OXID Commons 2013
22nd May 28 Comments
If a punk had a great time in the black forest, happily combining reconnecting to friends with learning about the industry’s future path, the least he could do is to share a couple of lines about this. Right? Right!
For those not knowing what the OXID Commons is all about: OXID eSales is a major provider of shop software in Germany, using the so-called commercial open source model to be able to both maintain an open source version of their software, but at the same time delivering commercial closed source software to Enterprise customers. Once a year, they invite all their clients and a range of service providers for a day of commerce fun & games.
As everybody knows, the best parts of a one-day conference are both evenings/nights surrounding the main event. This is where the beer is, the contacts are being made and new ideas and cooperations spring from. The part in the middle merely serves to justify the trip to your employer and/our spouse ;-)
Those who remember what I said about last year’s event know that I’ve been pretty critical about how the company presented itself strategy-wise. This time, however, things were presented clearer and more coherent. The keynote by CEO Roland Fesenmayr (in German) touched on a couple of things both regarding the development of the software platform itself as well as the general estimation of what the driving factors of commerce are. For OXID eShop, on the one hand, emphasis was put on the community side of things, highlighting how the platform benefits from an active community. In this context, Fesenmayr even initiated a live transit to the github code sharing platform (a very small Apple moment in Freiburg). On the other hand, the company is more and more dedicated to get involved in Enterprise level projects. The latest release of their Enterprise edition features performance optimisation and the focus on internationalisation show that they are not longer trying to cater to every mom-and-pop shop there is. Or, in summary: Provide good tools and transparency to the community in order to enable development and innovation, and use the insights in larger projects. Sounds fair to me.
B2B and Brands
What really got me hooked was when Fesenmayr talked about the B2B market. I’ve to admit I was mostly focusing on B2C in the last couple of years and had no idea that the B2B market was this huge (will talk about the exact numbers in a future post). (A couple of hours later I knew why I hadn’t been focusing on B2B: it’s a process-driven, dry-as-a-bone sort of commerce which ist just lik e … #snoooze# On the other hand, this has enormous punk potential – if only the presentations were not quite so … #snoooze#.
And there were brands of course. This is being discussed for quite some time now: manufacturers seeking to organise their sales vertically, ie. addressing their audience directly without merchants as intermediaries. Especially in the fashion sector there are many examples where brands skip the established sales channels and market directly to consumers.
So, in other words, are we proclaiming the death of the merchant here? Not quite. However, successful merchants will have to get used to the idea of becoming brands in their own right. Given the enormous number of market participants, it becomes more and more important to gain visibility and bind customers by means of brand attraction. I’m convinced that as we will successively see consolidation in the market, and every merchant needs to ask himself: what’s my sales proposition, what can I do to create a brand of my own that customers can feel attached to?
The subject of internationalisation was touched on in the keynote as well as in the con-genial Culture Code presentation by Johannes Altmann and Maximilian Engl. The message: when trying to enter a foreign market, it is a good strategy to systematically apply all shop-related topics – logistics, payment processes, translations etc. – to the markets in question. However – and this is where Mr. Engl had his entertaining entree – this is not the whole story: when dealing with foreign countries, it’s vital to both decypher the respective country code as well as to ask which image ones transports via his online presence. So for instance: Are German shop-owners too German for their own good?
So, was I enjoying myself? You bet! I had a great time, even survived a spontaneous expert panel (trying to give half-decent answers through a big fat headaches) and have received some more food for thought – will keep you updated!