Dec 17 2019

Bitkom: Current challenges for the retail trade

The use of digital technologies for new business models and to avoid returns - these are two topics that are currently driving the trade. According to recent studies by the digital association Bitkom, almost every second company sees the potential in digital solutions to reduce returns. In addition, every second company offers new digital products or services; four out of ten retailers pursue a central strategy for digitization. 

Trade increasingly relies on digital technologies 

Advice via chat, delivery to the door or click-and-collect in the shop: digitalisation opens up numerous new opportunities for retailers both online and offline. This not only involves individual services offered to customers, but also the development of completely new business models.  
 
As a result, more than every second retail company in Germany (53 percent) offers completely new products or services as a result of digitization. Six out of ten companies (63 percent) have significantly changed their service in order to enable customers to communicate seamlessly and across channels.  
 
41 percent believe that their sales will increase sharply in the long term as a result of digitization. In the representative survey conducted by Bitkom, 56 percent of those surveyed also stated that they had gained new customers thanks to digital technologies. One third (36 percent) expanded abroad.  

Four out of ten retailers pursue a central strategy  

Four out of ten companies (40 percent) are pursuing a central strategy for coping with digital change. A further 30 percent have a corresponding strategy at least in individual areas of the company. However, 27 percent of the 504 stationary and online wholesalers and retailers in Germany surveyed stated in the survey that they did not have a strategy for digitizing their company. 
 
The fact is that customer retention has changed massively with digitization. Customers expect smart and digital services not only in online shopping, but also in stationary retailing. "Many companies have already recognized this necessity," says Bitkom Managing Director Dr. Bernhard Rohleder. Dealers who have not yet become active should now urgently put their business model to the digital test. "This will not only make the companies more service-oriented, they will above all remain competitive - also internationally. 

Avoiding returns with digital solutions 

Retail also relies on digital technologies when it comes to returns. Many orders on the Internet are returned. Almost four out of ten retail companies in Germany (38 percent) complain about rising costs in this connection, which cause returns to them.  
 
At the same time, however, retailers see great potential in digital technologies to reduce the number of returns. Almost half (42 percent) of the retailers surveyed by Bitkom consider it one of the most important advantages of digitisation that a more detailed product description can result in fewer returns. Almost every second company (45 percent) believes that digital technologies can reduce the number of returns. 
 
Almost one in two retailers (46 percent) also sees new business opportunities that are environmentally friendly in sharing platforms where products are not only sold but also lent or rented out. "For many retailers, this can be an interesting extension of their existing business model," says Rohleder. 

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