Business in 2020: Prospects for owner-operated specialty stores
Interview with Niko Stammel, Managing Director of Textilhaus Stammel (Clothing Apparel Store Stammel) in Buchloe
Since 1904, the Stammel family operates a clothing apparel store in Buchloe in Ostallgäu, 70 kilometers west of Munich. Owner Niko Stammel is not afraid of the big city. Quite the contrary: He invests heavily, renovating the headquarters building last year and expanded the sales floor to 2,000 square meters. Just now, the store in Mindelheim, which is 20 km away and has been around for 40 years, was remodeled. The third store in Schwabmünchen will have its turn in 2012. Stammel believes that customers are turning away from the big city hustle and bustle and appreciate good service. And he cautions: Specialty retailers should not neglect the Internet.
In November you reopened your store in Mindelheim after remodeling. What are you particularly proud of?
We are proud of the fact that we found the right concept for our customers. The newly designed foyer with the trendy brands was very well received and the new menswear department also turned into a customer magnet – despite its location on the upper floor. Guidelines for the conservation of the historic main building presented a tough challenge for us. The main building is connected to two adjacent houses. This makes for a narrow, elongated floor plan. I am pleased that we were nonetheless artistically successful in creating unity.
Mindelheim has approximately 14,000 residents and Buchloe 12,000. Do locations like this provide prospects for your company?
Yes – the prospects are very positive at the moment. More and more people want to live in our area. But living also means cultivated shopping in a pleasant, informative atmosphere – no rush and no hustle and bustle like in the big city. Both towns have a completely different catchment area. Buchloe benefits immensely from the strongly growing West Munich. Many Buchloe residents work in this Western Munich region and are glad to have an alternative to the chronically congested Munich city center. Mindelheim on the other hand is more oriented toward the East and benefits greatly from the growth of the Memmingen area. Generally we are certain that residents in the future will also appreciate local provisions with a large commitment to service.
What do you envision Stammel to be like in the year 2020?
We will be a place of communication for the residents of these strongly grown communities. We are developing Stammel to be a brand with nationwide force, which is also outstandingly represented in the new media.
Are you afraid of customer attrition to the Internet by 2020?
If you would have asked me this question 15 years ago, I would have immediately said yes. But the reality of the past 10 years has shown that while there is indeed a big market on the Net, our customers nevertheless increasingly shop with us and appreciate the quality of service. If customer attrition should indeed happen some day, then it will only be together with us. We have considered the subject of the Internet quite aggressively from the beginning and have been available online with our own web pages and shop systems since 1999.
The future will show how strongly online shopping will continue to catch on. The personal connection to the salesperson is important and is very hard to replicate digitally. Particularly in our branch of trade we saw that even after the Internet hype not all that glitters on the Web is gold. So far we have only had growing sales volumes, despite the allegedly strongly increasing competition on the Net – and this one has been conjured up since 1996.
Expanding or yielding – would you like to continue to grow?
Yes we do.
Which design trends do you follow in your shop fittings?
None – and if we do, it’s time-delayed. The store should not be extremely modern, but also not appear outdated.
What will characterize business in general and the textile industry in particular until 2020?
Digitalization will have a strong impact on our daily lives, but the demographic changes will have the largest influence on our actions in the next few years. Until 2020 not much is going to change in that aspect, but in the years after completely new concepts – all the way to assisted shopping – will be required. Ambient Assisted Living is very important, but we also believe in Ambient Assisted Shopping.
Ecology and energy saving are currently an important topic. For you, too?
Yes it is. By installing the latest lighting technology in our three stores for example, we reduced the energy consumption per light bulb from 70 to 35 watt. We are not relying on LEDs at the moment, because unit costs are still too high.
What do you think about Digital Signage, large monitor screens for sales offers and emotional videos?
We already use Digital Signage and currently have it installed on a large scale in all of our stores for the Christmas shopping season. The equipment is centrally controlled and can be populated with daily advertising messages, special offers or product information.
Will people still pay cash at your stores in 2020? Or will they pay by using a card, the cell phone or fingerprint?
Cash is getting less and less important – card, cell phone and fingerprint are all okay, but please no implanted RFID until the year 2040!
Will RFID prevail?
Yes. The first printable RFID tags are available and as soon as this enters mass production, RFID will be the ideal alternative to the barcode. This will be an enormous improvement during inventory.
And finally: What type of role do trade fairs like the EuroShop in Düsseldorf play for you?
Trade fairs are a great place for communication for the B2B sector, just like our stores are in the B2C-area.
Interview: René Schellbach, EuroShop.de