sebastian lochbronner

Corona restrictions drive digitization of stationary trade

How Corona restrictions drive digitization for trade and commerce
December 14, 2020

"Downtowns lack walk-in customers," "Christmas shopping is becoming a test of patience," "Retailers report massive drop in sales," "Customers prefer to order online" - These are the current headlines that are causing many retailers and tradespeople great concern. The corona-related restrictions and curfews result in lost sales and changes in customer buying behavior. Companies must respond to this if they want to compensate for their losses in the long term and perhaps even emerge stronger from the crisis. Because studies show that the new buying behavior of the population will also change permanently after Corona. Online purchases will increasingly dominate the market.

Digitalisierung erfolgreich nutzen

Digitization: Successfully exploiting opportunities and possibilities (Illustration by Icons 8 from Icons8)

Retailers and traders need to rethink

The current situation is causing severe disruptions across all sectors. It is therefore important for retailers and traders to rethink and act consistently and quickly. One possible solution is a customer-friendly and effective advertising platform, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Classic marketing measures are shifting more and more to the online sector as a result of digitalization. However, this also increases the amount of marketing opportunities. The digital transformation reached us long before Corona. Do you send your customer messages by mail or email? If you're looking for a place to stay, why not go online and not to the nearest travel agent? Even before Corona, retailers were increasingly struggling with competition from the Internet.

Accommodate customers

The analog world is shifting to the digital realm, especially now. And if your customers don't feel like waiting outside your store with a mask on, why not invite them to visit your online portal at their convenience? If not now, when?

 This offers an exciting wealth of opportunities for any entrepreneur. It starts with the search for opening hours and the menu for the delivery service. Or, for example, I can look to see if my hairdresser also offers certain hair care products. A customer might also be interested in whether the coffee shop is currently offering specials or whether his favorite Italian restaurant also sends out gift certificates. The online search doesn't always have to end up at the big sellers like Amazon. Many customers prefer their local retailers - provided that they offer the same.

And retailers have to seize this opportunity, too! You have to signal to your customers "I have recognized that your buying behavior has changed and I am adapting to it". After all, it's easier for a local retailer to establish a personal relationship with its customers than it is for a large anonymous supplier to do so. Promotions such as "buy local" are meeting with a great response. And if my business has to stay closed or is not as attractive at the moment because of exit restrictions, then I just welcome my customers to my online business. This is a win-win situation for both sides.

How is the trade dealing with the current situation?

The majority of retailers have been struggling enormously with the current situation for months. Curfews, hygiene regulations, forced closures, short-time work and other measures have pushed many businesses to the limit. About half of the retailers already had an online sales channel before Corona and were thus able to absorb parts of the sales losses. The other half, with no previous online experience, must now rethink and act quickly.

More than 2/3 of retailers stated in a survey that customer shopping behavior will not change in the foreseeable future. Customers have become accustomed to the convenience of shopping from home and this will not change fundamentally in the future. Who wants to queue for an hour in front of the City-Galerie in Augsburg on a Saturday until they are finally allowed into the warmth? And then finally in the gallery arrived one must wait again before the individual stores for the admission. In the store then the changing rooms are closed, the smell of the selected tea or perfume I do not smell with mask anyway. Since I prefer to lie comfortably on the couch and do my shopping from there.

Studies have shown that 50 % of customers during Corona ordered many goods online for the first time such as groceries, household goods and toys. Previously, these products were always purchased locally. And 90 % have avoided brick-and-mortar stores whenever possible or have shopped almost exclusively online. For local retailers, these are not pretty numbers.


Customers can search for their desired products online. Local retailers can be quite competitive with Internet retailers. I can search online to see if a product is available at a local retailer. I can then drop by directly and get advice in person. Or I can order at the click of a mouse and have the goods delivered to my home within a few hours. In larger cities in particular, this is done in an environmentally friendly way by cargo bike or e-truck.

Local dealers also have the chance to introduce themselves individually to their customers on a website. In this way, the personal relationship with my regular customers can be maintained and I can even gain new customers. Therein lies the great opportunity in the currently difficult times. A good advertising agency helps you to present your company effectively and customer-friendly.

Let your customers know that there may be restrictions and delays at the moment, but that you are doing everything you can to be there for them. Honest communication builds understanding and trust. Show your customers that you are making every effort to adapt to the new situation and meet the new customer behavior.

Certainly, a beauty salon needs a different online platform than an alternative practitioner or a plumbing store. But what remains the same for all types of businesses is the opportunity for new customer loyalty and orientation!

For purely stationary retailers, the motto is to keep the economic consequences of the Corona crisis as low as possible and to be prepared for the time thereafter. Goods and services should be available online at optimized cost. However, large marketplaces such as Amazon are often unsuitable here. An individual solution must be found that also takes into account the company budget and local conditions. Media agencies that have experience in setting up online platforms and can draw on a network of professional service providers can provide support here.

Our agency has already been allowed to advise numerous companies as a partner in this area and has jointly created successful online platforms in the field of e-commerce.

A digital sales channel can show a way out of the crisis for companies. An open source solution with automation capabilities can be a good platform to generate quick wins while keeping financial risk low.

An important factor of a successful online platform is customer-friendly usability. Customers often complain that they had problems researching and ordering goods online. Criticisms also included insufficient information about products or services. Consumers want appealing, individual websites with good user-friendliness. Product images, easy-to-understand product data, ratings or delivery details are desirable.

More digitization in less time

The current situation is giving rise to digital networking in society. In the retail sector, this means that age groups who have predominantly shopped in brick-and-mortar stores will turn to online retail. Here, digital consulting offers the opportunity not to lose these customers or even to gain new ones. The consulting factor in particular was one of the major plus points in local stationary retailing. This competence must not be taken away. How often has it been complained that customers seek advice on site and then later order from the competing online store. So why shouldn't the customer get online advice from you right away and then also buy online from you?

They create a major customer advantage through digital consulting and are better prepared for future crisis situations.

Trend research clearly shows that stationary retail can only generate ¾ of the sales of retail in the narrower sense. The separation between online and offline is gradually being eliminated. Online retail is growing, but the overall market is stagnating or even declining at the same time. As a result, the retail sector is currently in a cutthroat competition. Corona is acting like a fire accelerator here. There will be no turning back here; consumers have learned to appreciate the advantages of online shopping too much. Retailers must develop new approaches to the future in order to remain competitive. A central role here will be dealing with the logic of e-commerce. Successful marketing lies in the digital linking of sales channels and the use of new technologies.

Take advantage of this trend and expand your online portal. We are very happy to assist you!

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Sebastian Lochbronner
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