After about a year of working with Ortovox, we spoke with Friederike Siegler / Team Lead B2C to gather her experiences over the past year.
ORTOVOX stands for the highest possible protection on the mountain - since 1980. ORTOVOX sees itself as a brand for mountaineers and offers year-round products for ski touring, freeriding, alpine climbing and alpine touring. ORTOVOX Sportartikel GmbH, with 120 employees worldwide, is part of Schwanhäußer Industrie Holding GmbH & Co. KG with headquarters in Taufkirchen (Munich).
We planned the launch of our new website for spring 2020. We wanted to strengthen not only our own position, but also that of our retailers. Brick-and-mortar retailers are very close to our hearts, which is why retail support is immensely important to us - especially for smaller and medium-sized retailers, who often don't have the capacity to develop their own online strategy. We were looking for a viable solution to link the online with the offline world. Additionally, we had the premise that the result should be transferable to our international strategy.
APPROACH / SELECTION OF THE SERVICE PROVIDER
In the summer of 2019, we had a classic pitch. In advance, we had sought advice from our online agency. After the presentations, our team's decision was unanimous in favor of OUTTRA. The reason was the impression we all had: we were convinced that we had found an honest, cooperative and competent service provider in OUTTRA, which covers exactly this topic with its portfolio. We considered it an advantage that OUTTRA is completely focused on the sports and outdoor industry, is flexible and does not impose generalistic solutions that are foreign to the industry. However, the fair, transparent costs and the fixed package price were also decisive.
From other brands that were already working with OUTTRA and had already implemented some tools, we were able to get experience values that were congruent and enormously positive. After that, there was no hesitation for us and we jumped on as the third brand.
For the targeted support of the stationary specialized trade, the end customer should be shown on our new brand website, through the "Where-to-buy Local" tool, which local dealer currently has a certain article available. As many dealers as possible should participate and the processing should be automatic, simple, without a lot of time.
The project responsibility for OUTTRA lies with us in the sales department, as it is primarily aimed at supporting the sales of local retailers. For technical support, another colleague was newly assigned to the team for the entire processing regarding data transfer and interfaces.
The fact that OUTTRA, as a start-up company, was and is enormously interested in our specific needs turned out to be very positive. We were and are able to help shape a number of things, as well as initiate interesting further developments, from which new, innovative and refined tools emerge that are easy to use and do not exclusively offer the fixed building block elements that are already in the portfolio.
Our good feeling from the beginning has been confirmed until today - it is a win win situation for all! The honest partnership has developed into a friendly cooperation with the highest mutual respect. Parallel to Germany, we were also able to take off with the integration in Italy, Switzerland, France and Austria.
In addition to the retailers who were already using an ERP system and the automatic connection worked without any problems in most cases, we also really wanted to give our smaller specialists, some of whom do not have an ERP system, the opportunity to participate in the system. After some deliberation, we were able to develop a simple solution together with OUTTRA.
When the construct was ready, the dealer acquisition took some time - it was great that some dealers were already connected to the system via the two brands, such as many Intersport dealers or Globetrotter stores in Germany. Then came the consideration of who should address the dealers who were not yet participating. Our decision fell on our field staff, who have the closest and most trusted connection to the customers in their region. Since this fell right in the lockdown phase, OUTTRA supported us with a presentation that our field staff, as well as our importers, went through with their customers in a virtual meeting.
For each country, lists were created and dealers who expressed interest were marked - OUTTRA contacted these dealers directly and personally and discussed the administrative procedure. As a result, we are now able to roll out the system pretty much nationwide.
We were so excited about OUTTRA that we initially had to learn what the dealers' concerns and needs were in order to become as excited as we were. Until we got feedback from hesitant customers that they were basically not releasing their merchandise availabilities to suppliers. The concerns were immediately put to rest, as this is not necessary. All that needs to be communicated is whether the product is available or not. However, if the customer wants to take advantage of other benefits and services, OUTTRA recommends transferring the inventory as well - but that is up to each retailer to decide. The data does not go to us as a brand, but exclusively to our service provider OUTTRA, so that it can be entered into the system - data protection has top priority!
FLEXIBLE FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS
In spring 2020, we went live with our own ORTOVOX online store. Shortly after, the first COVID-19 conditional lockdown followed and the stores had to close. Immediately, we asked ourselves how we could support our local retailers even more during this challenging time. After an internal brainstorming session, we came up with several ideas and decided to pass on 25 percent of the revenue from each checkout process. We definitely didn't want to be winners of the lockdown with our new brand store.
Our biggest challenge, however, was the technical implementation. OUTTRA had a very feasible implementation proposal for this issue as well, and the "Support Your Local ORTOVOX Dealer" project could be realized promptly via an interface solution.
As a special measure, even after the reopening of the stationary trade, we decided to continue the "Support Your Local Dealer" campaign, which has become very popular in the meantime, and to continue to support the specialist trade with 10 percent of the retention value of all orders via the online store. During checkout, the customer is automatically shown the three nearest dealers to the billing address. The end consumer can choose the retailer to be supported. The retailers receive a quarterly statement and the corresponding amount transferred.
An important feature, which, to be honest, only became really popular due to the multiple and longer lockdowns, is the DIGITAL ORTOVOX SHOWWINDOW. For every dealer who is connected to OUTTRA with their availabilities, this is displayed on the classic ORTOVOX dealer search, among other things. A great advantage for all those who do not have their own online store. Customers can thus immediately see which ORTOVOX range the local dealer has available. In addition, our dealers can easily implement the digital showcase on their own website and forward it to their customers via social media or mailings.
SUCCESS - MEASURABILITY
Through our evaluations, we can track how often the "Buy Local Button" was clicked in which country and can thus put the click numbers in relation to the visitor sessions. Studies show that especially in the outdoor sector, customers like to find out about products online in order to buy them later at a local retailer. This phenomenon is known as the ROPO effect (Research Online Purchase Offline).
A positive measurable side effect, however, was the connection of 80 Intersport retailers from Austria, with whom OUTTRA had in the meantime realized a cooperation. Through the central interface to Intersport AT, we were able to connect many retailers with Ortovox availability at a stroke. We hope that other buying groups will jump on the bandwagon and see the benefits for their dealers.
The OUTTRA team around Siegbert Müller has passionately dealt with the sports & outdoor industry and has an enormous know-how about the specific structures and needs - they know exactly what is important.
OUTTRA has the desire and great interest to permanently develop with its customers and thinks "out of the box". If we have new challenges or ideas in this subject and we face the problem, we discuss it with OUTTRA. In a very timely manner, and in the case of urgent problems even at very short notice, we receive feedback from OUTTRA with a professional, practicable approach to solving the problem.
The cooperation is very service- and solution-oriented, open, honest and absolutely at eye level. Every topic is taken up with interest from the beginning, considered holistically and the needs of retailer, brand and consumer are discussed in all facets, analyzed and immediately integrated into the solution finding. The short distances and competent contact persons make it easy. As the saying goes, with OUTTRA there are no problems, only solutions.....
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