Is it possible to compete with the Internet giants? The future is today

On September 26 and 27, DIA group held its International Management Convention in Madrid. This Senior Management Meeting revolved around the immediacy of a future packed with important changes in markets and their impact on business and on the consumer. Digital transformation is much more than just online commerce and is already generating a deep change in the retail sector, which, like any revolution or major change, entails threats and opportunities.

Placing ourselves among the first and looking outside the European borders, we see how big operators in the digital market are causing the mass closure of the more traditional retail formats to date, but above all, we see that consumers evolve in the way they increasingly consume and use tools that were unknown to them not long ago. As food for thought, the iPhone was released 10 years ago. Today there are 3 billion iPhones in the market, and they are expected to double in 3 years’ time. Large digital operators control the use of these tools and how to reach consumers through them. But let’s not fool ourselves, since they also make large investments in price that are focused on controlling the categories, and their size allows them to do so.

In the most advanced markets it is often said that the “digital future is a reality”. In China, for example, the internet cannot be used to make only online purchases, but the development of large Market Places is a new way of life for consumers, we enter a universe where these markets are used to discover new products, compare prices, or establish an open form of dialog with the market. In China it is common practice to be able to make a purchase through your mobile phone and pay through it.

If we move to the US, we have a huge operator, which aims to be the company that focuses more in consumer goods. Be the preferred choice in the retail sector. A retail sector that covers all-things consumable, including food.

In both cases we are talking about operators that far exceed the size of any of the European operators. That is, market capitalizations that exceed €400 million. Now let’s compare this figure with that of any European operator, or beyond, with the total of the Spanish market. The comparison inevitably leads to a reflection on whether Europe is prepared for an already present revolution that comes from outside, and whether its operators will have the capacity to compete. As we have seen, the reality is that capitalization is much lower, its purchasing power is almost non-existent in comparative terms and the speed of change in Europe is much slower. Perhaps the multiple and historical interests will cause that we cannot see the forest for the trees.

Not everything are threats, there are opportunities too; the technology and the networks allow us to access the knowledge to be able to compete and to continue being next to that consumer that is in constant change. But in order to compete and in order to reach those opportunities, we must stop looking back, to limited spaces, the market is broad and must be free. Alliances are necessary and obstacles must be removed. Let’s not waste time because since will miss the opportunity. The future is today and these operators know it.