid implementation of Vena

This clearly showed during the implementation, within a few months, Vena was fully up and running. Erik and Juriaan were able to allocate time to the project thanks to an interim controller from Finext, who temporarily took over several of their regular tasks. By doing this, both controllers could clear their schedules for 40% to help with the implementation. 

Juriaan and Erik reflect positively on the cooperation with Finext. “Because of the great assistance we received during the preliminary stage, we chose Finext to help with the implementation as well. This was much to our liking,” Erik says. “They also brainstormed with us on the model’s design and on the dimension hierarchies. Without their knowledge, we would never have been able to build such a clean, maintainable setting.”

Flexibly responding to the market

The online retail organisation is to date hugely enthusiastic about the results brought by Vena. “From the finance department, we have to be able to keep up with the growth of the organisation,” Jurriaan says. “In a world of Excel, where everything is knitted together, adding a new business model affects the results in such a radical manner, that it is nearly impossible to avoid mistakes. Today, we can respond quickly to change instead of crisscrossing even more.”

This flexibility is compatible with the strategy of to anticipate market development. “We want to facilitate the organisation to be agile and to respond to the market short term,” Erik summarises. “For example, look at the rise of audiobooks. Seven years ago, we could not have known that these books would be this popular, but we did have to deliver a planning.”

However, the increased flexibility comes with a challenge as well. “Technology is not a limiting factor anymore,” Erik explains. “The limit now rests with the people: do they understand which questions they are supposed to ask? More insights will lead to an increase in the number of variables that need to be inserted. When the tool is used effectively, users will be forecasting for only a quarter of the time they needed before. Nevertheless, if the demand for details rises, the time that is saved at first will be cancelled out.”

Vena is currently being used mostly for profit & loss, balance, cash flow, and store planning. However, Erik and Juriaan foresee more possible applications for Vena within the organisation: “In the future, we would like to use this tool for not only finance, but for many other needs, such as staff turnover, logistics, and customer service. We are merely at the beginning: many aspects could possibly benefit from Vena.”