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Successful Implementation of SAP for a Leading Distributor

As a leading distributor of fine wines, spirits, beers, and non-alcoholic beverages, The Charmer Sunbelt Group (CSG) faces complex challenges—from increased demands from wine and spirits suppliers to unique state and local laws and regional customer preferences. CSG decided to implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to help maintain and strengthen its position as the “Distributor of Choice” and bolster its highly effective, localized sales and distribution structure. Partnering with Clarkston Consulting, CSG responded with a strategy that addressed corporate-level needs while preserving and enhancing the advantages of local operations and addressing their unique business challenges.

Wine and spirits manufacturers frequently undergo mergers, acquisitions and alliances that cause brands to be moved back and forth, requiring beverage distributors like CSG to remain nimble and maintain a dynamic portfolio.

CSG sought a common process and technology platform that would help the company maintain its strong position within its business segment. One of the initial steps was to upgrade the company’s existing ERP system from SAP 4.7 to ECC 6.0 at their 10 current locations with the following modules: HR, FI, CO, PA, MM, WM, IP, and SD.

To manage rebates, chargebacks, and incentive compensation, CSG implemented the Incentive and Paybacks Module developed by Vistex, an SAP partner. In addition, Microsoft was chosen for the data warehouse to provide enhanced capabilities around enterprise pricing and sales reporting.

The team employed various innovative and unique processes to achieve an accurate and rapid deployment, including a strong PMO, focused, integrated project teams for each house, an effective change management program to balance local (state) and corporate requirements, and a robust testing process designed to be used at each deployment.


The three-tier alcohol beverage distribution system, as well as variations in demographics by brand and type of product consumed, make it difficult to maximize profits while streamlining costs in the beverage distribution business.

As the SAP blueprint was implemented across the enterprise, CSG developed the other key component of its strategy—centralizing core business functions in order to improve service, increase efficiency, and support localization where appropriate.

The project team took charge of the assessment, design, and implementation of Shared Services, a model that consolidates support operations for selected business functions into a single, highly efficient organizational unit. This improves efficiency by eliminating duplication and streamlining processes.
The Shared Services solution was designed to:

  • Further leverage CSG’s SAP investment.
  • Increase focus on core competencies.
  • Provide better service to suppliers and customers.
  • Reduce transactional and operational costs.
  • Ease integration of new business units.
  • Increase net operating profit


Tags: Case Study, SAP