September 7, 2012, 3:55 PM

Otto Group sees a bright future with m-commerce

More than 80 of the retailer’s e-commerce brands are optimized for mobile commerce.

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While somewhat light on statistics, Otto Group, the second biggest online retailer in Europe, has big plans in store for mobile commerce.

By the end of the year, Otto Group, No. 2 in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe, will have built a mobile commerce site for about 80 of its more than 100 e-commerce brands, the company says. About 50 e-commerce sites also have been optimized for iPads and other tablet computers. “Tablets in particular are playing a big role in the future growth of e-commerce for us,” says Rainer Hillebrand, an Otto executive board member and the executive in charge of e-commerce. “Smartphones are used above all to gather information about products, but thanks to the large-format and inspirational display of goods, tablet personal computers invite customers to purchase.”

Mobile commerce is generating a bigger share of Otto’s total e-commerce revenue, although the company, based in Germany, didn’t release any specific numbers. “Gross mobile turnover levels accounted for roughly 3% of overall online demand in the spring and summer season, and the mobile channel plays a key role in the Otto Group’s e-commerce strategy,“ Hillebrand says.

The use of mobile devices, including smartphone and tablets, varies per county but Otto’s Crate and Barrel (No. 59 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 brand in the U.S. is generating the most mobile activity. “At Crate and Barrel, nearly one in every four customers now visits the online shop using a mobile device,“ Hillebrand says. “In Germany by contrast, currently only one in every 15 online shoppers surfs using a mobile device.“

For its 2012 fiscal year, Otto reported:

  • E-commerce sales grew year over year to $6.64 billion from $6.21 billion, an increase of 6.9%.
  • In Germany, Otto’s core market, e-commerce sales grew year over year by 9.5% to $4.26 billion from $3.89 billion in fiscal 2011.
  • Total sales increased about 2.0% to $14.55 billion from $14.27 billion.
  • Otto didn’t break out figures for net income but operating profits declined 19.2% to $676.3 million from $836.9 million.
  • The web accounted for 45.6% of total sales compared with 43.5% in the prior year.
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