Interview • 04.11.2019

Advice for small and medium-sized retail businesses: “Be a part of the change!“

A quick market analysis by Professor Rüschen of the DHBW Heilbronn

View of a smiling man listening to two other men talking....
Prof. Dr. Stephan Rüschen, lecturer in food retailing at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Heilbronn, moderated the event Trendforum Retail.
Source: Trendforum Retail

Prof. Dr. Stephan Rüschen, assistant lecturer in food retailing at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Heilbronn presented the second part of the Trendforum Retail 2019, which emphasized the challenges and opportunities for brick and mortar retailers. As a follow-up to the lectures and discussions, he summed up the findings for iXtenso.

Professor Rüschen, what is your takeaway from this event?

Prof. Stephan Rüschen: The event has shown that stakeholders across the industry are taking topics like digitization and artificial intelligence very seriously, but that they should also be cautious about being too euphoric. Those who want to use technology should examine very carefully what fits and matches their identity and strategy.

What is your advice for retailers?

Some digitize their processes more, some do it to a lesser extent. Either way, a spirit of change is in the air, which is why my advice to retailers is to be a part of the change! Keep up and stay well informed to make smart investment decisions. After all, there are so many options, making it impossible to implement everything all at once - not just because of the size of the investments, but because retailers would also need too much staff to get it all done.

What advice would you give to your students if you lectured about this event?

I would encourage my students to learn about big data and data evaluation. One issue that kept coming up was how you can translate data analysis findings into areas like marketing communication, digital signage at the POS and shopfitting. You shouldn’t have to make decisions based on intuition and emotion alone. That’s why I would urgently advise my students to learn how to deal with data. We don’t have information scientists who model data, but we have business economists who should have the ability to make decisions based on data.

Man with glasses speaks into a microphone and gesticulates....
Source: Trendforum Retail

In other words, data analysis is the way to achieve success?

It's a step in the right direction, but it can only yield success if you also have a vision and business strategy. Technology assists with strategy, not the other way around.

There was a lot of talk about strategies at this event. What was your takeaway pertaining to this subject?

There are only two successful strategies that work. The first one is a discount pricing strategy engaging in cost leadership, though this one was actually not the subject of conversations. Pursuing a differentiation strategy is the second option. When it comes to non-food retail, this means creating better customer experiences. Any path in between is very difficult.

Are you hopeful about the future of small and medium-sized brick and mortar retailers?

Yes, of course, I’m hopeful! The small and medium-sized retailers we featured at the Trendforum Retail prove that small and medium-sized businesses can still compete and survive if they play to their local strengths. The deep roots of SMEs in their community is a significant advantage and opportunity and something that’s somewhat more difficult to achieve for national retail chains. Despite the digitization of everything, it is critical for stores as an employer and contact to be an integral part of the city and community and highlight their distinct personality and character.

Interview: Julia Pott

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: IGD unveils five global retail trends for 2022...
28.01.2022   #retail #coronavirus

IGD unveils five global retail trends for 2022

Global insight provider IGD has published its predictions for the global retail trends that are set to shape the international food and consumer goods industry in 2022

The new report outlines five key trends to help retailers and suppliers navigate the ongoing challenges brought about by COVID-19 and plan for the year ahead.Toby Pickard, Head of Innovation and Future Retail Insight at IGD, said: "2021 was a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: World Class Retail Store Transformation 2022 conference...
11.01.2022   #retail #digitization

World Class Retail Store Transformation 2022 conference

First-mover retail- and customer-focused companies across Europe to come together in Frankfurt on 2022, August 25-26

Leading retail- and customer-focused companies in Europe will gather at this year’s World Class Retail Store Transformation 2022 conference, to be held on 2022, August 25-26 in Frankfurt, Germany. The 2022 edition of the World Class Business ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Startup emma & noah: Company growth with freelancers...
17.01.2022   #online trading #e-commerce

Startup "emma & noah": Company growth with freelancers

What matters when choosing a team

Since founding their startup "emma & noah", Aline Gallois and Fabian Bitta have used the support of freelancers as an additional resource to drive their company forward. With great success: since its founding, they have been able to ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Gen Z: The future of spending
08.04.2022   #mobile payment #sustainability

Gen Z: The future of spending

Survey of ‘Zoomers’ in 13 countries spotlights how the world’s most digitally-adept consumers are forcing change to decades-old business practices

To achieve growth and success past 2030, businesses must start to understand the living, shopping, and financial habits of Gen Z or Zoomers (consumers aged between 16 and 24) now - and accept that they are very different from previous generations. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Cross-border e-commerce to exceed $2 trillion for first time in 2023...
14.04.2022   #e-commerce #payment systems

Cross-border e-commerce to exceed $2 trillion for first time in 2023

Juniper Research: Cross-border e-commerce to account for 38% of all e-commerce transactions globally by value in 2023

A new study from Juniper Research has found that the value of cross-border e-commerce will exceed $2.1 trillion in 2023, from $1.9 trillion in 2022. This growth of over 13% in a single year reflects the increasing success of marketplaces which offer ...

Thumbnail-Photo: First speakers of EBE2022 - meet them!
17.02.2022   #trade fair consulting #trade fair special

First speakers of EBE2022 - meet them!

The agenda is almost finished, the first speakers are confirmed

The Ecommerce Berlin Expo 2022 is coming up, and we have some exciting news. The agenda is almost finished, and the first speakers are already confirmed - we're proud to announce them here! Let’s have a closer look at them.About E-commerce ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Lowes reimagines DIY learning and shopping experiences...
08.03.2022   #digital marketing #online marketing

Lowe's reimagines DIY learning and shopping experiences

Launch of shoppable learning platform DIY-U with in-store workshops and livestreams

Homeowners continue to invest in home improvement, and with millennials driving homeownership rates, there's a new generation of DIYers seeking a transformation in how-to learning and experiences. To engage this new wave of home improvers, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Top 500 European cross-border online shops
06.04.2022   #online trading #e-commerce

Top 500 European cross-border online shops

4th edition of the annual ranking by Cross-Border Commerce Europe

Cross-Border Commerce Europe, the platform that stimulates cross-border e-commerce in Europe, releases a major research paper covering and ranking the 500 strongest European players with a focus on cross-border performance.The total online EU ...

Thumbnail-Photo: DTC and brick-and-mortar brands use value-driven personalization to...
22.04.2022   #customer relationship management #customer retention

DTC and brick-and-mortar brands use value-driven personalization to score big

Winners of Sailthru’s Retail Personalization Index 2022: Thrive Market, Sephora, DSW, Best Buy, Adidas

Sailthru announced the results of the 2022 Retail Personalization Index. Thrive Market, the health-first membership for conscious living, and Sephora, global beauty retailer, have tied for the top spot in the 5th annual analysis. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol recognized and published in ITC Standards...
01.02.2022   #customer satisfaction #sustainability

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol recognized and published in ITC Standards Map

Overview of cotton sustainability

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol has been recognized and published in the standard mapping process by the International Trade Centre, giving brands and retailers around the world greater choice when it comes to sourcing sustainably grown cotton.The ...


Canto GmbH
Canto GmbH
Lietzenburger Str. 46
10789 Berlin