"Wir-liefern.org" creating virtual shopping zones on internet
Small retailers without their own website or any other online presence are now gaining digital access to customers thanks to the wir-liefern.org online platform. Launched in 2020 by Christian Hasselbring, Mirjam Müller and Thomas Reichert, the platform raises the visibility of small stores and may yet prevent such shops from dying out. This comes as brick-and-mortar retail flails under the lockdowns triggered by the pandemic. While larger companies are earning profits from e-commerce, "digitalisation is frequently a hurdle," for small shops, according to Hasselbring.
Free virtual showcase
Around 1,500 shopkeepers, restaurateurs and service providers all over Germany including 400 in Hamburg have registered on the platform since last April. They can draft their own profile and upload a photo onto the web page free of charge making for a virtual pedestrian zone. "We want to enable local tours and shopping to maintain diversity," said Hasselbring. No contracts have been concluded with parcel service providers. The vendors decide whether to offer pick-up or shipping and are responsible for the design of their online storefronts. "We require only an e-mail address," said Hasselbring.
The Hamburg-based social enterprise Bridge & Tunnel, which has produced one-off items from used jeans and rejects since 2016, has its own web shop. "Yet, wir-liefern.org is a great opportunity to be on a platform with other local stakeholders in our beloved city and to remind people of Hamburg's incredible diversity. Hopefully, this will continue when the pandemic is over," said Constanze Klotz, co-founder of Bridge & Tunnel.
Communities on platform
Rellingen in Schleswig-Holstein became the first German community to launch its own local page on the platform. Almost 50 retailers, restaurateurs, service providers and craft businesses can be found on einkaufen.rellingen.de. The section offers anyone in Rellingen an overview of offers in the immediate vicinity, regardless of anti-corona measures, and has sparked even more ideas there. "The urban administration and traders are now thinking about buying delivery bicycles," Hasselbring said.
Funding for further development
Hasselbring, Müller and Reichert have yet to earn money from their platform. "We are currently a limited liability entrepreneurial company and work on a voluntary basis alongside our actual professions," Hasselbring stressed. "We would like to obtain funding, but that has not worked out so far because we are not a startup." For this reason, the trio are now seeking recognition as a non-profit enterprise. "That would open up access to sponsors in Hamburg's business sphere and funds from foundations and would accelerate the platform's expansion." Co-operations are also imaginable, he added.