The Kiezkaufhaus –
the local shopping express
Online shopping is often not just the most convenient, but also the fastest way to acquire all the everyday items that enrich our lives. The Kiezkaufhaus project is a platform that features local retailers and delivers faster than Amazon. Read More
Raise your hand if you are one of the around 300 million people who regularly shop on Amazon. Now raise your hand if you regularly find time to browse your local shops and boutiques. Not as many of us can answer yes to the second question, mostly because shop opening hours tend to conflict with most people’s working hours. Anyone employed in a traditional 9-to-5 field is happy if they manage to squeeze in a quick grocery run in before or after work. Saturday is the day to stock up on food and other essentials, but few of us enjoy the luxury of time to browse the shops at leisure.
So we turn to the Internet. Online shopping is booming. Even the larger supermarket chains have joined in and many now offer a delivery service for groceries ordered online. Many employers even allow personal packages to be delivered to the workplace, like the agency in Wiesbaden where Inga, Edina, Daniel and Nanna work. Every day a delivery guy brings packages filled with necessities, presents, and even larger household items. All the packaging waste generated and the carbon emissions of the delivery vans adds up, resulting in a pretty negative impact on the environment.
“We asked ourselves why people didn’t just pick up the things they needed at their local shops here in the city instead of ordering everything online. We concluded pretty quickly that online shopping is wonderfully convenient and that shop opening times didn’t coordinate all that well with our working hours here at the agency. So we decided to combine the two: online shopping at local retailers.”
By “local retailers” Nanna does not mean the big chain stores, but rather small, owner-operated and invidiual shops she sees as the economic backbone of the city.
The four co-workers got together and developed the Kiezkaufhaus concept for Wiesbaden: an online shop featuring the products of local retailers with same-day delivery. Participating retailers range from organic grocers and delicatessens with spices, chocolate, wine, and cheese to local farmers who offer seasonal fruit and veg, game and meat.
Customers can order books, office supplies, toys and games, presents for children, cosmetics, flowers and even tickets for the theatre, opera or concerts.
How it works: customers place their orders online by 2:00 pm Monday through Friday and receive them on the same day. Armed with long shopping lists, Kiezkaufhaus employees jump on their green-electricity driven cargo bikes and hit all the stores customers have ordered from. Goods are delivered from 4:00-9:00 pm and can be dropped off at an alternative address if a customer is not at home. Orders placed after 2:00 pm are filled the next day. Customers pay a flat fee of 5€ for the service, regardless of how many shops they order from.
Since it cuts out the middle man in the form of the post office, the Kiezkaufhaus is much faster than most online retailers where express delivery is usually overnight delivery. The Kiezkaufhaus gets the goods to consumers in a matter of hours. And the advantages are not just the time and packaging saved. Many customers use the service to shop for food, which cuts down on traffic in the city. Just one person on a cargo bike can replace a bunch of individual shoppers on the roads in cars, trains or buses.
The project kicked off in June 2015 and has really taken off with Wiesbaden customers, who place between 10 and 20 orders every day. Retailers are happy too, even if some were not entirely satisfied with the pace at which the Kiezkaufhaus has expanded. Nanna and her co-workers are picky when selecting the kinds of retailers they include: “We have to make sure that their range of goods fits our customers’ needs. We don’t just want to offer run-of-the-mill bread. We want to feature the best bread the city has to offer. So our retailers have to provide selected products and our bakers have to be masters at their craft. All the shops we work with are owner-operated and not part of a national chain. We admit the selection is very subjective. These are all retailers we would sorely miss if they disappeared.”
Nanna and her co-workers have begun fielding requests from other cities for help in setting up a similar service. They are currently developing a social franchise concept so people on cargo bikes can soon start making consumers happy in other places as well.