What it means when traders do not open an online shop

What it means when traders do not open an online shop
Wed, 17/07/2019

It is advisable to drive on two tracks. This is true at least for the retail sector. Many of the large stationary retailers already run an online shop alongside their retail shop. Some offline traders, however, balk at the thought of running an additional webshop. But should every trader open an online shop and how important is it really?

Many customers have long since learned to love both. Both the online shop and the stationary trade are important for them. Those who shop sometimes online and sometimes offline bring variety to their shopping experience. For some traders, however, it is difficult to accept online trade and see its advantages. But they should not see online and offline trade as rivals.

How many brick-and-mortar retailers have an online shop?

The advantages of the online shop are obvious: customers can shop directly from their sofa, they are not bound to opening hours and it is fast. Because more and more customers appreciate these advantages, almost all large retailers such as H&M, Zara and Co. now have an online shop in addition to their offline shop. But for many this is not yet the case. According to a survey by the German Trade Association  65 percent of retailers do not run an online shop. In contrast, 25 percent sell their products via their own web shop and 15 percent via a marketplace such as Amazon or eBay.

Image The majority of German retailers do not yet run an online shop. (Source: German Trade Association)

Reasons against having your own online shop

There are many reasons why many retailers do not yet have an online shop. On the one hand, they lack direct contact with the customer through the online shop, on the other hand, they often cannot offer the same service as in stationary trade. Some convinced stationary traders also think it is a new-fangled gimmick or that mainly low-quality goods are sold online. Whether the online shop is impersonal is up to each shop. However, personalised shopping with the help of Recommendation Engines or personalised shipping messages can also establish close contact with customers. By addressing them personally, the customer feels understood and in good hands in the shop.

###Experience shipping messages in action!

Reasons for having your own online shop

There are, of course, arguments against having an online shop. On the whole, however, running a webshop brings some advantages. There are many reasons why stationary traders should also be active online:

Expanding the customer base

More customers can be reached through the online shop. It is no longer just customers from the local area who shop, as is often the case with stationary retailers. Goods can also be sold nationwide or even nationally. This allows traders to reach more people as well as increase their turnover.

Offering niche products online

For niche products, it is particularly suitable to run an online shop. Although there are sometimes stationary shops that sell such products, these usually have to be found first. This is often too time-consuming for some customers. It is easier for them to order the product they are looking for via the online trade. This saves them time and nerves.

Accepting digitisation

The internet has long since ceased to be virgin territory. On the contrary: people make use of it almost every day. They take care of banking matters from there, book their next holiday or exchange information with friends. So it stands to reason that people also use it for shopping. Even if stationary trade will not disappear overnight, it is important to adapt to the present. Digitalisation is advancing more and more, new technologies are emerging and it is impossible to imagine life without the internet.

Half the way is already done

Traders who already have a stationary trade and want to expand online do not have to start from scratch. They already have a registered business, full warehouses, relationships with suppliers and a customer base. This provides the perfect basis on which to build an online shop. Of course, opening an online shop involves additional costs. But if traders are already successful with their shops, an online shop will usually pay off. If the stationary trade is already not running properly, an online shop will most likely not be able to change this.

It is important that the online shop is maintained in the same way as the stationary trade. After all, customers will only shop there if they feel comfortable. The focus should therefore not only be on online or offline.

It also works the other way round

It is not only stationary retailers that are evolving. Online retailers are also increasingly taking a liking to stationary trade. Notebooksbilliger.de and mymuesli.de, for example, have opened brick-and-mortar shops after successful online shops. With multichannel, cross-channel and omnichannel, online trade and stationary trade can be combined quite easily. Anyone who owns an online shop should also think about stationary trade. The competitive pressure between online shops is great. There are warnings, each other's prices are undercut and they are squeezed out. A stationary shop can create a second foothold and, if necessary, offer a little more security. However, it must be calculated and weighed up in advance whether stationary trade is really worthwhile or whether it would only cause high costs.

For online traders, there are various reasons why it is worthwhile for them to go offline:

  • Create additional contact points
  • .
  • Gaining information about customers
  • Additional revenue stream
  • Additional alternative to the high cost of customer acquisition in online retail
  • .


One thing is certain: Brick-and-mortar retail needs online retail to survive in the long run. Digitalisation is advancing steadily and retailers should also move with the times. They have to adapt to the demands of their customers and provide them with a wide range of products, because they have long been taking part in the process of digitalisation. With the help of an online shop, you become more visible and can thus expand your customer base. Young people in particular often look at the online presence first before visiting a shop. But if you decide to have an online shop, you should look after it just as well as the stationary shop. Retailers do not have to worry about the online shop being too impersonal. With the help of personalised offers and personal shipping messages, they can establish close contact with their customers and get to know them better.

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