Brands are becoming (service) platforms: Top-5 commerce trends, revisited [Part 2]

Marken als Netzwerker auf Service Plattformen Spinnennetz
Source: pixabay

When it comes to trends, you usually expect the latest and coolest developments. The fact that many of the trends that are driving digital business, but have been around for quite some time, was clear in the first part of this retrospective series. Even after three decades of World Wide Web, nothing is changing the maxims for successful business. Customer satisfaction and long-term customer relationships.

In order to make them successful, retailers, manufacturers and publishers have to create their own digital DNA and that also means recognising trends with long-term viability for their business goals AND their target group, reviving them, (re)thinking, and creating innovation from them. One of these classic trends is platforms. Since this topic still has, well actually since 2019, been booming, we’ll discuss it in the second part of this article series: Top-5 commerce trends, revisited.

Brands and the power of the platform

German companies Karstadt, Otto, Quelle — they all made it easier for those involved in the customer relationship. They offered customers access to goods and manufacturers access to the customer. The business model of analogue access was devalued by online retail. The products can today be found and purchased online. The shop window has an analogue and digital raison d’être.

But how can companies adapt their business model if their unique selling surface is no longer needed? One option is transforming into a platform. On the platforms, you don’t just offer products, but also inspiration. This requires companies to act in a more data-driven way. Data is inextricably linked to digital transformation.

That’s what the Otto Group has achieved. The Group achieved €7.8 billion in online sales in 2017. That is 10.9 per cent growth compared to the previous year. Growth drivers are OTTO, now a marketplace instead of retailer, as well as About You, a fashion platform subsidiary, founded in 2014.

B2B brands and new business models

Even in the B2B sector, brands are increasingly relying on platforms, and even trade fairs are increasingly shifting their added value for matchmaking. They know what exhibitors offer, they know the interests of the visitors. Instead of providing space, their business model is changing. Based on their data, they network supply and demand.

For example, printing press manufacturer manroland also relies on the power of the platform and networks its customers with suppliers of accessories and consumables. In addition, manroland offers digital services to its network, such as high-quality product photography.

The »Otis ONE« platform monitors around 300,000 elevators worldwide to collect, evaluate and intelligently improve data using IoT service quality. BayWa is working to develop an online store to meet the needs of its loyal agricultural customers, even in the digital age. The prerequisite is a networked system landscape, such as that developed by Coca-Cola Germany on the basis of Salesforce.

Platforms answer the question of access for retailers and manufacturers, as in the traditional business model. In the age of information, companies should not act as gatekeepers but as valuable networkers.

2019 Digital Business Trends

In the next part of the Top-5 commerce trends, revisited series we dedicating ourselves to the continuous topic of personalisation. YES! You can’t say it often enough! Personalisation is required! In order to bridge the time until the next article, you can find old and new trends in the current trend book Handelskraft 2019 »Digital DNA«, but also learn how to make innovations for your own business and real added value for your customers.

The trend book is now available exclusively for retailers, manufacturers, and publishers here as a free download.

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