1 Case Study 1.1 EMPiK, Poland Abstract This report analyses EMPiK s entry process into the e-commerce market. EMPiK is the biggest books retail company in Poland. The focus is on the creation and history of the company s e-seller Empik.com. The initial growth of e-business and internet use in Poland is described in order to uncover how selling books brings a mutual learning effect to the entire EMPiK chain of stores. The launch of e-business activities at EMPiK has shown that e-commerce is more than solely selling books: it allows getting strategic information of entire markets and, in addition, bridges new channels of communication and provides product sale opportunities to costumers. As a result, EMPiK has been able to evolve together with the market, using e-business as a means for joining the new economy. Case study fact sheet Full name of the company: Location (HQ / main branches): Main business activity: Year of foundation: 1948 Number of employees: 2000 Turnover in last financial year: Primary customers: Most significant geographic market: Main e-business applications studied: EMPiK sp. z o.o. Warsaw / 44 largest Polish cities Retail (books, newspapers and magazines, music, films, multimedia and stationery) million euros Polish consumers Poland e-sales, e-marketing Background and objectives EMPiK is the largest Polish retail network selling books, newspapers and magazines (local and international titles), music, films, multimedia, stationery and photographic products. Bookselling, however, remains the main activity of the company. There are currently 98 EMPiK stores in 44 of the largest Polish cities, the majority of them in high street locations or main shopping malls. EMPiK employs more than 2000 people and its turnover in 2006 was around million PLN 1 (151.8 million euros). At the moment, EMPiK does not face tough competition, as it dominates the market of mega book stores in Poland. However, its e-business attempt, Empik.com, could not achieve a similar position: while it is the second largest online retailer in this segment, it is still behind the 1 PLN, is the symbol of Polish zloty, the national currency in Poland.
2 market leader, Merlin.pl. EMPiK s principal e-business effort objective is to strengthen its importance in the virtual market for books and to consolidate its position in the knowledge and internet era. Exhibit 1.1-1: Location and number of EMPiK stores in Polish towns and cities Source: EMPiK/Sectoral e-business Watch The origins of EMPiK can be traced back to a network established in 1948: Klub Międzynarodowej Prasy i Książki (Club of International Press and Book), which has been the only place in post war Poland that provided access to international publications for the wide public. At the beginning of the 1990s, 36 stores of the around 100 existing Klub became EMPiK stores and the biggest ones located in the largest Polish cities were transformed into EMPiK Megastores (with average area over 3500 m² each). In 1994, EMPiK was sold by the Polish State Treasury to the capital group Eastbridge. EMPiK and other companies of Eastbridge Group joined the National Investment Fund Hetman in 2004 and then became NIF Empik Media & Fashion 2 (EM&F), one of the largest Polish operators of non-food consumer brands with over 270 shops in Central and Eastern Europe. The portfolio of NIF EM&F brands consists of: leading Polish trade chains like: EMPiK, Smyk, 3; the companies Ultimate Fashion and Optimum Distribution, which manages branded fashion chains like: Zara, Esprit, River Island, Wallis, Evita Peroni, Mexx, Aldo, Mango and Dior (and others) in Poland. In 2006 EM&F Group bought the network of Ukrainian bookshops Bukva which were changed into 23 EMPiK stores. Further plans of EM&F Group include the expansion in countries as Russia, Kazakhstan, Romania and Germany. 2 National Investment Found has been one of the key-players in the Mass Privatisation Program that started in Poland in 1997 aiming at privatizing over 400 medium and large size Polish state owned enterprises. 3 Part of NIF EM&F was also the chain of shopping centres Galeria Centrum (GC) which were sold in December 2006, the main reasons for selling GC was low profitability and lack of synergy with other companies in the EM&F Group.
