The German shoemaker Rohde intends to launch a business-to-business (B2B) online platform this summer, followed by a business-to-consumer (B2C) site.

The German shoemaker Rohde, that came out of insolvency in 2017 after being bought by the Italian group Inblu, plans to launch a B2B online platform this summer after investing in the automation of its warehouse. The B2B service could be followed by a B2C site by the end of the year.

The B2B service will be extended to all wholesale clients, which are practically entirely present in Europe, while the B2C proposal will initially be limited to Germany.

The development of a B2B site marks a departure from the company’s previous position of shunning such a tool to focus on maintaining a personal relationship with wholesale clients. Rohde has however always been open to a B2C website. The chief executive, Renato Lo Presti, explained the change of heart regarding the B2B platform with the company’s initial focus on regaining the trust of its clients, who were wary after the insolvency, thanks to direct contacts. Now, Rohde wants to give them the means “to place orders with absolute ease,” he added.

The company has invested in machinery to automate the reception of parcels at its warehouse in Schwalmstadt as well as remove the individual pairs of shoes from the boxes. The system is scheduled to be fully operational in September and will halve the time needed to unload a truckload from eight to four hours.

The investment will free staff from the frontend of the warehouse to the dispatchment area, which is expected to reduce by 30-40 percent the shipment times out to clients.

The company is also in the throes of investing into a new customer relationship management platform. It is currently selecting the software for the system.

In 2019, Rohde posted sales of €18 million, up by 1 percent from the previous year. It achieved half its sales in Germany. The other leading markets are the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Denmark and Austria.