Two weeks ago we went to 004 in Aschaffenburg in order to find out more about the Tradebyte service partner. Once we arrived, my colleague Max and I were welcomed by Olga and a nice display on the TV. Afterwards, we went to a meeting room where fresh fruit, coffee and cold drinks awaited us. In the first part of our partner experience we wanted to find out more about the creation of 004, as this is a real secret which cannot be read about on their website.
One night 19 years ago, Arne Heuschmann, aged 19, founded 004 together with three of his friends. Why? At this time they were at the centre of the programming world and they wanted more … They made their first experiences with significant companies straight away, with the 1. FC Köln football club (which still is a faithful customer of 004) and Telekom. As both projects went so brilliantly and the demand for both logistics and the overall package increased, they decided to offer more services. In the meantime, Arne is the sole CEO.
Much more than just logistics
In 2006, Michael Gerke joined the company to support Arne. Right afterwards they received the BayernOnline Award which was handed over with a classic James Bond song in the background (004 instead of 007). (Excerpt from the press release)
Professionally organised processes and efficient logistics are the cornerstone of a profitable online business. Having a suitable solution in the form of a tailor-made concept is a substantial step into the future of e-commerce. That’s also what the jury of the “BayernOnline Award” realised and why it awarded the prize. But that was not the only award which 004 has won. A few years later, it received the “Top 5 Online Shops” prize.
But many people don’t know that 004 isn’t just a logistics/fulfilment company with warehouses in Aschaffenburg, but also has a photo studio and translators in-house as well as a consulting, integration & accounting team which supports customers who have all sorts of questions. Furthermore, there’s the possibility of booking a customer service centre. Additionally, 004 has long years of experience with e-commerce.
Nowadays, 100 employees work at 004. Around 40 of those are directly employed in logistics. On 15,000 sqm, customers have enough space to store their goods with 004. The logistics team independently manages the next steps such as the receipt of goods, storage, packaging and shipping. On our tour, we visited the warehouse and were very impressed. The size of the warehouse and the many special features were special highlights. Clothes are stored on the floor with carpet flooring, for example, as less lint collects on them there. But personalisation also has its place (which is important for football clubs).
We also wanted to visit the in-house photo studio. The photo studio team consists of photographers, stylists, image editors, make-up artists, models and much more. The motto is: “We want to show the products of the customer from their best side, give them life and show their character from all their sides.” Not only product photos are taken here, but also entire look books which can later be used for websites, social media or newsletters. Whether with a model or mannequin – anything is possible and there’s space to fulfil each and every customer wish.
The 004 offices are open-plan and offer a lot of space. The colour red is a common theme throughout and doesn’t stop even in the toilets. Maybe that’s Arne’s favourite colour? He’ll tell us in the interview.
Interview with Arne Heuschmann, CEO
Tradebyte: Hello Arne, thanks again for the invitation. You told us earlier that you founded your company when you were still quite young. What motivated you to take on so much responsibility?
Arne: It was the team. There were four of us and we had all had experience in private enterprises. Furthermore, we had a clear division of roles and it was also the right time to found the company – e-commerce was still right at the beginning and we had a lot of freedom.
And what tempted you to become your own boss at just 19?
It was simply exciting and I felt like you only get a chance like that once in a lifetime. I was young and didn’t have any commitments.
Tradebyte: How did it come about that you started to offer many other services in addition to logistics and what makes you unique?
In our first company, we sold consumer electronics via the internet. We had access to a huge warehouse and a small office. But there were no processes or systems to ship them to end customers. So we started to build everything ourselves: First, there was just a website with a simple order form. The first orders came in, we put hand-written labels on them and took them to the post office. Afterwards, we had to record the transactions in the ERP and accounting of our suppliers and collate prices and stocks with our shop. All of this was done manually, so we successively introduced systems and processes in order to automate procedures. We were so successful that one day 1. FC Köln approached us to ask whether we could imagine taking over their shipping of merchandising products. That was the kick-off for 004 GmbH – E-Commerce as a Service. So we have “trading genes” and know what makes our customers successful in the long-term.
In your opinion, what are the most important points which should be prepared before the start of a project?
For many brands, selling on marketplaces is a first step away from the wholesale model towards the direct-to-consumer model. Others use marketplaces to internationalise their business. In any case, it’s important to calculate a business case and to answer the “make or buy” question properly. Many underestimate the effect of low shopping basket values and returns quotas that are too high.
Clear guidelines for the product range and price policy have to be established. We help our customers to concentrate on their core business and take all the operative processes off their hands. That enables a quick start and saves considerable resources in their own IT, accounting, customer care and logistics. In on-boarding itself, we see catalogue maintenance as the most important factor. Many brands only have master data at the beginning and product attributes and pictures are lacking. With this, we offer support with our photo studio and our product management team.
Would you like to tell us more about the project of our mutual customer, Funky Buddha? What was the challenge and how did you solve it?
That’s a classic internationalisation customer. Funky Buddha is a very successful brand from Greece, actually the first Greek brand selling on Zalando. They quickly realised that they needed a partner in Germany for the operative handling of their marketplace business. Cross-border shipping wasn’t an option. So we concluded a contract for marketplace fulfilment with Funky Buddha and started with Zalando as the first channel in July 2018. One challenge was clearly catalogue maintenance which also had to take place in another language. We had a very successful start with Zalando and are currently planning to connect to other channels and also a German online shop.
Apart from business matters we’d also like to find out more about you – what makes the 004 team? And what do you do so that it stays that way?
We continuously develop together with e-commerce and the requirements of our customers. We find solutions for our customers and implement them directly. I believe the connection of software developers and operatives makes us unique. Our team is also quite international – we have employees from all sorts of different countries. That enriches our company culture as well as festivals and events.
- Position: CEO
- Favourite colour: blue
- What do you like to do in your freetime/hobbies alongside 004: Time for the family, travelling, tennis
- Personal goals for 2019/2020: More time for the family