Digital Frontrunners of 2017

Digital Frontrunners of 2017
SparkOptimus Team
Written by
The SparkOptimus Blog Team
June 12, 2017

Five digital frontrunners show five ways to successfully shape your company in the digital age…

… From online to omnichannel

The Netherlands’ largest bike store,, opened 7 stores last year and will open another 30 this year to complement its successful web shop. Although it might sound like a paradox, it is by growing its offline footprint that the bike specialist aims to double its 2017 sales to €85MM. However, a closer look shows the logic behind this move. Most of Fietsenwinkel’s growth has to come from electric bikes, quickly growing in popularity and with an average price double that of regular bikes. Fietsenwinkel aims to service prospective e-bike buyers by offering the full omnichannel package: easy orientation online with a comprehensive buying guide, a hotline for personal advice from e-bike specialists, and a test circuit at its stores for the real feel. This makes Fietsenwinkel exemplary of today’s omnichannel players: its web shop functions as core sales channel and provides valuable insights in customer behavior, while its offline stores are service-centers, boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty.

… Understand your customers’ hearts and minds

A mobile-only grocery store with lowest-price guarantee, free delivery above €25, and the flexibility to get your groceries delivered when it suits you – this is Picnic’s customer proposition. Sounds exactly like what you’d want right? This is because Picnic has spent valuable time distilling the customer proposition it believes can trigger mass adoption of online grocery shopping by Dutch consumers (now around 1-2% or total grocery revenue). It understands the hearts and minds of its customers and has built its business model around this. For example, its custom-made supply chain model enables customers to see precisely when delivery will take place and shows the real-time location of its electric minivans in the app. It’s like ordering an Uber. With a recent investment of €100MM (one of the largest ‘Series B’ investments ever), we expect to see rapid growth for Picnic and changes in the Dutch grocery market.

… Winner takes all

It is Dutch payment provider Adyen that enables effortless online payments with companies like Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, Spotify, and easyJet. By offering more than 250 local payment methods to online shoppers, Adyen removes friction in the customer journey while simultaneously improving its clients’ conversion. It is both size and innovation that drive its success in this winner-takes-all market: by offering the largest number of payment methods and the smoothest experience against the lowest price (due to scale), Adyen manages to handle mind-boggling transaction volumes.  In 2016, its transaction volume grew to €82 billion, almost doubling compared to the previous year. With enough cash on hand for further investment in innovation, a continuous expansion of its services (such as Point-of-Sale devices, new omnichannel payment methods, and in-app payments), and a steady growth in global market share (last year, Adyen extended its portfolio of customers with Microsoft, Sephora, Symantec and WeWork), the future remains bright for ‘our own’ Dutch unicorn.

… From struggling traditional retailer to omnichannel high potential

Golden oldie and national pride HEMA has earned a spot in this list of Digital Frontrunners by showing that hard work pays off and omnichannel success is within reach for traditional players as much as it is for young startups. The international retailer has invested heavily over the last years and has persisted in its omnichannel transformation. Now, it is starting to reap the first benefits, with 21% growth in e-commerce sales in 2016 compared to 2015. Moreover, HEMA’s newly launched omnichannel loyalty program proved a big success with 1.8 million users registered in the first months. For the coming years, HEMA will focus its efforts on personalizing the omnichannel shopping experience, which should help reach its overall goal of 15% online sales within 2 years.

… Niche is nice

Catawiki may not (yet) be the most well-known Dutch firm, but it is the fastest-growing one. The online auctioneer takes 13th place in the Financial Times 1000, the list of fastest growing European companies – the highest Dutch position. Founded in 2008, Catawiki experienced steep growth, resulting in 500 employees today, of which 190 specialized auctioneers. What sets the firm from Assen apart from competitors like EBay and Marktplaats, and explains its success, is its focus on its core user base: collectors. On the site, collectors can easily manage their portfolio, keep track of missing pieces in their collection, and exchange tips & tricks with other collectors on Catawiki’s extensive user fora. For the coming year, expectations for Catawiki are high due to its highly scalable business model (due to the network effect of the growing number of collectors connected on its platform) and its clear international ambition. 2017 will no doubt bring a ramp-up in Catawiki’s international expansion after an impressive 2016 round of investment of €75MM.

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