Bringing the Downtown to Life – Valuable Tips for Retail by Heinrich Lappe

A new impetus is needed to ensure that urban retailing continues to survive. “You have to get active yourself, instead of waiting for outside help,” says Heinrich Lappe, founder of the “stadtkenn” app. He explored the interactions between customers and retailers in detail and made the following conclusion: The right network is the foundation and the end In the following interview, he talks about his ideas to strengthen stationary retail and reveals the role that the customer plays in it.


Mr. Lappe, what exactly do you mean by “networks”?

Understand that networks mean anything that helps retailers find competitors in today’s tough market environment. This means all sectors, the catering industry as well as service providers and stationary retailers. To attract and retain customers, they need to work together to create something that will attract attention. These can be street festivals or special events and promotions … The city center must become an attraction again and thus deliver its unique sales value compared to the online shopping world.

Does this mean that individual stores should not compete with each other, but stand against online trading?

I don’t want to demonize online trading. In many places, a combination of online and brick-and-mortar sales seems reasonable to me. For the latter only, networking has gained enormous importance in recent years. When companies work together and collaborate, they achieve much more than when they all work alone and get angry at a supposed competitor taking away their customers.
Ideally, we are dealing here with a win-win situation, in which, of course, recommendations play a major role. If, as an entrepreneur, I can recommend other stores to my customers that complement my offer, I immediately seem credible and I can assume that I would be happy to recommend my store elsewhere.

But that’s just the beginning. Networking can go much further. A form of cooperation is also possible, in which small stores join forces and jointly rent a larger sales area. As a result, they can offer customers and potential customers a much more interesting and comprehensive range. And even if it is not possible for some reason, stores can communicate with each other, acquire some of their assortment from other stores and indicate it with, for example, a card, which encourages the customer to try out the other store as well. I have seen such initiatives in many German cities and I am very happy.

You spoke earlier about a unique selling proposition in the stationary trade. Has Corona forgotten about it?

Not at all, brick-and-mortar stores still have a big advantage over e-commerce. Customers can look inside spontaneously and become curious as they pass by, without any algorithm showing them the ad they think is right for them. Outside, the customer feels free, he can see, see, smell, smell and try the goods himself.

You can talk to people, get good advice, take the goods with you right away, no packaging waste. The social aspect plays an important role, the city comes alive and urban culture is flourishing.

You can spontaneously combine shopping with a visit to a cafe and restaurant, or meet friends in the city. This is absolutely not possible online. Stationary sellers should always be aware of all these advantages and consistently develop them. Simple ways to retain customers include a small offer of drinks, comfortable seating, a small offer of events (e.g. when we think about reading in bookstores or tasting in a wine cellar) and perhaps delivery. Imagination has no limits.

So let’s go back to combining online trading with the brick and mortar offers you mentioned earlier. How do these synergy effects look perfect?

Unfortunately, many business owners do not keep up with the times and do not see the potential of digitization and social media. They still advertise in the old fashioned way. But there has been a change. Nowadays, you can no longer afford to abandon your own homepage or social media page, even if you care about a stationary business. So my advice is this: advertising must be digital, cheap and effective.

This is where my “Stadtkenn” app comes in. This is of particular interest to brick-and-mortar retailers, service providers and restaurateurs who are less tech savvy. But to give them a chance to take advantage of the huge proliferation of smartphones, they can call their target customers directly, so to speak, for a very small fee. Offers go directly to the smartphones of interested parties and customers in the vicinity who have installed this application. This is what targeted advertising looks like today!

And you hope this app can prevent downtown extinction?

Yes, anyway! Again, they are paying more attention to smaller, owner-managed stores. And ultimately, we all benefit from it, because a thriving, diverse business structure contributes to the colorful and vibrant nature of cities. No customer wants to see the same offer in every city. Long live individuality! Municipalities are recognizing this as well and are already launching campaigns in many places where associations such as IHK, industry associations and city administrators are also involved.

About Heinrich Lappe

“Cities should remain livable!” this is Heinrich Lappe’s vision and for him the strengthening of stationary trade is a very important factor in the implementation. What is his knowledge based on? He has gained extensive experience in over 25 different professions, of which 15 years in gastronomy in Hamburg and Mallorca, as well as 20 years in sales as the most formative. In all these activities, he always faced the question: “How can I present my company without spending thousands of euros on it?” He wanted to establish business contacts and customers and set up the “Stadtkenn” app for this purpose.

For businesses, the application provides a fast, direct line to customers for little money, for users, the well-known in the city application offers a wide range of local offers with many benefits for free. The app has only been distributed regionally since June 2022, but everyone involved is already working together to create more vibrant cities and regions. Website: www.stadtkenn.app


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