November 06th 2015

The impact of e-commerce on the world of business.

Opportunities, risks, and strategies of online trading
Jörn Werner, CEO of A.T.U. Auto-Teile-Unger in Weiden, Germany

The Entrepreneurial School® recently welcomed Jörn Werner as guest lecturer within the scope of the MCI Alumni & Friends series of lectures. As head of A.T.U, Werner manages a chain of car and truck repair franchises with almost 10.000 employees world-wide. His current focus is on advancing his company’s online campaign.

Jörn Werner opens his talk by clarifying that online business indeed constitutes a threat to conventional trade, but at the same time opens up new opportunities. The digitalization of the last years has changed the customer expectations and purchasing behavior of an entire generation. The internet provides customers with an unprecedented price transparency and has thus caused a shift of power from the world of commerce towards the buying public. More than ever before, the customer is the king. Ignoring this circumstance, businesses may have to face the dissemination of poor ratings online. In addition online trade also overrides spatial and temporal restrictions of conventional trade. The buying public can shop whenever and wherever they want. Preselection becomes unnecessary, and the range of products which are to be offered no longer needs to be limited. With such restrictions being lifted, the potential of trading considerably increases.

In his previous position as the head of Conrad Electronics, which was founded in 1923, Werner supported and actively influenced a company’s development from a traditional mail-order business with individual stores towards an online-focused business. In order to be able to compete with already well-established online companies, a digital supply chain was established. The goal was to unite the benefits of online trading, including low costs, an unlimited product range and large market size, with the two essential benefits of traditional trading, which are customer proximity and a strong service orientation.

As the CEO of A.T.U., Werner currently faces the challenge of transforming a rather conservative company into an innovative business of the digital era. But how can repair and assembling services be provided online? Werner particularly intends to use the opportunity of digital networks to enable quick and efficient processing of customer requests, thus gaining a competitive edge. Step by step, the company will expand its online presence. Customers can already benefit from the possibility to arrange workshop appointments online.

Andreas Altmann, Rector of MCI, moderates the lively discussion sparked by Werner’s talk.