Rehashop.de is an important online provider of beds and other home care products in Germany. This e-commerce platform is operated by Proteno GmbH, a subsidiary of the large medical supply chain company Kaphingst in the Hessian Lahntal. Proteno operations manager Sascha Viereck spoke to the FORUM team about the strengths and special requirements of medical online retailers.
Mr. Viereck, please introduce yourself.
After studying business administration, I joined Kaphingst in 2001. My challenge was to set up the e-commerce operating channel – it was visionary in the industry at the time, and there was almost no online supply. We started in 2001 with an online shop for fitness. In 2003, a second shop for rehabilitation aids followed, today's Rehashop. In 2005, our online division became an independent subsidiary. Rehashop is now one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the care sector. We have just renamed our company Proteno GmbH, because it sounds even shorter and more modern than Kaphingst-Online and avoids confusion between us and Kaphingst's in-store trade in communication with the health insurance companies. "Pro" stands for professional, "teno" reminds of Tenor, because we want to set the tone on the market.
What is the work of Proteno?
I lead the company as Chief Digital Officer with a dynamic team of 35 employees. We work very specialised. For example, there is a content department that writes search engine optimised text and does Facebook marketing. We have a graphics department that showcases our high quality 360° images. Our development department handles the programming and implements new features for our customers. We are housed at the Kaphingst main location in Lahntal. Here is also our central warehouse, from which 90% of the goods are shipped. Some of our partners deliver their products directly to their customers, including Burmeier. In Dusseldorf we opened a flagship store, in the future we want to expand such showrooms.
Are your customers different from those in the stationary specialist trade?
Older people are becoming more technologically sophisticated, which is why our target group is growing. Even 70- and 80-year-olds look at our websites and can be advised by phone. We have trained employees who are very knowledgeable about the products and can answer any questions. We also offer deliveries including assembly. Everything that is expected in the medical supply business, we can cover without any problems. The difference to the other offer of Kaphingst is that our Rehashop focuses on free sale, so it does not offer case rate beds on prescription. We focus on high brand quality, a very strong shopping experience and short delivery times. With us, the customer buys a new care bed that was not yet in use – that makes for a good feeling. We offer great prices, so choosing a good privately purchased bed is much easier. The topic of free sale becomes more and more interesting for the customers.
From Burmeier Rehashop offers beds of the Dali series, Regia and Inovia, the bed insert Lippe and other models. Which beds are particularly popular for open sale?
My favourite products are the very cosy ambience beds, i.e. Inovia and Regia. These models do not look like care beds, they integrate well into the living environment. We notice the feedback from our customers that these beds are very popular. The Dali also offers a good price-to-brand ratio and sells very often. Absolutely important is the "Customising", thus the adaptability of the beds to the personal taste. For example, we also offer cherry as an alternative to the classic beech decor. The customers like to choose that. I also find the Magnolia-coloured Westfalia-Klassik by Burmeier exciting. In the future, we have to think more like the normal furniture sector. People are getting older and will make higher demands regarding design when it comes to care. A functional topic that is currently on the rise is split safety sides. Customers value the opportunity to flexibly combine protection and freedom.
Are you interested in digitisation at Burmeier – i.e. CCS communication system, apps, wireless handset?
As an e-commerce provider I say 100% yes! We can grow in the future with the Smart Home theme, even if it takes a little longer in Germany than in other countries. I hope that such digital products will soon be ready for the market at an attractive price.
What other wishes do you have for Burmeier?
I would like an even closer key account support and an optimised communication about product news. A mass-capable further development of the communication system CCS would create real added value for us compared to the competition. When it comes to customising, a configurator would be good, with which the customers can put together their own beds ...
...such a configurator for the models Regia and Inovia was just published on www.burmeier.com for download.
That's wonderful. For me, this relates to logistics processes in the background. For successful customisation, the selected products must be quickly deliverable. Exciting topics that will determine our mutual success in the future.