Summary of the ecommerce conference in Zurich and Cologne

The eighth Swiss E-Commerce Summit took place on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 in Lake Side in Zurich, with the Who’s Who of the Swiss E-Business participating. One day later, the two-day EHI Omnichannel Days ’15 started in Cologne. There, approx. 350 Omnichannel decision-makers as well as Omnichannel and E-commerce experts met. We were also there and summarise a few impressions here.

The following speakers expressed their opinion on relevant E-commerce topics: Prof. Ralf Wölfe (Institute for Business Informatics, FHNW), Michael Bietenhader (Head of CRM/Digital Marketing, Coop), Daniel Röthlin and Jürg Bühler (executive management, Ex Libris), Prof. Dr. Marcus Schögel (Head of the Institute for Marketing, Uni St. Gallen), Carlos Friedrich (CMO and Member of the Management Board, Pfister AG), Susanne Guggina (Head of Customer Loyalty, Thalia Holding GmbH), Eustachius Kreimer (Head of IT and eBusiness Development, blue-tomato. com/ Snowboard Dachstein Tauern GmbH), Michael Mette (deputy of the managing director Germany, IKEA Deutschland GmbH + Co. KG), Matthias Rörig (Director Partner Management, Payback) and Michael Stolte (e-Commerce Section Head, Engelhorn Holding GmbH)

CUSTOMER CENTRICITY AND THE TECHNICAL CONNECTION BETWEEN E-COMMERCE AND STATIONARY BUSINESS

The theme of both conferences was clear, the e-commerce customer is the central point – each touchpoint with the company must be of special interest and analysed most precisely. Besides this, the company should also be as familiar with the customer life cycle as possible and offer each customer the most suitable channel.

In the modern digital world the question is who needs all these channels at all? The trade is thinking in the mobile, on-line shop, stationary trade, newsletter channels etc. – but the consumers do not think the same. Omnichannel is nowadays used to describe the thinking of customers – how they can make purchases at any time and any place. Retailers often use this term strategically, but it is not intended to be used in this way.

Shopping – ANY TIME AND ANY PLACE

Modern consumers are equipped with smartphones and soon with wearables, so they are ready to make a purchase at any time and place. Depending on the type of content provided the consumers use it to be informed or, if needed, to make a purchase decision. However, this process involves much more than just the actual purchase decision. It also means discovering new things, deciding what is relevant and what isn’t. Possibilities are chosen, feedback on the best products is collected and comparisons are made. This journey is not just about a website or a branch. Information is also collected from friends – in short, anywhere and on of any available appliances and in any available ways. The trader must again endeavour to be part of more phases of the customer life cycle and to find an effective retail strategy. The question of how and where the customer chooses contact points with products and services should be answered. Only then can the customer be accompanied and effectively supported on their way. Should a customer once again be locked in a store or make a purchase via an on-line channel? Depending on the customer, this can also be the case, even the omni-channel.

THEREFORE THE CUSTOMERS SWITCH TO THE NETWORK

This topic is not about the customer finding a product at the most favourable price on-line, it is about switching to e-commerce due to its greater variety, flexibility and better service offers. This can result in an increase in the visitor frequency within the trade and its use as a service point. Therefore the company should have a suitable concept, otherwise the number of visitors can decrease – as in the case of Walmart, which has been seeing a low visitor rate for quite some time.

If the retail trade wants to gain customers, it should do more than just advertise promotions. Instead, modern shoppers expect personal advice, the recognition of regular clients and, accordingly, special service in shops.

The use of technology can be used in shops to create a unique experience for the customers. With help of WLAN and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons in departments, retailers can precisely locate their customers and track where they are going, which products they are interested in and if they are loyal or regular clients. These technologies not only recognize the presence of regular clients, they also determine whether the client has already established a contact point with the company. In this way, further products can be suggested or specially offered. The clients can also be helped to find their desired product more quickly. Besides, it is also clear if the customer wants support from an employee. Intelligent algorithms are useful for determining if the customer is already in a shopping mood and wants to be advised – if he/she is open to purchasing or wants information at all. New technologies are thus a kind of a secret weapon for shops, allowing them to offer personalised unique and unprecedented service.

SUMMARY OF BOTH CONFERENCES

After three days and numerous discussions, the following statements emerged:

Change Management in a company is a bigger obstacle than the establishment of an IT infrastructure for modern e-Commerce.

In analysis of the 1,000 on-line shops with the strongest sales in Germany, 69 different shop systems have been determined, only 50% of which are based on custom development. With respect to this fact, the technology behind it is secondary for profitability.

Finally, it is all about employees who must cooperate in the project and redesign the Point of Sale (POS) into a Point of Service. The consequential segmentation and marketing automation help achieve additional turnover. This is again possible only if the Customer Journey can be observed directly.

Investments are only profitable in connection with analytics and data-protected further development. Otherwise it is just like blind flying and investments are no longer profitable.

The goal should be to increase the customer value, which automatically increases the shareholder value as well. Customer centricity is worth it!

Omni-channel is a polarizing term, because one e-commerce is not the same as another, each company must establish its own strong points and be able to present them on-line. E-commerce especially signifies rethinking the Point of Sale.

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