How city centers are becoming more attractive again – eCommerce Magazin

The Federal Association of the Digital Economy (BVDW) e. V. and the German Trade Association (HDE) are convinced that the technological development at the point of sale and the active use of digital media contribute to the revitalization of German city centers. In this way, the consequences of the pandemic-related standstill, which is affecting stationary retail, could be overcome. “We have to stop seeing online retail and stationary retail as competitors. Rather, we can strengthen brick-and-mortar retail by upgrading it digitally and by interlinking online and offline shopping, ”explains Marco Junk, Managing Director of the BVDW.

Stationary retail massively affected by the corona crisis

The biggest challenge for brick-and-mortar retail is still the sharp decline in shopping frequency. This decrease in frequency was accelerated and intensified by the measures to contain the pandemic. “As a result of the Corona crisis, retail as the core sector of vital inner cities is facing bankruptcy in many cases, especially in the clothing sector. By the end of the crisis, up to 50,000 stores could have disappeared from the market. This has an impact on entire city centers, ”explains Stephan Tromp, HDE deputy managing director. As a result, it can be foreseen that a number of retail companies will not survive the crisis. The dynamics of these changes in the quality of supply require the rapid and coordinated action of all inner-city actors.

Stationary trade is relieved by technological innovations

BVDW and HDE are of the opinion that a meaningful penetration of technological innovations relieves retailers, offers customers a shopping experience and makes the city center more attractive. However, around 60 percent of retail companies in Germany are currently unable to invest in their future due to the economic effects of the pandemic and the corona measures. That is why BVDW and HDE are calling for measures that enable investments in innovations and basic digital equipment such as cash register systems, merchandise management systems and systems for mapping the local and stationary availability of goods.

Stationary trade can be strengthened through packages of measures consisting of tax breaks, depreciation or subsidies, as can Germany as an up-and-coming technology location. “So that medium-sized companies in our inner cities do not lose touch through this crisis through no fault of their own, a state funding program, networking of the inner city players affected and a functioning infrastructure are required. Otherwise there is a risk of deserted city centers, ”reports Tromp.

Growing together of local and digital offerings

In addition, pioneers, pilot projects and the necessary infrastructure are needed to enable local and digital to grow together and to enable crisis management. Politicians can set standards here: with the provision of wide-area and fast WLAN, with an expansion of e-government offerings and with guidelines for the interoperability of software (standard APIs, standard formats, open source). These options for action by the future government should be evaluated and exhausted in order to create the framework for a digitized, lively and economically successful city center.

In addition, there has to be a constant, open and constructive exchange between retailers, tech companies, startups, associations, politics and administration in order to analyze the problem situation in a solution-oriented manner. That is why the BVDW and HDE propose the introduction of a roundtable on Retail Tech with the responsible ministries, which brings together relevant stakeholders for joint work and mutual networking on a quarterly basis.

Of the Federal Association of the Digital Economy (BVDW) e. V. represents the interests of companies that operate digital business models or whose added value is based on the use of digital technologies. As an initiator, guide and accelerator of digital business models, the BVDW represents the interests of the digital economy vis-à-vis politics and society and advocates the creation of market transparency and innovation-friendly framework conditions. His network of experts provides orientation on a central future field with figures, data and facts. In addition to the DMEXCO and the German Digital Award, the BVDW organizes a large number of specialist events.

Of the Trade Association Germany (HDE) has been the central organization of German retail for over 100 years – the third largest branch of the economy in Germany – with a total of three million employees and an annual turnover of over 585 billion euros. It represents the concerns and interests of around 300,000 retail companies – of all industries, locations and company sizes. With 50 million customer contacts every day, the retail sector supplies its customers with the full range of products.

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