As a continuation of what had been started last year in December, Sportswear International hosted its second E-Fashion Summit at Steigenberger Hotel Metropolitan in Frankfurt/Main yesterday together with The Conference Group. Under the headline The power of “e“ – How to establish and sell your brand via web or smartphone, more than 90 participants were able to listen to and benefit from interesting and inspiring talks of industry representatives from all fields, sharing their knowledge and experience.

After introductory words by Sportswear International’s Editor-in-Chief, Sabine Kühnl, and Klaus N. Hang, Editor-at-large, the status quo and current trends in the world of E-Fashion were highlighted.

First speaker was Professor Dr. Gerrit Heinemann from the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, who reported that “the online business is faster growing than ever”. According to Heinemann and several figures and numbers shown on his charts, the online retailing boom will not be stopped in the next years with countries as Brazil, China, India, Russia and Indonesia documenting a particularly fast growth. He marked out ten e-fashion key trends from mobile commerce over eBooks to e-Christmas and identified social media/Facebook, and crowdsourcing (i.e. the production of made-to-order products delivered from manufacturer to customer without intermediaries) as the most important ones.

Next, it was the turn of Moritz Koch to replace his colleague Matthias Schrader from e-Commerce agency SinnerSchrader in giving advice on how to conquer the German online market as an international brand. After clarifying that German online shoppers do not only spend rather little in comparison to other European markets but that they are also very price-sensitive, always looking for a discount, likely to complain, causing high return rates, are not too fashionable but good in comparing prices, everyone was ready to believe that “the German customers are not too fun to work with’. Koch pointed out how international players could well use the same front end and back end strategies of their online shop in all markets but should localize content, warehousing, marketing, CRM, customer service and payment methods (Germans are very much used to invoice payments, which is less common in other European countries) in order to be credible and successful.

The topic of Ariel Geifman, Principal Analyst as MediaMind Research/Israel was “Too chic to click” and dealt with how to increase dwell times and therefore the site traffic of a web shop. His suggestions were easy to summarize: “Focus on the creative, use automatic creative optimization, incorporate videos, and use engaging rich formats”.

After a first coffee break, Chris Aubrey, Vice President Global Retail Marketing Sport Performance at adidas, discussed the question if the web was a retail killer and came out with the answer that if one thinks and operates omni-channel and lets different (sales) systems interact with each other, digital and retail can lead a symbiotic relationship. Aubrey’s speech was full of examples for this assumption, one being the Virtual Footwear Wall, which adidas had installed in their store in London’s Oxford street. It shows how a digital in-store feature and optimized logistics can maximize selling opportunities and lower costs and how innovation plus social experiences gives users a reason to buy, recommend and return.

Aubrey’s talk was followed by best practice examples from further brands. Firstly, Eleftherios Hatziioannou, New Media Manager, explained s.Oliver’s new approach on social media and how important it is to get in touch and communicate with a brand’s customers and listen to their opinions and wishes: “Consumers are statistics, customers are real people”.

Oliver Rosenthal then developed on the cross-discipline marketing strategy which was developed by his employer OgilvyOne for luxury brand Louis Vuitton. According to Rosenthal, each good campaign should transmit emotion and rationalism, include activation mechanisms and a high level of connectivity. Also, the expert called to “look at the early adopters of as your target group as today’s hype technologies are tomorrow’s mass media!”

In the following discussion on virtual trade shows, Saydou Bangoura, founder of the virtual B2B fashion market platform Tribaspace and Francesco Bottigliero, CEO of Pitti Imagine’s online trade show format FieraDigitale, discussed with adidas’ Chris Aubrey and Torsten Widarzik from Levi’s who kindly helped out spontaneously.  Whilst everyone agreed that “real” trade shows with their touch&feel-experience will never be fully replaceable by online alternatives, Bottigliero accentuated that online sourcing platforms can be a great help for less known, smaller brands whilst the representatives of adidas and Levi’s acknowledged that it would be of great meaning, if not only distribution, but also physical sales samples were replaced by virtual ones.

After networking and eating in the lunch break, attendants were presented the latest findings in mobile commerce. Michael Burk from Google came up with some impressive numbers about the use of smartphones and underlined the importance of creating custom-made experiences for touch-screens and tables, being integrating and reaching your customers across different panels as he said: “If you know where the smartphone is, you know where the consumer is”. Harald Neidhardt, founder of MLove, agreed to the growing importance of comprehensive mobile services by saying: “Easy is over!”

Subsequently, representatives of online retailers Firmament, Vente-Privee and Mirapodo explained their companies’ respective history, business models and marketing ideas. These best practice examples were continued by a presentation of Sargon Korkis of brands4friends after a coffee break. Korkis showed how brands4friends had made their web site design more compact and how the online shopping benefits from eBay’s customer base, mailings, high-performance back end systems and distribution system since its takeover.

In the following talk by Lars Rabe of Demandware, the speaker was able to supply his listeners with easy-to-carry-out improvement measures for fashion online shops, reaching from optimized sorting criteria to personalized merchandising, all following his credo “Focus on innovations, less on the IT behind it”.

Afterwards, John Raap of Adobe made clear that “content is still king”, using the example of how Columbia Sportswear increased their turnover drastically by making the digital channel the cornerstone of their business and improving their online presence by creating rich content.

Following many brand-based examples, the two last talks inspired the audience by refreshing new perspectives and ideas: Dietmar Dahmen, CCO of, made it unmistakeably clear to everyone that “the users drive the market” and that “competence blindness happens all the time”. In order to react to that and deal with what he made out as web 4.0,  Dahmen suggested to use not only advertising and create fame, but also to employ ‘use-vertising’ to create trust and finally to carry out ‘my-vertising’ and create “situations”. When laughter had faded after the humorous talk (“people love the Extrawurst”), Yuri van Geest explored the incredible possibilities offered in the world of mobile health applications and DNA-personalization and this way gave everyone some really futuristic thoughts to take home with.

After an information-packed and inspiring day, it was again time for chatting with old and new industry colleagues and enjoying some cold drinks in the anteroom.

Thank you for your participation, everyone!