In e-commerce, how do you manage to keep growing in terms of both the number of orders and turnover? Order picking and packaging are time-consuming processes. Consequently, automating the packaging process is an essential step in the growth strategies of many webshops, including Badge Direct, perhaps better known as Voetbalshop.co.uk. In this article, we introduce Badge Direct and share the choices they have made in automating their packaging process.
In 2021, Audion was approached by Louis Nap, COO at Badge Group. In addition to day-to-day operations, he is also responsible for all logistical processes. Founded in 1977, Badge Group introduced the “button badge” to the European market. Since then, the company has focused completely on football-related matters and is best known as Voetbalshop.nl. Around 230 people work at voetbalshop.nl.
Voetbalshop.nl is a successful e-commerce company, and after years of growth, it has also made the transition towards an omni-channel approach, ensuring a seamless purchasing experience for customers across a range of channels. The company now has almost 20 physical stores in the Netherlands, in addition to its online presence. The number of physical stores continues to grow. The webshop is among the largest in the Netherlands and is the largest in the Benelux specifically dedicated to sporting goods.
Voetbalshop.nl: Everything in one location
In 2022, the company moved from Woerden to Utrecht. More room was needed and Badge Direct wanted to have everything in one location. The new premises house the head office as well as the warehouse and production.
Voetbalshop.nl is the licensee for numerous professional and amateur football clubs and national teams. Besides being a supplier of football boots, football apparel and football accessories, Badge Direct is also responsible for supplying merchandise. This merchandise is often printed at the Utrecht location using a range of techniques and accounts for the bulk of production.
Automation of packaging process: growing to one million orders per year
“We were reaching the limits of our growth; the order picking, packaging, labelling and shipping processes are all very labour-intensive. We had already invested in a new ERP system and a bigger warehouse, which now covers 6500 square metres! At that warehouse, about 90 people work 6 days a week in shifts from 7am to 11.30 pm”, says Louis Nap
By mid-2020, Voetbalshop.co.uk was handling about 600,000 orders per year. In order to be able to grow to a million orders or more, more people were needed in the warehouse. Packaging and labelling in particular created a bottleneck. Finding staff was and still is a challenge. Which is why another solution was sought. We were looking for a solution that would not only improve the efficiency of the purchasing process but that would also be compact, mobile and capable of being operational really quickly.
Audion as a committed partner in automating the packaging process
We got in touch with Audion in 2021 and they fully informed us about the various packaging machines used in e-commerce as well as their extensive experience with other e-commerce business cases. Audion also gave us superb support when it came to putting the machine into service and training operators. The machine has proved very reliable and we now handle more orders with fewer people. The work of our staff has also become more enjoyable and less physically demanding. An additional benefit of having the automation and labelling in a single flow is that the margin of error has also decreased.
”On average, an experienced employee packs around 35 orders per hour by hand. With an Audion Speedpack, an operator can pack almost 100 products per hour; the gains to us are huge!” – Louis Nap (COO)
The future: more automation and Audion Speedpacks
We already have a large market share in the Netherlands but we are ambitious. Further growth, further automation of processes, expanding the warehouse and a more automated system that packages and puts away orders itself. The Audion Speedpacks have a crucial role to play in that process.
Sustainability at Voetbalshop.nl is and will also remain a key priority in the future. We have, of course, already achieved huge savings in raw materials by packaging with tubular film so that each order can be packaged at the correct bag length. The Audion Speedpack offers that capability, which makes it truly one of a kind. Packaging in film also leads to greater CO2 reductions compared to packaging in boxes. Film is lightweight and, compared to cardboard boxes, reduces the amount of “air” around the product; you can simply fit more packages into a crate and truck, which means fewer transport movements are needed.
“Our customers are very satisfied and we continue to monitor developments in the areas of circularity, biodegradable raw materials or alternatives. If Voetbalshop continues to grow like this, in both existing and new markets, we are more than happy to do that with a partner such as Audion and maybe even a third Speedpack.”
Customer case & Audion Speedpack 550 OFFL details
- ± 1 million orders per year
- > 6000 m² warehouse
- Growth in order movements by 2,000 per day (+50%)
- 2 Audion Speedpacks 550 OFFL (Order Fulfilment)
- Tubular film, variable bag length (3 settings)
- Label printing within the same process
- Speedpacks linked to WMS/ERP
- Everything on one system (WMS/ERP/Shipping labels)
- Margin of error reduced due to fewer operations
- Tubular film with flexible bag length saves > 10% on materials
The “one love” case
The One Love (athletes’) armband was developed in the mid-2020s. It symbolises connection and is a statement against all forms of discrimination. Up until just before the World Cup, there had only been limited demand for this item. As the World Cup neared, demand soared. Voetbalshop.nl is the retail merchant and licensee for the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB). Badge Direct manufactures and prints these armbands in-house.
“We had built up a decent amount of stock but, with the World Cup approaching and demand soaring, it turned out to be insufficient. We quickly produced more and sold them via the webshop. The One Love armband created a huge spike in workload but thanks to our motivated staff in production and at the warehouse, as well as the two Speedpacks, every order was delivered practically the same day.”