Even in 2019, trade will not be able to avoid the current issue of digitalisation. The necessary measures will be confronted above all with time problems. The toy industry remains positive.

The German retail sector is still lagging behind in terms of digitalisation. But the pressure to act is growing. In addition to the known problems, online retailers are planning to sell more offline. Young customers in particular prefer omni-channel models and naturally use all available shopping channels.

Delayed digitalisation as a time problem

According to an IHK study on the “German Retail Trade 2017”, 85 percent of the retailers surveyed primarily sell stationary. However, only 12 percent of them have an explicit budget for digitalisation measures.

Although the topic of digitalisation has been communicated for some time, very few of them have been able to cope with this structural change. The most important drivers are the customers, who demand an uncomplicated shopping experience on all channels. According to ibi research, the lack of time resources in particular is cited as an obstacle to the implementation of digital measures in companies (52 percent). The increasing shortage of qualified personnel could also contribute to this. Local specialists have so far been a key factor in distinguishing the stationary retail sector from the online business. A shortage of personnel and the resulting lack of time led many retailers to enter the online business too late. However, this is necessary because sales are currently rising, especially in the online sector.

Not all retailers are satisfied with turnover

This had already made itself felt among retailers in the 2018 Christmas business. In a recent HDE press release, HDE CEO Stefan Genth says: “Business was noticeably better than in the previous two weeks. Business was much more lively, especially in the main business areas of the major cities. Every third retailer there was satisfied with the sales. Retailers in smaller cities, on the other hand, often had to struggle with low visitor frequency.” Genth adds: “Shortly before the festival, toys, household goods and food were particularly in demand.”

Toy industry adapts to changing requirements

The toy industry is also affected by the rapid changes. The new target group has grown up with the Internet and all its trends, which of course also influences the industry. Stationary retailers have to score with offers that the Internet cannot offer – the toy shop as a shop with experiences to try out and touch. The more complicated the toys, the more important are professional salespeople with the right know-how. This applies, for example, to the purchase of railways.

But also the availability of not present articles is important for the customers. Here it is again important to find the optimal mix of different sales channels. When it comes to products, it should be noted that classic and digital toys can no longer always be exactly separated. The abundance of possibilities leads to the trend that retailers specialize and concentrate, for example, only on wooden toys.

The toy industry is optimistic about the future

“The situation in the German toy industry is constantly good and stable at a high level. Most companies are very well positioned and thus well equipped for the challenges of the future”, said DVSI Managing Director Ulrich Brobeil at the industry press conference on 4 December in Nuremberg. “Games are in vogue, whether analogue or digital. And there are no age limits. Playing delights daycare children as well as schoolchildren, teenagers, adults, grandparents and pensioners. In Germany, more and more games are being played, more often and, above all, in all generations and regardless of social status”, explains Brobeil.


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The complete study “Der Deutsche Einzelhandel 2017” (German retail trade 2017)

Current press releases of the German Toy Industry Association (Deutscher Verband der Spielwarenindustrie e.V.)

Image: iStock