A leap of faith: Relaxdays GmbH

Digital logistics enable Halle-based e-commerce company to increase sales enormously

The market volume of global online commerce is developing explosively. The main beneficiaries are industry giants Amazon & co. But smaller online traders are also joining in by giving their businesses a specific profile. An example from Saxony-Anhalt is Relaxdays - a company based in Halle/Salle with 70 employees and active on the market now for 10 years.

It all began in the bedroom of company director Martin Menz when he was young. “First of all, I sold everything I wasn’t using any more on eBay. Then I began snapping up all sorts and put it online. But it wasn’t all systematic trading really. Nevertheless, one day I was on holiday in Spain and saw on a head massage device, which was in strong demand shortly after in Germany. So I looked online and found nothing. The thought of jumping into this gap in the market appealed to me. I researched more intensively and found the device in a business magazine, bought ten of them for €49.90 euros and sold them on.” For the first time, Martin Menz had a decent amount of money left over, so he ordered 100 of these massage devices, then thousands…

In 2006, Martin Menz founded Relaxdays GmbH. The new entrepreneur no longer had time for the business studies course he had just begun. After developing his dispatch operations while he was still living at his childhood home, he moved into his first office in 2007, with 132 square metres of storage space. Then came employees. One year after being founded, the range of products comprised 50 items, mostly wellness, massage and trend products. After having started off by only using platforms eBay and Amazon, the Relaxdays online shop went up in 2008. In 2010 it was time for the next move. The new site in Halle’s commercial area on the Berliner Straße enabled the young company to carry out its planned growth. Over 14,000 square metres of commercial space, and a spacious administration building and storage area provide space for a constantly increasing product range and modern digital logistics.

Digitalisation in logistics means, amongst other things, that all stock can already be seen in the B2B area of the online shop before an order is placed, therefore eliminating the need for inventory requests. At the same time, all dispatches can be tracked completely. The connection to marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, or procurement platforms, via electronic data interchange (EDI) enables the trouble-free transfer of orders, dispatch notices and invoices. Menz says: “This density of information and its automatic processing forms the foundation for our ‘intelligent storage’. By focussing our logistics on digital paths, we manage to make our processes lean and flexible.” Relaxdays has been developing more and more into an international brand for some years. The white packages with the blue shamrock logo are sent to over 100 countries and sales are now being carried out in five languages.

This new quality also enables quantity. “At the end of 2011, we broke an internal record; we made 6,000 packages ready for dispatch in one day”, reports Menz while passing through the storage halls and along the packaging line. “Since 2013, however, by implementing a new dispatch system we have been sending over 12,000 packages a day”. A high-bay storage facility constructed in 2014 has increased the storage space from 3,300 pallet bays to 10,000. And lots of space is necessary when at least 2,000 items have to be stocked. “Everything we sell is here in stock beforehand”, states Menz. “Sometimes just for a short time, sometimes longer. And in case we have overestimated customer demand, then until people buy the remaining stock.”

Around 2,000 items is a lot, but it is not all. How does Relaxdays build up its product range? “We limit ourselves to things that are useful or stylish for the home, garden and leisure activities. This ranges from small bed trays with foldable legs to goalposts, and from lamps hand-made from fine wood to classy tumblers. What we can include newly in our range is analysed during the trend research phases. If our envisaged product doesn’t exist, all the better - we then look for partners who can manufacture it for us. And as soon as a trend seems ready to subside, we say goodbye to the appropriate items.” Menz speaks openly about mistakes that come with the business and also about the revenue that ultimately proves the company’s expertise; in 2015, revenue rose to almost 12 million euros.

Such boldness also impresses seasoned economics experts: For Relaxdays, Martin Menz has received the founder award from the city of Halle. In 2015 he added the “AURA” entrepreneurial award to his collection. For the first time, the Ministry of Sciences and Economic Affairs of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt paid tribute to an e-commerce company with the “Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurial Spirit”.

So far, Martin Menz has always managed to do what he set about to do. How does he see the future of Relaxdays? Does he intend to take on titans such as Amazon and eBay? “Not one bit. In light of any range expansion and revenue increase, we will remain a niche player. The fair balance between manufacturers, employees and customers is the focus of Relaxdays now more than ever. Only when there is a win-win situation for all three sides is a company like Relaxdays worth it.”

Author: Marlies Heinz