Georg Glinz and UNITO’s new e-commerce podcast UNgeniert

Podcast UNgeniert

On October 15, our customer UNITO launched its e-commerce podcast UNgeniert with an exciting and very informative episode on the topic of “Corona – A Blessing for Online Commerce? Of course, we listened to it right away and learned a lot about this extraordinary year at UNITO. We are particularly pleased that we were able to ask host Georg Glinz, Head of Corporate Communications at UNITO, a few more questions about the podcast, developments at UNITO and e-commerce – and share his answers with you here:

Podcast UNgeniert
©Unito / Moestl

Last month you launched a podcast. What will you tell us about in it?

With our podcast, we want to cover the broad world of e-commerce in as wide a range of topics as possible – and also with a colorful variety of interviewees.

I will remain the same as the host, but my interview partners will change. The first two episodes, in which UNITO Managing Director Harald Gutschi is a guest, are therefore more or less an exception. But the podcast does have one rule: questions and answers should always be asked and answered as openly as possible. We are determined to live up to the name of the podcast in every episode.

The first episode is called “Corona – A boon for online retail?” and in it you conduct an interview with Harald Gutschi. Why did you choose this as the first topic?

We chose this topic for our kick-off episode for two reasons: Firstly, because it is the topic that has moved so much in online commerce this year, and secondly, because it is also the topic that has moved society the most in this year that has been so challenging for all of us. And with our podcast, we want to encourage people to get involved with e-commerce at all or even more, and to take an interest in it – regardless of whether they are people from the industry, journalists or people who perhaps haven’t had much to do with online retail until now.

We don’t want to spoil too much here, but the first 2 weeks, sales at UNITO fell extremely, putting everyone in a state of concern. How big was the decline?

In retrospect, we can say that the first two lockdown weeks were of course an extremely difficult time for us at UNITO and all our brands: At the beginning of the lockdown, we had to contend with sales slumps of up to 50 percent. At the time, no one could have imagined how positively the rest of the fiscal year would develop – for online retail in general and for us at UNITO in particular. The digitization push and the changed buying behavior of consumers are giving a massive boost to UNITO’s sales development. In the first half of our 2020/21 fiscal year, i.e., in the period from March 1 to August 31, 2020, we realized total sales of 201.5 million euros (IFRS 15) with our brands (including OTTO, UNIVERSAL, QUELLE, Lascana), which is an increase of 12.8 percent compared to the same period of the previous year on a like-for-like basis.

In the direct goods business with the customer (customer sales), the UNITO Group is growing even more significantly: With an increase in sales of 18 percent, the UNITO brands are growing more than twice as fast as the market and are gaining market share (market growth of 7 percent according to the “E-Commerce Study Austria 2020”, KMU Forschung Austria, July 2020). We are also particularly pleased with the significant growth in the number of new customers: In the first half of the fiscal year, we acquired almost 400,000 new customers, an increase of more than 20 percent year-on-year. Many people are buying online for the first time during or after the lockdown. The forced shift of life to the digital world also makes them less reluctant to buy online.

Your product range is very broad. Which division in particular rose after the downturn?

A nice home is more important than ever since the start of the Corona pandemic. Large sections of the population cannot and do not want to spend their money on cars or vacations at the moment, but rather put it into their homes. That is why the Living segment (furniture, housewares, home textiles) has developed particularly well for all UNITO brands. In response to this “stay-at-home” trend, we are constantly expanding our product range in this area: currently, for example, with sustainable brands and collaborations with designers such as Lena Gercke and Guido Maria Kretschmer.

Harald Gutschi gives us lots of figures on developments at UNITO. Is there one that particularly surprised you?

Yes, the extreme increases in all articles associated with the current “stay at home” trend: In the Living segment, we had a year-on-year increase in sales of 41 percent in the first half of the 2020/21 financial year. In the DIY store segment, we are growing even more significantly at 54 percent. These are quite astonishing figures.

