This success story describes how the traditional shoe manufacturer Josef Seibel from the Palatinate region of Germany uses the innovative Buy Now Pay Later enabler axytos to reorganize the customer financial journey in the Josef Seibel online store, thus bringing the management and control of all purchasing and financial processes back into the company.
“Inspired by Tradition…”
…Are the ultra-modern sneakers with the lettering 1886, which immediately catch the eye on the Josef Seibel website. The company explains what this is all about as follows: “We have been manufacturing shoes for 135 years and have always kept up with the times. We live progress and at the same time our tradition. That’s why we named the best sneaker after our founding year – 1886.”
In that year, the brothers Carl August and Anton Josef Seibel started a sole stamping business in Hauenstein in southern Palatinate, which then became the CA Josef Seibel shoe factory. In addition to production in Hauenstein, other factories in Hungary and Romania began operations in 1990. Today, Josef Seibel Schuhfabrik GmbH produces the brands Josef Seibel, Westland, Romika and Gerry Weber Shoes at its sites in Hauenstein, Hungary and Kenya, as well as in partner factories in Europe and Asia.
5G in Hauenstein – and more than 2.5 million pairs of shoes
In the meantime, the traditional company produces more than 2.5 million pairs of shoes annually, which are sold in more than 40 countries through specialist retailers, on all relevant marketplaces and, of course, in its own online store. After Carl-August Seibel, his daughter Franziska and her husband Michael Fischer joined the company management in 2020. This means that the fifth generation of the family is now running the company.
Franziska Seibel, as Managing Director responsible for Marketing, Retail and Projects, had the privilege of opening the newly designed Visitor and Experience Center in Hauenstein to mark the company’s 135th anniversary in July 2021. The attractive design of the complex including the offices and the integrated ‘Josef Seibel Schuhfabrik’ was designed and implemented together with a creative agency from Düsseldorf.
Josef Seibel, plentymarkets and axytos – how to make a shoe out of it online too
Last year, the fifth Seibel generation then relaunched the online store, whose share of sales is already between 10 and 15 percent – with a strong upward trend. An important partner in the realization of the new store is the agency ECOMRC from Trier, which implemented the store system based on plentymarkets, Contentserv, AXsemantics and last but not least axytos. In addition to a very high design standard, the main focus was on automation and user orientation. The new system succeeded in achieving 1st place at the Shop Usability Award 2021 at the first attempt.
We spoke with Marc Bonny from ECOMRC, as well as Lukas Seidens, sales controller and member of the Seibel e-commerce project team, and axytos CEO Dr. Karsten von Diemar. In our interview we discuss, among other things, the reasons why Josef Seibel now realizes the purchase on account, which is popular in Germany, via the white label platform of the Buy Now Pay Later enabler axytos.
Nicolai Jereb: Mr. Seidens, since the relaunch of the Josef Seibel online store you have now been working with a white label solution from axytos for invoice purchasing for over 12 months. Why?
Lukas Seidens: The main reason was that until then we had processed purchases on account via PayPal. This irritated many buyers, as they were redirected to PayPal during checkout and often had to set up an account there first in order to be able to process their order via purchase on account at all. We are very happy to have integrated the white label solution from axytos more than 12 months ago. Since then, the buyer remains in our store system at all times and does not even notice that someone is securing us in the background. In practice it has turned out that now everything is totally transparent for us and our buyers. This is a real leap forward for us – also in terms of buyer satisfaction and buyer loyalty. We needed a purchase on account with payment guarantee so that we would not have to bear the risk alone in the event of non-payment. In the processes, we quickly realized that everything is now much more transparent for us and our buyers. We can see immediately when or why a customer has been rejected for purchase on account. We didn’t know that at all before.
Lukas Seidens, Sales Controller and member of the e-commerce project team at Josef Seibel: “For the first time, we have the possibility to adjust the set screws for purchase on account ourselves. And axytos Invoice Purchase 3.0 has also significantly increased the conversion rate by over 10 percent.”
Dr. Karsten von Diemar: We know this experience very well. More and more retailers are finding that their BNPL partner decides whether his customer is allowed to pay by invoice. He can no longer understand why a potential buyer was rejected and also has no control over the dunning processes. He does not know what exactly happens in the black box of the BNPL provider, loses data sovereignty and thus important sources of information about his buyers. Ultimately, he has hardly any options left to maintain the buyer relationship.
Nicolai Jereb: Mr. Seidens, so there were also problems at Josef Seibel with buyers who suddenly could no longer purchase on account?
Lukas Seidens: Yes, that’s exactly how it was! The buyers were redirected to PayPal, then the cog in the black box turned and the purchase on account was not offered as an option in the end. Many buyers did not know what to do and asked our customer service why they did not get the shoe. This is simply not comprehensible for buyers. We now have the opportunity to adjust the settings for purchase on account ourselves – in a completely different way than before. And with axytos Invoice Purchase 3.0, we have also significantly increased the conversion rate by over 10 percent.
axytos Managing Director Dr. Karsten von Diemar: “Our further developed, unique form of invoice purchase enables the merchant to keep the end customer relationship under control at all times. It remains visible in its look and feel, whether it is invoicing, the Buy Now Pay Later offer or even in the event of a commercial dunning procedure.”
