By the Numbers
saved in working capital
Anticipated savings in detention & demurrage fees by end of 2020
cut in supply chain costs
Founded in 1896, Blokker is one of the oldest and most recognized retail brands in The Netherlands. With more than 350 stores and 70 franchises, it’s a beloved destination for a range of household goods ranging from electronics to kitchen appliances.
In recent years, Blokker encountered a period of falling profits, with increased competition from (online) retailers creating tough market conditions. It needed to increase its margins to better position itself for long-term profitability.
Working with its Flexport account team, Blokker improved its Far East logistics and cut costs across the line. Now the company enjoys increased visibility and control over its products in transit, and greater certainty that goods will reach stores and customers quickly and affordably.
Looking at its supply chain and sourcing strategy was a key first step in transforming Blokker’s logistics process.
“A major shift for our organization was switching from a traditional push model to a demand-driven supply chain. This shift allows for a more efficient and cost-efficient supply chain. But it also requires a higher level of control, given the just-in-time nature of these shipments. We needed to ensure that we always have 95% on-shelf stock availability, so our customers are never disappointed,” explains Hans Danhof, Supply Chain Director at Blokker.
This required Blokker to expand its supplier base to 200 suppliers, increase the order frequency, and drive cargo consolidation in the Far East, all of which put additional strain on the supply chain.
“While this shift positively impacted our margins, it amplified the issues we were facing with our supply chain visibility,” Danhof notes. “There was an over-reliance on spreadsheets and email across our whole logistics process. That resulted in a lot of difficulties in seeing where our inventory was at any given time and posing an exponentially growing workload to the teams.”
With the support of Flexport, Blokker was able to eliminate these issues, driving cost and productivity savings across its supply chain, while building a best-in-class Far East logistics process within six months.
To support Blokker’s new sourcing strategy, Danhof wanted a platform where all shipment communication, data, and documents could be centralized. His team needed to align with suppliers across China and India. By streamlining communications through the digital platform, the Blokker team was able to unburden itself from having to manage 200 to 300 emails a day. “Now,” Danhof says, “everyone has immediate access to our real-time shipping data.”
All major PO and shipment milestones are automatically pushed to our internal systems through EDI (electronic data interchange). This enables Blokker to take direct action in the day-to-day workflows. “If a shipment is delayed due to bad weather, our inventory management systems will automatically know about it and respond by expediting future PO’s accordingly,” Danhof explains.
With Flexport’s integrated platform, all parties now have full transparency into the logistics flow from origin to local warehouses—not only for the standard container loads, but also for more complex logistical operations such as local buyers consolidations. “We have been able to successfully execute quite sophisticated consol boxes for up to 10 suppliers now—enabling us to increase our order frequency and decrease our working capital position.”
Another major win for Blokker from the Flexport platform: The increased control over the supply chain helped Blokker dramatically reduce failure costs associated with demurrage and detention fees. “With our previous freight forwarding approach, we were paying €600,000 a year in fines and penalties by not being able to see where our stock and containers were,” explains Danhof. By the end of 2020, it is projected Flexport will have helped Blokker save approximately €550k in detention & demurrage fees.
One of the key reasons Blokker chose Flexport was the access to a specialized team of dedicated operations, customs, and data experts—all helping to manage shipments every step of the way. Each member of Blokker’s Flexport team handles all its ocean shipments end-to-end, proactively solves problems, constantly identifies new cost and productivity efficiencies and ensures products reach their destination as quickly as possible.
"The Flexport team has really invested time and energy into the relationship with us and our suppliers. At every stage of our partnership, they have been flexible, agile, and determined to do the best thing for our business,” notes Danhof.