That’s right! What topics can we look forward to now?

The second episode is on the topic, “Is Stationary Retailing Dead?” You can listen to it on all the popular platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer and Google Podcasts. The third episode was just released, on November 25. I don’t really want to reveal too much about it yet. But I can still give away two details already: This time, the content will be less number-heavy, much more human, and I will no longer be interviewing Harald Gutschi, but a female interviewee.

Dear Georg, thank you very much for your time and your detailed answers. We are already very excited about what we will learn in the next episodes and wish you much success!

OnSight is in the pilot phase

Pilot Phase
Pilot Phase

For the past 2 weeks, we have been onboarding our pilot partners with OnSight, our new competitive analysis tool. Together with our CEO Sebastian Kielmann, our developers have been working on OnSight for a long time until a tool was created that we are really proud of. With it, it is possible to see how the competitors are positioned: What quantity of what items they offer, what the price range is, what discounts they give, and, and, and.

You can even define which stores are the competitors to be monitored. You can also set alerts that inform you about certain developments. You can also download reports on a regular basis or have them sent automatically with the information you specify. Our data is checked by our Quality Assurance and updated weekly. But that’s just a sample of the many things OnSight has to offer!

In the meantime, we have been able to win some great pilot partners, including AboutYou and Madeleine. Does this sound exciting to you? Then join us and get to know OnSight for yourself. As a pilot partner, you’ll get 3 months of free access and have the opportunity to help define our roadmap for future features and service improvements. (Go to the demo registration)

Here’s a sneak peek of what it might look like:

The mood at the hot sales time 2020

The mood at the hot sales time 2020

Black Friday, Christmas time and Corona

What is the mood in
e-commerce in this very special year?

Opinions are divided on Black Friday 2020. Some are pessimistic, especially after the price comparison portal Idealo found out in a survey that two out of three consumers want to spend less money on Black Friday this year than in 2019. 75% of those surveyed now want to think particularly carefully about whether they really need a product. And they also immediately provided a reason for this: for a good tenth of those surveyed, the financial situation has worsened over the course of 2020 due to the pandemic. (Source: Welt.de)

77% intend to make a purchase on Black Friday

So much for the negative side. On the other hand, we see the survey of the market research company Appinio, in which 77% of respondents stated that they intend to shop on Black Friday, which would be an increase of 16.7% compared to the previous year. The survey also revealed that a slightly higher budget would be planned for Black Friday shopping (source: appinio.com).

In any case, 69% of respondents plan to store online and avoid visiting local stores, especially at the current time, when infection figures continue to show an upward trend.

41% want to shop online more than before

The same applies to Christmas shopping: A representative survey conducted by IFH Cologne in collaboration with service providers Sitecore and Ecx.io. revealed that one in two wants to avoid the crowds in the city center when hunting for Christmas presents. 41% of respondents even said they will shop online more than before. (Source: Internet World)

Feedback from our customers

So we are naturally very interested to know what the mood is among our customers and how this year differs from previous years. To our delight, they are quite positive!

Atelier GS, for example, is more likely to see an increase as they are able to implement the learnings generated in recent years. Nina Klöhn, Online Marketing Manager Atelier Goldner Schnitt: “Overall, however, it is of course a difficult time, as our target group in particular is strongly affected by the pandemic.” For their female customers, they have come up with something special. Nina Klöhn: “To be close to our female customers during this time and to entertain them, we have also introduced a new video magazine.”

Atelier Goldner Schnitt
Hirmer

At Hirmer, Annette Fabisiewicz, Head of E-Commerce Marketing, is looking forward to this time with excitement: “In 2020, it is all the more important for us to expand our Black Friday offer online and thus be able to offer our users even better deals. This year, everything is different! So of course we are very excited to see how this will be received by our customers.”

