Hello Andreas! We are very happy to dive into the world of online retail and logistics with you. Please introduce yourself briefly for everyone who might not know you yet.
Gladly: My name is Andreas, I originally come from logistics and started 20 years ago as one of the first commercial users of online marketplaces in Germany to combine logistics with a sales service on marketplaces. Both topics are very closely connected.
With this service I have become the market leader in Europe and have helped over 200 merchants and brands to successfully run their business on a variety of marketplaces.
As a pioneer in the commercial use of online marketplaces, you have become one of the experts in this field. What motivated you to take this path back then and what finally brought you to ONTARO, where you are now also the managing director?
My professional enthusiasm was initially for container shipping. That was in the 90s, when the topic of eCommerce emerged in parallel. Since I didn't own any ships and therefore saw my entrepreneurial potential more in eCommerce, it was important to combine my logistical knowledge with this area. When eBay came to Germany at that time, I combined all these topics and founded my first company in the field of sales and logistics services for the sale of remnants and B-goods on eBay, where I was not only one of the first commercial sellers, but also one of the largest traders on eBay and later on other marketplaces.
After 20 years in the field, I sold my company in 2019 and left in 2020 to start something new. In that time, Corona and other circumstances came along that threw a wrench in that plan. In parallel, I got an offer to become CEO of ONTARO and now saddle new topics on top of the company's 65+ years of success in logistics. So I have now returned to what I do best: eCommerce logistics and marketplace business. That's simply what I enjoy the most!
ONTARO GmbH has a history of over 65 years. What do you think were, or are, the success factors? Which decisions were groundbreaking and how did you manage to keep your finger on the pulse over this long period of time?
ONTARO has had to reinvent itself again and again over the past 65 years. In doing so, ONATRO has managed not only to react quickly and agilely to the new requirements of customers, but also to provide innovative impulses for customers and to tackle new topics. For example, no ONATRO customers have actively asked to become active in the marketplace business through us. With the new offer, which we offer now to our customers, the first interest and in parts also first successes in the ranges grew. And so we want to actively build up new service modules step by step and involve our customers there. Completely in the sense of our company slogan "eCommerce Solutions".
Especially as an e-commerce beginner, one is often overwhelmed with the multitude of tasks and regulations in the value chain. Your philosophy is to offer retailers versatile operational and strategic solutions. As a logistics and fulfillment partner, you therefore offer customers solutions that are individually adapted and tailored. How do you manage to do that?
Yes, that's right. eCommerce and especially selling on marketplaces is becoming increasingly complex and demanding. And it would be presumptuous to claim that we have mastered all facets of online commerce ourselves. But with our many years of experience and activity in the field, we have built up an extremely valuable network and know that when we come across topics in which we are not excellent, there are other companies and partners who can help us and support us in partnership. Thus, in addition to its core service in the area of eCommerce logistics, IT and marketplace, ONTARO offers a variety of other services, which is done quite transparently in cooperation with partners who simply master these areas better.
For example, the topic of online and performance marketing on Amazon is an indispensable part of successful sales management and is also offered by us, although we use partners who we know are simply better at it.
As a solution provider for the retail industry, you cover many relevant areas such as warehousing, fulfillment and transportation. How can these be combined with today's market dynamics? What other complementary solutions come to mind and can ONTARO perhaps be of help here?
Yes, our roots are and will remain in logistics and operations and transaction driven business. And without excellent eCommerce logistics, you cannot be successful in eCommerce. It's no use having the best product and the best marketing on the Internet if the logistics fail in the end. This is no way to achieve sustainable customer loyalty. Therefore, our primary focus is on a functioning fulfillment.
In addition, with opportunities from our group and our good network, we try to help our customers to continuously improve and scale their business and processes - and this far beyond eCommerce logistics. Here we see ourselves more as a partner and not just as a service provider for our customers.
As an experienced founder and managing director, you have already been able to gather a great deal of experience in a wide range of areas. At the end of our interview, we would therefore like to ask you something more personal. What key lessons would you like to pass on to other online entrepreneurs in the field of logistics and eCommerce solutions?
The sum of my success comes from doing more right than wrong. However, it was mostly my mistakes and bad decisions that drove me to have to do my business better. And most of the mistakes have resulted from a "bogging down" of issues that are not part of my core business. So my experience from over 20 years of entrepreneurship is that you should focus on the area where you claim to be better than the others and to be excellent.
So you should not try to bring a wide range of products from different categories to the market at the beginning, but rather concentrate on one top category. Also, you should not play on all marketplaces from the beginning, but first try to be really successful on one to three channels, until you then aim for other markets at home and abroad. The biggest danger here is certainly the dispersal and impatience.
Many thanks to Andreas Voswinckel, from our partner ONTARO, for this insightful and interesting interview.