The virtual department store of AGRAVIS and Raiffeisen agricultural cooperative societies has opened

A new shopping experience on the web: AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG and more than 30 other companies from the Raiffeisen network have now opened a joint virtual department store. With " " the partners are starting a second sales channel in addition to normal retail.

"In this way, we can now reach customers, who are more at home in urban environments," said Johannes Schulte-Althoff, CFO of AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG on Thursday. Customers in rural locations, who do not live close to a Raiffeisen store can now shop conveniently as well. And for existing customes, the online shop enhances the service.

AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG, an agricultural retail and services company with an annual turnover of around Euro 7.5 billion and 6,000 employees, is very successfully active in retail with the "Stores Stores " business. AGRAVIS operates 64 of its own Raiffeisen stores Raiffeisen stores and is also a wholesaler for around 1,000 stores and sales partners in its working area. "We know to do retail," according to Schulte-Althoff with a look at a clear assortment profile and the high levels of trust among customers. And now we want to prove this in online retail as well.

Together with 33 Raiffeisen agricultural cooperative societies, AGRAVIS therefore founded Raiffeisen Webshop GmbH & Co. KG. All participants profit from the bundling of efforts, according to Schulte-Althoff. As examples, he cited the cost advantages resulting from lean structures as well as advertising and marketing campaigns from a single source.

The online shop has started with an initial range of 5,000 articles from the portfolio of physical Raiffeisen stores. This includes products from the areas of gardening, home, and yard, pets, riding, as well as textiles, and shoes.

"When designing the platform, we chose a clear and tidy structure so that the customer can quickly find their way around without having to look for a long time," explained Christoph Roer-Link, who together with Markus Menne is a director of the operating company. The ranges of goods is constantly be adjusted to the demand and is also being gradually increased in order to fulfil all customer requirements, added Johannes Schulte-Althoff.

The AGRAVIS CFO stressed at the same time that "" did not want to compete with the major online retailers. "We are not a Zalando or an Amazon". Rather, he said, the online shop saw itself as a niche provider that nevertheless wanted to benefit from the considerable revenue potential of Internet shopping. "We are convinced that we can acquire additional customers for the Raiffeisen markets by combining online and bricks-and-mortar trade."

A new warehouse was built in Münster for the logistics of the online shop. From there, the ordered goods are despatched to the customers. The transport is provided by DHL, an external service provider. "The orders should reach the customers after one or two days, stressed director Markus Menne.

The logistics warehouse is located in close proximity to the distribution center of AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG. Almost 1 million order positions are processed there per year.

As a result of the close proximity of the two buildings, considerable synegry effects can be achieved. For example, no extra staff are needed for the logistics of the online shop.

Interview: "Developing new customer potential and enhancing service" - Three questions for Christoph Roer-Link, Director of Raiffeisen Webshop GmbH

What were the reasons for opening an online store?
Christoph Roer-Link
: We as AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG and our cooperative partners found that it was time to add an online sales channel and to link the two together. As a result, new customer potential can be developed and the service enhanced for our existing customers. Our aim is primarily to use e-Commerce to reach people in the towns as well as in rural areas that do not have a Raiffeisen stores. The good reputation of the physical Raiffeisen stores offers a good basis for this. In addition, I am convinced that customers these days expect an established company with physical retail outlets to odder an online channel as well.

Are you not afraid of a cannibalisation effect?
Christoph Roer-Link
: No. Numerous studies and surveys prove that the bricks-and-mortar retail trade and the Internet can complement one another effectively if the purchasing channels can be linked to one another. The keyword here is multi-channel. Our platform,, is also able to bring the companies involved additional revenue which would not otherwise materialize. Particularly the purchasing behaviour of people in regions that are more urban in nature is moving more and more towards online shops.

With 5,000 articles, you are competing against global players such as Amazon, which carries several million articles. Where does your optimism come from?
Christoph Roer-Link
: So initially we cannot and do not want to play in the same league as the big platforms. We are a niche provider with a clear range of products in online and physical stores. Our offer on is somewhat more selective during the start-up phase, but we will gradually expand it, add seasonal goods, in order permanently to be able to fulfil all our customers' wishes online.

Dates, figures and facts:

Range of products: In the start-up phase approx. 5,000 articles from the areas of gardening, home and yard, pets, riding, textiles, and shoes

Operating company: Raiffeisen Webshop GmbH & Co. KG

Shareholders: AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG and 33 Raiffeisen agricultural cooperative societies (as at: 18 September 2014)

Logistics center: Location: Gustav-Stresemann-Weg 12, 48155 Münster, building dimensions: 96 x 70 metres, Useful area: a total of approx. 7,500 square metres (including approx. 3,800 square metres for the online shop), shelf space for 5,000 storage spaces, expandable to 15.000 approx. 1,000 storage spaces for Euro pallets

Construction time: approx. 6 months