3 1.1.2 e-business activity The history of Empik.com The main e-business activity within EMPiK is Empik.com, established in 1999 to enable virtual access to the products sold by EMPiK. Development of e-commerce is considered as an important strategic goal within EMPiK and the EM&F Group. However, in 1999 the internet as a channel of goods distribution was not sufficiently developed in Poland 4, thus e-commerce was not a very profitable activity. In 2001, Empik.com was sold to Elektrim, a company that invested massively in internet activities. But a few months later the domain Empik.com was closed due to financial difficulties, caused mainly by the system of settlements between EMPiK and Empik.com. In fact, Empik.com as an external company was purchasing the majority of goods from EMPiK and thus marked prices up, making them higher than at EMPiK. As a result, many products in the virtual shop had higher prices than in traditional EMPiK shops. An additional problem was an invalid system of financial settlements with the Polish Post Office, which in principle would allow customers to pay for products after the delivery to their houses. However, the whole system was not effective and quite often money for delivered goods was lost, thus influencing Empik.com s profitability. Market conditions especially the.com crisis and financial difficulties of Elektrim (new owner of Empik.com) led to the collapse of Empik.com in All activities were suspended and Empik.com disappeared from the Polish virtual book selling market. The 2001 agreement between EMPiK and Elektrim guaranteed the right of using the Empik brand and run Empik.com until 2005 to Elektrim. However, after initial difficulties in 2001, Elektrim was not able to fully recover and re-open Empik.com. As a result, the shop and the website were closed between 2001 and 2005, until the agreement between EMPiK and Elektrim expired. Following the closure of Empik.com, only the large competitor Merlin.pl and a few smaller sellers survived in the Polish market of virtual book sales. This opportunity enabled Merlin.pl to build a strong position and at present it is the largest e-bookseller in Poland with 1.65 million clients monthly (December 2006). Moreover, in 2004 Merlin.pl was the fastest developing company in the ICT sector in Central Europe. After the agreement between EMPiK and Elektrim ran out, EMPiK recovered the rights over the brand and a re-launch of Empik.com became possible in November The comeback of Empik.com was accompanied by a substantial advertising campaign. Nevertheless, it did not threaten the strong position acquired by Merlin, although Empik.com s product offer was larger and not limited to books (included recordings, films, multimedia and stationery). In May 2006, a cooperation between EMPiK and the German wholesaler Libri was launched to extend Empik.com s offer from 200,000 to 2 million overseas titles (books, music, films and multimedia). Empik.com managed to acquire around 18% of the market within its first year of return to the market ( ). Until November 2006, the number of customers increased by 300%, reaching 476,000 registered users 5. Though not the market leader, at the end of 2006 Empik.com won the position of the most popular Polish e-seller, in the ranking of Money.pl and magazines Wprost and Ceneo (Hipermarket 2006). Additionally, a study showed that bookselling was the biggest e-commerce market in Poland: 64.3 % of respondents declared books to be their main internet purchase. In 2007 Empik.com was also among the top five e- 4 In 2000 only less than 10 % of Polish household had Internet access. 5 Merlin.pl remains the market leader in e-bookselling, with profits of around 63 millions PLN in 2006, whereas Empik.com registered 17.9 millions PLN of revenue that year.
4 commerce websites in Poland (megapanel/pbi.gemius). Empik.com solutions: focus on attractiveness and effectiveness of website After four years of absence from the Polish e-commerce market, EMPiK wanted to attract new clients by offering an accessible and easy to use selling tool within Empik.com, as well as additional services besides book selling. The main focus of Empik.com was on accessibility of goods; the intention was to allow easy access and shorten search time. The online purchasing process was limited to three steps: delivery address, summary of the transaction and payment. The purchased goods could be delivered to the client or collected in any EMPiK store in Poland without delivery costs. The click-and-mortar model benefits from the network of EMPiK shops to distribute products around the country. This strategy has proven to be very popular, as half of the clients in 2006 chose the click-andmortar model to buy products. One advantage of this method, especially for those clients that do not trust internet payments or deliveries, is that it enables clients to order products online and proceed to full payment in store when picking up the product, no earlier online payment is required. At the end of 2006, when the number of Empik.com clients increased significantly (about 300%, see above), it became clear that the existing Empik.com selling platform (which offered solely basic functions; e.g. choice of product, price calculation accepting choice) would not be able to cope with the ever increasing number of customers and transactions. Furthermore, the growing numbers of internet users in Poland alerted the need for a new technological solution. The issue was addressed by EMPiK s Board and a new platform was prepared by a contractor, an American company called ATG 6, within 9 months. However, its final shape was not clear from the early beginning and it has changed several times before it was launched in its final form in September The new technology is the ATG e-commerce solution, which allows not only online selling but also enables to build continuous and personalised relationships with consumers by developing various ways of interactions (via Web, , phone), and keeping information of customers. The new platform required specialised implementation, which was taken on by the Polish consulting company AMG.net SA 7. The newly developed Empik.com platform changed the navigation approach: the idea was based on the concept of EMPiK as a combination of stores and providers of cultural information to customers. The provision of cultural knowledge was a cornerstone for the designing of the website. The new navigation solution is divided into three sections: Shopping: information about products and e-selling tools. Empikultura: news and information on cultural events connected to EMPiK or other new or archived events in the whole of Poland. Empiklopedia: a database of artists containing more than 20,000 records (at the beginning of platform operation, this number will grow). The content of this section is provided by Wikipedia and other mainly Polish providers of cultural information. After the implementation of the new platform, an alteration of the cooperation between Empik.com and other departments of EMPiK was observed. Currently, there is bidirectional cooperation principally with three departments: sales, logistics and 6 ATG is a leading US Company which designs, monitors and implements e-commerce software solutions. ATG products were rated on first position in 2006 by two independent analysts (Forrester Research, Inc. and Gartner, Inc.) in a B2C (business to consumer) segment. 7 Before working with Empik.com, AMG.net had clients among the largest Polish firms in sectors of telecommunication (like TP SA, PTK Centertel) and finance (BRE Bank, Bank Millenium, mbank, Multibank, Bank Pekao).
