Prof. Dr. Gerrit Heinemann heads the eWeb Research Center at Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences teaches business administration, management and commerce. The fourth and final part of the interview deals with cooperative business models in e-commerce.Heinemann studied business administration in Münster and obtained his doctorate as a research assistant at the Institute of Marketing with Prof. Dr. Dr. hc mult. Heribert Meffert. He began his non-university career as the head of marketing for Douglas Holding AG before moving to Kaufhof Warenhaus AG, where he completed a trainee program and subsequently became department store manager. He returned to the Douglas Group as the chief executive officer of Drospa Holding before switching to the international consultancy Droege and Comp. and led there the "Competence Center trade and consumer goods". 2005 Heinemann received a call to the University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein. He is the author of several bestselling books on e-commerce topics and deputy chairman of the board of buch.de internetstores AG.
Cooperative e-commerce business models between retailers and manufacturers represent the only trade-friendly e-commerce strategy option for substitutable, manufacturing Company with a stationary trading structure, which does not involve the risk of temporarily losing massive turnover in stationary trading.
In my opinion this depends primarily on the brand strength of a manufacturer. If the brand is strong enough, it can also be the most risky to not listen to the trade. Ultimately, there is also a risk of coming to a compromise solution, which is counterproductive, due to the excessive integration of trade.
The topic of e-commerce demands uncompromising channel excellence. Wherever traders have been integrated (eg in composite group models), the compromises lead to the fact that the channel excitement is counteracted and the concept thereby becomes stillbirth.
From my point of view, traders' criticism is not the greatest risk, but rather the compromise solutions a manufacturer takes for trading, as the much greater risk. Asking the dealer, in doubt, can also be a big risk because in doubt, do not understand much of e-commerce.
What kind of e-commerce business model do you suggest to a manufacturer with a lower level of e-commerce maturity, dominated by a retail store?
Here I recommend working in stepped models. The advantage in industries with low maturity is that the development speed in e-commerce is much lower than in online industries such as books, travel or electronics.
For this reason, a multi-functional solution is recommended for industries with low e-commerce maturity, which is the best way to prepare for the future.
In addition to cooperative e-commerce business models, are there other strategic options that a manufacturer can consider without incurring an incalculable risk of temporarily dropping massive sales declines through in-house distributions?
I have already answered this question. In my opinion, this depends primarily on the brand strength of a manufacturer.
If you summarize, which strategic options for action have proven to be a particularly successful e-commerce strategy for brand manufacturers with a predominantly stationary retail landscape?
With a view over the pond into the USA we can see on the example of Macy`s: Macy`s had to 2008 a dive - similar to Karstadt and Co. - experienced. Through a consistent mobilization of all investment funds, Macy's has succeeded with a radical solution to merge all sales channels and to build a no-line solution.
With highly profitable growth, Macy's has emerged brilliantly from the crisis and today is excellently positioned in all channels. Macy's reinvented the department store. Such a strategy is to adapt to brand manufacturers to be particularly successful.
What risks do you see as an e-commerce strategy for brand manufacturers and how would you counter them?
The biggest challenge today is making an investment decision in the necessary e-commerce IT landscape, which must reflect the necessary functionality of the next few years. Even though these investments are tiered, the biggest risk for brand owners is to put their money on the wrong horse.
Most manufacturers only have one shot at such investments. Macy's was shot but JC Penny was not, which is why this US retailer is undergoing restructuring. Several brand manufacturers had to be redeveloped due to the wrong e-commerce system decision.
It is fundamental here that brand manufacturers choose the right service providers, so that they do not end up with break-even solutions and long-term contracts.
What tips and recommendations can you give to manufacturing companies with regard to their e-commerce strategy?
From my point of view, it is most important to get the right skills into the house at the right dosage. In doing so, manufacturing companies should take care to bring in pure e-commerce specialists, and rather distance themselves from large consulting companies, which also offer e-commerce consulting services among other things.
At the same time, it is necessary that the own management team builds up radically e-commerce competence and has the bite to learn in this area. Intelligence can only be bought temporarily. However, the organization then has to bite to acquire the competence itself, even if this transformation phase will last for a certain time.
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