“Since we implemented Sendcloud, our customer reviews have gone up and the number of customer service questions has gone down”

Marijn Soetekouw | Online manager Boots Netherlands

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Boots in short

The online pharmacy that combines beauty and health

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Online and offline

Online channel with 60 shops in the Netherlands

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Biggest logistical challenge?

Processing B2C orders efficiently

Boots Sendcloud

Boots: “Let’s feel good”

More than 170 years of experience makes Boots one of the best known and most trusted health and beauty chains in the UK. But Boots has also expanded internationally, and they entered the Netherlands in 2009. Sendcloud has helped them optimise their e-commerce logistics in this country.

Boots offers a unique retail formula that combines a health and beauty store with a pharmacy. They want to ensure that customers not only look good, but also feel good. After all, when you look good, you feel your best. In the Netherlands, their online store and 60 pharmacies are introducing the country to their unique combination of health and beauty products.

From B2B wholesaler to successful online store

Boots is a different breed of retailer. Their Dutch online store is part of Alliance Healthcare, a large pharmaceutical wholesaler that is responsible for distributing medication to pharmacies, among other things. Although their customers would never notice it, there’s a massive logistical operation behind every order they place with Boots. The online store does not have its own stock but uses the stock of its parent company.

This means that for every order that is placed on the Dutch Boots online store, an internal order must be placed with Alliance Healthcare. The distribution centre mainly handles large orders for pharmacies, but it also has to collect individual orders for consumers.

Keeping this process running smoothly is quite a challenge, and it required setting up a separate picking process for orders that come in via the Dutch website. Those online orders are bundled into groups of five and then assembled as one big order from the extensive warehouse. From there, the orders are processed into individual packages.

Shipping in 2021: a modern solution

We had worked with the same shipping solution that we use for our B2B customers since we founded our online store in the Netherlands in 2012. That shipping solution used an automatic API to provide us with shipping labels and track & trace notifications. But, in the long run, it did not meet our needs.

Not only were the tracking emails extremely basic, but the API link was not future-proof. It was not built according to the standard solution of Magento 2, with the result that the link did not communicate well with Bol.com orders via Magento. That meant that we had to manually provide tracking information for all those orders – not exactly a sustainable process! We decided that it was time for a new solution.

boots logistics strategy
boots shipping

The customer is king: a smooth delivery experience

Our search for a new shipping solution for the Dutch market quickly led us to Sendcloud because this platform offers an outstanding customer experience. The tracking emails particularly impressed us.

Our previous shipping solution didn’t work properly, so we fielded a lot of questions about where packages were. And there was no way to modify our old tracking emails, which didn’t look very good.

A positive customer experience thanks to clear tracking notifications

Since we implemented Sendcloud, our customer reviews have gone up and the number of customer service questions has gone down. This is partly due to the fact that customers are now well-informed about the status of their package.

We’re also very pleased with the look and feel of Sendcloud. You can modify the tracking emails to fit your own style via the Sendcloud platform. Not only can you add your own logo and colours, but you can also add an Instagram post or banner. The inclusion of a translation section in the email is also quite handy when sending packages to countries like Belgium or Germany.

Boots is still a relatively small player on the Dutch market, and we’re working hard to build brand awareness. The art of repetition plays a vital role in this, and these emails help a lot. The ability to modify the emails ourselves helps to increase our visibility with our customers.

The smart shipping rules offer the freedom to make choices and easily automate your shipping process.

Boudewijn DuysterOperational Excellence Lead Alliance Healthcare
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Full automation to ship as quickly and efficiently as possible

Our greatest logistical challenge is to ship all the orders that come in through the online store as efficiently as we can via our warehouse. The warehouse is set up for large B2B orders, but with more than 3000 online Boots orders a week, it’s essential to set up a smooth process for fulfilling those as well.

Smart order picking

What we do is enter five online orders via Magento into the B2B warehouse system. These orders are picked in batches, with the number on the picklist corresponding to the five individual Magento IDs. This allows us to make considerable efficiency gains and means that as an online store, Boots doesn’t need to keep their own stock.

Once the batched order is complete, the bin is labelled with a barcode that is linked to Magento. That’s when the order pickers get to work: they scan the barcode on the bin, after which the five separate packing lists are printed.

Getting started with Sendcloud

This is where Sendcloud enters the picture. The packing lists are used to collect the individual orders, after which each packing list can be easily scanned with Sendcloud Pack & Go. Once the packing list has been scanned, the corresponding shipping label is generated, and the packages can be dispatched. This process ensures that correct shipping labels are generated very quickly.

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Next-level shipping with smart shipping rules

One advantage of Sendcloud is its ‘If then, then that’ rules. You can use these smart shipping rules to automatically pick out certain packages and offer a different shipping method, resulting in the right label.

In the past, Magento only allowed us to change the shipping method per order, but Sendcloud lets us set it up so a different shipping method is automatically chosen in certain cases. This comes in handy when, for example, you’re sending to Germany; then you can automatically replace PostNL with DHL as the sender.

The wonderful thing about this is that you have the freedom to make certain choices and you can test them very easily. You just log in, change it, and save it, and it works immediately.

Small improvements to save even more time

Right now, you can only work with order numbers in Pack & Go. It would be nice if in the future you could also scan article numbers and Sendcloud would then indicate to which order(s) the article belongs. This would save even more time and prevent mistakes. Many health and beauty items are quite small and – apart from small details like an SPF factor – identical, so it’s easy to get things wrong if the packer isn’t paying close attention.

A helpful tip

Do your homework in advance. Whether you are looking for a new shipping solution or a comprehensive e-commerce platform, think carefully about your short- and long-term plans. Choose a software package that not only fits your needs now but can also accommodate your growth targets for the next three to five years.

When we suddenly started to grow quickly, we realised that our old shipping solution didn’t work properly, and it was much harder to switch at that time. You can avoid this problem by choosing a scalable solution. I have noticed that young, dynamic companies are often better able to scale up (e.g. with an API connection), and you can make bigger profits from this in the long run.

Advantages

  • Scaling up with Pack & Go with multiple stations
  • Flexibility with a user-friendly interface
  • Connecting to the API is fast and easy
  • Customers stay informed with branded track & trace
  • Smart shipping rules make automation easy

Boots ❤ Sendcloud

Sendcloud is a scalable shipping solution that delivers an outstanding customer experience. Pack & Go allows us to ship quickly and efficiently, and the personalised tracking emails ensure a positive customer experience. In addition, the smart shipping rules help us ship the way we want.

Want to take your shipping to the next level, just like Boots?