Philipp Hartmann

“In the past six years, Phillipp set a lot of things in motion over at Microsoft. He didn’t just support the reconstruction of the brand and the transition of stationary commerce, he shaped it. I’ve come to know him as an excellent team leader and team player and I truly appreciate his experiences in the field of retail.”


Founders Keepers

7 Questions

interviewed by

Markus Oeller


Philipp Hartmann is Marketing & Retail Leader at Microsoft for the DACH region. Before moving to the IT consumer environment in 2014, he drove the development of brands for more than 10 years, especially in the sports & fashion retail sector. With his versatile experience in the areas of brand, marketing, and distribution strategy as well as go-to-market & customer journey at well-known sports fashion brands like adidas, Puma & Odlo and the current tasks in the consumer electronics environment, he is optimistic and sees a lot of opportunities for the future.

“Omni-channel was already a topic when brands discovered eCommerce for themselves as a direct sales channel – it’s just that 15 years ago nobody knew how to go about it, but it made sense to mention it in their strategy plans,” he grins in retrospect. “It’s only in the last 5 years that there’s not only the technological maturity, but also the understanding at the decision-maker levels of what profound, strategic changes a frictionless shopping experience across channels means. Covid-19 figuratively now still stood in the room as Chief Innovation Officer for many retailers when making decisions. Nevertheless, the development of the last few months is only the testing phase in many retail areas – but it is a trend-setting accelerator for the future of retail.”


You have been in Channel Marketing for some time. And you have seen many trends come and go. From the beginning of your career to today: What has changed most positively in retail, what needs to happen in the next years for retail to be able to thrive?

It is difficult to look at this objectively, because there are of course so many perspectives to consider: those of retailers, those of partners and manufacturers, but above all those of consumers. From a growth and distribution perspective, the development of digital commerce has certainly had the greatest positive impact on the entire retail landscape and will continue to have a significant influence on it in the future. Personally, however, I see as a positive development above all that trade is no longer just the exchange of goods and money but seeking relationships and becoming more diverse again. 

For the future, I see it as crucial that there must be more togetherness – more networking, in order to make courageous decisions together for innovations and creativity within a primarily digitally networked trade. Retail will always be successful, because people love to shop – the only question is: Where will retail take place in the future? And in an all-mobile & digital environment, it’s about drawing these consumers into the centers – so it’s no longer just about product or brand equity, but consumer equity. 

But more flexibility and new impulses or even concepts for the retail infrastructure will certainly be needed. We have to ask ourselves whether our city centers, self-contained premium malls, and poor connectivity are still in keeping with the times.


Let’s talk about Brand Ambassadors: In the past, any Retail Salespeople were not the best experts, that is why many leading players were relying on Brand Ambassadors in the stores. Now, with Covid 19 and even after Covid 19, what is the future of Brand Ambassadors from your point of view?

My feeling is that people need people… No matter if expert or brand ambassador – they are usually the first and only personal touch point of a brand or a product in a buying process. The use of so-called brand ambassadors in retail often has the primary purpose of making brands or manufacturers feel more secure. More secure that potential customers are also advised; more secure that your product benefits or brand values are also transported. It gives security that the consumer gets knowledge of the brand and product.

In fact, however, the consumer may not make any reference to the brand at all since you are in an appropriate retail environment. Much more important seems to be the question of an individual experience within the purchase process and whether the ambassador listens, removes doubts, or even offers a corresponding service.

Covid-19 has influence only on the acceleration in the questioning of a purchase consultation at the physical store. If necessary, there remains a reluctance to make personal contact – but I am convinced that the search for honest, empathetic advice at the moment when the customer needs an opinion is valued and remains important. The question of what the future of brand ambassadors looks like depends above all on the agility and flexibility of their deployment: for example, if an ambassador was measured in the past by the number of sales, should he or she be measured in the future, if necessary, by how often the customer consults him or her? Is the ambassador only on the sales floor, or is he also an influencer who ensures that at least as many products are sold through his social media channels? Or maybe the brand ambassador becomes more of a community manager or your personal style or tech advisor. No journey is linear – so flexibility in the use of brand ambassadors is crucial.


Modern technology would allow to really have an omnichannel experience. For example, looking at products in AR at home, video calling a sales consultant, and to get the product delivered within a very short timeframe from a store next door. What are your thoughts on these options?

It definitely makes for more unrestricted and fresh thinking – because so many hurdles can be overcome these days to deliver convenience and experience to consumers. But technologies also need to be used in a purposeful way – anything that helps retailers learn more about consumers or build lifetime value is more important than ever.

Omni-channel means nothing more than a seamless shopping experience. That’s why I think work needs to be done on linking information and insights about buying behavior even better. This is where I see the biggest challenge, but also opportunity, for manufacturers and retailers to work together.


