Upper Austria. More and more Austrians are buying online – albeit often on foreign platforms. “If we don’t change our shopping behavior, there is a risk of massive losses in jobs, tax revenue and quality of life,” warns Christoph Andexlinger, Head of Center Management and designated COO of SES Spar European Shopping Centers. That is why SES has founded the new initiative and free platform “yip.at”. The aim is to strengthen stationary retail.
“Not only, but also due to Corona, the sales development in Austria in the e-commerce sector has increased rapidly,” said Christoph Andexlinger. In 2020 online retail in Austria will grow by more than 17 percent, he refers to figures from the trade association. The problem here: “An estimated 4.2 billion euros in purchasing power go to foreign platforms.”
If this is not counteracted and shopping behavior does not change, there is a risk of massive loss of jobs, tax revenues for Austria and quality of life. “Vacancies, closed shops, effects on restaurants, city centers, shopping streets and malls – all are equally affected,” says Andexlinger. “Everyone is happy about decorated shopping streets and malls, lively and popular meeting places – but who makes them: primarily the shops, the restaurants, the service providers.
On the other hand, there are also positive developments: “Thank God, many consumers want local and regional shopping. But the problem is often: You don’t even know what offer is available in the immediate vicinity.
Bringing consumers into stores
This is where the new information platform yip.at (“your information point”) comes in. Yip.at networks trade, gastronomy, services, handicrafts, but also cultural businesses throughout Austria with potential customers. The platform was developed by SES together with the Loop New Media GmbH agency.
Declared goal: to bring consumers to the local store as much as possible. In contrast to other platforms, the focus is not on online trading, but on supporting the shops in the immediate vicinity.
Discover instead of searching
The most important highlight, says Michael John, CEO of the Loop Agency New Media GmbH: “We start with the search for the location. It’s not just about looking for what you need, but rather what is actually available in my environment. Other platforms cannot offer that. So yip.at wants to encourage you to discover a not yet known retailer on your own doorstep – the health food store, the tailor shop around the corner – and then visit them. Depending on the company’s offer, contact can of course also be made with the company, possibly delivered.
A “reverse search engine” was built, “it’s more of a discovery platform to discover the local provider and only then to narrow down what exactly I need,” explains John.
Free of charge for everyone: Know-how and funding for companies
Interested companies can register with immediate effect and easily enter via categories, their locations, products, range and more. Not only companies can register, but also cities, municipalities, shopping streets and marketing associations. Of course, the SES competition is not ruled out either: “We would prefer someone to buy stationary from a competitor than sales flow abroad via global platforms,” says Andexlinger.
Use is free for everyone, the platform is ad-free. However, it is not allowed to refer to online shops that run on foreign platforms.
In contrast to other platforms, the registered companies also receive free digital know-how through regular webinars by experts. In addition, twice a year, SES awards grants of 10,000 euros each to innovative businesses and their ideas for creating frequencies for stationary retail, selected by a jury. The funding will be advertised for the first time in spring 2021. Thus, the initiative is also help for self-help, according to Andexlinger.
“Purchasing on international online platforms is simply not necessary”
SES bears the costs for the initiative, and a six-figure sum was invested in a first step, according to Andexlinger. Why is SES doing this? “We want to show consumers that shopping on international online platforms is simply not necessary, because you can find all this and much more in Austria. We want to ensure that purchasing power and tax payments remain in Austria and thus jobs are retained. We want to make our contribution as a company to a healthy trade, gastronomy and service landscape in Austria. For us as developers and operators of shopping destinations, for urban planners and for mayors, it is of enormous importance that there are still functioning stationary trade, catering and service providers on site in the future. Otherwise it looks pretty empty, we are currently seeing that in the corona lockdown, “says the SES Head of Center Management.
Yip.at is supported by the Austrian Trade Association and the Austrian Council of Shopping Places.
The free registration for companies is now available at yip.at/anmeldung possible. For consumers, the platform will start on Saturday, December 5th, midnight.
SES Spar European Shopping Centers, based in Salzburg, develops, builds and operates shopping destinations in six countries. The company currently operates 29 shopping locations, including the VARENA in Vöcklabruck in Upper Austria, the Weberzeile Ried and the Max.Center Wels.