The online retailer Otto and ECE, Europe’s market leader in the shopping centre sector, have set up the Hamburg-based joint venture Stocksquare GmbH & Co. KG to combine stationary retail with Internet shopping. This unique, cross-channel link aims to boost offline sales at ECE shopping centres through greater reach and to grow Otto’s online selection by including local suppliers. Effective immediately, the product ranges of local retailers and name-brand manufacturers can be added to www.otto.de. The online Stocksquare platform displays local assortments and their availability in stores. The new services will initially be available to retailers who operate shops in one of 90 ECE centres in Germany. More partners and extended services, such as nationwide, same-day delivery are being planned in response to changed purchasing behaviour.
“The shopping experience of the future will take place both online and offline,” said Alexander Otto, CEO of ECE. The www.otto.de web page already indicates the local availability for around 20,000 products by Marc O’Polo, myToys, RENO, SportScheck, Brax, and Ulla Popken. Additional items, shops, and partners will be added gradually. Alexander Birken, CEO of Otto Group, commented: “With this ambitious connected commerce project, we are building a bridge between online and offline shopping for our customers.” Around 60 per cent of residents in Germany can reach an ECE shopping centre in less than 30 minutes making for a unique selling point.
Integrating more online platforms
The service will not be limited to stores in ECE shopping centres only, but will include products at other stores as well. The connected commerce concept has been designed to connect with other online platforms in future as well. Plans are being laid to expand the services by a reservation function for items in local stores, a payment option for locally available products online (Click & Collect) and same-day delivery from the centre to an address in the vicinity. The shopping centres will act as local warehouses and delivery hubs. In February, Otto’s subsidiary Bonprix opened a pilot shop with a digital shopping concept in downtown Hamburg.