“With Optiply, the stock has dropped by 30%. As a result, our inventory is organised more efficiently and we have room for new products.”

Roel Linders, Purchaser at XXL Nutrition
Serving customers with the right products and keeping sufficient stock means finding and guaranteeing the ideal balance between supply and demand. For sports nutrition brand XXL Nutrition, finding this balance has been one of their biggest challenges as a business. In this article, Rene van der Zel, founder and owner, Brent van Hoof, CFO, and Roel Linders, purchaser, talk about how purchasing and inventory management have played an important role in the spectacular growth of XXL Nutrition.


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“XXL Nutrition, a brand for every athlete”

XXL Nutrition has been one of the leading brands in the field of sports nutrition in the Benelux. They provide both strength and endurance athletes with nutrition, supplements and sports and lifestyle products. In 2004, founder and owner René van der Zel, as a fanatic body builder, saw an opportunity in the market for high-quality and affordable sports nutrition. “I come from bodybuilding and when I started XXL Nutrition, that was the target group I focused on. Now, twenty years later, we have emerged from our niche. We are a brand for every athlete.”

René literally started his company from his garage. “At the start, I did everything myself. Now, we are a team of almost 200 employees. We still arrange everything in-house. Product development, webshop maintenance, purchasing, warehousing and logistics. We have only outsourced production, but all products are from our own recipe.”

XXL nutrition products
Starting as an online retailer, XXL Nutrition has also been conquering the shelves of Dutch and Belgian supermarkets in recent years. Brent van Hoof, CFO, explains: “we have developed from a bodybuilding brand to a mainstream brand.” According to Brent, this new approach is having an effect. “We were used to growing at 20% per year, but in the last two years, we have grown at 70%. And that is only in the Netherlands and Belgium.”

“A challenge to determine when to purchase”

In the past, growth was almost always accompanied by new challenges, says René. “Obviously you don’t want your products to go out of stock. For us, it was a huge challenge to determine when to purchase products. We used to work with minimum and maximum order quantities that we could set in Exact Online. As soon as the stock went below the minimum level we started to purchase. At first, this seemed like a smart method, but it turned out to be a very static way of inventory management. Changes in sales were not taken into account, which meant that we were always purchasing too late or too early.”

Ordering too late or too early caused an imbalance in their inventory. The threat of overstock and stockouts was constant. Brent adds: “We also didn’t know how big we were as a business and what stock level that involved.” XXL Nutrition desperately needed a tool that could make better forecasts to maintain stock levels and maintain them. Brent: “we needed a dynamic system that was updating automatically.”

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“I look at Optiply’s purchasing advice every day”

The solution to XXL Nutrition’s purchasing and inventory management challenges was integrating the Exact Online ERP system with the smart purchasing and inventory management software from Optiply. This made it possible for XXL Nutrition’s purchasers to purchase more accurately and smarter.

Based on sales history, the Optiply app makes forecasts and converts them into real-time purchasing advice. Roel Linders, purchaser, explains how he uses Optiply: “I look at the sales figures and purchasing advice from Optiply every day. All data is in real-time so that I always purchase the right amount of products at the right time.”

Brent adds that the purchasing team has changed in the last 5 years. “Our purchasing team has grown and many purchasing activities have changed as a result. In the old situation, our purchaser looked at almost everything and monitored everything. Now those two things have been split and we have an operational purchaser and an analyst. They look at both the B2C and the B2B side – after all, we also have a wholesale function now.”

“A clear division has been made between a person who purchases, knows the suppliers and accepts the packing slips and a person who manages the data side. He looks at when orders come in, expected delivery dates of orders and what happens if products sell out.”

“We are responding to the trend that people live healthier and more conscious lives. This includes exercise, sports nutrition and healthy meals.”
Brent van Hoof

CFO, XXL Nutrition

“Keep inventory as low as possible without losing sales”

XXL Nutrition can use Optiply’s ABC analysis to categorise the products in its inventory and prioritise the items with a higher gross margin. Brent clarifies that keeping inventory in balance is an ongoing process. “We always try to keep inventory as low as possible without losing sales. However, at the moment we concentrate less on this because we always want to deliver. Especially now that we are also a wholesaler, our partners can demand that we have stock.”

xxl nutrition magazijn klantcase
XXL Nutrition almost solely sells products from its own brand. The group of suppliers they work with is quite small, as they almost always purchase directly from the manufacturer. “Working with a smaller group of suppliers makes us slightly more dependent, but on the other hand, you can easily connect with a supplier. Another advantage is that almost all suppliers for our ‘food products’ are based in the Netherlands or Belgium.”

“Our inventory is organised much more efficiently”

Insight into their supply chain has enabled XXL Nutrition to focus more on adding new products and product groups. Purchaser Roel explains this: “our stock has been organised much more efficiently since we started working with Optiply. For example, the stock level has dropped by 30%. This gives us more room to add new products.”

Brent adds: “Now, we have a lactose-free line. It sells very well.” And, Fitmeals was set up together with Mama’s Maaltijden. These healthy and fresh ready-made meals are a hit. “It’s a completely different project – even a different company. So far the sales results are very good. The meals are now available at Plus, Jumbo and Hoogvliet supermarkets.”

“We are responding to the trend that people live healthier and more conscious lives. This includes exercise, sports nutrition and healthy meals.”

“On the one hand, I have insight into how well we are actually doing with our stock and whether we can meet customer demand; on the other hand, I can determine exactly what I need to purchase.”
Roel Linders

Purchaser, XXL Nutrition

“Our products are always in stock.”

Optiply’s AI purchasing algorithm analyses different product categories, trends, seasons, stock-outs, delivery times, quantity discounts and supplier performance. As a purchaser, Roel sees the direct benefits. “On the one hand, I have insight into how well we are actually doing with our stock and whether we can meet customer demand; on the other hand, I can determine exactly what I need to purchase. Our lost sales have gone down by 25% as a result. This is not only good for revenue, but also for customer satisfaction. Our products are always in stock.”

“We want to convert purchasing advice directly into purchase orders”

XXL Nutrition is always on the move and, according to Brent, also looks for an open structure in collaboration with partners and suppliers. “In the collaboration with Optiply, we feel that we have made progress together, for example in the development of the dashboard, but also in a feature such as viewing expected delivery times per product.”

Another development that is being worked on is placing orders automatically. “We want to be able to convert Optiply’s purchasing advice directly into purchase orders. For our bestsellers, we really dare to place orders 1 on 1, so that we do not miss a day or moment to place orders.”

Brent concludes by revealing what the next focus point will be. In the Netherlands and Belgium, XXL Nutrition’s position is now undisputed and its visibility has only grown since the focus on physical retail. Brent: “We really want to go to Germany. We also want to place it there exactly as in the Netherlands and Belgium. We choose the same structure and also a B2C and B2B approach.”

Met Optiply XXL Nutrition achieved:


Less inventory


Fewer lost sales

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