Increasing staff shortages and growing complexities in operational structures call for digital solutions to meet both old and new challenges. Orderlion, founded in 2018 by CEO Stefan Strohmer and CTO Patrick Schubert, addresses these challenges and aims to help suppliers automate their processes in order to grow and scale leanly.
Orderlion is active throughout the DACH region and in the United Kingdom. All suppliers together process 100 million euros of order volume annually through Orderlion, which represents a 250 percent increase over the previous year. To date, the company has also had annual sales growth of 300 percent. Its customers include the companies Matser Großhandel, Gemüsebau Reichenau and the Bremerhaven wholesale market.
Stefan Strohmer (left) and Patrick Schubert. Photo: Orderlion
Digitization of many operating structures
"We have received a very positive response from our customers because we have made the topic of digitalization as simple as possible. Some digitization projects can become very complex, for example, if you want to introduce a completely new merchandise management system from scratch, which is why many shy away from it. In the area of ordering, however, it doesn't have to be that complex; we made it simple. However, since we mostly cooperate with companies that are already confident in the market, their main concern is to make their processes scalable. That's why we integrate seamlessly with all standard enterprise resource planning systems, so we're up and running in no time at all," says Strohmer.
Since the most diverse areas of a company can be digitized, it is ultimately the decision of the respective company when which areas should be optimized. "In most cases, the ordering system is the first to be digitized. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity through Orderlion to set up their own ordering app and webshop, which means they can target their customers, which makes life easier for both sides."
"Suppliers don't pay a transaction fee with us, but a lean and fixed monthly license and they can thus become independent of all the marketplace providers by launching their own ordering app and webshop through Orderlion and keeping control of their customer relationship themselves," Strohmer explains.
Orderlion as an 'e-commerce operating system
Unlike competitor solutions that are limited to digital ordering, however, Strohmer says Orderlion goes much further. "We call Orderlion an 'e-commerce operating system.' Here, many business areas can be integrated in the system, such as field service."
Businesses can thereby chat with their customers, take orders and record the information in the app. The app also offers a sales function, through which customers can be informed about new products, somewhat by means of push messages. The next step will be to digitize payment processing, allowing customers to place orders and also approve delivery bills, invoices and payments via SEPA.
Goal: European market leader in 2024
Strohmer is extremely motivated by the growing demand for her product: "We have the ambition to be the European market leader in 2024. We started with the DACH market because it is simply a very central market for the fruit and vegetable sector. Currently, Germany is the most important market. But we notice that many new countries are jumping on the bandwagon. The UK, for example, was at the point within six months that it took Germany about a year and a half to reach."
Without digitization, many things could not succeed. Finally, competition within the industry is also increasing, Strohmer said. "There are other players in the market who are trying to create online marketplaces in ordering. But what such platforms are trying to build is basically what Amazon already offers. Restaurateurs can find products from all sorts of suppliers and compare prices. Their goal, however, seems to be to replace suppliers entirely and buy from producers themselves and deliver accordingly. To this end, we want to be the counterpart."
Order volume down 95 percent during pandemic
"Our customers are fruit and vegetable wholesalers who usually also supply their goods to the food service industry. At the start of the pandemic, we definitely noticed how the industry had changed. After all, order volumes plummeted by 95 percent in the first few months. However, we have been back to pre-Corona levels for about half a year now. Since there are virtually no restrictions anymore, companies are back in full operation." Strohmer knows from his supplier customers that operations are running at full capacity again. "The only thing that continues to be a challenge is the severe staffing shortage."
Like Shopify for foodservice wholesalers
According to Strohmer, many exciting products are emerging, precisely because certain offerings are being marketed past Amazon. "This is what platforms such as Shopify are for, with which users offer their own stores and you are completely independent. That's the philosophy we want to be for the fruit and vegetable sector. We want to allow farms the chance to position themselves strongly and not fall victim to the big marketplaces."
Cooperation with industry associations
Orderlion attaches great importance to working together with industry associations. For example, the company is an official partner of DFHV, GFI and, in Switzerland, Swisscofel to support regional suppliers. "Likewise, we maintain partnerships with leading EFP system manufacturers such as Fruchtmanager, which is the market leader in this segment in Germany," says Strohmer.
Strohmer still sees wholesale markets as the mouthpiece for Orderlion. "However, we also operate supra-regionally and independently of the wholesale markets. After all, a good 90 percent of our customers are outside the wholesale market, such as in the beverage industry. But our target group is clearly B2B, because the ordering behavior is quite different from B2C. As a private customer, the focus is on shopping rather than buying, which means that the purchasing decision made while shopping is constantly changing. With B2B, however, the main focus is on reordering. You rarely encounter new purchases."