There is no sign of negativity in the Witt Group either. “On the whole, nothing is different and the mood is almost as usual, only this year from the home office,” report Theresa Hösl (Junior Marketing Manager) and Tina Lebegern (Junior Marketing Manager) from the Witt Group. So for this time again some actions are planned, among other things a 13 days long Pre-Sale in the on-line marketing channels and afterwards for 2 weeks the regular Black Sale. Also as in the last years, there will be an advent calendar with 24 doors with different topics like sales promotions, content or assortment actions.

Witt Weiden

The hot sales season has kicked off, customers can look forward to great deals and e-commerce can look forward to good sales. We wish everyone every success!

1 year project manager at Picalike

Projektmanager

A little over a year ago, the picalike team decided that they would like to have a project manager. Since then, a lot has happened: internal restructuring, a spontaneous switch to 90 percent mobile working due to Corona, and a move to betahaus Hamburg. It’s exciting to hear what this challenging time was like for Maik Kade.

Projektmanager

Hey Maik, phew, how time flies! You've been a project manager with us for a year now. What was your best experience during this time?

A year goes by really fast. It’s hard for me to find a single, most beautiful experience. From a professional point of view, certainly that after only 3 months I was told by C.E.O.. Sebastian told me that he almost regretted not having brought me on board as project manager some time before. For me, as a career changer, this was very reassuring, as it gave me the confirmation that I had become well acquainted with my new area of responsibility and that it was something I could do. Overall, though, it’s more like I’m happy to be part of the picalike family every day.

A lot has changed since you started here. What change/new feature are you most excited about?

I am especially happy that together we have managed to build a very agile framework for our development team, which works hand in hand in collaboration with all other stakeholders. The agile idea has certainly always been a part of picalike, but in the last year we have managed to bring this hidden diamond in the rough out of our soil and give it the right polish.

You mainly coordinate the development teams. What are the biggest challenges? And how do you master them?

For me, the biggest hurdle was that I am a linguist and former lecturer, and the technical side, the know-how of a development team, was and sometimes still is something I know little about. How do you master the task of assisting a team with project management when you yourself have no say at all on the technical level? By taking a deep breath and realizing that such in-depth knowledge is not at all necessary for my job, even if I personally don’t like it from time to time because I would like to understand everything. But that is not what my job as a project manager is about.

I see myself as the symbolic grease in the gears. When everything is going well, I’m hardly noticed at all. But in order to keep everything running smoothly, it’s important that everyone knows what the others are doing, what they can do, and where help may be needed. So it’s all about communication.

I enable and encourage communication. I always have an open ear for everyone, even for private matters. Employees are people, not machines. I am present in almost all planning meetings: often as a moderator, sometimes as a mediator, and again and again I like to be the person in the company who, for example, is allowed to ask the “stupid” questions in commit meetings. Just the questions that a specialist sometimes doesn’t ask, but which can nevertheless reveal problems and solutions. My lack of knowledge occasionally forces the team to change their perspective.

Furthermore, knowledge exchange and documentation are two areas of communication that are elementary for a development team. In our company, knowledge and documentation are not hoarded individually, but as a collective treasure that has to be gathered together. But this has to be organized, it should not be boring and, above all, it should not be time-consuming. As a didact, I am challenged to find the best way to do this.

After your first few months, the Corona pandemic hit Germany, a very challenging time for project managers... How was the transition to a home office handled?

Surprisingly, this was less challenging in our case than we had all assumed. Before the pandemic started, we had a very soft version of remote working. There were some who worked remotely one day a week or every two weeks. But otherwise, we were always in the office. However, since we had been looking for a new location since the beginning of the year, there were always slight thoughts of working more remotely.

When the pandemic broke out, Sebastian, our CEO, asked us openly how we wanted to deal with the situation. Everyone was in favor of mobile working, at least for now. The basic requirements were there: every employee already had a laptop and accessories. It was just clarified whether anyone needed anything special still for the home office, such as office chairs. We are a small, very dynamic team that, by the very nature of our products, is used to constantly adapting to changing situations.

