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Online orders and delivery services: How Bonn businesses are adapting to the Corona crisis

Online orders and delivery services : How Bonn businesses are adapting to the Corona crisis

Local retailers are losing revenue. The next months will be difficult – how to survive from the point of view of the entrepreneurs? But the Corona crisis also brings positive innovations, as some business owners from Bonn report.

Deniz Dunker swings himself onto his well loaded bike. Just like every morning, she starts from her kiosk Miss Minz on the banks of the Rhine in Beuel for a delivery tour through Bonn. She has packed lunches, cigarettes, drinks and even newspapers. "I find it amazing how adaptable one becomes," she says.

Since people are supposed to stay at home because of the corona virus, almost all of the walk-in customers have disappeared, even the affiliated café had to close.

Not only restaurateurs, but also the retail trade in Bonn is struggling with the Corona crisis. "We have all fallen into a state of shock," says Maike Reinhardt from City Marketing. But little by little, the entrepreneurs adjust to the unfamiliar situation. Instead of bringing customers into their shops - which is what local retailers usually use for advertising - they now need to be advised and supplied differently.

Bookstores, philatelists and many others spontaneously set up delivery services. On their own website, city marketing collects the offers of their members. Many family-run businesses, such as the Landgraf shoe store, for example, would rely entirely on online business and showed "an enormous will to survive". "But it has to be said quite clearly that this is a catastrophe for retailers. We hope that everyone will survive." Even if financial aid was promised by politicians. "We get nothing for free.“

It's a hole that can't be bridged forever. A few weeks, maybe a few months, is the prognosis of Silvio Suderow, who owns the running shop in town. "I have 12 people here who want to be paid, I have running costs and rent. I don't want to have to lay anyone off," he says.

Many retailers would not have large reserves to absorb the drop in sales. His purely stationary business was always based on intensive consultation. "We can't afford it like this anymore." On the other hand, there is a lot of running going on right now, sporting goods are in demand. "That's why we are now trying to do this by telephone, we can still give recommendations. And from our regular customers we know what they need." If you order something, it will be delivered - sometimes by parcel, sometimes personally.

What they all have in common is a lot of paperwork. "For me as an entrepreneur, that is currently the biggest challenge, with all the applications and forms for short-time work or fundraising. A flood of information that has to be sorted," says Susanne Palmen, who manages the Tee Gschwendner branch in Bad Godesberg. Strictly speaking, it should still be open because tea is considered a staple food. She has just invested a six-figure sum in the renovation. "But it's safer for customers and staff if the premises remain closed." Instead, she now sells through a small counter at the entrance and delivers to the region. This is done by her son on a bicycle, who currently receives few orders as a personal trainer. "It's quite a distance to Berkum or Rheinbreitbach, but he also enjoys it," Palmen says. She encourages especially her older regular customers to take advantage of the service.

There are also rays of hope in view of the large drop in sales that she is currently experiencing because the pedestrian zone is as empty as it is. She is supported by her system headquarters, as well as by loyal customers and her landlord. "He is very accommodating," Palmen says. And she sees the crisis as an opportunity to identify where the retail trade needs to change - for example, with a local delivery service. "I now had to learn that the Internet and social media are indispensable for the modern way of working. We retailers should allow more of that in the future."

Dunker from Miss Minz confirms this, most orders come in via Instagram and Facebook. "There the couple orders their breakfast by direct message from bed in the morning and we bring it," she says. Her delivery service works so well that it could also be a business model for the time after the crisis.

(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach. Translation: Mareike Graepel)