Digilents: For some time now, e-commerce has been the dominant topic in retail. How long will growth continue?
Adrian Hotz: Growth is far from over. As Jeff Bezos so well said: “It’s still day one in E-Commerce”. Many business models are simply cheaper, faster and more efficient to implement online than conventional offline business models. Just as mom-and-pop shops used to be replaced by department stores and system houses, they are now being replaced by online trading. Schumpeter calls this process creative destruction.
Digilents: How have the requirements on retail changed through e-commerce?
Adrian Hotz: Retailers should redefine their role. In the offline era, retail companies had an advisory and selective function for their customers. Today, Google has almost completely eliminated the information gap between customers and retailers. Often a customer who enters a store today is just as well or even better informed than the salesperson. In addition, selection is no longer necessary. The spatial separation of sales and storage locations in e-commerce opens up completely new possibilities for a retailer’s product range. A new product is just another entry in the system. The range offered by Amazon, Alibaba or Zalando could never be represented with a purely stationary concept.
Digilents: Why is the advantage of online merchants over stationary ones
retailers and manufacturers in e-commerce still so big?
Adrian Hotz: The complete DNA of online merchants is different from that of stationary merchants. They have grown using the Internet as a sales channel, and have aligned their organization, structures, systems, processes and culture with it. This is not the case with traditional stationary retailers. In addition, the Internet as a sales channel has long been completely underestimated by many companies. E-commerce is not just an additional sales channel, but one that almost completely replaces most other sales channels. The topic is of the highest strategic importance and should therefore be set accordingly high and supported 100 percent by the management. E-commerce does not work halfway if you want to be successful.
Digilents: What new professional and work fields are emerging through E-Commerce?
Adrian Hotz: The occupational fields are very diverse. The biggest change is certainly the importance of IT and technology competence compared to previous business models. Large and successful companies such as Amazon and Zalando are increasingly transforming from trading to technology companies. The continuous further development of software and systems or the optimization of processes requires a highly dynamic way of working. IT project management methods such as Scrum or Rapid Prototyping are of great importance here. A business model in e-commerce is never “finished”. There is always room for improvement according to the principle: try, test, measure, evaluate. This is what makes the industry so interesting, it is always on the move.
Digilents: What advice would you give to young applicants who are pursuing a career in e-commerce?
Adrian Hotz: Anyone interested in working in a young, dynamic industry is in good hands in e-commerce. If you add a little enthusiasm for online topics, perhaps the start-up scene, and an affinity for technology and IT, that’s even better. To gain a foothold, practical experience is always an advantage. Simply apply for an internship at a retail company or a start-up. Here in Cologne, for example, there is an incubator with many start-ups in the starting position.
Thank you very much for giving this interview, Mr. Hotz!
About Adrian Hotz:
Adrian Hotz (Dipl.-Kfm.) is an entrepreneur with a special feeling for the most important topics of the future. He not only predicted important topics, but also showed how entrepreneurs can profit from them. As co-founder of factor-a (www.factor-a.de), he built up a company specializing in Amazon profitably from 0 to 100 employees within 3 years and sold it for an eight-digit amount. He hosted the first two Bitcoin conferences in Germany, is the founder and initiator of Digilents (www.digilents.com), a recruitment consultancy specialising in digital executives, and hosts the inspiring network event BE.INSIDE (www.be.insidepremium.de). At which every year top-class guests from trade and industry meet prominent speakers such as Oliver Kahn or Reinhold Messner.