Four pillars of the future: the Otto Group’s E-Commerce Strategy

Pure Players, multichannel retailers, start-ups, enablers – e-commerce has many faces. The Otto Group counts on a clear, future-orientated E-Commerce Strategy so that it can continue to benefit from the dynamic development of online retail in future too.


The digital transformation regularly presents us with fresh challenges. For the Otto Group, this is nothing new – rather an integral element of our business model. We consistently review existing business models and continue developing them. This applies especially to those of our multichannel companies which have their origin in mail-order or in over-the-counter retail. This includes OTTO, Bonprix, Sportscheck, Witt and Crate and Barrel – over 30 retail brands in total, with value-orientated growth and large customer bases. We are turning these brands into e-driven companies, with the goal of creating networked sales channels that offer customers a genuine shopping experience everywhere and at any time.


Through its service companies the Otto Group benefits doubly from the boom in e-commerce. Whether in sourcing, marketing, data analysis, payment or logistics, with its broad portfolio of retail-related services the Group has the right solution to meet all requirements. In addition, we are constantly developing new service concepts for e-commerce in our innovation forge, Liquid Labs.

Extract from the Otto Group Services portfolio:

Blue Yonder

Blue Yonder offers forecasting software with which companies can optimise their core processes and become ‘Predictive Enterprises’. To do so, Blue Yonder, founded by a former researcher at CERN, utilises scientifically based, innovative technologies such as predictive modelling and machine learning. The scalable, cloud-based Blue Yonder platform offers accurate forecasts for sales planning and automated scheduling. In addition, it can be used in dynamic price design and customer analysis.

Risk Ident

Risk Ident is a software provider specialised in fraud prevention in the areas of digital media, e-commerce and financial services. With products such as DEVICE IDENT and FRIDA Fraud Ident, every retailer can easily and automatically investigate its sales channels for fraudulent activities and minimise their losses due to bad debts. In the 2014/15 financial year, Risk Ident secured more than € 8 billion of online turnover for its customers, of which 60 per cent was generated outside the Otto Group.


Hermes stands for smooth logistics, without which – let’s be honest – modern e-commerce simply doesn’t work. However, this is only one part of its range of services: twelve companies operating under the Hermes brand cover the whole value chain in retail: sourcing, quality assurance, transport, fulfilment, parcel services and two-man handling.


Over the last 20 years the Otto Group has developed and tested new online concepts for a huge variety of target groups with a broad spectrum of assortments, predominantly in the Fashion and Lifestyle segments.

With About You, we are counting on the democratisation of e-commerce and entrusting the development of content and technology to the enormous creative power of the community. Content suppliers, developers, brand suppliers and other creative heads are developing new technical and content concepts on the About You platform, which is enabling new ways to access fashion.

To offer another example, since 2013 customers have been able to shop simultaneously at Mytoys, Mirapodo and Ambellis under the banner of ‘diversity – in a single parcel’. A clever multi-shop concept makes this possible: the key feature is that the ordering and payment process is carried out with a joint shopping basket and just a single customer account. Especially for mothers, this is a service with real added value!


Since 2008 the Otto Group has participated in the venture capital business and in the area of business incubation, and currently holds shares in over 100 start-ups around the world – a figure that’s set to rise.

Here, the Otto Group relies on two strong partners: hunts the world for clever founders in the e-commerce, business and technology markets and invests in promising start-ups in Europe, Asia, Russia and North and South America. Amongst others, the profile includes companies such as Farfetch (fashion platform/US), Wine in Black (online wine retailer/Germany), and App Annie (app analytics/Asia).

Project A Ventures, a company builder in which the Otto Group is the main investor, is likewise constantly searching for promising new companies. This approach ensures that the Otto Group has early access to ideas, promising online business models and qualified talents with an entrepreneurial mindset in the business and technology sector. No matter whether it’s innovative e-commerce software (Spryker, Tictail/Germany, Sweden) or dietary supplements (Nu3/Germany and Brazil) – Project A Ventures offers a home for pioneering digital concepts with high growth potential.

Reading tip:
A gourmet delivery service as role model for an e-commerce company? Find out how US start-up Munchery is stirring up the business!


Task Force on E-Commerce

About the E-Commerce Competence Center of the Otto Group

Strategy meets Transformation

Business professionals are working around the clock on new business models