Increasing digitalization is one of the biggest challenges in the retail sector and therefore also one of the topics that are changing the paper, office supplies and stationery trade. In this interview, Falk Westerholt, Managing Director of Westerholt – Papier * Büro * Bastelmarkt in Münster-Hiltrup, talks about his experiences.
The company was founded by Westerholt’s grandfather in 1931 and was one of the first stationery shops in the city. Falk Westerholt now manages it in the third generation and it has developed into both a local supplier and a trendsetter in the paper, office supplies and stationery trade in the region.
Mr. Westerholt, where do you see challenges with regard to the digitalization of the economy and society that you are currently facing or expect to face in the future?
We are not exposed to these challenges, but rather have been shaping them for years. Not just because our program, in which we say “Please touch,” has become more emotional. We also create solutions for our customers through the diversity of our program and a qualified team and thus help them by answering their questions and requests.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge your business has had to face in the past?
To be honest, we haven’t faced any major challenges so far or at least have not perceived them as such. But if we do run into them, they will be addressed, worked on and resolved in the shortest possible time with my family’s courage, strength and knowledge. After all, my family runs its own businesses in 6 different industries.
You are currently developing a new website. How important is your Internet presence for you and what convinced you to revise it?
A clear and well-structured website is important to me. We don‘t want to be one out of many and go down in the swamp of the digital world. What counts for us is either all or nothing! Therefore, our website is currently being thought out with the help of an IT team we are friends with. We will be launching it in a new look in the near future.
The assortment that a stationery store offers changes and continues to evolve over the years. What products do you feel will continue to be around and be demanded by customers? What products will change?
The classic office supplies will gradually attract less attention because these are “must-have” items! All “nice-to-have” items will be of greater importance for retailers.
To what extent has the business changed since the advent of online trading and how are you reacting to this? You already mentioned your new website – this too is a form of digitalization. Will an online store also be part of this?
The business has hardly changed due to online trading. On the contrary, it will be further strengthened by us in the near future through the challenges of the market. Our new online presence will offer much more than just the core information we presented before on our online site. It will not be the “umpteenth” store in Germany, but rather an appearance with which we will meet and resolve the emotional needs and tight time frames of our customers with our excellent service. I won‘t say more than that at the moment.