Retail Isn’t Dead—Amazon Kidnapped It, Says Claltech CEO

Claltech CEO Daniel Shinar was interviewed on stage at Calcalist’s WeTechBerlin conference

Adi Pick 13:3824.02.19

“Retail isn’t dead” asserts Daniel Shinar, CEO of ClalTech, the Tel Aviv-based venture investment arm of the New York-based Access Industries. But rather, “Amazon kidnapped it.“


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“Can we retrieve it and save it?” Shinar asked on stage at Calcalist’s WeTechBerlin conference on Tuesday.


Shinar said that the rumors that retail is dead “are premature” because some brands are getting stronger.


He pointed out the difficulties of quantifying something like retail, saying that people used to buy CDs and records to listen to music, and now we stream music online.


“Does that count as retail?” he asked.


“It’s getting more and more expensive to get an incremental customer through Google,” Shinar said. In fact, Shinar stated that it is cheaper to reach a customer offline “even in New York” than it is to grab their attention through mediums like Instagram.


In a 2017 Calcalist op-ed, Shinar wrote that “the home-device front will be an important one in the upcoming global commerce war” after Google and Walmart announced a partnership enabling voice-shopping from Walmart through Google’s home device.


Shinar serves on the boards of Berlin-based Rocket Internet, the Global Fashion Group, and several other global internet companies as Access’s representative.


Roel Janssen, partner at Berlin-headquartered venture capital firm GFC Global Founders Capital GmbH, who also participated in the panel, said that while it is getting substantially cheaper and easier to start a new brand and get a product manufactured “anywhere in the world,” companies still need hundreds of millions of dollars “to become global leaders.”


There are two options Janssen asserts: you can either try to break into the market really fast, which requires money, “or you can go the acquisitive route, which also requires a lot of capital.”


Filip Dames, founding partner of Berlin-based venture capital fund Cherry Ventures agreed with Janssen that companies need a large amount of capital, however that enough cash isn’t enough to succeed. “The question is whether something is an efficient use of capital”.


“We wouldn’t invest in a pure play e-commerce marketplace at the moment because it is too expensive to scale,” Dames said.


“We are very interested in direct-to-consumer because you are cutting out the middle man,” he added.

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