Will physical retail turn from best price into best experience? Will stores change to brand experience centers? And how would you foresee such a change / evolution of retail?

This should not be a question for the future – the change has already begun, or we are in the middle of it. I’m observing the facts and figures, and it’s safe to say that a corresponding user or consumer experience decides much more quickly whether I remain loyal to a brand or whether I want to shop there again than I did a few years ago. In many cases, price plays a not insignificant role in the decision-making phase. However, Covid also showed us even more clearly that availability, delivery speed, and security aspects (payment processing or other aspects) are more important decision-making factors than the best price. 

But looking to the future, every D2C brand, wholesale brand or retailer needs to ask themselves “What do I stand for? What do I want to convey?” and then consider what information is needed to offer the best experience in that context for the consumer. Even the best price can then be an individual experience, if necessary, if one knows what the customer is willing to pay at a certain point in time. Physical retail may and will therefore have to do a lot of trial and error, iterate, and remain constantly flexible. In the pandemic, the relationship to retail and consumption has also changed significantly once again, and young Generation Z and Alpha in particular will be looking for retail partners or brands that stand up for values and missions and also take social challenges such as sustainability and fair working conditions into account. 

I have three theses about the evolution of physical retail. First, the store space will sooner or later not become a space of unknown encounters. As in the eShop, it’s about knowing the shopper so well that fairly accurate predictions can be made about why they’re here today, what they’re looking for, or what they might like. Second, brick-and-mortar retail is an extension of ecommerce to provide a place for digital communities to interact face-to-face and meet all the key omni-channel service levels. And third, the space is not dominated by an endless selection of products but offers a carefully selected assortment and maximum convenience.


How is social media and social selling affecting offline retail in your opinion?

Everyone should already be feeling the effects. All social media trend reports show high growth rates on purchases after social media campaigns. We see clearly growing live commerce formats, cooperations with influencers and – due to the pandemic – decreasing marketing budgets, which in 2021 will be set primarily at the bottom of the social media funnel. Again, it’s important not to see the threat, but the opportunity. Another exciting influence for retailers is unadulterated content and the possibility of direct dialog with customers. In the future, messenger and voice commerce will also ensure that social channels are considered as important growth channels in any sales strategy.


Do you think, video salespeople would be a solution during or even after Covid 19, or virtual chatbots, where consumers speak to for example a robot/animated character?

Of course, some Covid-19 trends will disappear again, but the sales consultant via video has the potential to survive in the long term. As with question 1, however, it is also important here what role this can play in a particular journey – as a building block for products that require explanation, for example, interpersonal contact is a valuable addition. I also believe in this, as social distancing will not disappear overnight, and the generations are living much more digitally of course. Virtual chatbots still need to mature and certainly robots will come into play. But there are two things that no machine can achieve: empathy and conveying emotions, which is why I believe in the video sales consultant solution even in the post-Covid era.  


Service and installs are more and more important. For example, when buying a complex smart home setup, consumers do not just need an install service to mount a TV to the wall, but also a complete setup service until the products are connected, programmed, and 100% functional, why does nobody offer these kinds of services? What is your take on this? Should retail stores offer that or the manufacturers? Would consumers pay extra for that or should that be part of an excellent service?

You may be referring heavily to the CE environment here, but no matter the area – any service, content or other added-value can make the difference of a long-lasting, positive experience that a consumer needs to be loyal or even act as an influencer. I’ll try to answer the many questions coherently, but start with a counter question: How much will the consumer be worth to retailers or manufacturers in the future? Outstanding business models can be developed from service and content, which in themselves are more valuable than the product sold itself. An important KPI of the future is no longer just product profit, but consumer profit. Consequently, convenience and service are above all opportunities which – used smartly – generate a certain willingness to pay, but also serve to build a customer relationship which literally “pays off” in the long term.

Founders Keepers

All about Marketing in Games and Tech.

Treasures and Insights

from leaders in tech and gaming around the globe



Frank is a seasoned leader in the IT industry with over 30 years of retail, partner, solutions and cloud transformation experience in sales and marketing.




Heiko Klinge began his industry career in November 2000 as a trainee at GameStar. Today he is the editor-in-chief of the biggest PC gaming website in Germany.




Peter Stock is responsible for the strategic purchasing within the organization of Microsoft Deutschland GmbH as well as within the sub-areas in Austria and Switzerland. 


Fabian Mario


Fabian Mario Döhla is Head of Communication at CD PROJEKT RED, the studio behind The Witcher games and Cyberpunk 2077.




Tom McQuillin has been in gaming for most of his career, first at Xbox in product marketing and product strategy and now at Facebook.




David Miller has worked in and around the video games industry for over 25 years. He started out in marketing and currently acts as Head of Games for War Child.


