Interview • 17.10.2019

Social networking for neighbors

Nebenan.de is a social media platform where both neighbors and local businesses can network

Blonde woman in blouse with flower patterns in front of dark green door smiling...
Source: nebenan.de

"Mrs. Müller, may I borrow some flour from you?" The online platform nebenan.de has accommodated requests like this one and others among neighbors for some time now. Neighbors can also post in the “for free” section or alert others about neighborhood events. It allows residents of local communities to organize, interact and help each other out. As of late, businesses can also participate.

A conversation with co-founder and CEO Ina Remmers.

Ms. Remmers, nebenan.de is technically a portal that supports neighborhood activities. Why are businesses allowed to now join the network?

Ina Remmers: This progression has been one of our goals right from the start. From our perspective, locally owned businesses are an integral part of a community, which we consider a kind of ecosystem. You have various stakeholders who need each other. On the one hand, there are the actual neighbors, who support and get to know each other, yet you also have social organizations, such as senior citizen social groups, sports clubs or the district office on the other. And since the start of this year, this also includes local businesses, which are essential to build a great infrastructure and make the community a better place to live. It also allows residents to travel short distances to run their errands.

Who can join as of today?

Businesses, stores or service providers – basically, anyone with ties to the local community can join. That's the requirement. As soon as you register online and enter your address, the system verifies the community you are assigned to. Online businesses - no matter how big or small – are not allowed to join our network.

Desktop, tablet and smartphone view of the homepage of nebenan.de....
The platform nebenan.de can be used at the desktop PC, on the tablet and smartphone.
Source: nebenan.de

Who can join as of today?

Businesses, stores or service providers – basically, anyone with ties to the local community can join. That's the requirement. As soon as you register online and enter your address, the system verifies the community you are assigned to. Online businesses - no matter how big or small – are not allowed to join our network.

What are some of the challenges for local businesses today?

The answers vary in this case and depend on who you ask and where you are at. Having said that, retailers generally feel the pressure from online competitors. After all, it is very convenient to shop online and immediately compare the price and quality of products.

Black-and-white thinking is another issue: You have the consumer, who needs something versus the retailer, who wants to sell something. Yet people tend to forget that brick-and-mortar retail is so much more than the sale of goods. It’s also about human interaction and personal experience.

Small retail businesses also run into problems if they want to expand because they need human resources to properly pursue an online marketing strategy.

What do retailers need to survive and thrive in today’s market?

It is the face-to-face communication, consulting service and relationships that customers perceive as advantages. Openness and a service mindset are crucial in this setting. Customers notice this dedication and reward it by coming back.

Man helps woman fix a bike.
Source: nebenan.de

How does nebenan.de help?

The reach is limited to the immediate environment of verified neighbors, which defines the market for the local retailer. This eliminates the level of waste coverage other big-box retailers’ experience.

How can a local business participate on nebenan.de?

Retailers have to register on gewerbe.nebenan.de. They have to specify the name of the business, the business location and a contact – a person behind the business. This is essential to verify the aforementioned proximity. Retailers also select a category where they want to be listed.

Do retailers have to pay a fee?

They get their business listed, neighbors can find and contact them – that’s all free of charge. However, if retailers want to get proactive and post about an event or sales campaign, they must select a package. This doesn’t refer to advertising loop videos, but posts on the digital bulletin board that is also used by the neighbors.

How has the feedback been so far?

Needless to say, it is a small challenge to promote our platform because local businesses are not networking with each other per se and it is difficult to reach them by other means. It simply takes time. That being said, we are very excited that more than 16,000 registered local businesses throughout Germany have joined the platform since the beginning of this year. 

Interview: Katja Laska

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