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Online retail 2012: PC and smartphone merge with real consumer world


E-business conference “novoinsight²” looks towards future growth trends Social media remains the top theme in customer communication
E-commerce moves beyond device limits   
Germany’s Internet retail turnover will rise by 15 per cent in 2011 to around 20 billion euros according to forecasts by the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association (bvh). What is more, the e-commerce sector is working on the next stages of innovation so as to keep things growing that way. Cross-device commerce is set to overcome boundaries between online and offline worlds and give rise to integrated shopping solutions. Social media remains the overriding topic of customer relations, and contact centres are being adapted full speed to the Facebook and Twitter era. These were the findings of around 180 e-commerce and customer-care experts who convened in Hamburg for the 8th novomind annual “novoinsight²” conference at the end of October.
The unconventional event, with its slogan “Limitless exchange of ideas”, was a resounding success. Things kicked off with a witty improvisation by the business theatre group “Steife Brise” illustrating the credo of the conference, which is that the future of online retail is limitless—or in other words, cross-device.

Online retailers see a valuable sales impetus in cross-device commerce  
This was also the tenor of the visionary talks and discussions that were held this year in Hamburg’s former Central Customs Office. “Multichannel customers generate 90 per cent more income and an 80 per cent higher profit margin,” was the impressive prognosis IBM’s Ulrich Koch derived from his experience with e-commerce customers. Implementation will require more investment in modern shop IT, such as systems that can check in real time when and where a product is available. This year’s industry fairs have already seen prototypes for uniform shopping applications consisting of e-shops and apps as well as advertising space and screens in stationary shops. E-commerce managers are expecting the first market-ready solutions to appear in 2012.

The potential of online marketplaces and product information management is not yet exhausted   
Other key sales drivers, delegates stated, include online marketplaces and a stronger focus on structured product data. Experts from Europe’s four big industry players—ebay.de, neckermann.de, otto.de and quelle.de—all agreed in the discussions that connections to marketplaces represent an enormous potential for retailers. At the same time, e-shop operators want to show products more much accurately and nearer to true life, which will increase the likelihood of gaining more customers and not just visitors. In a recent study, host novomind demonstrated the connection between detailed product data preparation and customers’ willingness to buy.

Customer communication in the Facebook era keeps contact centres in suspense    
For the customer-care experts who attended, the incorporation of social media remains the in theme for 2012, as was shown by delegates’ response to the talk delivered by Sandra Goldt, Project Manager for Social Web Marketing at OTTO. In her best-practice report, she pointed out that collaboration between customer service and strategic customer loyalty in Web 2.0 is going to keep getting more important. Kai Westphal of mytoys.de explained that the need for advice has not increased, it has simply spread among several channels—which makes providing it more challenging. Contact centres, for instance, can expect to have to train their agents more in how to answer questions through social media channels. Many businesses are also faced with the organisational choice of training their staff as blended agents or as specialists for particular channels.

novomind AG
Since 1999, Hamburg-based novomind has been developing innovative e-business solutions in four disciplines for the modern Internet world. The company is a European technology leader in each of its segments of activity, and covers the entire digital value-added chain in retail and electronic customer communication.

eCommunication (solutions for contact and service centres): novomind is the fastest-growing company in the fields of electronic customer communication and mail management. novomind iAGENT eliminates the need to use multiple IT applications by providing a standardised communication system.

(e-shops and zoom servers): novomind advises companies in their choice of system, handles complete integration, and provides support for day-to-day operation.

PIM (Product Information Management): novomind enables the fast setting-up of customised product databases using novomind iPIM.

(marketplace integration): with its iPOEM software solution, novomind is the only supplier to provide the interface technology needed for quick and easy integration of projects involving high-traffic shops.

novomind AG is currently assisting more than 80 clients. Companies like Targobank, Der Club Bertelsmann, Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund, Ernsting’s family, EnBW, gebrüder götz, OTTO and QVC use novomind technology for their customer communication, for boosting their sales, and for making their e-business processes more efficient.
For more information visit www.novomind.com.



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