The transformation to a platform: "We wouldn't want to copy anyone."
Technology

The transformation to a platform: "We wouldn't want to copy anyone."

What does the reorientation mean for the portrayal of the OTTO brand? Marc Opelt and Alexander Rohwer explain in an interview

6/13/2019 By Linda Gondorf Reading time: 5 Minutes
OTTO has already succeeded in becoming a successful e-commerce company. So why not also take the next important step? Become a platform. In an interview, Marc Opelt, divisional director, and Alexander Rohwer, head of Strategy & Brand, explain brand positioning and provide an outlook.

Hello Marc, hello Alexander. Probably the most important question straight away: Does otto.de want to become a universal platform?

MARC OPELT: In the coming months, we will be concentrating very much on expanding the existing Home & Living, Fashion and Consumer Electronics product ranges. And in the long term we will offer product ranges from all areas of life. And it continues on that basis going forward. We do not want to copy anyone, we want to go our own way and be the alternative in e-commerce that has been absent for some time now. After all, something has happened in terms of shopping behaviour. Many customers are no longer just interested in the best price. Rather more, people want to know where and how the products are manufactured and how their data is handled. The OTTO brand stands for a fair deal with people and nature, and we attach great importance to personal contact with customers and partners. Issues such as sustainability and social responsibility have traditionally been part of the company's canon of values - and as a platform we continue to adhere to them.

So how far does the otto.de brand need to change? Is it sufficient for the new platform role to have a profile based on existing advertising?

ALEXANDER ROHWER: So far we have been a retailer brand. We are now developing not only our business model, but also our brand in the direction of a platform. And these present completely new challenges for our brand work. Consequently, we have recently taken a very close look at OTTO's current strengths and where we see opportunities for differentiation from other market players in the future. As a result, we have created a new brand positioning based on three values: Fair, personal and inspiring. This not only works as a value system for a platform, but also has great relevance in the market. We have over 30 marketing channels where the visibility of the new identity concept of the OTTO platform needs to become evident. We now have to make OTTO more interesting on a meta-level.

Does the OTTO platform brand need new impulse at the creative level?

ROHWER: Naturally, a good creative campaign is relevant for brand perception. An abstract concept of a platform is rather difficult for the customer to understand. The customer will notice, however, that OTTO has developed a new role, the product range has grown considerably and many more brands and new services are being offered.

How much time is available taking into consideration the new competitive environment?

OPELT: Our time window is certainly not infinite, but we are used to dealing with competitive pressure. And we have already had the pleasure of greeting several new competitors to the German market. In many cases, however, practice has shown that the path is really long from "I have an unprecedented innovation" to the challenge of making it marketable and building reach and brand awareness. Nevertheless, we have respect for the competition. For example, we are closely watching what Alibaba is doing in China and the rest of the world.

ROHWER: It has recently become very popular for some brands and market players to all of a sudden call themselves platforms. In our view, however, this term not only implies a high level of ambition but also various promises to customers, brands and partners who are to become active on the platform. This necessitates restructuring the business model - and this is not exactly easy in practice.

Let's now go to the partner. How many presentation possibilities do they get on the platform?

OPELT: We want to give manufacturers and dealers the opportunity to present themselves much more individually and appropriately to their brand than is perhaps possible elsewhere. For this purpose, we have developed our partner portal Brand Connect as an interface where partners should connect in the future. There are modular building blocks for setting up brand shops on otto.de, allowing partners to create their own design at their own discretion. The question as to which areas we would make available on otto.de or which we would use ourselves is still open. We are currently testing Brand Connect together with selected partners, including adidas, s.oliver and liebeskind, which equally important for the brands and for us.

Another characteristic of a platform is that there are services that the individual trader cannot offer in this way. What services are available at OTTO?

OPELT: Our service worlds will continue to be expanded. For both partners and the end consumer. All customer benefits and services have recently been bundled into OTTO UP and a delivery flat rate introduced. We are working on new technological developments for partners. Such as in the area of the Internet of Things. This is where OTTO ready provides a link between smart household appliances and otto.de. This is of interest for brands that offer ancillary products for coffee machines, dishwashers or washing machines. You end up directly in the relevant set of first Smart Home users. So this is where we are working on an attractive digital showcase for brands and retailers. At the end of the day, the focus is on the overall picture of the shopping experience, not on individual services or technologies. It should be fun to shop at OTTO, it should be inspiring and simple and leave people feeling satisfied.

ROHWER: In this regard, our three brand attributes 'fair', 'personal' and 'inspiring' always reflect the high standards underlying the latest developments. These brand attributes therefore incorporate what will decisively shape the perception of the OTTO brand in the future and invite customers to shop at OTTO.

These brand attributes therefore incorporate what is to decisively shape the perception of the OTTO brand in the future and invite customers to shop at OTTO.

OPELT: We are doing that already today. We market advertising space on a large scale for some partners. We were for example recently able to celebrate great success with Acer, the computer company. The "Play the Game Harold" campaign reached 24 million cross-channel views and increased product sales by 72 percent.

What are you currently working on?

OPELT: We are currently working flat out on expanding our platform capabilities. We would also like to become even faster, especially in the onboarding of new partners - and we will achieve that very soon.

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