Infighting, IPOS, and take-over waves: how are traders and manufactures dealing with the consequences of digitalisation?

E-Commerce Monpoly
Graphic: Daniel Broche
As we noted last week, e-commerce is not enough. How did it get this far? On the one hand, it is the nature of the beast: e-commerce projects often begin with a need for an online shop and then meander into a row of follow-up or precursory projects, as unexpected problem-areas come up or the simple existence of an online shop does not solve problems already existing in the company. The reason for this is that e-commerce has long been a complex business, which requires interdisciplinary and interdepartmental supervision. And the challenges are growing.

The challenges are growing – yet business and pleasure still differ

Additionally: a shop wants to be marketing successfully, otherwise what is the use of a shop without visitors? Online marketing, which goes beyond rudimentary SEO and buying a little SEA traffic, is increasingly a tool of the trade. Naturally, Google is constantly raising the bar.

Wherever you look, the number of channels and platforms to be integrated is growing. Aside from a mobile shop for instance, market places, web analysis, customer service or product data also have to be managed.

In the meantime, there is a whole row of old and new problems to solve: how do you gain the customers’ trust trust and find an address to bind this? Do you really need same day delivery and a pop-up store at the airport? Digital touch points and new sales channels inspired by them make the possibilities for positioning a POS practically limitless. There is still a lot of room for creativity here. But what can/must you realise from all the options? What do you even want to?

Outfittery POS am Flughafen
POS where the customer is: the curated shopping start-up Outfittery picks up their target group in summer 2014 in pop-up stores at airport terminals. Photo: Outfittery

The challenges explode. How do company react?

The air is slowly getting thin for companies who still haven’t dealt with how the net works. In B2B as in B2C, digital services are increasingly simply expected. Building up the necessary know-how for this is extremely tedious, and if you are planning on purchasing it externally, expensive.

Companies, such as Otto or Rewe are currently showing how it can work. With small, agile teams and start-ups within the company, independent of the normal company structure, future concepts for the trade of tomorrow are being worked through. An approach which school kids could manage simply doesn’t cut it with the new challenges.

Movement in the Market: Infighting, IPOS, and take-over waves?

The effects of the change are not slipping by the big players unnoticed either. Amazon’s sudden ambitions of a stationary trade presence for instance, are a source of surprise. PayPal and eBay will be going their separate ways in the future, which places a big question mark on eBay’s future.

Alibaba, an unknown giant until recently, is daring to step out onto the US trading floor and could have the European market in their sights next. Here at home, there are raging fights between share company start-ups, like Airbnb and Uber, and municipal authorities. With the take-over of Gruner + Jahr by Bertelsmann, another traditional publishing company is history.

Overall, a buying mood seems to have broken out, which can be observed with tech companies throughout the branch. Manufactures of digital marketing platforms are broadening their portfolio just like social networks, shop system manufacturers, or relevant retail giants.

Übernahmen2014
A selection of take-overs which made a name for themselves in 2014

This raises the basic question: who will survive when the consolidation waves start to roll and additionally concentration processes come into play? How many can set-up disruptive start-ups in order to break out of their entrenched target structure? How will local manufacturers deal with things, when Alibaba manages to deliver directly from China, the world’s workshop? What will happen when companies, such as Google, put their feelers further in the direction of e-commerce and gobble up the infrastructure of specialised start-up? There is hardly an industry which would not be affected by these questions.

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