Of course no one would talk about the avant-garde at the Hamburg company headquarters. Here, with typical Hanseatic modesty, people talk much more about ‘pioneering spirit’. But they both mean the same thing: the will to make progress. The courage to try new things. Whether with the concept that seemed almost absurd in 1950 to enable people to buy shoes at home or 45 years later with the idea to use the internet as a sales platform. Back then lots of people prophesied: the internet - it won’t last.
Now, just 70 years after the company was founded, the online retailer is leaving behind its several hundred page founding manifesto - the OTTO catalogue. And this parting is not a new beginning, but the logical continuation of the digital revolution at OTTO.
In the beginning there were 28 pairs of shoes
The company’s pioneering spirit began in 1950. With the first hand-bound Werner Otto catalogue. Twenty-eight pairs of shoes on fourteen pages. The advertising piece reached a total of three hundred households at that time. Quickly more and more people became interested in ordering by catalogue. The range grew - from furniture to fashion and technology - the print runs and page numbers also grew. At its peak, the OTTO catalogue was over 1000 pages strong - more than 70 times as thick as when the company started. Top models like Claudia Schiffer, Heidi Klum and Gisele Bündchen, icons of their time, decorated the cover of the heavy tome. Now it’s come to an end.
The future is now
On 4th December this year the last OTTO catalogue will be released. Then it’s curtains. It’s no huge shock, just a matter of fact. Because after all, OTTO makes 95 percent of their revenue online. Of this, almost half is from smartphones and tablets.
“Leaving behind the OTTO catalogue is just a side note for us, but it is further proof of the successful growth of our company. For us, instead of nostalgia, the spirit of optimism reigns supreme. Today we are proud to be able to further drive the digitalisation of retail and look forward to a digital future,” affirms Marc Opelt, the Chairperson of the OTTO Divisional Board and the person responsible for the Marketing Department.
For us, instead of nostalgia, the spirit of optimism reigns supreme.
OTTO is looking forward. To the future of E-commerce. Exactly as the pioneering spirit of the company has always led them to do. The focus is on the areas of smart home, artificial intelligence and machine learning. For this, OTTO invests millions in new technologies, like computer generated imagery. They are trying consulting formats like augmented reality apps and working on future purchasing channels, like voice commerce. Away from that one big thing that bundles all interests of all customers together and towards special offers. Thanks to the intelligent digital mechanisms in the background but also with one big goal: continuously improving the individual purchase experience of the customer - because each individual customer counts.