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Cdiscount shares ‘platform’ strategy, touts new marketplace services in London keynote

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Cdiscount is one of several former retailers in Europe that is trying to navigate the shift to being more than that: the platform model, as one of its execs explained in a recent talk.

“Being an online retailer alone you cannot fulfil the needs of all customers,” explained Flavien Dore, head of B2B services at Cdiscount, speaking at the Payoneer Forum in London. “We cannot survive alone.”

Cdiscount’s preferred solution is to become a “platform” to help partners sell their products. This approach is becoming increasingly popular, with the likes of Zalando in Germany using similar wording.

As Emile Valkestijn, head of marketplaces at consultancy 10XCREW, says and as Dore alluded to, ecommerce sites “want to offer a complete service and be the best in everything.

“That starts with offering all products in their categories.”

The brand, which is part of the Casino group, showed organic growth of 11.9% in gross merchandise volume (“GMV”) to reach €1.2 billion in Q4 2018 – like other retailers that allow third parties to sell it uses this figure in lieu of revenue, which denotes total goods sold via the platform.

Making his pitch to the retailers and merchants present at the conference, Dore explains that Cdiscount is the second largest marketplace in Europe, with evident pride that it is holding its own against Amazon.

He defines being a platform as having technological and logistical functions amongst others. He highlights its fulfilment capabilities, including 500 pick-up points for big products and 24000 for normal-sized products.

He also shows a video showing the capabilities of Cdiscount’s Skypod warehouse robot, which can move in three dimensions and carry 30kg bins in storage, travelling at 4m/s to pick up orders.

Cdiscount also offers innovation incubators for new ideas, offering 7000 engineers. 50 proofs of concept are produced each year at the “PoC factory”, while “the Warehouse” and “the Lab” focus on expanding these ideas for logistics and marketing respectively.

The marketing services offered by the company include the use of its algorithms and data. “Like Amazon, we are a retailer and then a marketplace,” he adds, saying the algorithms  are built to handle data such as Google acquisition traffic and these will be opened up to partners. Dore hopes partners will make use of these algorithms to build better promotion codes.

Where Cdiscount doesn’t have capabilities it builds “very strong partnerships”, Dore says.

Dore also used the event to tout plans to offer a new service, which will allow users to push their products out onto a number of marketplaces across Europe with one platform.

Another capability that Cdiscount is working on is a service to help merchants to sell via retailers in other markets in the same way as on a marketplace.

He also highlights Cdiscount’s new agency, ComeOnPlace, integrating marketing, transport and fintech services. Dore does not give timeframes for when these services will be available.

“You need to diversify,” was Dore’s concluding warning note. Cdiscount itself certainly seems to have taken this idea to heart.

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