“I really do see the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity. The COVID-19 pandemic has set a lot of digitization processes in motion. We have achieved so much in this area in the last year that we probably wouldn’t have been able to do in 3 years otherwise,” says Julia Ritter confidently. The young entrepreneur is standing in her store, south of Cologne, Germany. Julia does not take for granted the positives that came from lock down. Every day, people usually stroll along the main street past her store window and come inside to look around.

Auf einem goldenen Tisch stehen Deko-Elemente, unter anderem Vasen und Kerzen sowie ein weißes Tablett.
Photo by Marius von Bock

In-store sales are down
Like so many other retailers, the doors at desiary have been closed for weeks. As a result, the designer pieces in Julia's store can only be admired through the store window: Handmade pillows, leather bowls, vases, natural candles – Julia Ritter has a talent for choosing special accessories intended for home decor or gift ideas. She sources her homey, sustainable products from a select range of manufacturers. “In particular, December and January are very high-turnover months for us,” says the qualified interior designer. “The sales from that period, probably the February sales as well, are significantly down. That is a bitter pill to swallow.”

“One tip is to list your bestselling products on Amazon. As a seller, you should not feel overwhelmed and assume that all your products need to be listed online in a short time frame. Instead, pick out the items that work best and create an effective product launch for them.”
Julia Ritter

We also deliver online!
As Julia tells her story, a middle-aged woman strolls past the store. Her glasses are a bit fogged up from wearing a face mask. She stops for a moment, looks at the display in the window, then continues on her way. “We deliver” is written in large letters on the store window. Underneath the display, there is also a link to the online store.

“We’re glad that we launched our online business a few years ago,” explains Julia. It’s a big help nowadays.

Julia Ritter and her team not only sell products through the store website, but also through online retailers like Amazon. “We are now in a very good position that allows us to grow online and make up for the lack of sales.”

Strong online presence
Julia Ritter worked hard and successfully made her way into the world of e-commerce. Two years ago, Julia and her company were awarded a space on the “Female Entrepreneurs of the Future” program, an initiative supported by Amazon and other companies. The training and support gave Julia the final boost she needed. Today, she not only successfully exports to several countries, but also sets trends in international design with her own brand adorist.

Eine Frau in einem blauen Pullover schaut in einen grauen Laptop.
Photo by Marius von Bock

Sharing experiences
Julia has not forgotten about the support she received. Now, she wants to help too. She is giving back by sharing the e-commerce expertise that she has acquired over the years. At the same time, she ensures that her digital infrastructure (which interfaces with companies such as Amazon, Otto, Douglas, Rewe, and more) is accessible to other retailers and manufacturers who want to generate new sales quickly. As a mentor and coach, Julia advises other retailers who want to make the leap from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce.

Of course, this is currently happening via video chat. At the back of her store, Julia opens up her laptop and calls Anastasiya Koshcheeva. Through her brand MOYA Birch Bark, Anastasiya sells furniture and designer items made from birch bark. Julia analyzes the young entrepreneur's current position, supports her in setting up the MOYA Birch Bark Amazon store, and helps to optimize her marketing strategy.

Free crash course in e-commerce
As a coach, the 41-year-old entrepreneur also leads online video courses for small and medium-sized businesses that are looking for digitization support. The Quickstart Online knowledge portal was launched by the German Retail Federation, the pro bono initiative Händler helfen Händlern (“Retailers Helping Retailers”), and Amazon. The portal provides structured information about online marketing.

This course is just one of many free courses available through the portal: Sales channels, processes, customer management, logistics, pricing, internationalization – retailers will find extensive information on all areas of e-commerce. For those who want to take the leap into e-commerce, the crash course provides all the basic knowledge you need. This course is freely available to everyone – anytime, anywhere.

Tip from Julia: “As a shop owner, if you want to start your online business quickly, you should analyze which of your products are doing well in-store.” The bestsellers can then be launched on Amazon, for example. “Do not put pressure on yourself to offer all your products online straight away. Less is more.”