The Covid-19 pandemic posed significant challenges for retailers and restaurants. During the lockdown, also small local shops in Germany had to close temporarily. In the south of Hesse, the City Darmstadt responded successfully with the "Digital Shop Window" project. Retailers and restaurateurs can offer their goods and services on the city's central shopping platform.
The project was already launched in 2019 with around 25 participating shops and restaurants. After the pandemic began, the German city intensified its efforts to expand the platform because interest increased significantly. Currently, over 500 local restaurants and shops are represented, and the platform registers around 700 hits per day. Interested citizens have access to the businesses' contact details, opening hours, social media channels, and the online shop on the platform.
What led to the success of the "Digital Shop Window"? A key component was the networking of other city projects with the platform. For example, the so-called "Darmstadt City Voucher" has been integrated online. Moreover, Darmstadt offers free delivery of products. Local events, such as an art market or the city's wine festival, are also advertised on the website. Since the traders themselves are responsible for their contributions and data, the "Digital Shop Window" always remains up to date.
Another success factor was that Darmstadt photographed the traders free of charge to personalise online shopping. The pictures make the "Digital Shop Window" much more personal than other online shopping sites, such as Amazon. The personalisation also increased solidarity with the traders within the population. "Digital Shop Window" will certainly have its raison d'être even after the pandemic and make local shopping attractive.
Event Recording (Presentation on Darmstadt starts min. 83): The role of digitalised public services as reactions to the COVID 19-pandemic (Only for those registered on the Connective Cities Platform)
Digital Shop Window: https://www.darmstadt-citymarketing.de/digitales-schaufenster/
Agnes Allig, City and tourism marketing
Wissenschaftsstadt Darmstadt Marketing GmbH