By the Numbers
to become fully onboarded
transparency gained across the supply chain
saved in transit time, on average
For many years, LED manufacturer DOTLUX did what many businesses do for their freight forwarding: They shopped their shipping partners based on price and timing—a strategy that can sometimes lead to below-expectations service. However, as its business continued to grow, the lighting specialist was forced to rethink matters in order to optimize its entire supply chain process. A round of internal restructuring eventually offered the perfect opportunity to realign the company’s logistics processes with its ambitious growth targets.
Since its foundation, DOTLUX has been operating in an extremely dynamic market environment. In 2004, the German manufacturer has been a key player in the LED lighting technology market. With innovations in low power consumption and an expanding variety of color choices, the DOTLUX portfolio offers a wide-range of products that extend far beyond the classic selection. With increasing company growth, the handling of logistics processes became the focus and the challenge to rethink logistics in the company increased.
DOTLUX supplies wholesalers with just about everything the lighting retail sector requires, from simple LED lamps to professional lighting systems. Most of the DOTLUX production is manufactured in close collaboration with production partners in China, meaning a majority of the company’s logistics operations involve forwarding freight from the Far East. Product manager Benjamin Penderock, also responsible for the German LED specialist’s import trade, recalls early-on challenges from when the company was first getting off the ground. “At that time, every department and every product manager worked with their suppliers. There was no overarching view of freight transports and deliveries. The logistics had to run separately for each product area.” This meant that the product managers coordinated with external production partners in China, the internal DOTLUX sales team and warehouse departments, and the German and international customers—in individual workflows by email and phone. The enormous amount of time that DOTLUX had to invest in the functioning of its supply chain was out of proportion to the company’s rapid growth goals.
With the constant growth of the company, DOTLUX needed to develop a more efficient solution to address its limited time-constrained resources in product management. The answer was to set up a central hub. “Up until that point, it had been difficult for us to track the progress of our shipments. We never knew exactly when they would arrive, what personnel we would need for unloading, or where they would need to be,” explains Penderock.
It was during their internal restructuring that the company first came across Flexport. “To be honest, we were not actively searching for a partner. However, the concept of the digital platform impressed us straight away and helped us to address the challenges that we, as a company, were looking to tackle at that time,” says Penderock. Just one week after becoming acquainted with the platform, DOTLUX organized its first test shipment with Flexport to get a feel for the processes and pricing, as well as the collaboration in general. Further shipments followed, with Penderock also making bookings in parallel with the company’s existing forwarding partners. Within a month, however, the majority of DOTLUX shipments were processed through the Flexport platform. “We never explicitly intended to completely replace our previous forwarding partner on the China route,” explains Penderock. “Yet the results spoke for themselves.”
Thanks to the possibilities offered by the digital platform and direct, real-time access to information, Flexport gave the LED specialists much greater flexibility when it came to setting up their freight bookings. Compared with other forwarding providers, Flexport’s transit times repeatedly resulted in savings of one to two days. Today, Penderock uses the Flexport platform as the central tool for managing freight bookings for the entire company. He tracks the supply chain status in real time on his PC, which means he always has an overview of all shipments and delivery dates. The robust capabilities of the Flexport platform make it easy to manage the supply chain from anywhere in the world, whether in the office, on the go or in the home office. What’s more, he stays in close contact with his personal service team, the Flexport Squad, at all times. This tight alignment with the Flexport team helps Penderock coordinate on freight-related decisions several times per day, usually via the chat function.
Working with Flexport, DOTLUX has optimized its logistics processes, which has had a positive influence on the relationship between the company and its customers. “Today, we call our wholesale customers to inform them of the status of their shipment – and not the other way round. Even in crisis situations, we have a firm grip on the latest information. In Flexport, we have a truly dependable partner at our side who is always able to respond quickly to our questions,” reports Penderock.
DOTLUX has also recently adopted the buyers’ console, developed for the company by Flexport. This tool makes it possible to see whether partial shipments can be consolidated, even after they have been booked. Penderock explains: “With the buyers’ console, we can enter a query in the Flexport platform at any time to see whether a matching of some of our shipments would make financial sense.” The console also makes it easy to complete customs procedures. Customs information and tariffs can easily be stored digitally in the platform, which means they no longer need to be requested again for each import. Instead, the data is available there, in the system, if the goods have already been imported before. This is a huge advantage.”
For DOTLUX, price transparency down to the finest details is one of the key benefits of the Flexport platform. “We have full control over all our delivery dates. For each individual step in our supply chain, whether in China or Germany, we are aware of the precise costs and terms involved in each freight decision, including all clauses and additional costs.”
Thanks to the new price transparency with Flexport, DOTLUX can now plan and calculate the total landed costs for its imports from China in advance. As a result, its product managers have more time to focus on business growth. Says Penderock, “The transparency of the supply chain, made possible by Flexport, has freed up resources that we are once again able to devote to our core business—developing and manufacturing innovative LED lighting systems.”