Bergfreunde is a German online retailer of mountaineering equipment based in Kirchentellinsfurt near Tübingen. The company is now one of Europe’s leading online mountain sports retailers and also offers its products in markets with a customs border. To enter the Swiss market and, after Brexit, the UK market, Bergfreunde relies on solutions from cross-border specialist MS Direct. The full-service provider supports Bergfreunde with customs clearance and returns processing.
What began in 2006 with two founders, a dog, a shared passion for climbing and a brilliant idea is now a successful company with almost 500 employees. Bergfreunde’s goal to offer customers the best possible equipment for outdoor sports, and also to create a good online shopping experience, makes the company successful throughout Europe. Another quality feature: employees test the equipment from their range themselves and evaluate it regularly. In addition to big brands, there are also small scene labels and insider tips for every climber, hiker, bike and running friend. The Bergfreunde store their numerous products in a 10,000 m2 warehouse in Ergenzingen near Rottenburg.
The back story: Market entry Switzerland.
Of course, Switzerland as an alpine country became interesting for the premium outdoor specialist early on. Since the retailer sells its products exclusively via its own web store, a number of points had to be taken into account when entering the Swiss market. Not only did Swiss customers have to offer the service on account under a Swiss domain, but the delivery of the goods from Germany across the customs border presented a further challenge. Bergfreunde, for example, relies on MS Direct’s cross-border solution for everything from customs formalities and returns processing to the logistics process with established partners. Thanks to the cooperation, the entry into the Swiss market was thus quick and uncomplicated for mountain enthusiasts.
The new challenge.
The UK’s exit from the European Union on December 31, 2020 presented many online retailers with a major challenge: a new customs border was created within just one year. For Bergfreunde.de – known in England as Alpine Trek – a large customer base was also suddenly more difficult to reach. A good cross-border solution had to be found quickly for these customers so that they would not be additionally burdened by the customs border. To solve these challenges, Bergfreunde once again relied on its partnership with MS Direct. However, thanks to their existing expertise around e-commerce in the third country of Switzerland, they quickly found the right solution.
If you order today in the UK from Alpine Trek (that’s what Bergfreunde is called in the UK), you won’t notice the customs border. Only the information on the web store that the price now includes customs duties (without surcharge) indirectly point out the formalities. In the background, MS Direct’s customs and returns solutions and its partner’s delivery solution ensure a smooth delivery process. Still at the warehouse location in Germany, the packaged goods are electronically cleared through customs and registered for import in the UK. In each case, MS Direct pays attention to the simplest and most cost-effective customs clearance option by creating separate “Low Value” and “High Value” declarations for each package. Orders with a value of less than £ 135 can be imported duty-free into the UK – only import VAT is due. Last but not least, this also plays an important role in returns, because a customs refund can also be applied for on “high value” goods.
With MS Direct’s returns solution, UK customers can send their returns to a home address. This offers the advantage that returns arrive earlier at processing – the end customer in turn benefits from faster relief. True to the success principle: high-quality products + customer-friendly ordering = maximum customer experience.
«With MS Direct's customs clearance and returns solution, we have an interface for all customs clearance issues in Europe. Thanks to their flexible cooperation, our British customers also benefit from a delivery experience as they were used to before Brexit - namely without customs and VAT duties, a local returns solution and the usual shipping times.»
Ralf Blessing, Marketplaces/Amazon Manager
By bundling shipments, a set-up common in customs and VAT, pre-printed labels, the fastest possible customer relief and reliable data management as a basis for export, the Brexit cross-border solution from MS Direct and its partner has saved mountain friends a lot of effort and hassle. Even better, the online retailer now has just one interface for all customs issues and all data stored digitally and audit-proof in one place. Last but not least, the solutions also benefit the end customer, who still gets the best online shopping experience at Bergfreunde without being affected by the customs border.
Do you also want to open new European markets with customs border? Then do what mountain friends do and rely on our cross-border solutions. We will be happy to advise you personally, our sales team will be happy to find the right solution for you.