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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

After the flop: the Austrian department store is finally closed

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It was originally a failed online retailer directory designed to bring business to local businesses amid the pandemic. Then the page was remodeled into an information platform for traders because of their flop. The Digital State Secretariat, which is now responsible, describes the total costs to the APA at 946,068.54 euros.

The fact that the former Secretary General of the Ministry of Economics, Michael Esterl, put the costs at 1.2 million euros just a few days ago in the ÖVP subcommittee is just as “incomprehensible” as the 1.8 million euros of which the SPÖ speaks, it said when asked from the office of State Secretary Florian Tursky (ÖVP). The platform closes on July 1st. The project has not fulfilled the actual benefit, it is said. The last maintenance costs of almost 2,200 euros per month (26,235.40 euros per year) will save the taxpayer in the future.

Koche: Good intentions, but the costs are too high

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The digital domestic department store should definitely go into operation before Christmas 2020. This should cushion a loss of Christmas business for small trading companies without experience in e-commerce in times of corona lockdowns. It just didn’t work, as the politicians now responsible admit.

“The Austrian department store was a project that had very good intentions, but didn’t really turn out to be effective from a cost-benefit point of view,” said ÖVP Economics and Labor Minister Martin Kocher. Because of the ongoing costs and because “the targeted goals will not be achieved”, the costs for the taxpayer should be stopped.

“The past has shown that a department store is not necessary in Austria,” said State Secretary Tursky. The goal of becoming less dependent on global trading platforms is correct. However, this independence cannot be enforced and must be seen in the European context.

Schramböck: Only the search function is not well designed

Schramböck originally presented the project with Economic Chamber President Harald Mahrer (ÖVP) as a kind of Austrian response to online giants like Amazon. She rejected criticism of the costs, but she herself criticized the “Twitter-Tribunal” because of the much mockery of the platform, where as a customer you often found completely different things than what you were looking for. Only the search function was not well designed, said the ex-politician. The site was programmed by the state data center. “It was important to start the discussion about the necessity of e-commerce for our dealers,” Schramböck tried to argue.

Actually, an online shopping platform should be created – organized by the Economic Chamber (WKÖ) and the ministry. The flopped shop search function was discontinued after two months. The state-run Austria Wirtschaftsservice (aws) then took over the operation of the website as a dealer platform on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, where subsidies were awarded and advice on digitization was to be given. The Chamber of Commerce withdrew from the project.

According to the ministry, existing useful content is now being secured and transferred to other platforms. These come to the so-called company service portal.

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Source: Nachrichten

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