When the METRO online marketplace was launched in September 2019, Mario Derksen was immediately welcomed as a partner with his shop MDC-NOLIMIT, which specialises in non-food products for the food service industry. For Derksen – who is himself a pioneer in online retailing – it was not only an exciting challenge, but above all a sign of confidence in his abilities to be so closely involved in the creation of something that had never been done before. In this interview, he talks about the initial stages and why it pays off even for an established retailer to be present on the METRO online marketplace.
Mr Derksen, what was your first thought when METRO approached you with the idea of the online marketplace?
It came as no surprise to me because I’ve been a promoter of e-commerce ever since the internet came into existence, and I’m convinced that it’s a must for every retail chain to operate its own online shop and to be represented on other platforms. So, I think it was only logical for METRO to set up something like this.
METRO MARKETS brought you on board already during the start-up phase of the marketplace. What was the cooperation like in the months leading up to the launch of the platform?
We primarily helped in communicating with customers, since we can rely on a wealth of experience in this area based on our own online shop and our presence on other platforms. But we were also involved elsewhere and were able to contribute to the development of the platform as it is today.
Do you have direct contact with your METRO marketplace customers?
Not at first – everything went through METRO. Every message ended up in an employee’s inbox and had to be forwarded manually. And with a multitude of questions and answers that are often sent back and forth, especially when it comes to professional kitchen equipment, it was a bottleneck, so to speak. Sometimes up to 48 hours would pass before a message from the customer to us or from us to the customer was read and answered.
But things are different now, right?
Yes – and much better! Since the team at METRO MARKETS has been very open to our feedback from the very beginning and has trusted in our expertise, we can now communicate directly with our customers via the platform, which makes many things easier.
The marketplace is not only accessible to commercial customers, but also to end consumers. What is the nature of your clientele there?
I would estimate that roughly 20% of our customers are end consumers.
Why, in your opinion, is it worthwhile to be active on the METRO marketplace as a retailer who already has a wealth of experience and success?
Looking at it all from a short-term financial perspective, an established online retailer with its own shop should probably not join any platform at all because it involves considerable effort. But METRO is a well-known brand among commercial customers in Germany, and if you can’t sell something through your own shop, you can definitely sell it through METRO. Therefore, in the long run, the effort involved is worth it.
How would you describe the development of the METRO marketplace over the past year?
I’d put it this way: after some initial scepticism, I’m pleasantly surprised.
Surely this has something to do with your sales, right?
After less than 1 year since the launch of the whole operation, we are achieving substantial sales on the site, which is quite impressive. This success is largely due to the team’s openness and willingness to learn and cooperate. Thanks to our close collaboration during the discovery and development phase, a genuine relationship based on trust has developed between us – and this naturally pays off for both sides. The whole team is constantly working on further developing and improving the site and its range of products. For us, it has been and continues to be very interesting to have a part in this process, and to see that such a project can be successful right from the start when done properly.
To offer professional customers everything they need to equip and run their businesses, METRO puts them in touch with retailers specialising in non-food products – in the online marketplace for the food service industry which was specially developed for this purpose.
More about the 6 strategic subject areas in the Annual Report 2019/20.