Interview with Hannes Rambold, CEO MobiMedia Group
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is not a department in a company, but rather the holistic idea of business management that’s based on customer value. Based on this maxim, Hannes Rambold asks for software that’s used for customer relationship management at any time to present the correct fact analysis without search time. Only if it’s easy to use, will it also be accepted by users. According to Rambold, the industry asks more and more for special retail portals for CRM via the Internet.
MobiMedia is a specialist for CRM solutions in the B2B-consumer goods market. At the EuroCIS you introduced Internet software for B2C. How does one relate to the other?
To have a strong Internet presence B2C, meaning with the consumer as the target audience, the manufacturer needs structured data about availability on the floor spaces, target group definitions and product information. All this is collected in the B2B section. In turn, experience from the detailed consumer behavior is incorporated in the analysis of the manufacturer’s overall planning of the product line. What’s new is the subject of coordinating online sales with sales at the actual stores. Today we need coordinated actions, since the consumer uses both areas.
What differentiates CRM B2B and B2C?
Viewed traditionally, CRM is always the reference of consumer to manufacturer. The organization of floor spaces is only a sub-area here. Today we use consumer analysis to select suitable floor spaces and for the product line presentation on the different surfaces. The mix of floor spaces by modern manufacturers needs to be able to face up to the question: Do I reach my respective target audience in every area?
You view yourself as a market leader in the clothing industry. Other main areas include footwear-, sports-, non-food-, watch- and jewelry industries. Do the industry sectors work in a similar fashion? Do the respective retailers need to be addressed differently?
The sub-sectors operate very similarly, but they also differ in many details. All have in common that they deal with fashion products. That’s why target audience analysis, fashion developments and strengthening the profile of your own brand play a crucial role.
As a software provider for the sales area, we need to ensure that the fashion statement of a brand on the sales floor is in fact being received and conversely for consumer attitudes and trends to flow back into the design. At the moment we notice a trend towards a more uniform behavior: system distribution, the manufacturer’s own floor spaces and an increased brand image – up to now only done by fashion providers – are more and more being integrated in the sports-, footwear- and jewelry industry sectors.
How strong is the willingness of the individual retailers to use special portals by manufacturers, where they can analyze their sales figures and track orders?
If the portals are clearly laid out and offer a strong way to purchase products, they are very strongly used. Our portals go online without training courses and without PR measures. The demand is nationwide. However, these tools should also be actively used in sales and marketing. Today our customers already combine pre-orders in the showroom with the online portal and this way are able to actively take advantage of the benefits. The order dialog is prepared online by retail and collections already previewed ahead of time. After the order date the order is revised online. Flash programs accumulate, because they can be presented and completed online within 24 hours.
How technophile are footwear retailers or jewelers for instance?
Today we have no acceptance issues anymore. Retailers are technically current. The portals and the software are assumed and used without training.
What are the most important decision criteria in the selection of CRM software?
In our industry sectors, sustained product acquisition is crucial. If you are interested in supplying service to your customers, you need to deal with the question of the right product at the right time. Those who do this best, make the sale. The second aspect is software intelligence, which guarantees to present the correct fact analysis at any time without search time and to be adopted with great user friendliness. “When numbers talk, fashion dies", is a conclusion by the fashion house Wöhrl. And vice versa the software’s job is to provide decision support without user effort and to support communication channels between the players.
Mobile devices for customer contact are becoming more and more important for sales. What do you expect from the iPad? Are there noteworthy alternatives?
Since 1986 MobiMedia has already been using mobile touch screen systems! Apple has started a new age with the new haptic technology and operation. The iPad illustrates a presentation- and conversation device, which complements software-based computers, but does not replace them. The alternative to the iPad will come, but they still have to work on their user friendliness and haptic technology. We expect an additional surge with the new Win8 operating system and corresponding new versions of browser user interfaces. At that point we will also get alternative screen sizes and digital workbenches, but also interactive systems on the floor spaces.
How elaborate is the adaptation of CRM software for tablet PCs or smartphones?
The complexity depends on the flexibility of the software infrastructure. At MobiMedia we have minimal expenditure. The first integrated systems with iPad will be delivered in the early summer of 2011. Our customers can simply add the ipad without having to redesign their distribution system.
Different company areas take part in CRM. How does one juggle field service, Website and call center all at once?
Two factors play a role here. First: An integrated Olap-based planning system controls efficient dialog. Secondly: screens and hardware that have been adapted for different workstations provide effectual systems use. Non-integrated systems in the company’s infrastructure, the infamous differences in media formats (in Germany called “Medienbruch”) present the biggest problem to handle. We always emphasize that there is no CRM software, because the CRM idea should be integrated in each deployed software. Only in this way can possible savings be achieved. After all, CRM is not a department in the company, but rather the holistic idea of business management that’s based on customer value.
The industry doesn’t just have an eye on retail, but also on purchasing organizations. How do you ensure coherent data all around?
We collaborate with several trade associations and pool a manufacturer’s catalogs, accompanying information, orders and trade goods management together. Just for our customer Intersport we work with several hundred manufacturers and over a thousand retailers with one uniform system. The solution to cutting the Gordian knot of "how do individual catalogs fit together with standards" lies in modesty. Only similar data can be standardized. Individual items continue to run individually and if needed have to be manually mapped between the systems during order processing. Admittedly, this also always involves an individual decision by the purchaser.
Example sports retailers: The Federation of European Sporting Goods Retail Associations, FEDAS, wants to provide easy electronic data exchange in the sporting goods industry. Small retailers always struggle with IT. Are they the problem children of the system?
Especially sport retailers have an easier time after FEDAS was able to prevail with its product grouping. We don’t foresee any particular problems for small retailers. As long as small retailers use industry-sector-specific inventory management systems or take advantage of their membership in a trade association, they have all the options of digital data exchange without needing special knowledge. However, the attempt to obtain data exchange at a cheap rate through especially custom-made software won’t go well.
MobiMedia had a red double-decker bus at the EuroCIS. How did the trade fair go in your opinion? What were your visitors interested in?
The double-decker bus was supposed to convey that MobiMedia always also wants to trigger emotions with its software. Software can also inspire. I think we were successful in this endeavor. The visitors shared our belief that good systems also always have a motivating effect. First and foremost we were able to fire up many prospective buyers for our retail management tool MobiWaves, which goes online these upcoming days. Large retail organizations work on the coordinated organization of their surfaces. And so the emphasis was on planning systems, digital dialog through linked digital advertising screens and iPads, as well as the data supply for webshops via product information management– PIM.
Which trends do you foresee in the next years in terms of CRM and sales and marketing IT?
We see the trend in the use of shared intelligent databases, which in combination with CRM systems provide individual user-oriented information on the interface, which can be centrally controlled. That sounds incomprehensible. So here is an example: a customer – whether on the Internet or on the interface – in the future receives information about products that are precisely tailored to his needs and products that fit his profile are also always available, work for today’s weather situation and so forth. This info only runs on self-explanatory systems and is visualized in any case with as little text as possible. So we will visualize our business.
And what is perhaps just hype?
One quickly dissipating hype are proprietary systems which are not linked to the comprehensive IT landscape, as well as systems that are not able to filter individual and relevant information and therefore are retrospectively oriented.
Interview: René Schellbach, First publication: EuroCIS.com