Germany can be a challenging market for international ecommerce companies. It’s citizens favor German-made products — due in part to domestic companies’ deep cultural understanding of their clientele. Companies looking to enter this market or succeed with cross-border sales need to adapt to german’s local preferences for user experience, delivery and return policies and payment options.
eCommerce success in Germany is worth the effort because the relatively stable economy and slow-but-steady approach to ecommerce adoption provide a foothold for businesses looking to grow their presence in the EU.
Germany at a Glance
- eCommerce market value: €73 billion1
- Mobile commerce market value: €19.7 billion1
- % of population using the internet: 91%1
- % of adults with a smartphone: 71%1
- % of population with bank accounts: 99.1%1
- Population: 83.2 million2
- GDP per capita: US$54,4573
- % of population with credit cards: 53%4
German Ecommerce Trends
Businesses looking to serve the German market need to be mindful of these key factors that set this European powerhouse apart from other countries in the region.
- Germans Are Discerning Shoppers and Aren’t Afraid to Return Goods They Buy Online: 53% of online shoppers in Germany returned at least one item in the past year1, giving it the highest return rate in Europe. Companies need to have easy, hassle-free returns and refund policies to gain Germans’ patronage.
- German eCommerce Is Led by Home Goods and Fashion Purchases: In recent years, homewares, appliances and fashion saw the highest growth percentages in German ecommerce. In fact, Germans spent more on clothes than the French and British1.
- eCommerce Isn’t Just for Germany’s Urban Centers: 60% of ecommerce sales in Germany go to people in communities of under 50,000 people1. Businesses need to avoid the mistake of hyper-focusing on urban areas with their marketing efforts.
Germany eCommerce Data4
- Annual ecommerce revenue: US$74,228 million
- Average ecommerce revenue per user: $1,093.76
- % of ecommerce purchases that are cross-border: 2%
- % of population making online purchases: 73%
- Projected ecommerce growth 8.8% to 2023
Top Merchant Segments4
- Electronics and media: 27%
- Fashion: 25%
- Toys, hobby and DIY: 21%
- Furniture and appliances: 15%
- Food and personal care: 12%
Germany’s Preferred Payment Methods
eWallets such as PayPal have gained significant market share over the years, and open invoicing — a holdover from the country’s strong catalog shopping legacy — is still immensely popular. Open invoices rely on the merchant delivering an invoice with the goods. The consumer either keeps the goods and pays the invoice within the allotted time period, usually 14-to-28 days, or returns the goods and leaves the invoice unpaid.
Finally, because credit card usage is low for ecommerce purchases, ewallet providers need to give Germans the ability to draw funds directly from their bank accounts.
Top Payment Methods in Germany by Percent of Total Online Spending
2019 JP Morgan Global Payment Trends
Which of the Following Payment Methods did You Use in the Past Three Months to Purchase Products or Services?
Consumer Technographics Global Online Benchmark Survey, 2019, Forrester Research, Inc.
eCommerce Will Grow — on Germany’s Terms
The German economy has fared well in recent years, and projections suggest it will keep growing. eCommerce and payments companies that work hard to ensure cultural fit with Germany will likely see the biggest gains in this powerhouse nation.
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