5 Marketing, in which Empik.com not only receives support but also offers information gathered at Empik.com about clients, which are used to modify and verify activities at these departments. The service of payment transactions at Empik.com is currently provided by an external company, PayBack (a limited liability company), which executes payment transactions for e-commerce activities in Poland. This solution, apart from taking over payment transactions between Empik.com and its customers, offers additional advantages: there is no need for customers to engage in a registration procedure (what increases speed of transaction); EMPiK.com has to take no responsibility for fraudulent intents and for the system of daily reports of payment for accomplished transactions; the company can easily monitor sales on a daily basis. Payment can also be done by bank transfer or during the collection of purchased products in EMPiK stores (click-and-mortar model). A software connection with warehouses checks the availability of the purchased good in stock and time of sending, allowing Empik.com to provide additional applications for the customers, like the estimation of the delivery date. Furthermore, cultural and entertainment news from all over Poland and a service of used goods for sale (in e-bay style) are available to Empik.com costumers. An innovation in the Polish bookselling market is the offer of books taken off the shelves (so-called backorders). This allows customer to access books that are not available anymore on the market and is also an additional advantage for the company because it allows to clear old stock gathered in the warehouses without additional costs. The webpage is also a means of running various campaigns to attract customers. A particular group of Empik.com clients are Poles living abroad (at the present moment it is less than 10 % of all customers but this number is growing). Empik.com enables them to buy Polish cultural products in other countries. In this sense, Empik.com also engages in advertising abroad, for instance, last year a campaign in Polish pubs in London was carried out. Empik.com moreover indirectly supports traditional sales in EMPiK shops. Special infopoints which are located in every store allow customers to buy products that are currently unavailable in the particular store or its warehouse. Info-points permit customers to purchase goods from Empik.com, however all transactions are still made by the store s staff, thus, the customer does not have to interact with the internet sale tools of Empik.com, although benefiting from it. Collection of ordered goods is generally possible after two or three working days at the store where the product was requested. According to EMPiK management, this method of sale is useful as it expands the products on offer in medium and small stores in peripheral locations, giving their customers access to the full range of products available in EMPiK mega-stores without extra spending for storing goods, though not all clients are happy to wait for ordered product two or three days. In spite of that, the number of customers accessing goods this way is constant and reaches approximately 10% of all Empik.com clients. Since e-commerce requires additional description of the product, special requirements for suppliers are made by Empik.com. All books on sale through the website need accurate description provided by the supplier, which has to be much more detailed than for traditional retail activities. For instance, the description of books has to contain not only physical features of the product but also comprise information about the content in order to allow the costumer to see part of the book and make a better-informed purchase decision. This description of the product is considered by Empik.com management as an efficient way of allowing clients to get acquainted with the purchased good and it
6 furthermore encourages him/her to buy the products. For all those reasons, Empik.com is cooperating with one of the EMPiK suppliers, a company called PolPerfect, which provides the majority of goods sold via Empik.com s website. As of September 2007, the share of Empik.com in EMPiK s turnover is slightly less than 10%, however, it is expected to grow as the number of monthly customers in low season 2007 (July/August) has reached the level of high season in 2006 (December-Christmas). Empik.com s revenue at the end of 2007 may exceed 30 million PLN (around 7.9m Euro), an increase of about 68% in comparison to 2006 (when sale results amounted to 17.9m PLN; 4.7m euros) Impact Empik.com has an important status within the EMPiK network. Thanks to new tools for supporting sales, the management of EMPiK has a chance of looking at traditional retail from different perspectives and see both, drawbacks but also advantages. Solutions for the former can be found in e-commerce (such as: allowing customer to access goods 24 hours a day; knowing better needs and requirements of the customers), although both areas of retail complement each other mainly as Empik.com uses the EMPiK network of shops in the click-and-mortar sales and EMPiK shops uses Empik.com tools to sell through info-points. In this sense, it allows EMPiK to have wider access to customers covering both, virtual and traditional markets. The major impact of Empik.com on the management and organisation of EMPiK is to bring it into the knowledge-based economy; and to support its modernisation and pave the way to reach a larger number of customers, by activities including the following. Empik.com provides the entire company with real time information regarding market needs, owing to an application that measures the activities of customers on the website. Therefore, crucial information about e-customers is available to support strategic decisions in the entire company, for instance: the number of clients, time taken to choose products, products sold and those looked at but