I think we can count ourselves among the lucky few whose workday may have actually gotten better as a result of the pandemic, and who probably won’t want to and won’t go back to their old workday even after it’s over. That is quite a privilege for which I am more than grateful.

Thank you very much for the interview and your always open ear. I hope you continue to enjoy your work here at Picalike!

Picalike and the betahaus Hamburg

betahaus Hamburg

From our preppy, conservative offices with conference room and kitchen, where almost once a week our boss cooked for the whole team, we moved to betahaus Hamburg in the summer. Several reasons led to this. Now we are very happy about it, as this super flexible way of working fits so much better to our spirit. You could already get a small impression of it in our article “Our new office”, but now I would like to introduce betahaus to you in more detail and tell you about the philosophy behind it. In Hamburg, betahaus operates betahaus in Sternschanze and since 2019 “finhaven by betahaus” in Hafencity. We are in the Schanze.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 2

©Janine Meyer Photography

The building

In very simple terms, betahaus is a co-working space founded in 2010. The 2500 square meters are spread over 4 floors, with about 34 offices in different sizes (for 4 to 8 employees), 4 areas with several tables for flexible working (flex spaces), small kitchens, 10 phone boxes, 3 workshop rooms, 6 meeting rooms, a café and a lounge. In addition, betahaus 1 offers remote studio for podcast, green screen and webinar productions, underground parking, separate bicycle parking, ramps and toilet for wheelchair users and a terrace. Space for meet-ups and evening events is also offered here. So, a lot of space where you can work even if you don’t necessarily want to sit in your own office. Or if there are more team members on site than can fit in the office.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 3

The Community

You can feel the vibe here in the hallways, where you meet freelancers as well as teams from startups or smaller companies. Until recently, there was even a midwifery practice here. Here, you never know what field your counterpart is in, as the members are very cross-industry. The work is concentrated, but at the same time there is a lot of exchange – whether in the Slack channel, in the café, at the foosball table, in yoga classes or in the coffee kitchen. Sometimes in chance encounters, sometimes in planned meetings. And that was also the original idea: Instead of every freelancer sitting at his/her desk at home while the ceiling falls on his/her head or he/she easily gets lonely, which is the main problem of lone fighters working alone at home, he/she can work here in a professional environment. In addition, he/she is integrated into an active community.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 4

©Janine Meyer Photography

Teelke Meyer, Head of Community Management at betahaus, described it very aptly: “It’s like having colleagues but no boss. Colleagues you choose yourself.” And of course, it’s also about networking, finding contacts with whom you can exchange ideas, who inspire you, and whom you can help out yourself. As the slogan on the homepage says, “The community makes the difference. Every man for himself was yesterday.” In general, the exchange of knowledge is very important here. For example, if a member gets stuck, he or she is welcome to post a question in the Slack channel. Given the great diversity of the members, someone will (almost) always/often have an answer. In general, it’s easy to find people here who you can ask for something, whether it’s a charging cable or specialist advice.Teelke Meyer, “I’ve always wanted to work somewhere where I come home smarter in the evening than when I left in the morning. Where I learn simply by having gone to work. I got that here at betahaus.”

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 5

©Janine Meyer Photography

You quickly feel welcome here, as the betahaus management attaches great importance to getting to know each individual personally. However, you also get to know each other at an onboarding or during the betahaus tour. In addition, there are happenings such as the beta breakfast (which is open to the public and can be attended by anyone) and the beta lunch, although this is only for the beta house community.

