E-Commerce Competition

Merchants of Tomorrow

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The “retail apocalypse” has closed thousands of brick-and-mortar shops worldwide. A new battlefront is opening up online.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The Institute of Trade Research predicts that about 90 percent of online retailers in Germany will not survive long term.
    • Rakuten, Hood, Hitmeister and Findiq are all online marketplaces which did not survive in Germany.
    • The e-commerce company Zalando has a blended approach, with a core fashion brand and an online marketplace of 2,000-some shops.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf
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Many competitors have tried squaring off against Amazon and many have failed. Source: Reuters/Michael Dalder

For more than a few decades, German publisher and media retailer Weltbild has been in the business of mail order books, films and the like, but now it is branching out. The company recently announced an unlikely partnership with a gardening company to sell hedges, roses and fruit trees.

But according to managing director Angela Schünemann, it is the next “logical step” in the company’s growth strategy to becoming an online marketplace.

Since a bankruptcy filing and recapitalization in 2014, Weltbild has made a modest comeback by partnering with about 20 companies over the past two years to sell diverse products from small furniture to gifts, wine and toys. If you can’t beat online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, why not join ’em?

“The partners benefit from our reach, and we are expanding our competency as a provider addressing the needs of our customers,” Ms. Schünemann explained.

There appears to be a new mantra of e-commerce in Germany. Ever since the US-based online marketplace Amazon began offering more products and penetrating more industries, competing online retailers have become terrified of being left behind. The Institute of Trade Research predicts that about 90 percent of online retailers in Germany will not survive long term.

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