The conveyor belt system in's new logistics hub

KIRCHHEIM-HEIMSTETTEN, Germany — More than doubling the space of its previous facility, has put a new state-of-the-art logistics center into operation here that provides the luxury e-tailer with plenty of room for future growth.

In 2016, chalked up a 40.6 percent gain in turnover, which reached 169 million euros, or $187.1 million at average exchange rate for the period.

Located about a 10-minute drive from the company’s headquarters in Aschheim by Munich, the new center occupies almost 350,000 square feet of rack storage area on four levels. It currently has 160 full-time employees in the incoming goods, shipping, returns and warehouse departments, as well as the in-house photo studio and styling unit. The complex replaces a nearby logistics center that opened in 2013 but, according to executives, was about ready to “burst at the seams.”

With a shipping tempo that already accomplishes three-hour deliveries within Munich, European deliveries in 24 hours, express or standard service to the U.S. in 24 to 48 hours, and deliveries to the rest of the world in a maximum of 72 hours, with the exception of Australia, which can take four days, there isn’t all that much room here for time savings at present. As managing director Sebastian Sebastian Dietzmann noted, the lead time the carriers need is not something the company can change, or that can currently get faster “without using drones.”

“It’s why we make sure we prioritize, with express dispatched before standard, or packages to more remote destinations sent earlier so the carrier [DHL or UPS] has more time. They pick up merchandise multiple times a day,” he said.

Every single piece that arrives in the warehouse and is then sent to customers gets checked by hand three times during the shipping process under special 1,000 lux lights, but these and most other conditions also prevailed in the smaller warehouse. What has changed is the new conveyor belt system that runs the length for more than a kilometer, or 0.6 miles, and connects all four levels of the warehouse with the dispatch stations, cutting back on walking time and thus providing some time savings.

An app specially developed by scans storage locations and products, optimizes itineraries, displays digital picking lists and only when the app confirms the order is complete can the commissioning be finalized and the products packed into the signature boxes. It is the system that decides what gets packed first, but one interim step in the chain that is determined by people versus computer is where to place incoming products, like shoe boxes, on the shelves. “The boxes are then scanned and it is the person who tells the system where the merchandise is. The system wouldn’t get it that accurate,” stated Dietzmann.

Thank you cards that accompany all packages and are available in all of’s communication languages of German, English, French, Italian, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese and most recently Korean are signed personally by a packer.

Upstairs, in the photo studio, a team of stylists, photographers, a few in-house models plus the highly versatile new still-life mannequin “Helene” photographically processes about 45 outfits a day. Merchandise received as incoming goods can be on line in one day, Dietzmann noted.

“We don’t see logistics like other e-commerce companies,” the executive said. “We believe this is one team and that it is as important to invest in them than anywhere else. When we decided to move into a bigger and nicer facility, there was no other reason to stay in this area besides the team.”

Other parts of Germany would have been cheaper, but there was no discussion on that score, he continued.

“We wanted to ensure we kept 100 percent of our team and maintain the quality, getting the product out in perfect shape, perfectly packaged, and quickly,” he said.

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