From hygiene products to frozen goods to fresh food: Switzerland’s largest online supermarket is renowned for its huge assortment of some 13,500 products from a wide range of categories.

To meet its customers’ orders and expectations the company has to manage a complex inventory, offer fresh products and guarantee high availability. To help it do this LeShop.ch has put its trust in RELEX and its supply chain planning solution.

LeShop online grocery store

Founded in 1998 LeShop.ch is Switzerland’s first online supermarket and one of the first online grocery stores in the world. With over 350,000 customers LeShop.ch processes about 800,000 orders and over 50 million products per year. The ecommerce retailer typically handles very complex baskets of goods, each averaging over 60 products. If the assortment isn’t diverse enough or if there are shortages or availability issues, customers quickly look elsewhere. For this reason, LeShop.ch needed a solution that could handle its enormous product range while guaranteeing high availability and one that could also process huge quantities of data very quickly. Previously LeShop.ch had used an in-house IT solution. It is now being replaced by RELEX in order to manage its fast-growing business and increasing complexity. LeShop and RELEX were initially put in touch by Pekka Niskanen of Fennobiz GmbH, who represents RELEX in Switzerland.

“In terms of databases and interfaces, RELEX offers the latest technology,” says Nicolas Soussan, Logistics Director at LeShop.ch. “That technology provides us with an open and flexible solution which allows us to set clear rules right across our replenishment operation.”

It had been challenging for planners to deal with the sheer volume of data that needed to be processed for each product and location, which might typically include bulk prices, best before dates, delivery schedules and promotions. But with RELEX it has become easier. The software automates routine tasks, which sharply reduces the workload on staff. It provides precise forecasts while factoring in fluctuating volumes of weekly and seasonal peaks. It can even optimize stocks of campaign products.

“Accurate forecasts are especially important for fresh food,” says Dr. Timo Ala-Risku, RELEX’s Country Manager, Germany. “Precise information about delivery schedules, best before dates and seasonal-product sales volumes is extremely important in order to keep spoilage as low as possible. You don’t have much scope for error in the online business,” Ala-Risku says. “Shoppers in a grocery store are often understanding when, for example, mushrooms have brown marks in the evening. However, when they dine out in a restaurant they won’t tolerate bruised mushrooms in a salad. When those same consumers are buying from an online supermarket; their expectations are similarly much higher. Every delivery needs to be super fresh and meeting those expectations is crucial for the success of the company. A high-quality solution should monitor best before dates throughout the whole supply chain to ensure that everything is as fresh as possible.”

LeShop warehouse

The online grocery business makes big demands of RELEX’s software: LeShop.ch’s customers react very quickly to promotions such as free delivery or loyalty bonuses. Therefore, inventory needs to be adjusted in advance and replenished very fast. Furthermore, fresh food is offered before it’s in stock, so that it can be delivered in the freshest possible condition. It is shipped as soon as it arrives at LeShop.ch’s DC. Enormous differences between the various product groups make the data that has to be processed very diverse and that makes the task very complex.

“We have high expectations of RELEX delivering the support we need to achieve maximum efficiency,” says Soussan. “We believe working with RELEX means that we get to work with a dynamic, competent team that is composed of people with real knowledge and experience, people with whom we can build powerful and lasting relationships.”