Hamburg’s retailers have expressed optimism about the future despite forecasts of gloom, desolate inner cities and the demise of stationary retail, according to a study by Commerzbank. Some 78 per cent of entrepreneurs rate the economic development as very good or stable. “Despite increasing digitalisation, almost half of Hamburg’s retailers have more customers than five years ago,” according to the 2018 Entrepreneur Study “Challenges and Digitization in Retailing” (Herausforderungen und Digitalisierung im Einzelhandel). The Ipsos opinion research institute had surveyed around 3,500 retailers across Germany including 100 in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region with annual sales of up to EUR 15 million.
Digital and analogue through multi-channel strategy
Yet, increasing competition from online retailers is perceived as a threat. “However, many retailers are already responding with a multi-channel strategy,” said Andre Nogat, who is responsible for Commerzbank’s business with corporate customers in Hamburg. A third of Hamburg’s retailers sell their products and services both online and over the counter. Around half of retailers network their channels with each other and offer their customers flexible shopping options, such as ordering online or collecting goods in a shop. Digital channels are used not only in sales but also in customer communication. Retailers in Hamburg prefer email newsletters and social networks and 39 per cent communicate with their customers on Facebook. But Hamburg’s retailers are also very active analogously. Around 38 per cent organize their own events for customer retention and acquisition compared to the national average of only 31 per cent.
Contactless card payment on the rise
Consumers’ payment methods were also examined as part of the Commerzbank study. Accounts receivables occur preferably by invoice or bank transfer (Hamburg: 44 per cent compared to 37 per cent nationwide). Around one in five customers in Hamburg (19 per cent) pays per Girocard, which is roughly equivalent to the nationwide average of 18 per cent. But while only 2 per cent of Germans pay per credit card, the figure in Hamburg is 7 per cent. Only 17 per cent of Hamburg’s customers pay cash compared to 29 per cent nationwide. Some 34 per cent of Hamburg retailers facilitate contactless card payment or plan to do so compared to 45 per cent across Germany.
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