Exclusive Q&A: Berlin Brands Group takes logistics in-house

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture

A direct-to-consumer brand platform effectively manages its global logistics infrastructure with a proprietary platform.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Christian Salza, managing director of Berlin Brands Group (BBG), which has spent the last 15 years building its own unique, physical logistical infrastructure. He discussed the role the company’s long-standing logistics network has on delivering products, and in turn, scaling brands efficiently. 

What logistical challenges was BBG facing?
The U.S. and European markets are very different. Europe is more dense, allowing for more streamlined logistics. It is also more complex due to borders, customs, languages and currencies. The fragmented nature of Europe makes the need for understanding the nuances of each region crucial in order to maintain the flow of our warehouse logistics.

When you understand the landscape, it becomes clear that there is a need for more regional warehouses in order to make a positive impact on the entire supply chain and improve order processing. Early on, our company’s core challenge was delivering containers from one port to a central warehouse.

Now, as we continue to increase our number of warehouses, the challenge is delivering containers with the right mix of products to warehouses all over the world as efficiently as possible. The orders have to be routed to the correct warehouse and provide the best balance in terms of service and cost for each order.

What made BBG decide to develop an in-house logistics infrastructure?
We identified a clear need for flexibility, scalability, and to develop the ability to understand what the true cost drivers behind logistics operations were. We reached a size where we saw a large opportunity to realize the economies of scale within our warehousing and fulfilment operations.

When paired with maintaining real-time communication with manufacturers and carriers all over the globe with whom we’ve developed strong relationships through our 15 years of business, we have found our in-house logistics structure has no limits on scale. 

How does the system work?
We use the same system infrastructure across all warehouses. This means we have only one system to maintain, and one set of processes to train. Improvements in our operations are immediately available across all sites.

What benefits does it provide?
This allows us to quickly ramp up new warehouses. We also keep our warehouses evergreen and always running the latest processes on the most current system. Along with the ability to scale quickly, when disruptions arise, we have direct access to suppliers which allows us to quickly troubleshoot and find alternative shipping routes to avoid delivery delays. 

When the Suez Canal was blocked last winter, Berlin Brands Group was able to reroute our inventory to react as fast as possible. 

We’re in a unique position to consider all of the options available to us and overcome logistical problems, which is the biggest benefit coming from our 15 years of experience building our global infrastructure.

Are there any future logistics plans you can discuss?
We will continue to open new warehousing capacity across Europe and the US, as well as in new markets. We will open cross-docking facilities in Asia to service the growing number of decentralized warehouses.