German e-commerce company Otto is the biggest European competitor of Amazon. According to former CEO and current chairman of the Otto Group supervisory board, Michael Otto, it is the only European alternative to the American e-commerce giant.
Otto made the statement in an interview with Business Insider. 76-year-old Michael Otto transformed the mail-order business of his father into a full e-commerce company. A successful e-commerce company, you may add, as it achieved total revenue of 13.7 billion euros last year. The Otto Group nowadays consists not only of Otto.de, but also popular online retailers such as About You, Limango, Manufactum, Sport Scheck and delivery service Hermes.
Transformation to an e-commerce company
In 1995, the German e-commerce giant started offering its entire assortment online. At that time, only 250,000 people in Germany had access to the internet. “It gave us plenty of time to develop into a digital enterprise and that was our advantage. Many competitors in Germany, who think that in two or three years you can turn a conventional company into a digital enterprise, have disappeared from the market.”
The difference between Otto and Amazon
The former CEO finds Amazon the perfect department store: “If you’re looking for something, you can usually find it on Amazon. That is what Amazon does perfectly.” This has proven to be a good business model for Amazon, but Otto does like to be different. They strive to be more inspirational, fashionable and service-oriented.
Examples of the service-oriented approach are its customer service and its delivery service, Hermes. Customers can call the customer service on topics they simply can’t find an answer to online. “We have the advantage of having Hermes, our delivery service. The advantage of having Hermes as a delivery service for furniture and large appliances shows in the fact that customers can choose a two-hour delivery window. As well as this, Hermes take back old items as well as all the packaging.”
The former CEO says the following about the company’s values: “Our values are another of our strengths. We include other retailers, brands and producers on our platform, we set criteria for them. We won’t accept Chinese companies who don’t pay VAT and we won’t allow cheap copies on our platform. I think in Europe, our platform, overall, is the only alternative to Amazon.”