Retail commerce via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs is booming. At the Otto Group the number of website visits in Germany has trebled within a year, with gross turnover levels growing even more strongly, almost quadrupling. The leader in mobile commerce is the USA: at Crate and Barrel, an Otto Group company, nearly one in every four customers now browses the online shop using a mobile device.
The growing popularity of smartphones and tablet PCs such as the iPad are permanently changing the way customers shop in Germany. Customers are finding out about products and buying these ever more frequently using a mobile device and not on a desktop computer. This trend is clearly reflected in the figures at the Otto Group, the world’s largest online fashion and lifestyle retailer: the number of visits using mobile devices to the Otto Group’s various German online shops trebled in the Spring/Summer season 2012 versus the same period last year – with the value of goods demanded by customers even increasing disproportionately, almost quadrupling.
The number of visits using tablet PCs has grown particularly strongly, almost multiplying by a factor of five, although from a low base in the previous year. “Tablets in particular are playing a big role in the future growth of e-commerce for us”, says Dr Rainer Hillebrand, the Otto Group Executive Board member responsible for E-Commerce. “Smartphones are used above all to gather information about products. We attribute the disproportionate increase in demand to greater use of tablet PCs. Thanks to the large-format and inspirational display of goods, tablet PCs invite customers to purchase.”
Even if the growth being achieved is still low in terms of turnover – gross mobile turnover levels accounted for roughly 3 per cent of overall online demand in the Spring/Summer season 2012 – the mobile channel plays a key role in the Otto Group’s e-commerce strategy. Otto Group companies anticipated the mobile trend early on and launched many mobile apps as well as online shops optimised for smartphones and tablet PCs. As a result, over 80 per cent of German Otto Group online shops will offer a smartphone-optimised mobile shop by the end of 2012 – and over 50 per cent of the Group companies are also planning tablet-optimised commerce activities by the end of 2012. In this regard particularly innovative approaches are being taken by bonprix, which was the first major German online retailer to launch a completely tablet-based Web shop, as well as Sheego whose iPad-App lets customers try on their items of clothing with the aid of a virtual model.
Looking at the USA, mobile shopping will become a very significant shopping channel in the coming years. At the Otto Group subsidiary Crate and Barrel, a retailer of high-quality furniture and living accessories with a turnover of approximately one billion euros, nearly one in every four customers now visits the online shop using a mobile device. In Germany by contrast, currently only one in every fifteen online shoppers surfs using a mobile device. “As the USA is the leader in terms of e-commerce, I believe that we will also experience rapid growth in m-commerce in Germany in the coming years, and achieve similar levels of mobile visits to the USA”, says Dr Rainer Hillebrand. “To achieve this, we aim to offer our customers the best-possible shopping experience on any device.”
Founded in Germany in 1949, today the Otto Group is a globally operating retail and services group with around 53,800 employees (as at February 2013). The Group includes 123 major companies and is present in over 20 countries in Europe, North and South America and Asia. Its business activities are grouped into three segments: Multichannel Retail, Financial Services and Service. In the 2012/13 financial year (to 28 February), the Otto Group generated turnover of 11.8 billion euros. It is the world’s largest online retailer for fashion and lifestyle and the world’s second-largest online retailer in the end-consumer (B2C) business. E-commerce, catalogue sales and over-the-counter retail are the three pillars of the Otto Group’s Multichannel Retail strategy. Worldwide corporate activities and a variety of strategic partnerships and joint ventures provide the Otto Group with excellent opportunities for know-how transfer and leveraging available synergy potential. Group companies operate largely independently, guaranteeing flexibility, customer proximity and optimum target-group appeal in their respective country markets.