The own workplace

What the workplace looks like for you personally depends entirely on your own preferences. The four memberships offered by Betahaus are very different. The first is the Club membership, which includes the Flexdesk area, community events, global roaming, opening hours (Mon – Fri | 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.) and a 10% discount on drinks at the bar. Next is the Professional membership with Flexdesk Open Space, Community Events, Global Roaming, 24/7 access, 5 conference room hours per month, locker, mailbox, premium space and community rates at events.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 6

©Janine Meyer Photography

The Fixed Desk Membership includes a dedicated, fixed workspace, community events, global roaming, 24/7 access, 5 conference room hours per month, locker, mailbox, community kitchen, and community pricing at events. And last but not least, Team Office Membership: self-contained office with 4 to 8 workstations, fully furnished, community events, global roaming, 24/7 access, conference room hours, mailbox, premium space, community pricing at events.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 7

©Franziska Weiß

For us, this working environment is just perfect, as we have the advantages of our own office with a few fixed desks, postal address, kitchen and conference room. But it’s a smaller office, because that’s all we need, since most of the time we work in our home office. And when we are all on site at the same time, which happens twice a month, we enjoy the conference in the large arena, the cozy get-together in the café and the concentrated work in the well-equipped flex areas, where we can sit together as we wish.

As Betahaus says so well? You’ll never work alone!

The eternal trend knitwear and the new in winter 2020

Knit

Looking out the window brings the certainty: we are approaching winter. The trees are yellow, orange and red, the ground is thickly covered with leaves, the wind makes the branches sway back and forth and become increasingly bare. We long for warmth and coziness. A nice cup of tea helps from the inside, cozy knitwear from the outside. After all, what could be as cozy as a jogging suit if not this knit fabric. And versatile it is to boot! The beige sweater with the good old cable knit pattern or the one with colorful designs – both are just worn with pants and skirts also made of knitwear and thus provide a cozy feeling.

Knit
Statistical analysis of knitted sweaters with OnSight ©Picalike

Since we at Picalike already have such a great tool as OnSight, the first thing we looked at was whether you can now also make good bargains when buying sweaters. Lo and behold: you can!

Well, then it’s worth taking a closer look at the new trend.

The "All in Knit" Look

Who says it can only be one knitted piece per outfit? No, this season we’re combining the knitted sweater with a long knitted skirt or cozy knitted pants. “The pandemic has shown us once again how universal a complete look in knitwear can be,” says Valentin von Arnim in “Harper’s Bazaar.” “There are endless possibilities to adapt the loungewear look to individual needs and everyday situations.”

Cool pieces to wear with this look:

The knit pants

In our home office days, we’ve gotten used to the comfort of sweatpants and yoga pants. Every now and then, however, it’s allowed to wear something fancier down below, even if you can’t see it during video conferences. But sometimes dressing up is just nice for your own feelings. And it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, as you can see with knit pants, for example. Especially if they have a wide cut!

The knit skirt

For the all-over knit look, the skirts are now worn with midi or maxi length, possibly even in the same shade as the top. Whether tight or wide, there are no rules. An example of a successful combination was presented by Joseph Altuzarra, who combined a petrol-colored turtleneck sweater with a tightly cut pencil skirt made of ribbed knit. This made the look chic enough for any business meeting, yet comfortable enough for hours of sitting at the computer.

The slipover

When we talk about slipovers, we immediately think of the last millennium, when it was stylishly worn with bell-bottoms or pleated skirt. During Copenhagen Fashion Week we were now shown how to wear slipovers this season: especially in oversized cut – over a t-shirt or over close-cut sweaters, depending on the thermometer reading

The cardigan twinset

This season the combination of cardigan and matching top is very trendy again. From knitted bralette to turtleneck, everything is worn under the cardigan: the main thing is that the pattern and color let it merge with the cardigan into one unit. And in one aspect they definitely make our lives easier: now you do not have to choose every single part of your outfit, but only your legwear.

Sweater with collar

U-boat necklines were yesterday: whether polo collar or sailor collar with zipper, now the collar is in. How this can look in a knitted all-over look, shows us the Italian label Etro. There, a soft, fine sweater with polo collar is combined with knit pants in the same color.

Not everything always has to be bought new! It is not uncommon that you already have one or the other hanging in your closet. Maybe there is a favorite cardigan, to which you buy a matching knit top. Or a favorite sweater, to which you combine a soft knit pants. Worn in any case, because the cold seasons have just begun.

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