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‘In Europe, Otto is only alternative to Amazon’

‘In Europe, Otto is only alternative to Amazon’

German ecommerce company Otto is the biggest competitor of Amazon, and the only European alternative to this American ecommerce giant. At least, that is what the former CEO and current chairman of the Otto Group supervisory board, Michael Otto, claims.

Otto made the statement in an interview with Business Insider. The 76-year old German is the one who transformed the mail order business of his father, Otto GmbH founder Werner Otto, into a full ecommerce company that achieved a total revenue of 13.7 billion euros last year.

The Otto Group nowadays consists not only of, but also popular online retailers such as About You, Limango, Manufactum, Sport Scheck and delivery service Hermes.

‘We’ve had enough time to transform into an ecommerce company’

In the interview, Michael Otto tells how he traveled to Silicon Valley every two years, back in the eighties. He did this because he wanted to see what Otto, which was a mail order company back then, had to face. “Already in 1995, we were online with our entire product range. At that time, only 250,000 people in Germany had access to the internet. It gave us plenty of time to develop into a digital enterprise. That’s our advantage. Because many competitors in Germany, who think that in two or three years you can turn a conventional company into a digital enterprise, have disappeared from the market.”

‘Otto is more service-oriented than Amazon’

When Business Insider askes what makes Otto different from competitor Amazon, the former Otto CEO says Amazon is a perfect department store. “If you’re looking for something, you can usually find it on Amaon. And Amazon does this perfectly. We don’t want to copy them, because we would have no chance. We like to differentiate ourselves. We believe that two platforms in Germany and Europe could absolutely exist. We have good conditions for that. We are more inspirational, fashionable and service-oriented.”

Michael Otto also gives examples of the service-oriented approach of the German ecommerce company. It has a customer service, which consumers can call on topics they simply can’t find an answer to online. “And then we also have the advantage of having Hermes, our delivery service. For furniture and large appliances, customers can choose a two-hour delivery window. We connect the devices, take back old ones as well as all the packaging.”

‘Our values are another strength of Otto’

“Our values are another strength of us. We include other retailers, brands and producers on our platform, we set criteria for them. We won’t accept Chinese companies who don’t pay VAT. We won’t allow cheap copies on our platform. I think in Europe, Otto’s platform in the overall assortment is the only alternative to Amazon.”