Just a few clicks is all it takes to order online and get next-day delivery – so simple for customers but, for suppliers, a challenge of complex processes. weLOG GmbH offers sophisticated solutions that extend far beyond conventional logistics. The company was awarded the KfW Entrepreneurs’ Award as the state winner in Hesse, along with the “people’s choice” award.
A yellow van belonging to an express service slowly reverses toward one of the ramps. Countless boxes in different sizes are already stacked and awaiting collection. From Monday to Saturday, this stop on the outskirts of Wetzlar, Germany – between the car wash, kitchen studio and McDonald’s – is on the route of several shipping service providers, which collect 3,500 parcels a day from weLOG’s large warehouses.
The many facets of logistics
Founded in 2019, the start-up is a logistics partner for over 65 companies that include start-ups, small and medium-sized companies and large international corporations. They store their products at weLOG and have all the work steps involved in online orders carried out there. This ranges from packaging and shipping to payment and returns processing. Goods of all kinds are dispatched. These can be mobile phone cases, clothing or electrical devices that go to the customer’s B2B partners or to end customers. But they can also be very large things, such as trade fair stands, which are cleaned after each use and carefully stored again in the warehouse.
The goal of modern logistics is a perfectly organised flow of goods – and this is full of challenges, as weLOG founder Manuel Rupp explains with an example: “If a washing machine is ordered online, a freight company needs to deliver it. However, their service ends at the curb. If the machine is to be carried to the fourth floor and unpacked, with the old machine and packaging removed and recycled, the whole process becomes more difficult, possibly requiring different providers. Things like this make me think about how those processes can work efficiently and smoothly.”
Manuel Rupp is a person who likes to find solutions and is fascinated by complex challenges. Even as a student concurrently working in a logistics company, he was able to prove this. Over the years, he became one of the company’s most important employees. When the company entered a crisis and the management was restructured, Rupp did not hesitate and assumed the position. “I was able to contribute a lot of ideas there that led to a turnaround and made us successful again. That was a really good experience. But I still had so many other ideas that I wanted to implement – which of course is best to do as an independent contractor!” he says.
Rupp left the company that he had run for almost ten years. In order to broaden his experience, he worked as interim managing director at a logistics company in Germany’s Rhine-Main region. In 2019, the time had come for him to found his own company. It all started with three employees in a draughty warehouse without heating.
But because he enjoys a good reputation in the industry, there was no need for advertising, and the customers started showing up all by themselves. “It went so well that I had to expand the storage space every few weeks. We initially only offered advertising material logistics. But even at that time, we intended to use this first business area as a basis for further offers, which were to be gradually implemented. Due to the coronavirus crisis, online shopping was booming, so we implemented our fulfilment offer at full speed, including all services from order receipt to dispatch.”
Tailor-made services from a single source
The plan really took off; within a very short time, weLOG has developed into a service provider that covers all areas of e-commerce using a modular system. The team not only takes care of shipping, it can also photograph the goods, set up an online shop and, if desired, package and ship the products not only with a bow, but also with a hand-signed card.
If sales are sluggish, additional services are possible. “Various adjustments can be made to increase sales. Perhaps a website needs to be created, the shop needs to be changed, the design needs to be adapted, or it needs to be marketed via social media. Tasks like these require experts. Our customers don’t have to search for and hire them themselves – because we have these professionals here in-house. They work with tailored strategies,” explains Manuel Rupp. Manuel Rupp has founded three other companies in order to be able to provide this versatile offer. There are 70 people, including 14 trainees, working at the site.
The innovative invoicing model is unusual for the industry: there are no fixed costs for individual items such as warehousing, picking and processing. Instead, weLOG receives a percentage share of the sales price for each item shipped. If the customer commissions additional services, such as customer service or marketing, they do not have to be paid for directly, but it increases the commission for weLOG. This form of cooperation is low-risk and more clearly calculable for goods providers. For weLOG, it is an incentive – the better their performance, the higher their turnover. And customer loyalty increases at the same time.
In Wetzlar, the signs are now clearly pointing to growth. Recently, the warehousing space was expanded to 16,000 square meters. In the near future, a round of financing will scale up further development. After that, the company also wants to gain a foothold in the USA and Asia. “I really enjoy building up weLOG and rethinking logistics. And I am proud of what I have achieved so far,” says Manuel Rupp.
Published on KfW Stories on 31 January 2022.