Local fulfillment with returns processing in Switzerland

Local fulfillment with returns processing in Switzerland

Unique jewelry in over 30 countries – the German-based jewelry company Julie & Grace sells its products exclusively online and is firmly established in Europe with more than 7,000 products under five of its own brands. In Switzerland, the supplier’s brands can also be found in the marketplaces of Zalando, Galaxus and Manor. For a customer-friendly post-purchase experience, Julie & Grace relies on MS Direct’s digital and scalable fulfillment and returns solutions.

The idea of Julie & Grace developed the two founders Peter and Markus on a trip through Bali, where they discovered the old, traditional blacksmith art of the local families. Inspired by the positive, Balinese attitude to life, the two joy founded the now 400-head strong jewelry company with its own designers and silversmiths. Their goal: to offer durable, high quality and sustainable genuine jewelry at fair prices, giving the wearer:s the feeling of the Bali Vibe. When it comes to selling its jewelry, Julie & Grace relies on a purely online strategy that includes not only its own online store but also various well-known online marketplaces in Europe. Julie & Grace has also been represented in Switzerland on the marketplaces of Zalando, Galaxus and Manor since 2021. In the background, a scalable and digital fulfillment and returns solution from MS Direct ensures smooth and transparent order processing.

The Julie & Grace manufactory in Bali (Image: Julie & Grace)

Two ways to open up countries with customs border

Consistently developing new markets is essential for online stores to grow successfully in the highly competitive e-commerce environment. Even if overcoming customs borders in Europe initially seems challenging due to administrative hurdles, countries like Switzerland are a very lucrative sales market due to their high purchasing power – especially for luxury products. Julie & Grace has also recognized this and today benefits from the Swiss business. Anyone who wants to enter such a market has to make fundamental decisions: Do I store the goods centrally or in the target country? How can I offer the best customer experience to the clientele? How do I handle returns efficiently? Depending on the scenario, there are different solution approaches:

Cross-border shipping

In this approach, the warehouse and pick & pack are centralized in the EU. Orders are transported across the country’s border via shipping service providers and cleared through customs. This approach allows centralized inventory management and inventory handling as well as the use of the existing set-up. However, this route also involves more complex logistics chains, customs and VAT formalities, and longer transit times. The question of returns processing also arises here. If this is also done centrally, customers may be forced to send their returns abroad at great expense.

Local fulfillment in the target market

Alternatively, a second warehouse can be operated in the destination country or a fulfillment service provider can be contracted. With this variant, products can reach the customer faster thanks to shorter delivery routes. However, with another warehouse comes its administrative overhead. With local returns processing, returns can also be processed more quickly and stored for resale.

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages – a hybrid route with cross-border shipping and local returns processing is also possible. In the end, the individual situation of the company, the know-how and the strategic orientation determine which variant is best suited. For Julie & Grace, the decision to use local fulfillment made more sense: on the one hand, their products have a low volume, so transporters can’t be optimally utilized, and on the other hand, local processing means the jewelry can be delivered the very next day. And last but not least, the safety of the products in a warehouse is also better guaranteed.

The challenge

In 2020, Julie & Grace decided to expand operations into Switzerland and provide the best possible shopping experience with a local fulfillment and returns solution from MS Direct. The jewelry company initially relied on Zalando’s lucrative marketplace as its sales platform. If successful, other marketplaces would be served with the jewelry products. So for fulfillment, Julie & Grace needed a service provider that could meet the service-level agreements (SLA) of Zalando and Co. while also being able to build an interface for data transfer with various marketplaces. Furthermore, the fulfillment and returns processing service had to be scalable so that volume growth is easily possible.

  • Reliable Fulfillment & Returns Service
  • Scalability and flexibility for rapid growth
  • Compliance with Zalando’s marketplace SLAs
  • Interface connection to marketplaces and webshop
  • Connection to the local carrier network for parcel shipment
  • Full transparency over ordering processes and stock levels

«We have been a partner of MS Direct for quite some time and could not be more satisfied. MS Direct takes care of all the logistical processes of our products and orders in Switzerland and has proven to be a reliable partner. The solutions offer us the opportunity to operate in the Swiss market and MS Direct has always been a flexible and very good contact for our needs.»

Sven Claussen, Senior Manager Marketplace & E-Commerce

The solution

Warehouse, Fulfillment, Delivery

MS Direct stores the items from Julie & Grace at its location in St. Gallen. As an additional security measure for the jewelry, MS Direct secured Julie & Grace’s storage area with lockable protective grills. Video surveillance and specially assigned picking teams provide additional security for the handling processes. And thanks to the link to Swiss Post, orders are delivered reliably and within the shortest possible time.

Individual interface for optimized targeting

To communicate with Julie & Grace’s marketplaces and webshop, MS Direct developed a new interface together with Tradebyte. With this solution, a standardized product catalog is stored at Tradebyte, from where individual item data can be made available for different marketplace systems. This allows Julie & Grace to adapt the wording of the products to the respective customer group of the online marketplace without having to create duplicates of the products in the catalog. Tradebyte translates incoming order data from the various online marketplaces into a standardized data set that can be understood by fulfillment. Finally, all orders from all Swiss platforms are processed centrally and uniformly at MS Direct, and can thus be handled cost-effectively. At the same time, the customized API to Julie & Grace provides the jewelry retailer with real-time order status and inventory data, allowing them to keep track of order volumes and inventory at all times.

Returns processing

And finally, MS Direct also ensures a customer-friendly returns process in accordance with the highest requirements, so that the SLAs of a wide range of channels can be met. The returns processing centers record and check returns within 24 hours of receipt of goods. Overnight, the return data is synchronized using an automated interface and the refund is initiated directly to the customer. Fast, uncomplicated and customer-friendly. Returns are inspected according to Julie & Grace’s own specifications for type, size, scratches and other damage. Resalable items are packed, stored and immediately available for resale. Clarification cases are registered via an online tool with a photo and evaluated by Julie & Grace. Jewelry that has become unusable is returned to the forge, where the precious metal is melted down for recycling.

  • Scalable, locked and monitored storage bins
  • Interface connection via Tradebyte for all marketplaces
  • Efficient fulfillment and returns management
  • Fast customer relief within 24 hours

The Benefits

With the all-round worry-free solution, Julie & Grace benefits from efficient, secure and expandable fulfillment and returns services for Swiss customers. Thanks to the fulfillment of the highest standards, even new online marketplaces with strict SLAs can be opened up without complications – MS Direct ensures a smooth handling process in the background. True to the motto: Every order a fulfilled promise.

  • Carefree fulfillment and returns management at a high level
  • Flexibility when connecting to new marketplaces thanks to efficient processes
  • Customer-friendly delivery and returns processes
  • Satisfied customers