Dr. Karsten von Diemar: The new form of invoice purchasing from axytos enables the merchant to keep the buyer relationship under control at all times. He remains visible in his look and feel, be it during invoicing, the Buy Now Pay Later offer or even in the event of a commercial dunning procedure. And as far as transparency is concerned, the merchant can see what is going on in real time via the axytos Merchant Monitor. For example, he can answer the question of whether a buyer has paid and the money has been credited to the account in a matter of seconds via his call center.
Marc Bonny: Dr. von Diemar is absolutely right, we did the math: In the old store, there were definitely one to two complaint calls per hour because buyers were rejected when purchasing on account. But the purchase on account is exactly what the buyer expects.
Nicolai Jereb: Mr. Bonny, can you tell us some background about the project and the integration of the axytos solution?
Marc Bonny: Josef Seibel is currently one of the most exciting shoe manufacturers in Germany. As an agency, we specialize in plentymarkets and were allowed to take over the project management for the system expansion and store relaunch in close cooperation with Lukas Seidens and the axytos team. We learned a lot from the previous constellation plentymarkets and shopware, developed a new concept and identified the biggest pain points. One of the most important points was the purchase on account: A lot of time and energy fell by the wayside during long phone calls between customer service and buyers. There, even long-standing buyer relationships came to a sad end because the buyer was rejected in the credit check.
So, the key challenge was to find the right partner for purchase on account. PayPal and Klarna quickly said goodbye when we defined the technical requirements. Many other providers promised a lot in advance, which they could not deliver at all. Then we became aware of axytos and a constellation emerged that fits very, very well.
Marc Bonny, owner of the e-commerce specialists at ECOMRC: “Finding the right partner for purchase on account was the key challenge. With axytos, a constellation has emerged that fits very, very well.”
Nicolai Jereb: So the axytos white label platform can be recommended to other retailers?
Lukas Seidens: If the online retailer ticks along the same lines as we do, then the white label solution from axytos for purchase on account with payment guarantee can be recommended without reservation. But that’s not all: the so-called hybrid process gives us a lot of leeway in managing risk and conversion rate – much more than we previously even thought possible.
Nicolai Jereb: Dr. von Diemar, the reader would certainly like to know more about this hybrid model.
Dr. Karsten von Diemar: I would like to explain this with an example: Let’s say Josef Seibel wants to run a seasonal sale to clean up the warehouse. Or we are talking about special product ranges where a high trade margin allows us to take a greater risk. That means also accepting buyers that a normal BNPL payment guarantee solution would definitely not accept anymore. Now Josef Seibel can manage these processes and the entrepreneurial risk themselves thanks to the axytos solution and supported by axytos analysts: The entire process from invoicing up to and including payment reminders is always carried out as a white label service in the name and layout of the Josef Seibel online store. All services come from axytos, all payments always go directly to the merchant bank account.
For example, we provide the Josef Seibel shoe brand with a holistic process for handling purchases on account: On the one hand, the purchase on account with payment guarantee, which guarantees the retailer its refinancing. On the other hand, invoice purchasing on its own, in which Josef Seibel controls the rejection rate itself on the basis of various parameters. The best of both options is the so-called hybrid process. Here, Josef Seibel uses a mix of payment guarantee and self-directed invoice purchasing for assortment and time-related control. This allows the company to adjust its business parameters very precisely and at any time, right down to the item level. The core objective of the hybrid model is to achieve the highest possible sales while accepting tolerable risks.
Lukas Seidens: You can make your own decisions on the axytos platform exactly where that is normally no longer possible. That’s practically a little entrepreneurship in itself.
Nicolai Jereb: Let me ask you again about the adjusting screws that have already been mentioned. How can I imagine this in concrete terms?
Dr. Karsten von Diemar: We have a joint meeting every three weeks. Lukas Seidens, with the support of our analysts, ultimately decides which adjustments need to be made. The bottom line is always to balance sales and costs with full transparency in all processes. Josef Seibel always has decision-making authority at all times.
Marc Bonny: We really do work with each other as equals. A good example of this: axytos listened to the fears and concerns of Seibel’s accounting department in advance. This also contributed to a high level of acceptance of the solution internally.
Lukas Seidens: During these jour fixe meetings, for example, we look at how high the default rates are in a certain risk group in order to classify the buyers into default probabilities accordingly. The shopping cart as a risk parameter can also be controlled: Up to what point do we go along and above what limit is the default risk too high for us.
Dr. Karsten von Diemar: Marc Bonny and his team managed, optimized and coordinated the complete optimization of the store, the connection to axytos and, of course, the sale of goods at Josef Seibel. This was absolutely on eye level and resulted in good hints for axytos, how we can further improve the plugin in the market comparison to make the processes even faster and more efficient. Without such a well-built store, this would not be possible at all. This is a fantastic collaboration that has lifted all parties involved to a whole new level.
At the E-Commerce Berlin Expo on February 23, 2023, at booth B6.2 in hall 7, axytos will show manufacturers and merchants how the axytos platform offers uncompromising transparency for efficient sales management and how thus redefines the topic of BUY NOW PAY LATER.
If you would like to talk with axytos personally in the run-up to the E-Commerce Berlin Expo, feel free to use their contact form.