Small retailers trade high-tech for customer service

In November 2011 the new shopping was launched with a lot of fanfare in Veenedaal. Other cities followed.

The new shopping came from the pen of the Hoofbedrijfschap Detailhandel (HBD).

To survive the battle with internet, retailers have to do more with apps, digital loyalty cards and free wifi in the shopping area. But more and more retailers are put off. This is happening in Arnhem, Den Bosch, Waalwijk, Alkmaar and Enschede.

"By focusing so much on new technical developments, we just forget what we are good at: friendly helping the customers, sweeping the sidewalk beautifully. That's what it's about." says Hans van Dijk from Van Dijk fashion store in Waalwijk.

Butcher Dennis van Dun from Waalwijk was sceptical from the start. "I thought: let's see how it develops. I rather concern myself with the old shopping. Kindness, selling good products. Sending customers home with a smile."

HBD's idea was that going to six stores looking for shoes is outdated for 2014. According to the new shopping you should be able to type into your mobile what brand, type, size and colour you are looking for. Moments later you would get an SMS saying that store x has the shoes that you are looking for.

In practice it had very little effect. Retails thought that this would bring in instant money, but the costs outweigh the benefits.