not sold as well as popularity of products even before they are on the market (through pre-order ). It shapes not only Empik.com s retail activities but also influences strategies developed for traditional EMPiK stores. A closer relation with costumers is achieved through Empik.com, which supplies costumers with real time information about products available at EMPiK including prices and other useful data on shops and the company. EMPiK s strategic aim of building shops connected with culture and entertainment is facilitated by Empik.com, as it is a marketing channel to advertise and archive cultural activities that take place in EMPiK. Empik.com supports traditional retail in EMPiK shops. When a client cannot find a product in a shop, it can be ordered at Empik.com via info-points that exist in every EMPiK store, and can be collected in stores after 2-3 days. The success of Empik.com has a direct influence on EMPiK s level of sales. The observed growth of customers number spread and strengthens the brand, besides supplying a tool that facilitates selling in shops Lessons learned One of the most important lessons learned from Empik.com s experience is the mutual learning that stands behind the cooperation between traditional retail and e-commerce
7 activities. Besides EMPiK using knowledge generated at Empik.com, the other way round is also a reality, as said by the director of Empik.com, Tomasz Cisek: Empik.com is a younger brother of EMPiK, a brother who learns from the experience of the older one, but uses different tools for its own activities. Another lesson is the importance of trust and patience when new solutions and tools connected to e-commerce are introduced in a company. In EMPiK this was made through empowering the manager of the new department (Empik.com), to become a member of the EMPiK main board. This gave autonomy and status to e-commerce in the company context, influencing the entire organisational culture of the corporation. This solution changed the perspective of looking at internet not only as a technological innovation but also as a tool for work, a tool that requires investment. The company also learned to benefit from the complementarities of both ways of selling books, as, firstly, EMPiK shops use facilities embedded in Empik.com (info-points) to expand their offer of peripheral shops and save storage and transport costs (as transported are only the purchased products) and to satisfy clients when they do not find a particular product available at shop. Secondly, Empik.com can reach more costumers by relying on the advantages of the large number of EMPiK shops to enhance sales using the click-and-mortar system. This requires closely interaction with different departments of EMPiK, especially logistics and marketing with Empik.com. Human-Resources was also affected as employees had to be trained on how to deal with the Info-points system. Integration of internal activities of departments was necessary to provide the services. Furthermore, Empik.com s system used in info-points presents similarities with a supportive corporate system, by which staff can order merchandise to satisfy store demand required at a certain time. The value of communication with costumers is also discovered. EMPiK is now able to accomplish a two-way communication with its clients, which is in line with modern techniques of marketing. The company manages to receive information on costumers, through messages on the website, or even phone calls and consolidated information provided by the measures made by the application in the ICT system; moreover, it can offer information about the company, its products and cultural events to every client that accesses Empik.com References Research for this case study was conducted by Dariusz Świątek, on behalf of the Sectoral e-business Watch. Sources and references used: Interview with Mr. Tomasz Cisek, director of Empik.com, member of the EMPiK Main Board who is responsible for management, sale and marketing, 25 September 2007, EMPiK Headquarters, Warsaw ul. Krucza 50, Poland EMPiK annual report Grupa EM&F podsumowuje działalność za 4 kwartały 2006 roku (najważniejsze wydarzenia, wyniki finansowe, dalsze plany rozwoju), Warszawa [Group EM&F reassuming activity for 4 quartiles of 2006 (the most important events, financial results, plans of further development)] Gołębiewski, Ł., Rynek książki w Polsce. Edycja 2006 księgarstwo hurtowe, Biblioteka Analiz, Warszawa 2006 [Books market in Poland. Edition 2006 wholesale book trade] Gołębiewski, Ł., Rynek książki w Polsce. Edycja 2006 Dystrybucja, Biblioteka Analiz, Warszawa 2006 [Books market in Poland. Edition 2006 distribution] Hipermarket w komputerze, Ranking sklepów internetowych, 2006, Wprost 41/2006, no (article in Polish weekly magazine Wprost)
8 Zwierzchowski Z., Merlin kontra Empik gwiazdkowe starcie, Rzeczpospolita , (article based on interview with Tomasz Cisek in Polish daily Rzeczpospolita). Websites: Company EMPiK: National Investment Fund EM&F: National Statistic Office: Company ATG: Company AMG.net: Megapanel / PBI.Gemius: About this document This case study was initially published as part of a comprehensive Sectoral e-business Watch study report on the retail industry (2008). The European Commission, Enterprise & Industry Directorate General, launched the Sectoral e-business Watch (SeBW) in late 2001 to monitor, study and assess the implications of ICT for enterprises and sectors. The results support policy formulation, notably in the fields of industrial and innovation policy. All study reports and further resources such as data on ICT adoption in enterprises are available online at the SeBW website ( For further information, please contact European Commission Enterprise & Industry Directorate-General D4 "ICT for competitiveness and innovation" Sectoral e-business Watch c/o empirica GmbH Oxfordstr. 2, Bonn, Germany
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