In 2020, OroCommerce was the only platform included in the Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce Vendors that focuses on B2B. This is now the third positive mention by analysts alongside the IDC 2020 MarketScape Report for B2B Digital Commerce and Frost & Sullivan’s Most Innovative Product Award.
The increased attention OroCommerce is getting is also fueled by rising worldwide demand. For this reason, Oro, Inc. will continue to expand its team here in Germany and invest more in market development – especially with partners.
The first newcomer in 2021 is Thomas Fleck, who will be responsible for the DACH region – Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – as VP Sales. He thus takes over the area of responsibility from Andreas Minich, who will be focusing more closely on cooperation with partners and customers in the future. In this interview, the newly formed team for the DACH region tells us what the collaboration will look like, what excites Thomas about the new task, and what the focus will be in 2021.
Oro Inc: Thomas, you have worked with Yoav and his team before, when Magento was still very young and came to Europe. Your agency Netresearch was one of the first partners of Magento and then in your role as Head of Marketing Europe you developed the (legendary) event series Meet Magento. Over the last few years, it has been a bit quiet around you and one or the other will be surprised that you are now active at Oro.
Thomas Fleck: I have always enjoyed working with Yoav and his team and we have a long friendship. However, this is not the reason why I joined Oro.
I have followed the development closely from the very beginning. Yoav realized much earlier that in B2B commerce the relationships between seller and buyer are much more long-term and multi-layered than typically in B2C. While every merchant “dreams” of building a close customer relationship and supplying their customers on a regular basis, few succeed in building a close customer relationship. This is partly due to the fact that one-time purchase transactions are the rule and recurring delivery relationships tend to be the exception in the B2B sector. Fierce competition, especially with Amazon Prime, and low barriers to switching sellers also contribute to this.
The situation is completely different in B2B commerce. When it comes to trade and business relationships between companies, the focus clearly shifts to the relationships between the employees involved. These relationships have often grown over many years, in some cases even over generations, and often represent the most important “soft” assets of companies – alongside employees and trade secrets.
I have long been driven by the question of how these relationships can be preserved in the digital transformation of companies and how they can continue to be nurtured in the future. There are certainly use cases where machines automatically order appropriate consumables or spare parts. But I believe that digitalization will not make us humans superfluous, but will allow us to focus on the important things in the business relationship.
I would like to give a small example: For a few years now, I have been supporting a large international company in its digitization. The company has more than 100,000 business customers worldwide, who were previously handled by call center employees and the company’s own sales force. The goal is to constantly increase the share of online orders in order to save costs. In the process, we had overlooked the fact that online ordering is only a small part of the customer relationship and almost made a big mistake.
Over the course of the project, it turned out that most customers buy from this company primarily because of the good personal advice they receive. With this realization, the scope of the project was changed just a little bit – but with great effect. It is no longer a matter of replacing employees with the eCommerce platform. Rather, routine tasks were simplified and automated so that employees could focus entirely on advising customers.
OroCommerce as a product is perfectly designed for a use case like in this example. In my view, OroCommerce is the only B2B commerce platform that was developed from the ground up with a focus on customer relationships. Especially after the experiences from 2020, where Corona caught many companies and especially the “Mittelstand”, which is so important for Germany, on the wrong foot, OroCommerce is the right product at the right time.
Oro Inc: What is the plan for Germany and what will the focus be in 2021?
Thomas Fleck: In preparation for my new job, I spoke with many of my acquaintances and potential customers. I noticed that Oro is not yet as well known in Germany as it is in many other countries. In my opinion, this is also due to the fact that we have a lot of good competitors in the field of eCommerce platforms in Germany.
Our focus will be on increasing awareness of Oro and in particular OroCommerce. To do this, we will mainly work with our existing and new partners.
Andreas Minich: I agree entirely. I am very happy to now have such an experienced sparring partner in the Oro DACH team with Thomas. To successfully tackle the tasks this year, Oro has, among other things, a new partner program that takes into account the interests of customers, partners and Oro alike. This is not a matter of course and will help us to be successful together with our partners.
Oro Inc: One final question. Thomas, anyone who looks at your LinkedIn profile will quickly see that you also hold other positions in companies. What is your main focus and how do you reconcile everything?
Thomas Fleck: With Yoav and Motti I agreed quite quickly that the role of VP Sales DACH is not a “side job” and will require my full attention. Fortunately, I have two other partners and managing directors in my agency Netresearch, so I can fully concentrate on Oro.
Those who have known me for a while also know that I am a fair team player and naturally know the needs of the partners well. I have already spoken with some of our current and future partners. They welcome Oro’s continued commitment to DACH and, like me, are looking forward to our continued collaboration.