Business on eBay was going so well that Weinert and his team could hardly keep up with the many orders and the maintenance of their marketplace presence. That is why he invested in a modern ERP system in 2016, so he can control all distribution channels centrally. The firm’s own online shop and its presence on the idee+spiel marketplace followed. For the 2019 Christmas sales period, Weinert purchased a second packing table for his in-house warehouse in Oberwesel that handles both the brick-and-mortar business as well as all the online orders. "That turned out to be really lucky for us just now during Covid-19," said the retailer. "Thanks to the two packing tables, we’ve been able to maintain the necessary hygienic distance between employees in the warehouse and still cope with the high volume of orders." During the month of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Hermann sent out as many online orders as he usually does in the middle of the hectic Christmas sales period. In 2019, the company already achieved roughly half of its six-digit annual turnover in online sales; in 2020, the e-commerce share is expected to grow significantly once again.
Deliberate channel management
However, items offered on online sales channels don’t sell themselves: the retailer also has to have a clear strategic orientation. "We’ve found that simply listing our entire product catalogue on eBay is not worth our while," Weinert stresses. "In fact, there’s a demand for very different product ranges on different sales channels – and we base our listing on this demand. For the products that work best in our stores – i.e. the top products of the major manufacturers such as Lego or Playmobil – our company is just one of many online. Amazon, Mytoys or Galeria Kaufhof are faster and cheaper than we are. So we keep these products in the store and focus on niche products in e-commerce instead."
During the coronavirus pandemic, however, the retailer did away with this clear focus and also listed classic toys on eBay. However, Weinert is not going to take part in the sometimes merciless price war for some products on eBay.
Own online shop for corporate customers of stationery, school and office supplies in the pipeline
Weinert believes his shop is well positioned for the future – despite coronavirus. This is another reason why he is already making new plans for his online sales channel. From his physical shop, he also supplies several corporate customers in the region with stationery products; these customers will soon have their own online shop for their orders. "We want to signal to these customers that, with us, a highly trusted local supplier, you can also cover all your corporate stationery needs – and ordering is just as easy and delivery just as fast as with a large mail-order office supplies company," says Weinert. "And our service and advice is even better and more personal." So as to be able to offer the widest possible range of products in his planned stationery shop, the tireless retailer from Oberwesel is currently in negotiations with several suppliers.
About the author
Ingrid Lommer has been writing about online retail for around 15 years. She analyses the strategies of successful online retailers for specialist publications such as INTERNET WORLD Business and shopanbieter.de and keeps a watchful eye on both large and small online marketplaces.
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