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Also interesting for the green segment: Merchant in E-commerce – a new skilled occupation for Germany

Merchant in E-commerce is the first merchant profession that occupies itself primarily with digital business models. – Foto: Pixabay

The commercial and buying behaviour of customers is becoming increasingly more digital. According to the Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e.V. (German E-commerce and Mail Order Trade Association), the online sector already recorded an 11.1 percent increase in the first six months of this year compared to the same period of the previous year. Even if it is slightly more reserved, this development towards digitalisation is also evident in the green industry. In 2017, the garden market recorded an E-commerce turnover of around Euro 880 million. The big, pure Internet players as well as the online mail order companies quite clearly account for the largest percentage here. However, also small and medium-sized companies are more frequently successfully offering goods via their own online shops. For example, according to the Industrieverband Garten e.V. (Garden Industry Association), the share of E-commerce turnover for last year lies at 5.2 for the retail trade-relevant garden market.

Whilst the buying behaviour of the customers and the reactions from the ranks of the stores are increasingly changing, the learning contents of the vocational training for merchants has so far remained the same to a large extent. Despite the changes, primarily themes regarding the bricks and mortar trade are covered in the vocational colleges. However, this only satisfies the new demands, contents and working methods that the online trade brings with it and which the staff are faced with to a certain degree. Only the training companies convey important know-how in the digital trade section to the young apprentices. Indeed up until recently pure online and mail order companies were not even allowed to train apprentices as merchants, because until now businesses that maintain personal customer contacts were only eligible. This changed on 1 August 2018, namely since this date there is the first merchant profession, which occupies itself primarily with digital business models: Merchant in E-commerce.

The apprenticeship is a new state-certified, dual skilled profession for the industry, retail trade and trade. It is oriented on the training contents of other merchant professions, however the focus quite clearly lies on the online trade. As such, in addition to pure online businesses, this is above all also interesting for multi-channel dealers from the green segment. Because during the three-year apprenticeship, the aspiring specialised employees learn for instance the creation, administration and optimisation of online shops, among others with a view to usability and search engine optimisation. They develop online marketing and E-commerce strategies, evaluate information on website hits and click rates and assess digital sales channels. Themes such as data protection and customer service via different communication channels are also on the curriculum.

The new vocational profession is already very popular among men and women with a high school or secondary school leaving certificate. Due to the high demand, two specialist classes had to be formed in several big cities from the very beginning. The reason for this is that technically-minded youths, who previously wouldn’t have thought about this career option, are now becoming enthusiastic about a merchant profession. However the vocational profession is also interesting for the businesses: The new learning contents of the vocational schools and the digital knowledge of their apprentices provides them with substantial added value for their everyday routine. Incidentally, all companies that use E-commerce sales channels and which satisfy the demands for the profession can take on trainees. It is also necessary to obtain the approval of the Industrie- und Handelskammer (Chamber of Commerce and Industry).


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