Online offers were mushrooming long before the Covid crisis hit. Especially smaller retailers are faced with unrelenting competition while sales opportunities are going down. To generate customer contacts despite the oversupply of offers, sellers need to target major e-tailing hubs where many prospective buyers are teeming to create around-the-clock traffic. More and more shops are therefore using online marketplaces as additional sales channels.
And no one knows this better than Tobias Röbig. He is Fiege’s Head of Marketplace and Omnichannel Retail and has also been the managing director of the Hamburg-based start-up, heyconnect GmbH since February 2020. “There is a very clear trend towards the digital platform economy. Businesses wishing to succeed with their eCommerce sales have no way around major online marketplaces such as Amazon or OTTO”, he says.
Easy access to eCommerce platforms
heyconnect is therefore specialised in this business model. Everything started in 2012. Back then, Florian Curdt and Marcel Brindöpke founded the innovative enterprise. The eCommerce experts had been involved in the development of OTTO’s platform since mid-2000 and while doing so, understood the significant potential this marketplace model had to offer. At the same time, they spotted a major obstacle: Placing products on these platforms looked a lot easier than it actually is, which turned out to be problematic for many brands. This launched the idea for heyconnect: marketplace integration for fashion labels. With their know-how and the respective networks, selling this idea to their first clients was a no-brainer.
heyconnect does all the work for retailers operating in eCommerce
The idea worked so well that additional platforms like Zalando and AboutYou became the focus. However, they had to acquire specific expertise first: “Each marketplace has its own access criteria and requires different mandatory information such as size, colour, or fit. So it’s not easy to keep track”, the expert explains. Moreover, errors and problems such as with shipping or returns management, can at times result in accounts being frozen. Businesses can bypass this stress factor by working with heyconnect.
Today, the portfolio comprises more than 30 leading marketplaces where heyconnect oversees the complete platform management for over 160 brands. “Most of our clients provide only the merchandise and product information. Everything else – from integration and product monitoring to warehousing to market-compliant shipping – we handle”, Röbig says. This includes next to creating customised delivery notes or return labels also a review of the invoices. If needed, the Hamburg-natives even generate content. “In an ideal scenario, this allows us to send new clients onto their first marketplace somewhere between four to six weeks”, the managing director adds.
Fiege supports eCommerce start-up
However, the fast-growing order volume also came with issues for heyconnect. After all, with each new brand and each added platform, the logistical challenges grew proportionately. At the beginning of this year, the start-up therefore sought professional help. It found what it was looking for in Greven: “Fiege is known for supporting young enterprises that have innovative ideas. In heyconnect, we have found just the right partner to further expand our marketplace strategy”, is how Röbig explains this decision.
The MegaCenter in Apfelstädt near Erfurt is currently being added-on. Use of Fiege’s infrastructure is a crucial element of the partnership. “This makes us considerably more scalable in the future in terms of fulfilment and allows us to offer an even better service to our clients”, Röbig says. Additional Fiege warehouses are to be added on gradually.
Fiege enhances eCommerce fulfilment profile
Moreover, the two companies wanted to merge their existing eCommerce services in order to kick-start a joint offer: “By co-operating with heyconnect, Fiege can step forward even more visibly as an innovative partner within eCommerce fulfilment in the future. We ask our portfolio clients to join us on our marketplace journey”, Röbig is delighted to say.
And even heyconnect’s portfolio is to grow following the co-operation: “Fiege’s individual business units can draw on highly specific sector know-how. We can make this accessible to develop additional business segments and platforms with heyconnect”, the managing director explains.