The German annual conference for online trading called “Jahreskongress Online Handel” is considered the kick-off event for the digital retail industry. The event took place on the 22nd and 23rd of January 2014 for the 10th time and it attracted about 400 solution users, decision makers and managers to Cologne. In best-practice presentations, leading sales representatives gave new forecasts regarding technologies, concepts and strategies for trading.
„Digital Commerce in Transition“
This was the motto of the conference, which included a variety of subjects like current cross-channel concepts, personalization, the use of Big Data and the challenges of international trade. Right now it is important for retailers not to oversleep pioneering developments. They should to engage fully with new technologies and innovative concepts to offer customers a unique shopping experience – because: The changes in the digital commerce are based primalily on changing customer demands. The keyword here is “No-Line-Commerce” – customers don’t want to think in channels, they only want to buy!
Reading online customer evaluations on the smartphone during the store visit, comparing products on the tablet during the TV commercial break or checking on the PC the daily offers in the store around the corner: Many customers are already present across several sales channels – often simultaneously or sequentially. They rarely notice that they are jumping through the sales channels and they want to experience the shop in the best way no matter in which touchpoint they currently are. Therefore, to provide a real cross channel experience, it is therefore crucial for retailers to act on all channels consistently – concerning diversity of offers, services and the corporate presence.
It is important to know that a cross channel strategy doesn’t contradict to a channel excellence. In fact, both should be reached, as Dr. Kai Hudetz, Director IFH Cologne, made clear in his lecture “Online Trading 2014-2020 – seven theses”.
„If you don’t cannibalize yourself, somebody else will.“
– Steve Jobs
Those pure stationary retailers which are afraid that an own online shop could reduce the sales of their brick and mortar stores, forget the competition. Also the competitors can attract the target group in the web. Recent studies also show: Investments in the online channel will pay off for the stationary distribution, particularly in industries such as furniture, DIY and fashion. Because especially here, many customers use the on-site search and navigation to get information about products and offers – and thereby prepare for the purchase in the market (ROPO effect).
Adrian Hotz, founder and CEO of Adrian Hotz E-Commerce Consulting, demonstrated live how to set up an online store in just 30 minutes – according to the motto “First make it, and then improve it”. Click here to see his full presentation “Multi-Channel is the answer – what was the question again?” (German).
How the entry into the e-commerce becomes most successful, was also a common concern of visitors at the parallel held congress trade fair “Interactive World”. There, the FACT-Finder team was present with a booth and advised among others stationary retailers which to-dos come up by opening an online shop.
To be present in e-commerce alone, is for pure stationary retailers of course not sufficient to gain considerable online market shares and to create a seamless cross channel experience. Nevertheless, it is the first step into the right direction – namely, making the online shop to the flagship store, i.e. to the centre of the own distribution structure. Then, to become acquainted with the own customers at all touch points, one has the opportunity to provide purchase relevant content through a single search platform in several sales channels – and to use this data knowledge for efficient marketing and sales activities.
The brick and mortar store as a showroom for the online channel.
Instead of luring online visitors into the stationary markets, a retail strategy could also aim to increase online sales – or simply to link the different customer touch points in order to provide both shopping options. Butlers, retailer of living articles, achieves this with a new online consulting service: Equipped with headset and video camera, shop assistants advice the online visitors in a showroom of a brick and mortar store and guide them through the assortment. In his presentation at the annual conference, Wilhem Josten, founder and CEO of Butler, presented this concept. The audience was able to get their own impressions of the innovative online consultation through a live video chat.
Online Trading Award: Spotlight on Germany’s top online stores.
A special highlight at the convention was the grant of Germany’s Online Trading Awards on the 22nd of January 2014 – based on the results of the study “Success Factors in E-Commerce – Germany’s top Online Stores Vol 3” (German) of the ECC Cologne in cooperation with the shipping company Hermes. In each of the 13 categories the three most successful online stores were awarded. We congratulate all winners, and we are particularly glad about the first prize of the FACT-Finder customer Cyberport (Computer & Consumer Electronics). Click here to read the detailed report and to see the individual winners (German).