Integration of high-street retailers – lessons from 12 years of live operations



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E-commerce Integration of high-street retailers – lessons from 12 years of live operations

Published on 16.10.2020 by Philipp Kannenberg, a member of the gaxsys Executive Board

In this time of coronavirus and climate change, integrating high-street retailers into the field of e-commerce could be the ideal means of giving the retail sector in general the boost it needs. Unfortunately, this process has been badly handled over a number of years, with numerous companies having failed as a result. Faith has always been placed in isolated solutions which serve only to burn money and never become an effective, let alone an efficient, tool.

Digitization means testing

All these years, companies’ efforts to create their own retailer integration solution have barely diminished. They still believe that “doing it yourself” is the only proper approach. And in Germany in particular, the traditional view is that if you build something yourself, you build it for eternity. And that is the very opposite of digitization. Digitization means testing! Testing, adapting, optimizing – a never-ending process. And that simply does not go hand in hand with a homespun solution. Even if you are absolutely adamant that you will not resort to external solutions, you should nevertheless test them in order to determine and design your own retailer integration for the (more distant) future. 

Online shop operators should scan the market and at least try out an appropriate existing solution. There are enough providers offering suitable SAAS standard solutions with which static retailers can be integrated into their own online business.

Retailer centricity vs customer centricity

One recurring error observed over the years is the approach whereby business models are built around retailers. Too much attention is paid to the retailer’s wishes and customer centricity is entirely ignored, as can be seen, for example, on numerous city portals. A customer-centric model (yes, customer centricity) is by far the best approach and certainly the most promising in the current climate.

It is customers and not pure players who have made e-commerce great. And to quote another old pearl of retailer wisdom: if you want to make money in retail, you have to be where the customer is. This is precisely where all retailer integration models based solely on retailers’ concerns fall short.

Retailer integration is only possible WITH the retailers

Nevertheless, retailer integration can only succeed in collaboration with the retailers themselves. They have the necessary knowledge about the relevant spatial conditions, the daily routine, staffing, the relevant level of digitization, etc. And in particular, it is essential to adjust to the retailer’s workflow.

If a retailer is currently active in the field of e-commerce, they do not operate solely via a single channel. They make use of several channels, generally calling on a single cockpit from which they can steer and manage everything. Accordingly, retailer integration solutions must offer interfaces to the most common ERP, WWS and PIM systems used by retailers.

Rational support for retailers is essential

Accordingly, reliable support for retailers is hugely important, full stop.

Attentiveness, speed, environment

In the early years, it was retailers and associations who were dozing through the change in the retail sector (e-commerce), reacting only sluggishly or even not at all. Brands reacted almost as sleepily. Pure players, on the other hand, welcomed the profits with open arms while also winning the customers’ trust.

Now, a very similar situation can be seen: platforms and associations might be catching up, but brands continue to limp along behind – despite the new D2C euphoria. There is still plenty to do in the economy and society. Climate-relevant criteria are increasingly becoming decisive factors in corporate strategies. Now more than ever it is important to be attentive, to be able to act and react quickly and to seize every opportunity to reduce your own CO2 footprint.

THAT is retailer integration.

Unfortunately, Connecta cannot be held as planned. Philipp Kanneberg would have been one of the 80 speakers. An alternative programme is available through Connecta TV, Doc and Talk – find out more at: www.swisspost.ch/connecta.

Philipp Kannenberg

A member of the gaxsys Executive Board, Philipp Kannenberg is responsible for the Key Account Management and Internationalization units. He assists brands with PoS integration in online shops, holds discussions with retailers and is responsible for quality management. He also lectures at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the HECTOR Business School.

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