Shopping Without Borders – A Recap of This Year’s NEOCOM


This year’s NEOCOM (October 29th and 30th) took place under the motto “Internationalization strategies – how to win millennial customers in Europe and abroad” and began with the awards ceremony for the coveted NEOCOM awards. One went to IKEA Germany GmbH for their catalog 2015. The so-called “bookbook” is their main marketing tool and cleverly being orchestrated in all relevant channels. Don’t miss the video “Experience the power of a bookbook”:

The first day

The first conference day had begun less peaceful. Verdi protesters welcomed the participants at the gates of the site. Obviously they had come to express their resentment towards Amazon’s business practices.

Ralf KleberMeanwhile, Ralf Kleber, managing director of Amazon Germany, remained unimpressed and illustrated how Amazon is getting better every day at innovations for their customers instead. This summer, the internet giant acquired Twitch for almost one billion dollars. Twitch is a video portal for a huge community of online gamers and a perfect demonstration of Amazon’s customer orientation. Amazon’s innovation funnel is made up of experiments. Whereas auctions and the zShop, a sort of shop-in-shop system, did not perform, the marketplace is clearly the “winner of the game”. Amazon’s strong dedication to innovations is based on the mission “Be persevering in the vision, flexible in its implementation“.

What forms the millennial customer? Depending on the age group he or she is always online, is addicted to digital trends and innovations, uses several devices at the same time, is very well informed and connected, loves social media, and finally seeks for bespoke products for individual needs. However, there seems to be a gap between what people have and what people need.


What Macy’s/Bloomingdale’s would describe as the millennial customer is called LEC, leading edge consumer, at GfK. In his opening speech Andrew Phipps, Global Director Online Retail at GfK depicted the challenges and opportunities for e-commerce in the “age of the consumer”. According to the findings of the by now international association for consumer research the mobile phone is a to-go shopping device and the most important shopping tool for the LEC. Consequently, the measurement of his mobile wallet is key to success when it comes to mobile commerce transactions. Besides the wallet, one should also watch multi channels, generation matters, showroom effects, and LEC’s friends, which could be users and retailers at the same time.

During the CEO round, management board representatives of well-known companies such as IKEA, K-New Media, Parfümerie Douglas, mymuesli, MyParfum, and internetstores addressed their growth potentials. Not all of them see growth rates in internationalization. The path to growth for IKEA is the agglomeration of its branch network. Ergo, the furniture giant from Sweden will open new stores in highly frequented inner cities. The most recent opening in Hamburg-Altona is a precursor of this strategy. As the world’s main purchaser of wood, IKEA’s CSR plan is equally important. Douglas stays close to customers’ needs with a clear focus on trends and line extensions. Whereas mymuesli wants to continue to be strong in the niche and can serve smaller audiences, MyParfum follows a product-centric approach. internetstores relies on the previously successfully developed bike and outdoor markets and does not see a future in other close-by sectors, like health. The operator of high performing online shops such as, Bikester, Addnature, and CAMPZ continues to see internationalization as its gateway to growth.

After the CEO Round experts from various fields offered international insights, trends and innovations from abroad. Porter Erismann, former Vice President for international Marketing & Corporate Affairs at Alibaba granted the audience a glimpse into the success of the huge b2b trading platform and online auction house with headquarters in Hangzhou, China. Kevin Gardiner, Director Store Operations & Strategies at Macy’s/Bloomingdale’s impressed the audience with hands-on advice on how to become a Customer Service Innovator. In the international trend-talk Jonathan MacDonald, owner of the Thought Expansion Network, raised the question of “mobile commerce – game changer or just another sales channel?” In his point of view mobile commerce causes much disruption in communications, production, and the value chain.

The second day

On the second day, NEOCOM started with the panel “Category Killer 2014 – success stories of Pure Player”. Alexander Graf, founder and managing director of eTribes, focussed on e-commerce technologies, expectations and reality, especially in Big Data and CRM discussions. He made it very clear that any Big Data analysis will lack meaningfulness if basic data from e-commerce are missing or falsely interpreted. presented itself as “The Data Driven Company”. Managing director Alexander Brand demonstrated that with, Kindertraum, and Toys the company has developed a wide and deep portfolio to fulfill baby’s and children’s dreams. An international company from scratch has established itself as a significant player in the market with 350,000 active customers, 85,000 different products, 8,000 parcels per day, and fully SLA-driven logistics.

Reach sales volumes of 110 million Euros in twelve countries within three years! To meet these ambitious goals Westwing Home & Living concentrates on internationalization and successful cross-border strategies. Stefan Smalla, Westwing’s founder and managing director shared his lessons learnt with NEOCOM’s attentive audience:

  • The best team wins by determination, pragmatism, intelligence
  • Launch new markets intensely and rapidly
    • Focus on key milestones
    • Effectiveness before efficiency
    • Experimentation before application of best practices
  • Manage Performance
    • Global KPI system
    • Constant benchmarking
    • Short-term budget allocation
    • Marketing by performance only
  • Share the good and the bad
    • Knowledge sharing
    • Document best & worst practices
    • E-mailing is frustrating, but it works
    • Global leadership
  • Be open-minded, honest, direct, and take tough decisions
  • Be mission-conscious. In Westwing’s case its to
    “inspire and make every home a beautiful home”

Westwing’s speed in opening new markets is impressive. The Home & Living provider is able to go live within only one week (needless to say, I was happy to see that some of this exceptional speed is due to the product of this humble company blog).

NEOCOM covered a broad range of topics

Besides internationalization many other exciting topics were on the agenda of the two-day NEOCOM conference, such as future trading scenarios,  multi-commerce, the age of the customer, data driven e-commerce, returns management and new business models between innovation pressure and experimental mood.

A big thanks to NEOCOM for organizing a well thought-out program with knowledgeable as well as passionate speakers. Looking forward to next year’s event!