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Ruthless analysis and innovative tools count: Tips from digitalisation and e-commerce expert Cliff Pfefferkorn
Digitalisation and e-commerce pose major challenges, especially for small and medium-sized retailers. Companies should consider a few points in order not to fall behind – and to avoid expensive mistakes. Understanding the market, the competition and the customers Basically, the retail trade must develop a new view of which competitor is courting which customers and how. It is no longer about the retailer two corners further, but about supra-regional competition, for example in consumer electronics with platforms such as “Wish”. Retailers have to put themselves in the shoes of their customers and mercilessly analyze where the new competition is more attractive for the customer than their own offerings. This can be unpleasant, but it is essential in order to identify the right need for change.
Reviewing and implementing your own options for digitisation and e-commerce
Dealers need an individual concept for the benefit of digitisation. Unfortunately, there are no blueprints here; the retail landscape is far too diverse, for example in terms of assortment, size or location. The online visibility of one’s own shop and assortment, with price and availability, is elementary. Today, customers often select products online and then choose the best retailer online. A retailer who is not present in this Customer Journey is already virtually invisible to the customer at this point. Another option is supplementary e-commerce. This is where marketplaces come in, especially those with the support of the local point of sale. Subsequently, topics such as customer loyalty or new services become interesting. The necessary consistency is indispensable for all concepts and, especially for innovative ideas, rapid testing through piloting.
Developing infrastructure, building competence, using partnerships
New infrastructural foundations are often necessary, for example in merchandise management, e-commerce-capable order management, customer databases or product information management. The supplier market tends to become more diverse. SaaS models often lead to lower initial investments. Nevertheless, the pressure for smaller retailers is great, because large retailers have mostly done their IT homework and are now dealing with innovation drivers such as artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things. This enables them to intensively improve their internal processes and aim for cost reductions. It should not be forgotten that in the course of digitization, retailers must also develop new skills in their team, for example for customer service, channel and content management or KPI monitoring. There are now many service models to digitally support local retailers that smaller retailers should consider. For example, our customer ECE has developed a digital mall for its shopping malls that is currently being launched in Germany. This mall markets the retailers’ product ranges online, enables local reservations and takes the customer to the mall and to the retailer. We also see similar initiatives with affiliated groups and local marketing associations.