Stad.nl: an Online Platform for Dutch Retailers
Last week at De Dagen 2012 event in Utrecht, I came across a stand of an interesting Dutch e-commerce starter company called “stad.nl” (translation: city.nl). Stad.nl is a Dutch retail platform for online or offline stores in the format of a virtual city.
On stad.nl, visitors can find all kinds of stores: fashion, travel, spiritual, and many more; even culinary shops! Stad.nl might have just been launched 2 months ago, but the two founders, Mabel Magnus and Helene van der Meis, have succeeded to get almost 400 businesses to open their virtual stores on this online platform!
The structure of the virtual city on stad.nl is concentric, meaning it has the shape of a circle with the core businesses located in the centre. Every street on stad.nl is built around a theme so that customers can quickly find the right stores, for example: Modestraat (Fashion Street), Sieradensteeg (Jewelry Alley), Interieurstraat (Interior Street), Vakantiestraat (Holiday Street), Kunststraat (Art Street), Bruiloftgracht (Wedding Canal), Fairtradelaan (Fair-trade Avenue), and many more.
Each store on stad.nl has a virtual clerk which will welcome and assist the visitors. Just like a physical store, the products are displayed on the window and or behind the counter. Retailers can also ask “city architect” to specially design their stores; with additional cost of course. Visitors can also make contact with the owner of the stores. Unfortunately, on stad.nl, visitors cannot purchase the products directly on the site; they must process the purchase through the original webpage of the store.
But why do we need a virtual city when each store can create its own online shop webpage? The answer is simple. Internet is huge; it has not always been easy for online stores, especially the small ones, to be found on internet. Without good campaigns, these stores probably ended up waiting for internet browsers to accidentally type in the keywords which lead to their stores. Stad.nl is basically the platform for every store, especially the small ones, to be easily found by online shoppers.
I think stad.nl will work even better if they add purchasing systems to the site, because it will add an extra shopping experience for the visitors. However, in my opinion, stad.nl is doing a great job; especially because they are also helping small Dutch businesses and starters to expand their businesses. Besides, I guess browsing around stad.nl is more pleasant than walking around the city centre in rain and hard wind (which, by the way, is a very typical Dutch weather!)
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