MUNICH/PARIS: Faced with growing competition from the likes of Amazon and other online retailers, two leading European electronics retailers are fighting back with plans to launch a “European Retail Alliance”.

MediaMarktSaturn, Europe’s biggest electronic retailer which is based in Bavaria, Germany, along with its French counterpart, Fnac Darty, have signed a memorandum of understanding which will see them co-operate across a range of business activities, such as the collection of data, research and private label sourcing.

The aim, as outlined in a statement this week, is to create a “European Retail Alliance” that will be open to other parties to drive efficiencies, improve innovation and enhance the customer experience both in-store and online.

According to both companies, the new alliance aims to become a “truly European platform offering advantages for all parties involved” and, although they do not mention Amazon or other e-commerce rivals in their statement, the implication is that a Europe-wide alliance could act as a counterweight.

“This newly founded alliance is a major step to tap into currently unrealised value creation potential. We are convinced that the concentration of resources and bringing together the complementary skills of both companies offers benefits to customers, suppliers, and, of course, the members of the alliance,” said Pieter Haas, CEO of MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group.

“The European Retail Alliance we decided to launch with MediaMarktSaturn is destined to bring innovation and Europe's best omnichannel experience to customers, with access to the best choice of products and services, at the best value for money,” added Enrique Martinez, CEO Fnac Darty Group.

MediaMarktSaturn and Fnac Darty are both major players in the European electronics retail market, generating sales of €22bn and €7.4bn respectively last year.

But in its analysis of the new alliance, Handelsblatt warned that it faced an “uphill battle”, not least because of the sheer scale of Amazon’s reach.

For example, the US retail giant generated sales of €14bn in Germany alone last year and it has been the country’s most popular online retailer for the past three years.

In addition, Handelsblatt contended, Amazon knows much more about its customers than its two European rivals because it is a purely online operation – and it is also more dynamic.

That is why Pieter Haas believes European companies need to work together to secure better terms with suppliers and to integrate their own private label sourcing, which deliver the highest margins.

MediaMarktSaturn has already gone some way to enhance the shopping experience of its customers by deploying in-store robots, augmented reality and artificial intelligence to demonstrate the latest trends. These and other developments are outlined in a WARC report from the Shoptalk Europe conference in October 2017.

Sourced from MediaMarktSaturn, Fnac Darty, Handelsblatt; additional content by WARC staff