Michael Krkoska, Dirk Schwartz and I had been working together for 12 years. We specialise in e-commerce and set up several marketplaces in the 2000s which we sold prior to buying Chrono24 in 2010.
We employ around a hundred people. These include around fifteen developers in charge of maintaining and improving the site, something like twenty people working on content, and another thirty or so for customer relations. The site supports twenty-two languages in all. Internet is just a means. Behind the screen there are real people.
Chrono24 has over 290,000 new and pre-owned watches online, and more than 10 million visitors per month from 96 different countries. We make around 120,000 transactions a year, worth more or less €750 million.
Contrary to popular belief, it's often easier to sell a €50,000 watch online than one at €3,000.
One out of three searches is for a Rolex! Our customers are young, more than 25 years old, and 80% men. Average price is roughly €6,000. Pre-owned watches account for 70% of sales and new watches the remaining 30%. Sales volume is stable throughout the year, peaking in the run-up to Christmas when there is also a considerable increase in the number of women customers. Contrary to popular belief, it’s often easier to sell a €50,000 watch online than one at €3,000, because the clientele for this type of product has a good understanding of the subject, and has the reassurance that at this price level, the watches are often personally delivered.
A lot of people are still reluctant to buy online, but attitudes are changing. When you think that fifteen years ago, some people couldn’t even see themselves buying a book online. Now nobody thinks twice.
We thoroughly screen all our sellers, who must have two recommendations from approved sellers before they can work with us. For payment, we recently introduced Trusted Checkout: once the deal has been made, the buyer pays the money to an escrow account where it stays until they receive the watch, at which point the money is transferred to the dealer. If the customer isn’t satisfied, he or she has 14 days to return the watch, and receives a refund once it has been received by the dealer. Therefore the buyer is guaranteed to take delivery of the watch or be refunded, and the seller is guaranteed to be paid or get the watch back.
We launched Finejewels24, the equivalent of Chrono24 for jewellery, as well as our own online boutique where manufacturers can directly sell to buyers.
Thanks to our selection of sellers, and thanks to the site’s performance. Internet is what we do. The 10 million people who visit our site each month leave a trail of information. This data is anonymous, but we can analyse it to get a closer understanding of who our customers are, and what they want. That’s the power of big data.
So far we’ve relied on natural referencing. We recently won the backing of American investors, and we’ve launched Finejewels24, the equivalent of Chrono24 for jewellery, as well as our own online boutique where manufacturers can directly sell to buyers.
Yes, we do talk to the brands. We explain how our powerful algorithm – which we master – has a considerable impact on sales by pushing some products rather than others. We’ll shortly be announcing partnerships with a dozen independent watch brands.
Bright! We’re convinced that smartwatches will inspire young people to develop an interest in traditional watches, and that they will never replace haute horlogerie. The digital adventure is only just beginning!