According to the state government, the Rhineland-Palatinate retail sector with its inner-city shops is facing major challenges due to the trend towards shopping at the click of a mouse. According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, online trading can be described as the clear winner of the Corona crisis, according to a response from the Mainz Ministry of Economics to a request from the AfD parliamentary group. There is an economic connection between growing trade on the Internet and shop closings, “since consumer needs that have already been met online can no longer lead to sales in stationary retail”.
Assortment, convenience, right of exchange
Since the beginning of the corona pandemic a good year ago, numerous shops have had to lock their shop doors, sometimes for weeks. Studies have also shown that online trading is booming for the convenience of many people, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said. In addition, when shopping on the Internet, customers could obtain a comprehensive overview of the range that stationary retailers could not even afford in large cities. Further reasons could be a stationary offer on site that is not optimal from the consumer’s point of view and also the legally non-existent exchange right in stationary retail.
However, digitization and online trading also offer great opportunities for brick-and-mortar retail, emphasized the ministry. It refers to the state funding program “DigiBoost”, which supports small and medium-sized companies as well as self-employed and freelance professions with the digitization of their business processes. The project started in March is aimed at companies with up to 100 employees. The craft should also be supported in this. The grant per project and company is a maximum of 15,000 euros and depends on the size of the company. Applications can be submitted to the Investment and Structural Bank Rhineland-Palatinate (ISB) via the digital customer portal.
Funding program vs. search results
According to the ISB, the funding program was created together with the Chamber of Crafts, Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Agriculture. For example, it supports the establishment of professional, individually programmed online shops, infrastructures for mobile work or digital warehouse and logistics management. The digitization of workshops and 3D printing are also eligible for funding.
The trade association Rhineland-Palatinate recently criticized insufficient support for small retailers in Rhineland-Palatinate when setting up online sales. The “DigiBoost” funding program It should have existed two or three years ago, explained Managing Director Thomas Scherer. Overall, he was skeptical about the online prospects of most small retailers. The legal uncertainties and complications in online business are simply too great for many small shopkeepers. In addition, it is difficult for small shops to be found on the Internet at all, since large mail-order companies and platforms are always ahead in search results.