Leya Jankowski

Leya Jankowski is editor-in-chief of MeinMMO, Germany’s leading multiplayer site. She is the person in charge of content and content strategy.


Philipp Walter

Philipp spent ten years in the sporting goods industry, five of those at adidas. Now Philipp is a founder himself and CEO of Gamers Academy.


Chris Van der Kuyl

Chris van der Kuyl is one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs working across various industries. His company 4J Studios brought Minecraft to consoles.


Ingo Horn

Ingo Horn is founder of Gaming-Aid e.V. and Letsplay4Charity e.V. as well as Communication Director Europe at Wargaming. He began his career as a local newspaper editor.


Funda Yakin

Funda Yakin has been working for agencies, publishers and on the industry side in marketing for nearly 20 years.


Michel Bonetti

Michel Bonetti is product manager at Orange and was active in countless sectors, keeping the business development as a constant point of interest.


Petra Fröhlich

Petra Fröhlich worked as editor-in-chief at PC Games for more than a decade until she eventually founded GamesWirtschaft, her very own news portal about video games.


Daniel Bollers

“Daniel is one of the most successful sales allrounders for consumer electronics. We’ve known each other for over 10 years now and his insights and teachings are always a true source of inspiration for me!”


Hendrik Lesser

„I know Hendrik not only as a games industry veteran, but also as a member of the global Entrepreneurs’ Organization to which we both belong. He has built a little empire comprised of game developers. I really appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit.”


David Clark

“David and I go way back to the good old times at SEGA. He played a fundamental role in shaping the games business in the UK and has a ton of experience in all areas of marketing. Currently, he is building bridges between Europe and Asia for games publishers.”


Thorsten Hamdorf

“I’ve known Thorsten for nearly twenty years and worked closely with him. He is a really knowledgeable marketing man.”


Wim Stocks

“Wim is a seasoned executive in the video games industry. I met him when we worked for Atari many moons ago. He is a renowned expert in the interactive entertainment industry.”


Tom Dusenberry

“Tom was my boss in the nineties when I worked at Hasbro. He founded the gaming division ‘Hasbro Interactive’ and made a bunch of bold and disruptive decisions. His vision was to become as large as Electronic Arts. Unfortunately, Hasbro sold the gaming division. I bet today it would have been as big as EA.”


Maxi Gräff

“I’ve been following Maxis career for some time now, ever since her time at IDG where she worked for GamePro and GameStar. She started playing around with YouTube early on, knows the video games industry inside out and is working for Microsoft since 2015. She’s an advocate for the industry and especially for equal rights. That’s amazing!”


Philipp Hartmann

“In the past six years, Phillipp set a lot of things in motion over at Microsoft. He didn’t just support the reconstruction of the brand and the transition of stationary commerce, he shaped it.”


Trip Hawkins

“There are very few super entrepreneurs who defined the video game industry from the start. While Nolan Bushnell shaped the hardware, the one and only Trip Hawkins defined the software. He is the founder of Electronic Arts! He made developers rockstars! No more words needed. His career speaks for itself.”


David Perry

Perry started in Northern Ireland working on the Sinclair ZX81 (early 1980’s), he moved to England from high school, ending up with a #1 hit for Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. 


Caroline Miller

Founder and Managing Director at Indigo Pearl, an award-winning PR and asset management agency specializing in video games. Caroline founded Indigo Pearl in 2000 and prior to this worked in-house within the games industry. 


Boris Schneider-Johne

Boris Schneider-Johne, born in 1966, helped shape the early years of games culture in Germany. He is a true legend.


Volker Prott

Volker Prott, a man for marketing and media. After studying media economics, Volker first worked in the world of media agencies and then joined Electronic Arts (EA) in the media and marketing departments.




David started his career in computers at the age of 13 when he used his paper route savings to purchase an Apple II computer in 1978. He was a global leader and shaped EA and Atari, before becoming an investor in the most valuable Gaming companies on this planet.


Thomas Mey

My name is Thomas Mey. I have been earning my bread and butter in the trade since completing my apprenticeship as an electrician. That was a good 30 years ago.


Michel Wedler

Long-standing executive and expert in purchasing & product management and sales in retail for entertainment products, especially in the areas of music, film, games, consoles, accessories, merchandise, and toys. 




Oliver Menne started in the games industry at the end of the 80s, at the time of the Commodore 64. He runs Eurogamer in Germany today.


Hans Ippisch

Hans Ippisch’s professional career began in 1986, when he signed his first contract as a game developer at Rainbow Arts at the age of 16. Today, he heads up Intellivision Europe.


Mike Steup

Mike has 25 years of experience in management, sales & marketing, and product development. He is the king of peripherals and recently launched an amazing Kids tablet with Disney.


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