Germany is the largest e-commerce market in Europe. The current market size is about 66 billion euros and still growing – nearly 12% every year. In this interview with Zoltan Maklary, the Head of Performance Marketing at Notebooksbilliger.de which is the German leader in selling consumer electronics online, you will learn how the brand works to keep this position. And to scale twice as fast as the German ecommerce market.
Paulina, E-commerce Berlin Expo: According to 2015 data published by Statista, Notebooksbilliger.de is the fourth biggest online store in Germany. How did you build this position? Who’s your competition?
Zoltan Maklary, Notebooksbilliger.de: Our company was founded by our CEO Arnd von Wedemeyer in 1989 as C&P Consulting in the IT consulting sector and started trading with consumer electronics in 2002 as notebooksbilliger.de. Since then we are following the same goal: to offer the most attractive products for the best price to our customers. Notebooksbilliger.de is much more than notebooks, we have now over 30.000 products in our online shop: smartphones, TVs, sound systems, washing machines, gadgets and almost anything with a plug. We have started to offer our products in brick and mortar stores in 2010 and we are opening new stores in major cities continuously. Our competitors in the German market are the large retail chains from Media-Saturn. We are holding our leading position within the online stores and scaling our business successfully by focusing on our expertise in ecommerce.
Typically, retail margin on electronic goods is low. How do you tackle this problem at Notebooksbilliger?
In this very competitive market you need to be profitable with every single order. To achieve this, you have to excel in purchasing, logistics and marketing. With a well-executed strategy in these areas and a very effective management you can unlock further business potentials. We are now in a position where we can offer the best products with premium services like same day delivery or extended express guarantee for our customers.
Most of your customers come from Germany, but you also sell and ship abroad. What is the exact geographical division of your customers? What are your sales figures for local (i.e. German-speaking) and international customers?
We are focusing on the German speaking markets and running online shops in Austria and Germany. We are shipping mostly to Germany. Austria is important to us, but the market size is 10 times smaller there.
Since you are in the leader’s position in the German-speaking part of Europe, do you plan to grow on the international market as well?
Building the business abroad will be the next step in scaling revenues. Currently we are focusing to our German operations with opening new physical stores and introducing premium services to our customers.
Let’s talk a bit about marketing – and performance marketing in particular. How do you target German-speaking customers? What channels are the best for this (Google AdWords, Google Display Network, social media, affiliate networks – or maybe something else)?
We need to work very cost effective due the low margins in consumer electronics. We have a strong focus on the non-paid online channels (SEO, Social Media, CRM) and we are investing heavily in paid marketing with very accurate targeting. Google and Facebook are providing the technology and the reach for us. It is only up to our online marketing team how much we make out of it. We have a strong testing culture at the company. If we see new concepts or beta features being rolled out in our region, then we are always open for a test campaign to see what we can achieve with a new approach. With these learnings we are trying to optimize our marketing channels and open up new revenue streams.
And how about the non-German-speaking customers? What do you do to target them? What’s most effective?
We are operating only on German speaking markets, but you can work with the main global players in every other country and setup your localized campaigns.
Based on your expertise, how would you characterize the German ecommerce market and a typical German customer buying online? In general – or based on your experiences at Notebooksbilliger.
Germany is the largest ecommerce market in Europe with almost the highest population (second after Russia). The current online market size is about 66 billion euros and still growing, yearly nearly 12%. Notebooksbilliger.de is scaling twice as fast as the German market with 25% yearly revenue growth and we are about to hit one billion euro in the next year.
We have almost 50 million online shoppers in Germany and they are choosing mostly an online retailer when it comes to consumer electronics. The German online shoppers are very price-sensitive and have a huge interest on deals and couponing. Our special promotions and regular weekly deals are very popular.
You work as the Head of Performance Marketing. Could you tell us a bit about what your job there actually entails? How do you work? How large is your team? How do you manage those hundreds of thousands of campaigns? Do you do everything internally – or are you supported by an external agency?
As the Head of Performance Marketing I am in charge of an online marketing team with over 20 specialists. We are managing every online marketing channels in the company (SEO, SEA, Display, Affiliate, PLAs, Social Media, CRM) and also supporting other business units like Product Management and Purchasing. We automate our processes and working with a bunch of online marketing tools and our internally developed applications. We have an IT team of over 50 developers who are supporting us and also developing our shop system.
A typical working day in the life of the Head of Performance Marketing at Notebooksbilliger –
what is it like?
I am working in our Berlin office in the office tower of Europa Center. Our Marketing and IT departments are operating from this office. We are using agile working methods, so after checking the e-mails and the main KPIs we have a quick daily stand up meeting. The team members are reporting on the daily tasks and current issues. After this meeting I am working on different tasks and new projects on a wide scale: customer acquisition, retention and reactivation, business intelligence and marketing strategy. A very important part of my job is to keep thinking as a whole business unit and try to optimize our operations for higher net profits. Motivating and mentoring is also an essential part of my role. Without a great team I would not be able to reach our goals, so a big thank you to the amazing NBB Team!
You are going to speak at the E-commerce Berlin Expo 2017. Can you reveal us a bit about the topic of your talk?
I will be talking about efficient scaling potentials in performance marketing. I am looking forward to the great talks and meeting the speakers at the E-commerce Berlin Expo in February.