The German Retail Association (Handelverband Deutschland - HDE) has called on the economics minister Peter Altmaier to set up a digitisation fund of €100 million for the retail sector.
The funding will help retailers, particularly medium sized businesses, to make their business future-proof as they deal with challenges posed by the pandemic, the HDE added.
HDE president, Josef Sanktjohanser commented, “In this precarious situation with very limited financial resources, the necessary investments in digitisation cannot currently be made in many places. That is why support is urgently needed here.”
The HDE also proposed that the funding programme should be carried out in a three-step process.
In the first stage, the already existing Mittelstand 4.0 Kompetenzzentrum Handel (SME 4.0 Competence Centre for Retail) will provide comprehensive information about the opportunities of digitisation in retail.
The competence centre has been working for a year to show retail companies a range of digital possibilities through events and webinars.
It is led by the HDE as a consortium leader on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics.
In the second stage, the HDE will introduce itself to consultants who identify suitable and economically viable measures for digitisation in individual cases.
In the final stage, the funding provided by the ministry will be used to finance the corresponding digitisation projects for retailers.
Sanktjohanser added, “We have to act now and make an investment in the key sector in the city centre. Lively city centres are valued in society as a whole."