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Jürgen Zahn, owner of the retail expert Konrad Knoblauch GmbH (Knoblauch), is sure of that. “And I am convinced that trade can do so much more than just sell something.” The times of purely demand-oriented shopping are over, consumers are looking for real experiences that anonymous e-commerce will never offer. And yet frequency and long-term customer loyalty remain the two biggest challenges in the brick-and-mortar business.



One possible answer is: Trade gastronomy. By definition, this is nothing more than a continuous gastronomic offer of drinks and ready-to-eat meals that are directly or conceptually related to trading activities. TextilWirtschaft (trade magazine for the fashion industry) writes in its issue 14/2019: “Less goods, more interesting productions, entertainment with goods, surprise and seduction on the floors: An increasing number of fashion houses are following such considerations and see themselves as hosts for their customers. Consequently, they are often faced with the decision for an in-house café or restaurant.”


The full-service café concept developed by Knoblauch makes it easier for retailers to enter the initially foreign industry as a host. With ECHT.ZEIT, Knoblauch launches a strong and authentic partner concept that focuses on offering high-quality coffee, beverages and easy-to-serve snacks.




Thus, the underlying idea and the probably strongest argument of the ECHT.ZEIT brand can be summed up as follows: The retailer saves valuable resources through the predefined overall concept. From the design and furniture concept to the kitchen technology and selection of appliances to plates, cups and cutlery, everything at ECHT.ZEIT is coherently coordinated. Even an exquisite range of lifestyle and living products including presentation furniture has been thought of. The selected coffees and teas are of organic quality, beverages and ready-to-eat meals are of a high culinary convenience level and are easy to handle.

All the retailer needs for the “plug and play” system are a catering licence, trained barista staff and an easily accessible area. Implementation of the concept is possible from as little as eight square metres— the floor plan is individual and can be extended as required. Knoblauch offers the detailed planning, any necessary structural measures as well as delivery and installation exclusively from a single source







“The investment required and the necessary preparation work seem challenging at first,” says ECHT.ZEIT Division Manager Alexander Gehle who, nevertheless, gives a positive outlook: “Even if no on-top sales are generated with the new gastronomy, the frequency on the floor is increased and sales in the actual core business are increased or maintained. Frequency and length of stay are, therefore, the new currency in the brick-and-mortar business. From a business management point of view, the ECHT.ZEIT café concept will pay for itself after two to three years and function as a separate business unit covering its costs.”



According to a study conducted by EHI Retail Institute e.V. in cooperation with GfK, about 60% of the customers use the gastronomic services offered in stores and half of these customers spend an average of 20 minutes longer as a result. The length of stay and the quality of the stay are closely linked. The more pleasant the stay, the longer the guest stays. A welcoming atmosphere, comfortable furniture and a well-balanced menu are a must.


In addition, changing events and seasonal highlights keep customers interested in the long term. Gastronomy is, thus, becoming more and more a key element of the success strategy and is increasingly being implemented more professionally and consistently. So-called sure-fire success concepts such as ECHT.ZEIT are in greater demand than ever. “A culinary offer is easily realised and retailers become hosts,” explains Jürgen Zahn his motivation adding:







The first ECHT.ZEIT café opened its doors in mid-September at Finkenbeiner Mode in Nagold. The new coffeeshop extends over 45 square metres on the building’s ground floor. Here guests are served delicious coffee and tea, refreshing soft drinks and a selection of breakfasts and snacks. The next openings are already scheduled, in Hamburg and other cities.