MarTech360 Interview With Marcel Hollerbach, Chief Innovation Officer, Productsup

“As companies face budget cuts and struggle to drive revenue, a P2C strategy can actually be more cost-effective, as it helps companies do more with less.”

Hi, Marcel, can you walk us through your professional journey so far?

I joined Productsup in 2012 as a late co-founder and the Chief Marketing Officer when the company was pivoting from an agency to a SaaS model. As CMO, I built multiple units within the company, such as Pre-Sales, BDR and the Product Content Syndication line of business. Appointed Chief Innovation Officer in July 2021, I now focus on up-and-coming technologies and provide strategic oversight to various company-wide initiatives, helping Productsup stay ahead of the latest market trends. Outside of Productsup, I’m a founding partner of venture capital fund Cavalry Ventures, which specializes in early-stage investments in European tech startups.

What sets Productsup apart from the competition?

Having worked with Productsup for over ten years, I can say our biggest differentiator from our competitors is our holistic service offerings and our ability to scale. Productsup prides itself in not only providing pivotal technology for its customers, but also solutions that aim to solve market-wide challenges. One of those challenges is the increasing complexity of paths between products, services and consumers. Because more ecommerce channels are created everyday, it’s impossible for online retailers to keep up with this pace while still providing tailored messaging that resonates with consumers. 

Also Read: MarTech360 Interview With Hunter Montgomery, Chief Marketing Officer, ChurnZero

Since Product-to-Consumer (P2C) Management is a fairly new and emerging strategy, what issues does it intend to address and what does it mean for businesses?

Product-to-Consumer Management was developed to help companies tame commerce complexity. By implementing P2C management, brands and retailers can take a systematic approach to controlling, directing, and maximizing the commerce ecosystem. Instead of relying on several systems, which only amplifies the complexity, P2C condenses operations into a single platform. This streamlines how product information is delivered to consumers, simplifying internal processes and strengthening the external presence.

According to you, where does P2C fit into the MarTech landscape and how is it evolving?

Product-to-Consumer Management intersects between product information management, digital asset management, digital commerce, campaign management and creative optimization. It replaces outdated ways of thinking to address the biggest challenges marketers and online retailers face today. As companies face budget cuts and struggle to drive revenue, a P2C strategy can actually be more cost-effective, as it helps companies do more with less. A market analysis by Constellation Research estimated it had a total addressable market of $11 billion last year.

Do you think marketing automation has an impact on the entire digital marketing landscape?

Automation of any kind, regardless of industry, has an impact on the business landscape. In most cases, it reduces the number of slow, tedious tasks that create inefficiencies.  

For instance, automating how product data is syndicated across marketing and selling channels can help companies ensure their product information is up-to-date and consistent. Before automation, online retailers would have to make those updates manually, slowing down time-to-market and could leave room for user error or misinformation.

What are your thoughts about commerce leveraged in the metaverse to drive marketing?

We’ve already seen commerce brands do some exceptional work in the metaverse. Many retailers are rolling out new, metaverse-specific shopping experiences for the 2022 holiday season. Bloomingdales being one of them. Although we can’t consider the metaverse to be widely adopted by consumers yet, this initial push from brands is driving more interest in shopping within a virtual environment. Our research found 42% of consumers want online virtual and augmented reality experiences when shopping.

Today’s economic environment is prompting brands to think twice about exploring “risky” marketing campaigns, and understandably so. However, because consumers demand new and cutting-edge experiences, brands that have the means to continue rolling out metaverse-specific offerings will likely find themselves ahead of the curve when financial outlooks become positive again. 

How are digital marketing technology trends shaping business strategies to effectively reach the target audience?

The metaverse is a great example of a digital marketing trend that does just this. Rolling out marketing campaigns in the metaverse isn’t feasible for every business right now, but many brands have had luck reaching new target audiences by going all-in on this growing trend. Walmart, for example, rolled out two new experiences on the Roblox platform a couple of months ago. By doing this, an established brand like Walmart can effectively start building relationships among younger audiences from Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Brands that invest in new technology like the metaverse now set themselves up for success against competition in the future by learning what works now, allowing them to gain a head start.

What is the contribution of Web3 in providing a more personalized and interactive experience on consumers and how is it impacting their purchases?

There is already a strong appetite from consumers to have new shopping experiences with the brands they love. According to our recent research, 46% of consumers surveyed would feel enticed to make a purchase in the metaverse if they experienced life-like features virtually. 

Because metaverse technologies are so closely linked to the development of Web3, I’d say it has a very important hand in providing the personalization and interaction that consumers demand today. 

Similarly, Web3 is empowering some brands to interact with consumers and collect necessary funding before even launching a physical product. I had a conversation with Retail Brew about a beverage brand that was doing just this and have no doubt that Web3 will continue to gain traction in 2023. I anticipate more and more brands will roll out similar strategies, because it’s a surefire way to connect and interact with consumers on a personalized level. 

According to you, how important are highly customized interactions with customers across omnichannel platforms?

The number of channels customers have access to shop on grows higher every year – especially as social media platforms like TikTok and BeReal become more popular, and the metaverse gains traction. To put this into perspective, Productsup helps brands distribute products across over thousands of marketing, ecommerce, and retail channels. That said, it’s extremely important for brands to offer highly customized interactions across these platforms without forgetting tried and true purchasing avenues like physical storefronts. 

In the new year, brands should consider new strategies that enable them to roll out customized interactions across every channel their customers interact on – including in brick and mortar locations. We’ve seen more and more in-person pop-ups from digitally native brands, and I anticipate this trend to continue in 2023. That said, the prioritization of hybrid experiences is what will put retailers ahead of the game next year. 

What is the one piece of advice you would give to those who wish to enter the Tech or the MarTech world?

Be willing to experiment. The tech landscape as a whole has changed a lot over the last year, and there’s no doubt that will continue – perhaps even more so in 2023. The emphasis on Web3, the metaverse, and NFTs will not fade away even in this economic landscape, so it’s important to educate yourself on everything that is impacting the industry. 

Thanks, Marcel!

Marcel Hollerbach is Chief Information Officer and member of the supervisory board at Productsup. A serial entrepreneur, he co-founded hiClip, NativeAds, and Cavalry Ventures. Marcel was an early evangelist of the importance and impact of high-quality, contextualized product data. His expertise in commerce and ad-tech gives him an intuitive understanding of consumer behavior in the digital commerce space.

Productsup frees brands, retailers, service providers, and marketplaces from commerce anarchy. The Productsup product-to-consumer (P2C) platform processes over two trillion products a month, empowering long-term business success as the only global, strategic, scalable platform managing all product-to-consumer information value chains across any platform, any channel, any technology. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Berlin, Productsup has grown to over 250 employees spread out across offices worldwide and works with over 900 brands, including IKEA, Sephora, Beiersdorf, Redbubble, and ALDI.

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