Ecommerce in Germany

Information about ecommerce in GermanyGermany is Europe’s largest economy and after Russia it’s also Europe’s most populous country. After World War II Germany was divided into two different states: West Germany (officially called the Federal Republic of Germany) and East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). The western part sought established links with other Western European countries, while the communist GDR was more connected with countries like the Soviet Union, Hungary and Poland. As of July 2013 it’s estimated 81.1 million people live in Germany, of which 42% is between 25 and 54 years old.

Population 80.2 million people
– % internet users 85%
Online sales €59.7 billion (2015)
Online stores worth mentioning: Otto, Zalando, Mediamarkt


Ecommerce customers in Germany

Online shoppers in Germany (47 million in 2015) are keen on using invoice, as it is their preferred online payment method. According to a 2013 survey almost six in ten online customers in Germany pay afterwards whenever they ordered something online. But it’s not only invoice that’s popular, 34% of the German customers use credit cards (MasterCard, VISA or American Express). Other often used online payment methods are PayPal, ELV, GiroPay, Sofort Überweisung , RatePay and cash on delivery.

Online payment methods in Germany, according to Payvision.
Online payment methods in Germany, according to Payvision.

Another study, one from BITKOM, suggests that with 63% invoice is the most important payment method in Germany, followed by online payment services such as PayPal (56%), debit (46%), credit card (29%), immediate transfer/Giropay (26%), payment in advance (24%), cash on delivery (9%).

Online fashion is the most popular product category in Germany, followed by consumer media and electronics. Especially in the categories ‘consumer electronics & computers’ and ‘media’ (books, music, movies, video games) German consumers are more keen on shopping online instead of shopping offline. According to a study from BITKOM, 65% of German citizens have shopped online during 2012, up from 53 percent in 2008. The current European average is 45 percent. In Germany, 85% of the people have access to the internet.

Germany is known for its high return percentage. Some reports claim that 50% of all orders gets sent back.

The ecommerce market in Germany

In May 2016, the Ecommerce Foundation shared some interesting statistics about ecommerce in Germany. The market was worth 59.7 billion euros in 2015 and is expected to reach 66.9 billion euros in 2016. And thinks it’s expected to grow 12 percent yearly through 2017, faster than any other Western European country. It’s expected ecommerce revenue will account for 53% of the total gross domestic product in Germany by 2017. The estimated share of online retail in Germany in total retail is 6,6% at the moment.

And according to a study from Deutsche Card Services, the east-west difference in German online retailing has vanished. In terms of purchasing activity nowadays there is virtually no disparity between the western and eastern parts of Germany any more. And data from the Centre for Retail Search shows us that online sales in Germany account for 8% of total retail sales.

Ecommerce growth in Germany

Big online stores in Germany

Ecommerce in Germany seems all about two big players: American retailer Amazon and German-founded Otto. They own almost half of the online market, so it’s pretty clear that it’s quite hard for smaller merchants to make a difference. The 10 largest online retailers in Germany, by turnover in 2015, are: Amazon (€7,790 million), Otto (€2,300mn), Zalando (€1,031mn), (€610mn), Cyberport (€404mn), Bonprix (€484mn), Tchibo (€450mn), Conrad (€433mn), Alternate (€376mn) and Apple (€369mn).

Latest news about Germany

Lidl will also sell food online in Germany

German supermarket Lidl will start selling food online. The discount supermarket chain will start with a local experiment in Berlin this December. With Lidl selling foods and drinks online, its parent company Schwarz Gruppe is really pushing towards ecommerce. Another subsidiary, supermarket Kaufland, has started selling online recently.

Ecommerce in Germany grew to €12.5 billion in third quarter

The online retail industry in Germany has increased by 10.6 percent during the third quarter. It’s now worth 12.5 billion euros. That’s more than expected, because the industry forecast for the full year has already been exceeded. Expectations are ecommerce in Germany will grow 14.7 percent this year, compared to Continue reading

Zalando lets local retailers sell through its platform

Zalando gives small local retailers the opportunity to sell their products through its Fashion Platform. According to the German fashion giant, the future of commerce will be a seamless shopping experience for customers, whether products are available online or in local stores.

Aldi starts e-book service in Germany

After launching its own music streaming service, Aldi will now also launch an e-book service in Germany. The digital platform will offer one million e-books as well as a new Aldi Medion tablet that’s been optimized for reading e-books.

German ecommerce organizations Bevh and BVOH partner up

The German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association (bevh) and German Federal Association of eCommerce (BVOH) have announced a strategic partnership, in order to represent the interests in online trading even more effective.

Read all our articles about ecommerce in Germany.

Last update: September 2016