Omnia Retail was founded in 2013 by Sander Roose and has become a leading SaaS solution for integrated pricing and online marketing automation. Here Sander tells us what defines his way of doing business.
What do you currently do?
I am the CEO of Omnia Retail; a SaaS solution for integrated pricing and online marketing automation. We use intelligent, self-learning algorithms to help retailers regain control, save time and drive profitable growth by automating optimal pricing and maximising returns from online marketing channels.
I founded the business in Amsterdam in 2013. Since then, we have grown to service more than 100 leading retailers including Decathlon, Samsung, Media Market, Windelen.de, Tennis Point, Wehkamp, and Coolblue. We recently launched our first office in London and have plans to roll out the business across Europe, too.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Before Omnia Retail, I gained extensive retail experience working at Procter & Gamble as a data engineer and was also in retail strategy consulting for many years. During this time I recognised what a powerful impact technology could have on these aspects of retailers’ business models.
The growth of e-commerce, which has enabled much broader product ranges to become available online, which has in turn led to increased competition, transparency of pricing and fragmentation of marketing channels. This has led to a significant rise in the number of pricing and marketing decisions that retailers need to make on a near-hourly basis.
I therefore set about utilising my sector expertise to develop an intelligent algorithm that could provide the infrastructure for retailers to automate their pricing and online marketing at scale order to stay competitive in today’s market.
Who do you admire?
In my opinion, the greatest entrepreneur of our time is definitely Elon Musk. It’s amazing that he has founded and built up so many disruptive businesses. It’s incredibly inspiring to see how ‘big’ he thinks; particularly when considering how his companies and how they work together to achieve his overarching goals. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is another incredible business mind. From the creation of Amazon’s Web Services (AWS), which is currently the leading cloud company, to Kindle and the introduction of Amazon Prime to drive loyalty, his innovative ideas are simply brilliant.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Although my MSc in Industrial Engineering & Management Science has provided me with a solid foundation, if I could go back in time to when I was 18, I would definitely choose either a Computer Science or Artificial Intelligence degree.
What defines your way of doing business?
At Omnia, we strongly believe that first and foremost we should focus on creating value for our customers and from there Omnia’s growth will follow. This is something that I’ve drawn from my strategy consulting experience and my time at Procter & Gamble. Instead of approaching relationships with retailers as win-lose negotiations, P&G had a philosophy of joint value creation: creating value for the retailer first, capturing (quantifying) that value and then commercialising it for themselves. As a strategy consultant you are, of course, fully focused on serving your clients and creating value for them.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Having a great product is a good start – work hard to refine your unique selling point because, without a strong proposition at the very core of your business, you will eventually hit a wall.
Furthermore, as you scale up, it’s vital to adopt a big-picture mindset. Take the time to hire the right team around you, as this will give you the top-level clarity required to drive the strategy forward. On the other hand, if a particular challenge arises, you must maintain the ability to get stuck in at all levels of the business.