Case Study: Birkenstock
Global footwear brand makes the right choice for warehouse management
As far as footwear goes, the name Birkenstock doesn’t need much of an introduction. The brand has been around since 1774 and today is still recognised as a global fashion classic.

In Australia, Birkenstock managed and ran their business from a warehouse for in
Collingwood for over 23 years. Historically, Collingwood was the headquarters of many iconic brands including Coles who had their beginnings there. It has since become a popular inner-city suburb where warehouses are converted for residential living ratherthan for storing products.

Around 2012 Birkenstock faced several challenges. Sales were contracting during the Global Financial Crisis, while the ever increasing cost of operating a warehouse in the inner city was also presenting a challenge. Birkenstock had already experienced a trial 3PL scenario on a small scale but this had not gone to plan and they were hesitant to try again. Ultimately though the original premises in Collingwood were vacated in favour of a new space in Clifton Hill to operate as a showroom, office space and despatch of online orders.


The fear of losing control, handing over your products and reputation to another business is daunting and can create a sense of fear. As Cross Docks explained the pragmatic and simple process of transition and of the long term benefits both financial and operationally it all became quite simple and the fear subsided. Fear was replaced with trust and enthusiasm, as the new structure was clearly explained and easily understood. “We could see an exciting automated system emerging” said Managing Director Marcel Goerke.


Working with a new supplier means having a lot of trust, not only in the business but with the management team. Often you collaborate with the head of the business at first, when but as time goes on, they too move on. Cross Docks is spearheaded by Shan Manickam who founded the business. Marcel explains, after five years of working together we no longer need the same amount of contact with Shan (as the operation is now fully automated), but we know he is always just a phone call away. And working alongside a business that is similar in size as your business, has aligned values, drive and determination just felt right. said Marcel.


Cross Docks is owned, managed and led by an enthusiastic and positive Managing Director who has created a network of staff that care about their clients and that is often what makes all the difference. Knowing that the owner, CEO and MD was personally invested and extremely proud of the company’s achievements says a lot about the level of customer service they deliver. Feeling like you are not a small cog in a big wheel means a lot in business today.


The hard work was done by the time the physical stock was moved. The majority of the EDI auditing had been completed but there was still adjustments that had to made from both sides to make sure the technology could deliver and work for Birkenstock. Working together during this phase showed promise in how Birkenstock and Cross Docks could, and would work together in the future. The transition happened in a surprisingly short period of time. Cut once, measure twice is a core value at Cross Docks.


A seamless transition and since then, complete transparency and visibility of stock movements 24/7 for the past five years. And over this time other benefits have emerged for Birkenstock in working with Cross Docks. What started as a general distribution partner has developed into a strong, mutually reciprocated relationship Cross Docks are now managing many of the online orders for Birkenstock, and are working with Birkenstock to help meet their environmental objectives by closing the loop with packaging and shipping cartons. And there’s still more to come.