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31 Jan – 4 Feb 2018
eBay has discovered the brick and mortar retail trade for itself: the online marketplace launched the “local & digital” city initiative in Germany in 2017. The german cities Diepholz and Mönchengladbach started as pilot project, now Velbert is ready and waiting. eBay started a media partnership with the Funke Mediengruppe as go between to the local retailers and the city of Velbert. Retailers who set up an online presence can use the eBay basis shop free of charge and an exclusive expert advice. Retailers can advertise their new online shops with different advertising specials.
The goal: eBay wants to help retailers digitise their business - and naturally, bring more activity to its marketplace. After all, according to an eBay study, only one in three retailers in Germany sell their products also on the Internet, meaning there is still plenty of potential to expand one’s product range. At the heart of the initiative is a so-called city platform where cities can secure their individual presence on eBay. Participating cities are given an URL which features the name of the town: www.eBay-city.de/CITY NAME. Participating retailers can place their products online for sale. eBay also offers a range of services, such as training seminars for brick and mortar retailers.
The project was preceded by a pilot with Mönchengladbach, a German city with a population of around 260,000. Overall, between autumn 2015 and summer 2017 and according to eBay, the 79 participating retailers sold over 160,000 articles with a total value of € 6.7 million, supplying their goods to 84 different countries. In the medium run, a minimum 30 cities from the whole of Germany are to be brought online with their own eBay presence.
An international roll-out of the initiative, according to eBay, is currently not as such in the pipeline but e-commerce experts are firmly counting on it. Once before, around five years ago, eBay initiated a similar project in Italy, even if humanitarian reasons were to the fore back then. Following a severe earthquake in the L’Aquila region, eBay created a platform in support of the local economy. And successfully so: sales of participating retailers increased by 435 percent within five years (2010 to 2015).
Yet eBay is by far not the only platform operator trying to lure brick and mortar retailers with local initiatives to the World Wide Web. Many countries have marketplace providers by now who see themselves as an Internet showroom for brick and mortar retailers - key word: Local Commerce. Examples of this include Curbside in the USA and SoCloz in France, Shoepping.at in Austria, Kaloka in Switzerland or Locafox and Atalanda in Germany.
The concept of those local marketplaces is similar to that of eBay: Cities are given a dedicated page on the marketplace which bundles the offers that local retailers place online. The providers have also created apps for mobile users. Just as for any customary online purchase, customers can buy products online and have them delivered, but they can also ask for the products to be reserved and collect them from the retailer on location. Same Day Delivery is equally part of the services available on many platforms.
Marketplace operators want to specifically make use of the RoPo effect (Research Online, Purchase Offline). After all, many customers prepare their buys online, but do not necessarily click on “Order”. Surveys have shown that one in four consumers make their buying decision online, but end up buying on location. Other studies suggest that almost half of all purchases made on location were prepared online.
Brick and mortar retailers can also bank on the RoPo effect using Google - and this is free of charge: The alpha search engine and its Google My Business functionality give brick and mortar retailers the opportunity to create an account for their business. Next to the address, opening hours and contact information, it is also possible to add pictures - of the shop, its personnel, but also of products. These examples show: The Internet is becoming local, and the brick and mortar trade can benefit from this.