A success story from Bavaria – eCommerce Magazin

The business model: the connection of digital structures with the local business world. Of the Online marketplace atalanda offers the option of products at local dealers easy to order online and stay in touch with the business. The company is currently represented in 24 cities. Corona has given her another boost. For his successful concept, managing director Roman Heimbold received the from the Rid Foundation in 2015 Special prize of the innovation competition “Commerce in Transition”. Review and outlook of a success story from the Bavarian retail sector.

The retailer does not remain anonymous, but is the central player right from the start

The constellation is somewhat reminiscent of the biblical battle between David and Goliath. On the one hand: Internet giants like Amazon, Google and ebay, whose global market leadership in online retail seems unbroken. On the other hand: smaller companiesthat are only known to local actors. atalanda in Freilassing in Upper Bavaria, for example, which now employs 14 full-time and several part-time employees.

Several large screens are attached to the walls of the company’s premises. Many curves with important information for the company can be seen on it. So here the “stone” is taken against the industry giants, the Goliaths in the global network with their supposedly unbroken power. The “sling” that does this is very simple. It consists of exactly two elements, which are best outlined with the keywords “online” and “offline shopping”.

The interface between online and offline shopping

Put simply: the desired goods are ordered on the Internet, but – and that is the key point – the retailer does not remain an anonymous supplier on the online marketplace, whose name is not even known, he remains recognizable. And not only when purchasing the product, but also for all other services and as a personal contact in the after-sales area. It is “visible” in the truest sense of the word for the customer.

“The big Internet retailers try to move the retailer all the way back or not to show them at all,” says the 43-year-old from Mecklenburg. “On the other hand, we give them a platform on which they can present their products. We encourage direct contact between customers and dealers. ”

Order conveniently on the Internet and even strengthen your local network

It is well known that you do not have to search long for the best ideas; it is sufficient to have an accurate instinct. Heimbold has proven this with its business model. atalanda offers the opportunity to order products from local dealers quickly and easily online. The customer can view the range of dealers participating in the online marketplace nationwide online and then have the goods conveniently delivered to their home. This on the same day – if the customer lives in the same place. Alternatively – and this is what distinguishes atalanda from the competition – he can also pick up the desired item himself at his place of residence. “Simply choose online and then personally receive the goods in the respective shop,” explains the sales professional.

Online marketplace
Company founder and visionary Roman Heimbold. Image: Rid Foundation / Jan Schmiedel

In the meantime, many participating dealers from all over Germany, from Hamburg to Wuppertal to Günzburg and Pfaffenhofen, present their range in the atalanda online shop window on the online marketplace. As he is used to from a local shop, the interested party can conveniently look at the range of the respective shops on site and decide on the desired product at their own pace.

The company is currently represented in 24 cities across Germany – in addition to the aforementioned ones in Heilbronn, Monheim am Rhein, Ettlingen, Bochum and many others. Again and again new ones are added – they give the company the dynamism that is already in the name. “Atalanda” is derived from Greek mythology and means “the fastest among the hunting goddesses”. “In addition, it is Amazon-like,” remarks the resourceful entrepreneur with a smile.

Online marketplace: the beginning was difficult

The beginning was anything but easy. And: Heimbold took a high risk: He threw a secure and well paid job as managing director of a media agency in Munich. In addition to his full-time activity, he also taught multimedia technology at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences. And it was precisely here, after a lecture, that the decisive marketing idea came to him: to understand cities, communities and other localities as “decentralized warehouses” and to give them a comprehensive forum for the products of their dealers. “Basically, all the structures are already there, you just have to create a higher-level marketplace.” The father of three went to work – and initially landed a flop. That was in 2012.

In Hamburg and Salzburg, he and his team knocked on a wide variety of retailers. Well over two thirds immediately expressed their interest in getting in and presenting their goods on the new platform. But when it came to implementation and the stores should have provided their data, images and photos, the number of those who had initially agreed had dropped to 20 percent. “Nothing just happened. That was frustrating. I toyed with the idea of ​​throwing everything away, ”the businessman confesses frankly.

The breakthrough for the online marketplace

But as so often in life, success comes when you least expect it. At Heimbold, it was the local commerce expert Andreas Haderlein and the business promoter of the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Wuppertal. They had become aware of the new service, which was being set up, and were fascinated by the idea – and offered to go to as many dealers as possible in the city and get them excited about Heimbold’s concept. No sooner said than done: many of them got on board, creating the first broad foundation for the new platform on the Internet.

Since then, Heimbold has known that two things are important for his company’s success: “There has to be someone who creates the relationships on site, a kind of social carer, and the dealers have to be motivated. Otherwise it won’t work. The desire for a platform like the one we offer must come from within. With all my heart. ”The team is now working around the clock, 24 hours a day, to combine the advantages of local trade with the advantages of online shopping. Atalanda is now also active in Luxembourg.

The corona crisis, which has been omnipresent since the beginning of 2020, has given the company another boost: sales have grown significantly in recent months due to the lockdown. “People are buying more and more from home. Of course, our service benefits from this. ”

Representing everything – from fashion to hairdressing appointments

The variety of products is considerable. A lot can be bought from the local dealer through atalanda. Whether current women’s and men’s fashion or textiles for children, whether books and media, whether electronics or groceries: “The range that the customer can access is large,” says Heimbold. Sporting goods are also in abundance. But not only regional businesses, but also local service providers offer their services at atalanda. An appointment with a hairdresser, tax advisor or physiotherapist can be requested online just as quickly as a weekend trip with the family.

In addition, the online marketplace user can obtain central information on new restaurants, hotels or ice cream parlors in his city and get an overview of upcoming events in the region. And here, too, the motto applies again: buy online, but do not have to do without the service and the services of the local dealer! One of the company’s trademarks is the so-called “same day delivery principle”, which means that the goods can be delivered on the same day. “This means we’re faster than Amazon Prime in many cities,” says Heimbold.

Special price for the online marketplace

It was precisely this interplay of different success factors that prompted the Rid Foundation to award atalanda the special prize in the innovation competition “Trade in Transition” 2015. “There have been various approaches to online marketplaces for a number of years, and now there are also many good ones. Atalanda was already convinced at the time that Mr. Heimbold was not only pursuing a technological approach, but had also recognized that it was also a local cooperation problem, ”said Michaela Pichlbauer, the board member, explaining the jury’s decision.

The partners in the innovation competition, the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, the HBE Handelsverband Bayern, the Bavarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and entrepreneurTUM have launched the competition to make visible the promising approaches that are already available in medium-sized retail, to the online -Well to connect the world with the offline world.

The atalanda example shows that challenging a Goliath is not that difficult. You just have to be a little David, have a brilliant idea and implement it together with others at the right moment.

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