Once an innovator, always an innovator fails to apply for many tech companies today, which is why the flow of innovation from entrepreneurship needs constant encouragement. Yet some companies manage to keep up with the innovation game and secure their position as market leaders. Such a company is Skroutz.gr, the leading e-commerce platform in Greece.
Skroutz started as a price-comparison website back in 2005, when George Chatzigeorgiou spotted a gap in the local market. Over the years, George and his two co-founders, George Avgoustidis and Vasilis Dimos, turned it into a top e-commerce player with more than 3.5M registered consumers, from more than 12,000 partner online shops, and a team of over 500 people, all while bootstrapping. Only in 2020, did Skroutz raise its first VC investment, getting CVC Capital Partners as a strategic investor by their side.
As the pioneering e-commerce platform in Greece, Skroutz introduced Greek consumers to online shopping. Keeping up with the times, today they aim to offer, more than a marketplace, a shopping community that meets them on their favorite channels and assists with inspiration and advice.
To learn more about what leadership muscles need to be flexed to build and maintain a successful e-commerce business, as well as what are the latest trends in e-commerce, we reached out to Skroutz CEO George Chatzigeorgiou.
The Recursive: What innovations has Skroutz brought to the market?
George Chatzigeorgiou, CEO of Skroutz: Depending on the era and the technology at the time Skroutz has always been innovating either by breakthroughs or by just introducing new and more efficient ways to do ecommerce.
Being a mobile-first company, we were quick to embrace mobile technology, which allowed our customers to access our services on-the-go, helping us gain a competitive edge in the market. Our search function was always groundbreaking, making it easier for users to find the products they were looking for. Moreover, we expanded to all product categories and not just electronics, allowing us to facilitate an exceptional shopping experience to a wider audience. Last but not least, we introduced our own last mile solution which allowed us to offer a more streamlined and efficient delivery process. Worth mentioning that with our recently established network of lockers we aim to provide a convenient delivery option that meets the needs of the busy lives we all lead.
Currently we are going through our most innovative phase of transforming from a marketplace to a shopping community where product discovery is accompanied by a vibrant community that can provide tips, guides and inspiration.
As a leader of an e-commerce company, what are the key trends that you will be following closely in 2023?
In 2023, one of the most promising and widely discussed technologies is Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which could be utilized in various domains of e-commerce such as support and content generation in the future. This technology has the potential to revolutionize how businesses operate in the digital space and enhance the overall customer experience.
One trend that has already started gaining momentum is the transition of product discovery from traditional media to digital platforms. Currently, social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become the preferred medium for people to explore and discover new products.
What does a day in your role as a CEO of Skroutz look like?
Because of my engineering and product background, I spend most of my day on product decisions related to new features and capabilities being developed.
How do you define leadership?
Leadership is all about giving a damn. Being a great leader isn’t about having a certain set of skills or following a specific playbook. Instead, it’s about having a genuine concern for the success of the team and the business. If one truly cares about these things is willing to continuously improve oneself and empower their team members to reach their full potential.
Which are the main practices and mindsets that have helped you in your role as CEO?
From the early startup days I quickly realized that I need to develop different skills and capabilities for every stage of the company. It was crucial for me to step out of my comfort zone and become well-versed in all aspects of business, constantly reinventing myself in the process. I understood that no matter how demanding the workload was, personal development was essential.
What are the building blocks of creating a strong executive team?
There are quite a few important traits of a strong executive team but I would pick three as the most important: trust, transparency, and attitude. Successful teams can share everything without the fear of being judged and trust that everyone on the team has the company’s best interest at heart. Transparency builds the aforementioned trust, while attitude is the main driver for people to improve their skills. Whether an executive, senior or junior member, we always hire for attitude and train for skills.
Tell us about a crisis that you faced. How have you dealt with it?
As a Greek company, Skroutz has faced several financial challenges over the past decade. From the outset we recognised the importance of being able to absorb such shocks by being financially stable and having a supportive team.
What do you think about reshaping capitalism to include social and environmental impact, and how do you contribute to that?
Capitalism, by its very nature, has social and environmental impact baked into it, as corporations benefit from a society that is financially sound and empowered. However, in recent decades, many corporations and even governments have prioritized profit over social impact, leading to a shortsighted approach that has neglected the long-term implications of their actions. At Skroutz we try our best in ensuring that little by little we make the world a better place.
What can we expect from Skroutz in 2023?
We are committed to providing our customers with a one-stop app, a companion that helps you draw inspiration and stay productive when shopping online. Our goal is to make the online shopping experience more efficient and enjoyable, by offering features that help customers find what they need quickly and easily. To achieve this goal we have already created a strong fulfillment and service foundation. However, we are always looking for ways to improve and provide even better service to our customers. For example, we are currently exploring the possibility of offering same-day or one-hour deliveries, to make online shopping even more convenient.