Excellent Speaker 2015
RETAIL SUMMIT – PORT OF THOUGHTS:
The Digital Impact On Real Business
The future does not wait. And the digital future definitely doesn’t. Commerce also has to deal with the issue of digitisation – not with esoteric visions, but with concrete solutions that work in practice.
For this reason, this year’s RETAIL SUMMIT – PORT OF THOUGHTS will focus on the following question: Which solid feasible answers will commerce find to respond to the digital challenges?
Top decision-makers from business will present best-practice solutions, and highly qualified speakers from science and trend research will present the latest findings.One of the highlights: keynote speaker and Xing founder Lars Hinrichs will provide insights into his current project “Apartimentum”, a fully wired apartment complex in Hamburg.
Retail: Omni-channel as an opportunity
Once again the third “Retail Summit – Port of Thoughts” on October 1, 2015 in Hamburg was able to present high-caliber and international speakers. One of the main themes of the presentations, debates and discussions: What fitting responses has retail found to meet the challenges presented by digitalization?
Omni-channel as an opportunity
Everyone’s talking about the digitalization of retail. Yet how does digitalization really affect sales and earnings? How does the customer behave? Which programs, applications and devices should the focus be on? And, in particular: how do I as a retailer need to design my bricks-and-mortar business and my digital access options in order to satisfy the customer? These and many other specific questions were the main focus of the “3rd Retail Summit – Port of Thoughts” that took place on October 1, 2015 in Hamburg. Over 300 participants responded to the joint invitation of Ebner Stolz Management Consultants, the Eversfrank Group, an international media company, and Comosoft GmbH, one of the leading software companies for database-based media production for retail and mail order.
Omni-channel is becoming the norm
“Omni-channel will become as normal as eating a hamburger,” says Dr. Gerold Doplbauer of GfK. This conclusion was a common thread in almost all presentations. Stacey Renfro, Senior Vice President E-Commerce at Pier 1 Imports put it this way: “The sooner we drop the ‘e’ out of E-commerce, the better.” Studies show: customers are constantly switching media. On the way to work, they use their cell phones, visit websites in the evening from their home computers and make their purchases in stores or vice versa. Glen Bradley, ex-vice president of Levi Strauss & Co.: “67 percent of all Americans use a series several different internet-capable devices for a single purchase.”
Retailers have to stay abreast of this constant change if they want to profit from the development. “Unfortunately, trade and media have long underestimated the digital revolution,” criticizes Otto Christian Lindemann, partner at Ebner Stolz Management Consultants. It is no longer a question of whether but only a question of how. And this is the crux of the matter. Simply putting up an online shop isn’t enough. Jens Silligmüller from the Eversfrank Group: “Only companies which have understood ‘digital’ and anchored it in their corporate culture will be able in the long term to keep a digital performance promise at every level.”
Connect all touchpoints
The customer has come to expect the same shopping experience both in terms of content and design at every touchpoint – from the actual store to the PC and tablet and cell phone and App. The transitions must be as easy and imperceptible as possible because customers don’t care how they get to the articles they want and to a successful purchase. The motto has to be: “It’s not on that it’s not available,” says Jens Diekmann, Director Cross Channel & Business Development at Douglas. And retailers should also not care how the customer finds them. Diekmann: “What we need to do is connect bricks-and-mortar, online and mobile applications in such a way that it makes no difference in the end whether the customer comes to us in our web shop, an actual store or by way of an App. The main thing is that the customer buys from us.”
New business models
It is precisely cross-channel that opens up the market to new business models and additional services. For example “click and collect”. In this case, the customer orders online and has the merchandise delivered to a store. This has already been a great success in the USA, according to Glen Bradley. In the USA, 70 percent of all customers prefer this service. In the Douglas Perfumeries in Germany, the number is almost just as high, according to Jens Diekmann. One advantage: In most cases, customers purchase additional articles in store when they come to pick up their merchandise. As Jens Diekmann sees it, another recommendable option is the ability to order directly online any merchandise not available in store. The message conveyed to the customer is: “We’re here to solve your problem!” In this way, the store with its inherent limited assortment profits from the much larger range of products on offer in the online shop. For the first time, this would be a digital incentive to visit a bricks-and-mortar store. When cross-channel works properly, digital and bricks-and-mortar channels not only complement one another, they even promote and support each other.
Technology drives innovation
As retail goes digital, the importance of IT increases. Olaf Schlüter, Division Manager E-Commerce at Otto.de even went a step further: “IT and Marketing become one and the same thing.” Mirco Freiberg, Head of IT at Blume 2000 recommended bringing IT back into the company from where it has been outsourced to and giving it management attention. IT has to be able to understand precisely what is needed and should also be confronted with specific customer complaints. Data thus becomes a central resource; its acquisition and analysis become a competitive advantage. Dr. Meeno Schrader and Nils Passau from Meteolytix clearly demonstrated how important accurate data is for business effectiveness. With meaningful data from a variety of sources and of different types, buying behavior can be predicted and purchasing, production, personnel planning and advertising campaigns can be planned and launched optimally. A coherent shopping experience, however, is only possible if devices are connected intelligently. Keynote speaker Lars Hinrichs, founder of Xing, showed how this can be thought through to the end under laboratory conditions. He introduced his project, the “Apartimentum” smart home. There are two fundamental rules as far as he is concerned: Technology is a major driver of innovation that helps develop new business models. And to him, only those devices and things are intelligent that are also able to communicate with the internet. Applied to retailers, this means merging and combining bricks-and-mortar and digital.
Devices are more mobile and smaller
“Idle time is online time”, as Olaf Schlüter discovered. Figures from the USA indicate the development clearly. In the US, 65 percent of all online purchases are made between 6 and 9 a.m., presumably on trains or subways and probably by cell phone. The devices customers use to make online purchases are thus becoming more and more mobile and screens are getting smaller and smaller. In keeping with the concept of ‘Everywhere Commerce’. According to Tim Pitt, ex-chief marketing officer for Jockey, now at The Retail Think Tank, by 2020 only 40 percent of all customers will use computers to make online purchases; but 60 percent will use cell phones. E-commerce will develop into M-commerce. His message is thus “Get mobile as quickly as possible.”
The currency of the future: Attention
The customer’s time and attention are becoming ever scarcer resources for which retailers must do battle. As Olaf Schlüter sees it, brands thus have to tell stories and the same story has to be told at all touchpoints. Or, as Tim Pitt put it: “If content is king, then context is queen.” Only emotionalization and a real additional value are able to capture and keep customer attention, according to Olaf Schlüter. As he sees it, the question to be address in future is whether a product can be personalized. Retailers will need to be able to respond to what the customer needs at the moment and also what the customer’s individual shopping path looks like. Gerhard Märtterer from the Eversfrank Group summarized it this way: “Consumers are individuals. Whoever always manages to address their customers personally and with truly relevant content at the right time by means of the right media mix will have the decisive competitive advantage in the age of multi-channel communication.”