“The internet has fundamentally disrupted the retail sector” – Meet the Dutch marketing company revolutionising retail

Interview | Retail | Technology
Sander Roose

Business Leader recently sat down with Sander Roose,  the CEO and founder of Omnia retail. Omnia is an international marketing scale-up which uses AI to automate pricing strategies for retail giants such as Office Depot, Samsung and Decathlon.

Omnia’s automatic pricing software, which uses a unique core algorithm to instantly adjust retailers product prices depending on changing industry trends, enables retailers to remain competitive, save time and drive profitable growth. This tech underpins Omnia’s success and has been key to securing over 100 major clients across Europe.

Since establishing in the Netherlands in 2013, Omnia has continued to expand at a rapid rate and has just launched its first UK office after receiving several million pounds worth of investment.

Sander speaks to Business Leader about getting the ball rolling on British soil and how he plans to replicate its Dutch success.

Meet the CEO

Can you give me an overview of Omnia Retail?

Omnia Retail is a SaaS solution for integrated pricing and online marketing automation. We use intelligent, self-learning algorithms to help retailers regain control, save time and drive profitable growth by automating optimal pricing and maximising returns from online marketing channels like Google Shopping.

I founded the business in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 2013. Since then, we have grown to service more than 100 leading retailers and brands including Office Depot, Decathlon and Samsung. We recently launched our first office in London and are rolling out the business across Europe, too.

What was the inspiration behind setting up the company?

The growth of e-commerce has enabled much broader product ranges to become available online, which has in turn led to increased competition, transparency of pricing and fragmentation of marketing channels. This has led to a significant rise in the number of pricing and marketing decisions that retailers need to make on a near-hourly basis.

Before Omnia Retail, I gained extensive retail experience working within customer business development at Procter & Gamble and was also in retail strategy consulting for many years. During this time, I recognised what a powerful impact technology could have on these aspects of retailers’ business models.

I figured out that automation of pricing and online marketing could help retailers regain control of this rapidly-changing landscape and grow at scale. I therefore set about developing software that could do just that.

Omnia Retail uses massive computing power, big data and artificial intelligence to make category managers, buyers and online marketers far more effective in their jobs. This in turn allows retail businesses to innovate and compete in today’s marketplace.

What products and services do you offer?

We offer a range of software services that enable retailers to link pricing and marketing automation together.

In order to remain competitive, retailers must be able to analyse competitor activity. Our Pricewatch module can automate this process, giving a complete and accurate overview of competitor pricing activity and how it relates to clients’ business.

With today’s increasing price transparency and the growing number of products and volume of price changes, dynamic – or variable – pricing has become a necessity. That’s why we also created a Dynamic Pricing module: to help clients automate agile pricing strategies. The product has already helped existing clients see up to 50% improvement in sales and margin growth.

Lastly, our Feed Manager module allows retailers to advertise products on all relevant marketing channels with ease. They can do this using data from sources that Omnia is connected with, such as internal data, Google Analytics data, Google AdWords and other marketing channels. In fact, any data source can be integrated – even the weather forecast.

Our Dynamic Marketing product, meanwhile, has helped clients experience up to four times more growth on marketing channels like Google Shopping. The intelligent bid management tool bases its decisions on data sources such as real-time product margins to configure automatically-optimised offers for all pay-per-click marketing campaigns.

How have you used AI and automation within your business?

Artificial intelligence and automation are at the core of our offering.

The internet has fundamentally disrupted the retail sector. Product ranges and competition have both increased exponentially, with marketing and pricing options available for shoppers to compare 24/7.

These drivers have created an explosion in the number of pricing and online marketing decisions retailers must make every day. However, compiling and processing such huge amounts of data is laborious and time-consuming, which is where AI and automation comes in.

Who are some of the major companies you are working with and how are you helping them?

We work with a range of retailers and brands such as Samsung, Office Depot and Decathlon. We recently worked with Decathlon Netherlands on a project that increased their conversion rates by as much as 80% and they have since brought us on board in the UK market.

We were brought on board to provide intelligent software and tools to automate of Decathlon’s operations in the Netherlands related to pricing and marketing. This new strategy aimed to give the sports retailer more time to focus on broader expansion plans and generated some impressive results.

The project freed up 20 hours per month in operational capacity alongside increasing sales conversion rates by 80% for dynamically priced Decathlon products. The company also saw its year-on-year revenue in Google Shopping grow eight times while simultaneously increasing the return on advertising spend by 50%. In addition to online sales, this omnichannel pricing and marketing strategy also created a 90% boost for in-store revenues caused directly by Google Shopping.

Why have you expanded out of the Netherlands and into the UK?

We have been helping retailers in the Netherlands to boost their bottom lines with our intelligent technology for the past five years. However, the issues faced by these brands are not exclusive to the Dutch market – so the solutions shouldn’t be, either.

The UK is one of the most competitive global marketplaces, with online retail now constituting almost a fifth of all transactions made – higher than any other country in the world. When we decided to expand internationally, the UK was therefore a logical first step in this process. We’re already speaking with several retailers here regarding their pricing and marketing needs and we’re excited to join this fast-paced arena.

Where is your UK base and how many will you employ?

Our London office is on Wapping Lane – near Tower Bridge. To help launch our brand in the UK, we appointed Kingsly Kaba as UK Sales Manager. Kingsly has a wealth of experience in growing brands, having previously worked at fast-growing fintech company Divido, where he set up the retail finance efforts from scratch and led a team to successfully build relationships with UK retailers and grow market share. We are also currently in the process of hiring further team members.

What are the company’s plans for the future?

If all goes to plan, we will continue scaling up the business across Europe and beyond. We believe it is still day one in terms of innovative automation within retail, so to ensure Omnia continues to adapt to retailers’ shifting needs, we will be further developing the AI side of our software. The e-retail boom shows no sign of slowing down so we predict that the business will continue to grow alongside this market.

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