Hybrid sales commonplace in Germany

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A vast majority of German retailers are now selling both offline and online to their customers. According to a study by the industry association Bitkom, this figure stands at 85 percent, up from 77 percent in 2021 and just 66 percent in 2019.

Three out of ten online-selling retailers already derive most of their income from online sales. A roughly equivalent portion of the more than five hundred respondents imagine that by 2030, they can operate without a physical retail presence.

Hybrid sales are today’s norm, according to Bitkom CEO Bernhard Rohleder, and the future of retail is digital. “Purely local business has had its day”, he states.

Permanent shift in shopping behavior

Rohleder attributes the COVID-19 pandemic to significantly boosting online commerce and permanently altering customer shopping behavior. “This trend continues, with more and more retailers expanding their online activities while maintaining a local presence”, he notes. Bitkom’s data reveals that only 8 percent of German retailers exclusively sell in physical stores.

Digital services as building blocks

Rohleder sees stationary retail under pressure, stating: “It remains a crucial pillar for businesses in Germany, but innovative ideas are urgently needed. Digital services can be a cornerstone to keep physical retail appealing to consumers and to blend the advantages of both sales channels.”

‘There is an urgent need for innovative retail ideas’

Ecommerce in Germany is dominated by Amazon, also influencing offline retail in the country. More than one-third of all purchases in physical stores are preceded by a search for information on Amazon.

Digitized business processes

However digitalization in retail is not limited to sales and sales orientation, Rohleder emphasizes. “In today’s retail industry, digitization is much more than just an online store. Behind a successful online business lie digitized business processes. For example, those who still send invoices on paper will find it challenging to integrate virtual shopping environments or AI-supported ordering processes.” The Bitkom study shows that only 4 percent of German retailers are actively using AI.

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