Stationary and online commerce have different advantages and disadvantages. Both want to bind customers to them and are engaged in a “battle of the channels”. We spoke with Dominik Brokelmann, CEO of the distributor Brodos, who offers an approach to a solution with his “connected store”. In the interview he explains how the future of stationary commerce might look.
1. At this year’s Kind + Jugend your company spoke of the “battle of the channels” between stationary and online commerce. What does this battle look like?
Both stationary and online – both channels have their advantages. In the store the customer can consult with the specialist, a pre-selected assortment is available to take away immediately and shopping in itself is an experience. Online commerce, on the other hand, offers a much larger selection of products, the purchase is linked to neither a place nor a time, and the purchase is delivered comfortably to the customer at home. For the end customer this leads to the “agony of channel choice”. In some cases customers change merchants. After the stationary merchants initially found themselves in a state of shock, they are now starting to defend themselves against online commerce. The question of whether one needs to stand up to the Internet has long been answered and is no longer posed. The current question is how this struggle can be carried out effectively.
2. An ever increasing number of online pure players like Amazon, Zalando or Mister Spex are abandoning the anonymity of the Internet and opening “real” stores. Is the pure online concept passé?
Of course the online pure players are also experiencing the pressure and suffer under the great amount of competition in the Internet. Especially because they only differ in their prices. They can’t provide the additional services, like customer service and consultation, that differentiate them from the competition. The logical consequence: the onliners push their way into stationary commerce and attempt to combine the channels.
3. Do new forms of commerce need to be developed? What do you think is the solution?
A new form arises practically automatically. The benefits for end customers are greater when the onliners combine their channel-specific advantages with those of commerce. The customer is king, the caravan passes on to the cross-channel. Our concept of the “connected store” offers precisely this combination and is already being referred to by others as a market leader trend. The connected store is a combination of multimedia catalogue systems in the store and in the Internet, compiled from the assortments of the leading traders and special wholesalers. Kiosk systems installed in stationary commerce enable access to a gigantic online product assortment of more than 250,000 items. What isn’t in the store is thus nonetheless available and can be delivered overnight.
4. What prerequisites must merchants fulfil for a “connected store”?
First the merchant must have a shop and be known in the region and in the industry as competent, helpful and friendly. Through networking, the merchant can then address the disadvantages experienced in comparison to pure onliners. To this purpose we have developed our tools like the brodos.net Kiosk, the Marketplace, StoreShip, brodos.net online shop and my-store.TV.
5. What responsibility do the manufacturers bear for ensuring that this concept functions?
The manufacturers are responsible for pricing in their own interest. Pricing in their own interest is the responsibility of the manufacturers. This can be achieved through authorisation and service-dependent conditions. The merchant that provides a great deal of service should also ultimately profit from and be rewarded for this.
6. How do you see the future of stationary commerce?
The future of stationary commerce is the “local hero merchant”. He scores points in his region with service and customer support. He also offers affordable prices and a gigantic product selection, like in the Internet. We from Brodos support him in the process with the help of our cross-channel tools developed for this purpose.