Today’s retail environment has changed considerably: the majority of retailers now renounces their former conviction that either on- or offline retail would eventually substitute the other. Online retailers open offline stores to address new target segments; traditional retailers react to e-commerce competition with own online stores. Thus, the proliferation and integration of retail channels – the so-called “omi-channeling” – is the new standard. The purchase process, therefore, is not restricted to a single channel any more. While customers could formerly be attracted by opening high-street stores, and revenue be increased through a multiplication of these stores, customers now often have to be acquired as expensive online “traffic”. Consequently, the tools of digital marketing are vital for new and established retailers alike. Digital customer data and A/B-tests enable an increase in the marketing optimization frequency, which was unknown in the days of focus groups and quarterly reports. But surging online marketing costs and an increased strategic dependence on certain marketing channels constitute difficulties that companies have to handle. The Chair of Marketing and Retail explores the consequences of digitization for producers and retailers of consumer goods. We especially focus on teaching and further developing tools for the digital economy, particularly in online marketing. These emphases of are visible in multiple areas: Our teaching discusses different digital business models (e.g., class “E-Business”); our research investigates retail topics with a higher complexity than could be handled in day-to-day business (e.g., assessment of consumer migration patterns in on-, offline and mobile shops). The Re-Invent Retail Think Tank aims at fostering public debates on current topics of retailing and marketing, for instance through industry studies or discussions on a blog (www.handels.blog – in German only).
Prof. Dr. Erik Maier
Digitization extends the possibilities in retail: New retail and marketing channels, granular information about current and future customers and high frequency measurement of marketing performance are only a few examples. However, digital retailing is now more challenging than ever, as companies have to handle the higher complexity of the new possibilities.
My work at HHL targets at helping to simplify this complexity – for our students, but also for managers and other researchers. Digital marketing helps in this endeavor: its analytical tools help to disentangle the numerous sources of information and its solutions and frameworks enable a better communication with consumers. Digital retailing needs digital marketing.
My work as consultant with McKinsey & Company provided me with an understanding of traditional retail, which my doctoral research on point-of-sale optimization at ESCP Europe extended. During my subsequent work in e-commerce, online marketing became an increasingly important work and interest field.
In 2015, I joined HHL as Junior Professor in Retail and Multi-Channel Management, focusing on the topics of digital retailing and marketing. I head the HHL Re-Invent Retail Think Tank, which focuses on developing and transferring knowledge between research and business. For instance, our blog (Handels.blog) discusses digital topics. Besides my managerially-oriented work, I research on e-commerce and online marketing topics, publish in international journals and engage as a reviewer.
The digitization of retail is an opportunity. But no opportunity comes without risks and without the need to develop. My goal at HHL is to support this development process.