K5 2013: Some thoughts

DSC_0024Now that we’re back in ecomPunk HQ, with the impressions of this year’s K5 conference slowly sinking in, it’s time for a little review. The photos are already out (for day 1 and day 2), but I’m dying to write a couple of sentences, so here goes.

The conference is already well established and attracts a lot of relevant merchants, which is a major success given the fact that it’s only three years old. The organiser, Jochen Krisch from Exciting Commerce has managed to enforce a strict entrance policy, so there weren’t a lot of service providers trying to sell their stuff. This is something that Krisch explicitly asked for during his keynote: the K5 should be a place to exchange ideas and experience, the selling action should take place somewhere else. And my impression was that this worked out fine.

Quality over quantity

In his keynote, Krisch also gave out the motto of this year’s event: “10% or 10x better – how good can online trade become?” So, the focus was on the quality of web shops rather than on growth and other quantitative aspects. With this in mind, and with the conscious choice of merchants on stage, the two days were bound to be dominated by a sense of high professionalism.

Quite fittingly, one thing that became visible during the first merchants’ presentation was their focus on processes and data. Especially Alexander Brand from windeln.de emphasised how his company is completely data-driven and strives to completely automatise its processes. Ideally, in his words, his employees get a handful of emails each week showing that something didn’t go as planned – all the rest runs like a smooth and well-oiled machine. He also gave an example of where they can use statistical methods to extract data from customers’ behaviour to fuel their advertising campaigns. This reliance on data was the central theme of the conference and could be felt almost anywhere. The guys from MyMuesli outlined, how, based on the usage statistics of their cereal mixing website, they could tell which new products would be promising and potentially successful ones. The makers of Runtastic (big surprise: no Silicon Valley startup as almost everybody thought, but a highly professional app producer from Austria!) talked about incremental development of their several apps and the early feedback they collect from their most dedicated customers. And Georg Röben, Head of Marketing for Jochen Schweizer showed, how they track their visitors’ behaviour and the success of their different advertising channels.

Good cop, bad cop

So in other words, the theme was set, the people were invited and interviewed accordingly, and so it’s not a big surprise when Alexander Graf from Kassenzone quotes an attendee with the words “the party is over”: the qualitative aspects of commerce business models – getting as much data as possible to enhance one’s processes, trying to become profitable etc. – were dominant and left little room for discussions of innovations.

Fortunately, however, the stage was not completely owned by technocrats getting terribly excited over ERP systems correlation analyses and rates of inventory turnover. A couple of talks brought some fresh air into Studio F of the Eisbach Studios in Munich: Bertram Gugel, a Media Scientist talked about Youtube and the many opportunities for advertising and brand building it provides. I believe that I belonged to the majority in the audience who were completely baffled by the amounts of visits the platform receives and by the formats that have developed in the last years. Or did you ever hear about hauls, where mostly female shoppers present what they have just purchased in a local store of H & M and the likes? Just wow. And like every year,  Lars Jankowfsky, CTO for Yatego held one of his infamous talks, this time about fairy tales in ecommerce. Presenting results from his own research, he busted some myths, such as Magento being the most popular shop system and Java-based systems would be outperformed by PHP applications. Something for tech nerds but nevertheless a valuable contribution :)

Others were clearly less valuable – or rather downright WTF. People over-eagerly promoting their stuff on stage or losing themselves in useless monologues went on people’s nerves. And the final panel, which should have been the place to draw some conclusions and provide outlooks, eventually turned into a Payback sales pitch. (I can’t get over the word “payback”, why would anyone give their data to a company that has “revenge” in its name and a CEO called “Harras(s)”?!)

Final thoughts

Overall, as could be expected, K5 2013 was very well organised and it has been a pleasure to breath that studio air – with one exception: the startup – or K5 junior league – area was located next to the venue’s only toilets. That’s a kind of air you don’t want to breath all day for sure ;)

Looking forward to next year!

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