This is what the coalition agreement means for online retail

The new federal government, consisting of the SPD, FDP and the Greens, has presented its coalition paper – just one month after the election. This preceded the coalition negotiations, which, according to reports, were characterized by great benevolence and factual relevance. A novelty that is all the more highly valued when we consider how far apart the parties mentioned were politically.

As expected, there are some points in the coalition agreement that affect trade and the future of e-commerce and floor trading – but fewer than one might actually expect given the position of trade in Germany. According to reports, the new federal government wants to endeavor to ensure that brick and mortar retailers get fair opportunities in view of the structural change. The paper leaves it open as to whether it is about infrastructural or more monetary support, but it does emphasize that one wants to make the locally rooted trade resilient to the business models of large digital companies. The fact that this primarily refers to large players like Amazon does not require too much interpretation.

But it also remains to be seen how online trading is rated. It is well known that, from a climate protection point of view, this is in many cases even more sustainable than the trip to the shop in the city or to the shopping center in the industrial area. One can hope that the new federal government will not try to pit one channel against the other. Because blaming online retail for the problems of face-to-face business that has grown over the years is as wrong as it is short-sighted. In addition, many retailers sensibly no longer think in terms of online vs. on-site trading, but rather consider the channels as mutually complementary.

Promote urban development for a better quality of life

The new federal government has declared that it wants to “support digitally supported value creation in industry, trade, craft and services and create a level playing field for it”. It is astonishing that the federal government, which has otherwise chosen understandable German terms wherever possible, holed up behind this meaningless term. That too asks more questions than it answers.

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It is clear that the “Sustainable Inner Cities and Centers” and “Lively Centers” funding programs want to continue and that the change and the quality of life in the inner city locations are concerned. Barrier-free, innovative inner cities, which also offer quality of stay outside of business hours, are desirable and should be aimed for by the new federal government. After all, some other passages in the 179-page paper indirectly affect retail – for example when it comes to the supply chain law, which, as has been emphasized in several places, has not overwhelmed even medium-sized and small companies. Statements about the pet trade are more partially relevant for a sharp target group, but they relate more to the B2B sector.

On the other hand, it is worth taking a look at the passages that deal with data protection and the use of personal data. Here, on the one hand, the course is set by a large number of existing laws (up to the GDPR), on the other hand, many things relating to health data, research data or personal data are regulated in such a way that it does not run counter to all economic interests. All of this gives reason to hope that the course that has been taken so far in the personalization of e-commerce offers and in online marketing will be maintained and that interests will be weighed up at least with care.

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