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Master Thesis: E-commerce in Transition

Web Science graduate Samuel Weihrauch actually wanted to teach mathematics and economics after his state examination as a teacher. But things turned out differently. Already during his studies he founded his first online trading company together with a good friend.

"Our e-commerce business then developed very well, so we continued pursuing it," explains Samuel Weihrauch, "I quickly realized how much I enjoyed this work, so that I put my teaching career on hold".

He has now been successfully active in e-commerce for seven years and has already helped to build up a second company. When being asked what motivated him to start his Master studies while being an entrepreneur, he answers: "In the beginning I acquired my Internet and sales knowledge autodidactically. But in my opinion it made sense to deepen this know-how and expand it with well-founded knowledge. I did some searches and found that the extra-occupational master programme Web Science at TH Köln was exactly what I was looking for in terms of content and organisation".

For Samuel Weihrauch, studying was the perfect match because it was very interesting with content such as web marketing, IT security and web architecture and further qualified him. Even if it was stressful with the evening and weekend modules, he said he didn't miss a lecture.

His master's thesis which was supervised by Prof. Dr. Jan Karpe and Oguzhan Cansever also dealt with the topic of e-commerce. Here he focused specifically on the Amazon Internet platform, which is an important growth factor for his companies. "The online business is changing. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must react if they do not want to disappear into insignificance", explains Samuel Weihrauch the contents of his work, "Amazon is both a problem and a solution. On the one hand, Amazon is pushing market concentration, which can lead to falling sales for SMEs. On the other hand, the marketplace also offers SMEs access to additional customer groups and international markets for profitable growth".

With his Master's thesis, which received the best grade, Samuel Weihrauch reveals to what extent and in what way small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can benefit from selling on Amazon. He also explains which risks have to be accepted, how companies can limit these risks on the marketplace and use the opportunities to successfully implement a sales channel on Amazon.

One of the contributions in the master thesis is to support SMEs answering the question whether the Amazon sales channel makes sense for the company and - if this is the case - how this channel can be used successfully.

"I am currently implementing a consulting project with my business partners and the co-founders of the two other online companies," says Samuel Weihrauch who is looking forward to his next challenge. "We want to make our knowledge accessible to SMEs and support them in an advisory capacity. "Here, too, I will benefit from my combined studies." A publication of his Master's thesis is also already underway.

When asked how he sets up his own companies in business with Amazon and minimizes risks, Weihrauch clearly answers that other sales channels such as eBay and his own web shop also have to be expanded. His entrepreneurial activities are usually pursued from Germany, his business partners are based in Portugal, the fulfillment is controlled from Austria, while specialists in various countries of the world help to realize the products according to the company's own ideas - this is what a successful e-commerce business looks like today!    

(repost; originally posted on 2018-07-11)

May 2019