Mediamarkt – A Webshop Alibi
17th January 7 Comments
Yesterday, the Media Saturn Group, Europe’s largest electronics retailer (with more than 20 billion Euro in sales in 2010) launched its new web shop. They made sure that everybody got the message by booking TV and radio commercials as well as booking huge billboards and emphasised how this move would strengthen their multi-channel strategy. But after a series of mishaps regarding the world of online commerce, nobody expected much from this venture. And the sceptics were right. Painfully so.
The group runs about 250 local stores in Germany and about 350 in the rest of Europe. Those stores are independent businesses, with their respective CEOs having a say regarding the inventory and the pricing in their house. Many see this as the most important reason for the failure of their first online shop called mediaonline.de, a service which was closed in 2007. Contrary to the official statements for having done so, it seems more than likely that local store managers simply could not stand the thought that they were losing customers to the online business.
Ironically, a former Mediamarkt manager had seen the enormous potential of selling consumer electronics via the Internet and has founded redcoon as early as in 2003. This business turned into one of the leading electronics retailers in Germany with a turnover of 400 million Euro in 2010. And now guess what ( … flourish …): Metro Group, the owner of Media Saturn, bought redcoon for an supposed price of 100 – 150 million Euros. This deal had “Sorry, we screwed up our online strategy and simply cannot do this on our own” written all over it.
Last autumn, Media Saturn launched a massive and much-discussed advertising campaign that was basically directed against price comparison sites and the idea of online commerce in general. The message: We fight for transparent prices and premium service. Who said that executives cannot have a sense of humour: The ones who have visited a Mediamarkt/Saturn lately will most likely have experienced a complete lack of competence on the side of the customer service crew. In reality, such a local store resembles a storage building with numerous piles of electronics crap. For a customer, a wall of dozens and dozens of flat screen TV sets and nobody who could afford to take his time and provide informed advice is just plain useless. What’s more, even if Mediamarkt’s much cited slogan “Ich bin doch nicht blöd” (“Hey, I’m not stupid”) alludes to the fact that one will always find the lowest prices there, this simply is not the case.
Nevertheless, visiting a local Mediamarkt/Saturn once in a while (after having surrendered to one of the full-colour-huge-flyers that typically come with free newspapers), is a ritual which can best be observed on Saturdays. Dozens of flat screens are shuffled out of those stores, packed into cars and installed at home just in time to watch the evening footie. Instant satisfaction. And because it’s so easy to get zero interest credit financing at the cash counter, why fumbling with online checkouts and payments?
I’m getting carried away – after all I had planned to write a little something on the new Mediamarkt online shop, right? Actually, we’re rather talking about a webshop alibi here. I don’t want to go into specifics – there are enough responses out there criticising the uninspired layout, the lack of functionality, the slow reaction times etc. This shop looks and feels like it has been made for the 2007 market. Its products – 2,500 in comparison to 45,000 that are usually carried by a local store – carry the same price tag as their local brothers and sisters. Customers can either have their items sent to the local store of their choice (see image) or pay a shipping fee of 5 Euros. At best, this thing is a half-dynamic advertising leaflet. At worst, it’s an online sales prohibitor.