Could local online marketplaces be the way to save the High Street?

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There is a nascent trend in ecommerce and we’re talking about local online marketplaces for local retailers.

And by local online marketplaces, that doesn’t mean online classifieds like Gumtree or even Shpock that have a national and likely international reach. But rather hyper-local online marketplaces being developed by communities who want to encourage local trade and keep it local.

One of the latest examples comes from the city of Luneberg in Lower Saxony in Germany. It’s a partnership between the local newspaper Landeszeitung, a delivery service called Lünebote and Marktplatz GmbH. It’s billed as Kaufhaus Lüneburg.

Citizens can search the site for things they want from local shops and then the local delivery firm can drop them by same-day. If shops or merchants want to get involved, and here might be the sticking point, the sign up fee is €999. But after that there don’t appear to be any transactional fees. In many ways it does sound like a late response to the death of newspaper small ads.

The organisers say on the website www.kaufhaus-lueneburg.de/, and this is a loose Google Translation (with some minor tweaks), of their purpose:

Because Lüneburg is the most beautiful city in the world at the Ilmenau! And to ensure that it remains the most beautiful city in the world, we are now also supporting Lüneburg online. Thus, the visitor is guaranteed a varied and interesting virtual shopping spree that cannot be more local.
– Kaufhaus Lüneburg

And whilst there have been other examples of similar enterprises, mostly in Germany so far, it does seem like a notion that has potential. Even if it does go against the global ethos of the world wide wide. Shopping online is as natural to the Germans as it is the Brits and smartphones are ubiquitous, so why not shop online from down the road as you would from far away? Pizza firms know full well that it works.

But is it something you’d get involved with as an established online merchant? The fee is a bit steep at first glance but if it was successful, especially in a populous conurbation, it could be easily justified over the course of a year. Let us know what you think.

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