Round Table Copenhagen: Translating Retail into Cross-border Business Strategies


Revolutionizing antiquated business models and efficiently adapting to the changes of e-commerce are crucial aspects to keep traction in the e-commerce world. Retailers need to adapt to the demands of current business structures and listen to what the consumer has to say in order to create a successful cross-border and omnichannel strategy. These were the main themes at the Round Table in Copenhagen on May 27th 2015, organized by Ecommerce Europe, and FDIH. The event is part of a series of annual Round Tables around Europe throughout the year.

FDIH’s Mr. Michel Lieffering, an omnichannel business strategy entrepreneur, and Mr. Alberto Billato, Group eCommerce Marketing Manager at De’Longhi opened the Round Table by giving us their insights into the diverse aspects of cross-border e-commerce and how retailers can approach the implementation of an omnichannel business model.

Be succesful, adapt to change

Mr. Lieffering kicked off his speech with the central statement that retailers themselves are the ones who have to make the essential changes. The source of a vital business is having a strong vision of what should be done in the industry. It is crucial that retailers are willing to adapt to the developments on the international market. There is no enhancement without change and there is no change without the willingness of letting go of what is no longer working out.

Examples: succesful adaptation to change

In order to name some evident examples of how successful commitment to change can be, Mr. Lieffering refers to the alterations the Dutch retailer Wehkamp and the German enterprise Conrad Electronics have experienced. When he joined Wehkamp in the end of the 90s, the company was on the verge of moving from being a catalogue business to entering e-commerce. The alterations Wehkamp went through were so fundamental that now they don’t even have or need a catalogue anymore.

Conrad Electronics is another example how a company can revolutionize its business strategy. Conrad Electronics has been a mail order company, but was willing to turn the page and change its entire structure. It especially included bringing in new knowledge into the company and new people who have a flexible mind-set. It is about making that step forward and thinking ahead.

Platform development

The change has to go through the entire supply chain but if the retailer does not go along with that change, he will eventually loose. Platforms enable the support of retailers who are passionate about their brands, but who are not strong on the web. It can be compared to the methods of Amazon, which is financed by the brands themselves. The brands want to accomplish that consumers go directly to Amazon and shop for a certain brand. Therefore creating your own platform offers tremendous opportunities, especially as a wholesaler.

Sharing responsibilities

Mr. Billato explains how the Longhi Group has developed its own customer themes for each market and set up a localized content to fuel its e-commerce presence. It has been a challenge to engage more directly with consumers and not relying too much on the retailers to arouse interest of the consumer. There has been a quick roll-out of e-commerce sales in different countries without having a multi-billion budget to spend. Their approach especially included a motivated team, a platform and sharing crucial responsibilities, in order to create stability between the headquarters and the local teams.

Examining the local markets

The local marketing is essential here, since only local professionals really understand the market and know how to approach it. The shared platform enables a swift and efficient market, as it keeps up the identity of the different brands.Mr. Billato emphasizes that the most important lesson the Longhi Group has learned in its endeavors in e-commerce is to make sure to entirely understand the functions and circumstances of a local market before you enter it.

We are looking forward to welcoming Mr. Lieffering as a jury member and Mr. Billato as a speaker at the Global E-commerce Summit.

The next Round Table will take place in Helsinki on the 25th of June.