Axell logistics realtime despatch

Axell Logistics combines its B2C and B2B warehouse operations with OrderFlow 

Jan 15, 2020
New customers and growing volumes have allowed Axell Logistics to expand its warehouse capacity. The additional space has also allowed Axell to provide a ‘hybrid’ warehouse service to clients that need to fulfil both trade and consumer orders from the same stockholding.

Axell Logistics is based in Etten-Leur in The Netherlands and has been an OrderFlow user for more than five years. In August 2018 the company added a new 17,300 sq m (168,000 sq ft) facility, built alongside their existing warehouse.

With business booming, Axell has gone on to add a further 8,325 sq m (90,000 sq ft) to keep up with the growing demand for its fulfilment services.

Here's a timelapse video of the construction of the new warehouse in Etten-Leur.

Optimising warehouse processes

The expansion wasnt just about one warehouse overflowing into another – the Axell team was keen to use the additional space in a different way.

As well as increasing space we wanted to gain advantages from having all our clients together in one warehouse and combining our B2C and B2B operations,” says Peter Bergsma, Axell LogisticsIT and Engineering Manager. Were seeing an increase in customers wanting a combined B2C and B2B operation – weve had multiple clients request this recently,” he notes. 

Combining B2B and B2C warehouse operations 

Supporting a customers B2B and B2C operations via one warehouse management system (WMS) can be tricky says Peter, but Realtime Despatchs OrderFlow WMS has made it possible. Axell started working with Realtime Despatch to support a single client for whom Axell runs a complex cross-docking operation. Axell saw an opportunity to improve the service it offered to its other clients and in early 2019 the decision was taken to move all its fulfilment business onto the OrderFlow platform.

One of the big advantages of OrderFlow is how it connects with different third party systems like e-commerce platforms such as Magento, ERP systems and couriers. This is something other WMSdont support very well,” says Peter. Realtime Despatch is an expert in B2C warehouse management and were now one of the first to rollout its new B2B WMS functionality.”

Axell logistics realtime despatch 4

We want to use OrderFlow to distinguish between small B2C orders and large trade orders, so that we can optimise our processes for each. If we get a problem with a small order we take it out of the workflow, address the issue and then start the pick and pack process again from the beginning. For big trade orders its different – if weve already picked 50 or 60 SKUs we dont want to undo all that work because of a problem with one SKU, instead we want the picker to skip ahead to the next item to be picked.

We work in case or carton quantities for our B2B orders and in individual item quantities for B2C orders – OrderFlow supports both approaches. We've been working with the Realtime Despatch team to refine this approach further. The latest OrderFlow release allows us to pick B2B and B2C orders from the same pick location and will keep track of the quantities in individual cases once they've been opened.

OrderFlow has a great way of keeping track of what is really happening in the picking face. In most WMSthe outer carton is just a theoretical stock keeping unit; you have, for example, five pieces of stock, which are five boxes of ten, but the system doesnt really know if there are five complete boxes of ten or lots of open boxes with a couple of items removed. In OrderFlow it is known, and that information can be used as an input to optimise our picking. Thats something I havent seen in a WMS before and works very well  – it really reflects the truth in the warehouse and thats essential I think.”

New clients and further expansion plans

Axell logistics realtime despatch 3

Currently Realtime Despatch and Axell Logistics are working closely to move over all clients to OrderFlow and optimise the new combined B2B and B2C processes. The latest moves were for two new Axell clients – a childrens shoe manufacturer and a pet supply business; fulfilling both wholesale and e-commerce orders from the same stockholding.

Business is booming for the Dutch warehouse operation, so much so that the company is looking to expand yet again.

The new extension is already near full, so were now looking at other expansion options,” says Peter. "Thats our plan for 2020!”

Why not take a look at some of our other customer success stories or get in touch to discuss how Realtime Despatch can support your own B2B and B2C warehouse operation....