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E-commerce: new apprenticeship in the modern age

The world of business is becoming more digital. This development has been felt by manufacturers and retailers for quite some time, and it will now be reflected by the job description “e-commerce merchant” at the start of the new vocational training year. This will open up new career prospects for young graduates and encourage companies to embark on new digital ventures.

This is the goal pursued by ISM Heinrich Krämer, a company that manufactures and sells safety footwear, stylish outdoor clothing and work fashion in the B2B sector. Until the mid-1980s, the business was centred around international footwear fashion, but the medium-sized enterprise has been fully focused on its work fashion brand, ALBATROS, and PUMA SAFETY footwear since 2002. “We’ve gained a great deal of experience in working with specialist retailers of occupational safety clothing on a global level”, explains Julia Krämer-Gümüs, the managing director of the third-generation family business with around 80 employees.

The company wants to expand its B2B strategy by the end of the year, opening up direct sales to end customers online. “Everything is in place: We’ve already set up a shop system on our website, and we just have to activate it before it can be accessed by our users”, explains the ISM boss, emphasising that this development does not represent a departure from the on-site B2B business. But in the age of digitalisation, companies have to diversity to stand out from the competition. The shop system will allow ISM to present its entire portfolio of products in one place. “We’ll carefully approach this new sales channel and gain valuable experience in the process”, says Julia Krämer-Gümüs.

ISM has joined the list of companies that are currently developing their own digital strategies. Digitalisation might pose several challenges for businesses, but it also offers a wide range of new and exciting opportunities, as emphasised by the President of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Andreas Rother: “These developments are generating synergies between digital and in-store business, especially in retail, and companies are marking out their own multi-channel strategies, including their own online stores”. The new apprenticeship as an “e-commerce merchant” will also give businesses the opportunity to train the necessary specialists themselves and offer young people really good career prospects in the local area.

All the preparations have been made at ISM in Lippstadt for a young man to start his apprenticeship as an e-commerce merchant on 1 June. Julia Krämer-Gümüs isn’t the only one looking forward to welcoming the new team member; it’s also an exciting prospect for ISM’s marketing manager and senior online manager, Stefan Oberrecht, who has experience of running marketing departments at other companies and managing around 150 online stores: “We can now build and develop ISM’s online business together”. The new apprentice will learn all about shop management, web analytics, the use of various marketing channels, email marketing, content management and lots more. “The e-commerce sector is very dynamic”, states Stefan Oberrecht, “and my biggest passion”.

It wasn’t at all difficult to find a suitable candidate, says Julia Krämer-Gümüs, as commercial professions have always been popular amongst young people. “And the current generation of school leavers grew up with the Internet”, adds the ISM boss, who isn’t worried that the apprenticeship might not attract many applicants in the coming years. “Our apprenticeships are very important to us”, highlights the managing director. ISM also trains wholesale and export merchants, business management specialists, warehouse logistics specialists, warehouse specialists and IT specialists. The company has been achieving double-digit growth every year since 2002. “So, we need very well-trained specialists, especially in the age of digitalisation”, says Julia Krämer-Gümüs.