Interview with Volker Köller, Sales manager at J. D. Geck
The metal works company J. D. Geck from Altena in Germany’s Sauerland region has expanded its range of products and joins the market for shopping carts. The response at the EuroShop was great, says Sales manager Volker Köller. He believes that there still is a lot that speaks in favor of shopping carts made of metal. Geck utilizes its experience in surface finishing for its new products. The company expects about 60 million Euros in total revenue in 2011 and manufactures in 4 factories in Germany.
You have expanded your product line. What’s new?
Our commercial customers find POS solutions at Geck, both for the actual shopfitting as well as for shop decoration and price labeling. With our new shopping cart product division we are able to provide both the classic supermarket sector, the hypermarkets, beverage stores as well as home improvement stores with high quality shopping- and transport carts. Apart from that, we now also offer POS products made of plastic. We thus complement our range of products with another area of competence. The focus is here on classic scanner rails, poster frames, acrylic price stands and also customized display solutions.
What are the benefits of a metal shopping cart?
Metal shopping carts stand out due to their sturdiness and longevity and are still the most sought-after models in retail. Plastic models keep being discussed, but so far have not made a breakthrough on the market. The reason for this on the one hand is the visual appearance which in plastic seems very huge and non-transparent. On the other hand, tremendous investment costs for injection molds are necessary for the different model types. Sanitation also plays a role, since the large plastic models offer germs a multitude of possibilities to settle into the plastic.
Metal shopping carts – especially with our new nano-sealed surface – have an absolutely smooth surface and are easy to clean. Their shiny, transparent appearance does not change for a long time, even in the harsh everyday use. With the help of nano-particles that penetrate into the tiniest pores of the zinc surface, the surface is protected against corrosion for a long time. Cleaning is actually possible at any time using high-pressure cleaners!
What were the most important considerations in developing the shopping cart?
The most important cornerstone was the realization that there is a demand for shopping carts “made in Germany“ of high quality on the market and that this demand is not met for a long time yet and therefore definitely allows for another market participant. Based on our long-term experience in manufacturing metal components for retail, we can fall back on a rich wealth of experience pertaining to manufacturing processes and surface finishing.
Due to our continuous work, we have access to the respective decision makers in retail, who have known us as a reliable, competent manufacturer for many years. They encouraged us by their interest in our decision to produce shopping carts. We decided to build a completely new manufacturing plant in Altena. Within just two years, we implemented a modern production facility to manufacture shopping- and transport carts on 8000 square meters and are now in a position to also manufacture larger quantities. Our already existing surface finishing facilities also help us in this, where we can manufacture both galvanic as well as powder-coated carts.
How can you set yourself apart from the competition with metal shopping carts?
The competition is very strongly dominated by a few large suppliers. So far, products from the Far East have not found comprehensive access to the European market, since they exhibit significant quality defects. You can definitely set yourself apart from Far East products with premium quality shopping - and transport carts from Germany. You can only stand out from the European competition if you offer product characteristics that are so far unique. In this instance the main argument for shopping carts made by Geck is the novel surface, which makes the metal surfaces of shopping carts absolutely weather-proof with nano-seal coating technology. Yet at an affordable price, we offer retailers a long-term product with lasting value.
Metal is an important resource. How long do shopping carts last and how can you refinish them again? Who wants such second hand caddies?
Basically, Geck-shopping carts last forever. The carts in most cases are damaged by violent abuse during daily use. Refurbishment is possible at any time on site by exchanging wearing parts like castors, handles or plastic parts and coin-operated lockers. At the end of a shopping cart’s life cycle it basically is 100 percent recyclable and can be reintroduced into the cycle as fused-in metal. Second hand carts, that is to say refurbished carts, at most stand a chance in smaller business platforms or in developing countries.
Advertisement on the shopping cart: What pays off for retailers?
Advertisement on the shopping cart is definitely a field where there still is unused potential. Early experiments with interactive advertising mediums are already in progress. A lot of things will still develop over the next few years in this area. RFID technology and loyalty programs like for example Payback virtually show the way in this direction. The question will be how far the customer is willing to be further influenced by electronic advertising.
Volker Köller: “The response to our appearance at the EuroShop was very promising. “ © Geck
At this point, the EuroShop was several months ago. How was the trade fair response? Are their palpable new customers and orders?
The response to our appearance at the EuroShop was very promising. With our clear positioning as a manufacturer of high quality shopping carts “made in Germany“, we received a lot of attention and were able to already actualize the first major deals and initiations. The access to new customers could also be actualized via the EuroShop! We are extremely optimistic about the future.
How will the company continue to develop? Are there new foreign markets?
The Geck Company has evolved very positively over the past years. Solely in 2009 there was a dip in sales volumes, though all other market competitors also had to accept this kind of dip. In parallel to the development of the new business areas shopping cart and plastic products for the POS, we also further expedited Internationalization. In the past two years new sales offices in Italy, France, Austria/Switzerland and the Middle East in Dubai were established. Due to the Internationalization of chain stores in an eastward direction, marketplaces like Russia, Romania and virtually all other eastern countries have become the center of attention. We continue to work on Internationalization and the expansion of our manufacturing capacities in these times of great economic activity.
Interview by René Schellbach, iXtenso.com