Retrospection 2014
Port of Thoughts 2014 in Hamburg: On the successful failure of trading – Multi-channel retailing in an age of “instantness”.

Hamburg trade summit, “Port Of Thoughts” inspires with insights and innovations in multi-channel retailing.

Hamburg, 20 November 2014 – “Has retail forgotten the art of trading?” – The ballroom of the Empire Riverside Hotel falls silent on this November morning at the “Port Of Thoughts” event in Hamburg. This was the question addressed by Prof. Björn Bloching PhD, a partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, in his opening speech. Statistics impressively show a customer drift into e-shopping – sometimes more, sometimes less, varying according to the industry. In any case, it’s a figure of 15.8% in consumer electronics. The statistics also state that around 70% of customers are unsatisfied with brick-and-mortar business. The reasons: inadequate consulting, lacking expertise, waiting times.

Try and fail, try again, fail better.

The “Port Of Thoughts” raises questions and problems, and provides ideas and solutions to these in an age in which rapid retailing is increasingly in demand. The overall conclusion? “Dare to innovate: try early, fail early, try again, fail better…”. Whether it be about further developing brick-and-mortar formats or using new concepts like co-creation and co-operating with customers, almost all references agree on the notion of “Trying things out early, and then stopping them early if necessary; not designing things for the long term, to then discover you’ve hit a dead end”. The nine slots see top-class speakers and industry experts present lots of exciting concepts and case studies, enlightening the audience in entertaining fashion. They mention terms like “instantness”, describing the demand for constant or instant availability. The answers: deliver faster, improve availability, and work more efficiently and affordably, which is why concepts like Click & Collect, i.e. buy online and pick up from the shop, are growing increasingly popular. “Even established businesses have to get adventurous sometimes”, says Martin Sinner, CEO of Redcoon. The room hangs off every word uttered by the likeable Idealo founder, who recounts the experiences he gained with Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page during a joint 9-month trip to Silicon Valley with Kai Diekmann (BILD editor-in-chief).

Working with the customer to achieve success

Dr. Michael Bartl, CEO of HYVE AG, illustrates a number of good examples of co-creation, the notion of collaborating with the customer. Using the example of developing a new deodorant, he impressively demonstrates how to successfully make the customer part of the creation or sales process in order to rapidly boost sales. A principle, incidentally, which HYVE AG itself has put to the test when creating its own advocaat brand. “Attention is the scarcest commodity of the modern era”, says Marcus Auth, describing emotions as a success factor in cross-media customer appeal, which is at least equally important as the correct use of technology.

“Economy means a data economy. The customer demands that data be provided in all channels – regardless of whether they’re out using their Smartphone or Notebook, or are in the shop in person”, says Michael Kliger, Managing Director International ebay Enterprise, “In just seven years, Smartphones have achieved what took the telephone 25 years – consumers expect technological speed”. The Port Of Thoughts thus revolves around all aspects of multi-channel retailing, and in no small part also around brick-and-mortar business, using the shopping centre example, with Robert Heinemann, Senior Director Management of ECE.

Print is also highly customizable 

Gerhard Märtterer, Manager of One-to-One-Marketing in the Eversfrank Group, is convinced that the notion of “one size fits all” is passé: Everyone operates differently, everyone wants to be addressed individually. Anyone with thousands of customer needs print media and CRM. Only those who send out the right message in the right tone at the right time will generate relevance.”

The social component is more important than rational figures.

The grand finale saw the room listen attentively to Sascha Lobo. In his presentation “The fantastic, menacing evolution of purchase decisions”, the author, blogger and strategy consultant spoke of digital and social networking, and its impact on trade. Using the example of the “wisdom of crowds”, the web expert illustrated the influence the social aspect of ratings has on consumers. According to the theory in relation to a hotel rating portal, “1200 top ratings become unimportant if one single friend vehemently discourages us from staying at a hotel”.

The “Port of Thoughts” was the second edition of the trade summit organized by comosoft GmbH, the Eversfrank Group and Roland Berger, and was held at Hamburg’s Empire Riverside Hotel on 12 November 2014. “This year saw a dramatic increase in visitor numbers, and once again generated positive feedback. The event was well received, and we very much look forward to next year”, said Matthias Fischer, Managing Director of comosoft GmbH.