The pandemic has shaken up many industries, not least the fitness industry. As gyms have closed or had their access limited, the fitness industry has responded by creating more online workout products or outdoor boot camps. Retailers specializing in fitness products have also had to adapt quickly to this new situation. XXL Nutrition, one of Europe's fastest-growing supplement stores, managed to do so during one of the most challenging economic periods in recent history. By digitizing its supply chains with Flexport, XXL Fitness was able to gain significant competitive advantages. As ports closed, and airplane and truck hold capacity became scarce, Flexport was able to help XXL Nutrition find faster alternatives and reduce costs.
E-commerce powerhouse expands portfolio
Like many young companies shaping modern e-commerce, XXL Nutrition springs from the personal experience of its founder, Rene van der Zel. The fitness enthusiast was often unable to purchase his favorite nutritional supplements locally in the Netherlands. So he shifted to sourcing the necessary essential ingredients from Germany and composing his supplements himself. He quickly realized that this also offered him the opportunity to sell his products to other athletes in the Netherlands - and the founding idea for XXL Nutrition was born. Within a short time, the online store became one of the leading supplement sites in Europe. To this day, XXL Nutrition is considered the most innovative supplement brand in the Netherlands and beyond. The company buys only the best raw materials for its products and guarantees the highest quality of its supplements, along with good service and reasonable prices.
Despite the success, the changed training behavior of XXL Nutrition customers during the pandemic presented the company with new challenges, choosing to expand its range in response. Today, the online store offers sports equipment, clothing, and nutritional supplements. However, as the product portfolio grew, so did the complexity of its international supply chain, and the intelligent management of material flows developed into a challenging task.
In this situation, it proved particularly helpful that XXL Nutrition had already digitized and handed the management of its supply chains to Flexport in 2019. Among other things, the digital platform ensures comprehensive transparency of all supply chain processes.
“We were in a particularly challenging and disruption-prone market environment during the pandemic. Flexport's Platform solution makes it possible to work dynamically and intelligently with customers and partners in a network to remain resilient and adaptable and mitigate supply chain risks," says Roel Linders, Buyer at XXL Nutrition.
"We communicated mainly via email and phone with the various logistics partners and accepted the transparency challenges of the corresponding processes because we were not aware of a possible alternative."
Digitization as a stroke of luck
Until 2019, the team at XXL Nutrition managed its supply chains and logistics partners themselves. Roel Linders, responsible for non-food products at XXL, remembers well: "We communicated mainly via email and phone with the various logistics partners and accepted the transparency challenges of the corresponding processes because we were not aware of a possible alternative. By chance, we then came across Flexport and quickly recognized the potential of the digital platform."
XXL Nutrition now handles the entire management of its supply chains digitally on a central platform: "For us, the most important immediate benefit is transparency. The fact that we can see the status of every single delivery at any time ensures optimized workflows and communication," explains Linders. "To give a simple example: by knowing exactly when each delivery will arrive, we can manage our inventory more effectively, and thus give our customers much more reliable information about when an out-of-stock product will be available again. This increases satisfaction and our customer loyalty."
Especially in the changeable times of the pandemic, the digital management of the supply chain has proven to be a great advantage because XXL Nutrition can react so much more flexibly and quickly to the chaotic situation on the freight market and make necessary adjustments immediately. The fitness specialist's team also uses the platform to tap into the expertise of Flexport Customer Service to manage even the most extraordinary challenges better. The XXL Nutrition team also uses the message board integrated into the platform to communicate with each other. This efficient form of cooperation ensures maximum resilience.
"By knowing exactly when each delivery will arrive, we can manage our inventory more effectively, and thus give our customers much more reliable information about when an out-of-stock product will be available again. This increases satisfaction and our customer loyalty."
In the last few years the Flexport platform has become a popular, central tool for those responsible for logistics at XXL Nutrition. The benefits go beyond transparency and improved coordination of the delivery processes, explains Linders: "We also lose significantly less time by not having to go through cumbersome communication with the parties within our supply chains.”
The supply chain experts at XXL Nutrition thus agree that increased transparency in the value chain and proactive management of processes are fundamental success factors for their company. This is where Flexport's platform solution comes in, taking the performance of the entire supply chain to a new level with the help of innovative technologies and end-to-end transparency.
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