Value chains in transition


Reconfiguring value chains through digitalisation: An investigation of the German footwear sector

While digitalisation has already fundamentally reformed some sectors of the economy (e.g. the music industry), other sectors are in the middle of a transformation process. New players are emerging, old players are adapting or seemingly being left behind. Due to digitalisation, new networks of relationships are emerging between companies, institutions and consumers. New value chains are even arising.

This project therefore aims to explore the effects and role of digitalisation on the relationships and power structure of value chains. GEREFFI et. al. (2005) serves as a theoretical approach. Both upstream (suppliers, manufacturers) and downstream (trade, specialised trade, consumers) processes are affected.

The clothing and footwear segment is conspicuous in this context. Especially the footwear sector is currently undergoing a digitisation-driven transformation process. Large, highly digitalised companies have been able to gain a competitive advantage in both B2B and B2C. Traditional companies, especially specialist retailers, seem to be mooving into the backround. A core area here is the online trade in shoes. While shoes were not considered an e-commerce product for a long time, online trade in them - not least exacerbated by the Corona pandemic - is currently experiencing a real boom. Between 2014 and 2019, online sales increased by more than 55 percent to 4.4 billion euros (BEVH). According to forecasts, sales will grow to over 4.5 billion euros by 2021 (IFH Cologne). For this reason, the shoe segment serves as the area of research.

Previous publications on this topic:

Herb, Christopher; Neiberger, Cordula (2020): Konsumentenverhalten im Zeitalter der Digitalisierung. Das Beispiel des Schuhhandels. In: Berichte. Geographie und Landeskunde (93), Heft 1-2, S. 11-34.