To have a good start in Germany, it is very important that you know the facts about the German market: what is common in the market? What are the peculiarities? What do you need to pay extra attention to?
Cultural differences in Germany
Even though the UK and Germany are not far from each other there are a number of differences you’ll need to keep in mind if you want to sell in Germany.
Germans are known for their formality for example. They use the formal “you” (Sie) when speaking to people, especially when it comes to people in a position of authority or strangers.
Another aspect you should keep in mind is that many German companies and organisations have strong hierarchical structures. As you might know, they are also known for their punctuality.
With all that in mind, let’s have a look at the e-commerce sector and the German online shopper!
So where does Germany stand in the e-commerce market?
Compared to the country’s total retail revenues, Germany has one of the largest e-commerce markets in Europe. 15.1 % of all retail is now online. Only the United Kingdom is still above it. So, selling in Germany clearly has great potential!
Also, the annual average online expenditure per person is quite high in Germany. Over the past 3 years, this has remained about 660 euros.
What is important to German online shoppers?
The following chart shows that 30% of German online shoppers buy something online at least once a month. And 30% buy online at least once a week. Clearly, Germans are frequent online shoppers. The German market is therefore a promising e-commerce sector to open up to.
Very important to German consumers when shopping online is being able to send their parcels back for free. Also, free delivery and being able to pay via an e-Wallet like PayPal is very important to them.
What are the most commonly used payment methods in Germany?
It is worth noting that next to PayPal, Klarna is also quite popular in Germany. The biggest difference when it comes to payment methods is probably that 65% of German online shoppers pay by invoice, whereas in the UK, this is only true for about 10% of online shoppers.
If you sell in Germany, be sure to check out the competition and see what kind of payment methods they offer. You don’t want to lose customers due to a certain payment method not being available.
It is very important to know who your competitors are when deciding to start selling in Germany. Find out why people like to buy from them and what you can do to compete with them. Amazon is by far the most popular online shop in Germany. Otto and Zalando follow in second and third place.
How important is a trustmark for German online shoppers?
According to a survey by Splendid Research GmbH, a product with a trustmark is better than a product without one. Also, trustmarks increase the likelihood of a purchase by 5%.
80% of Germans recognise the Trusted Shops Trustmark, which focuses on e-commerce brands. Having been around since 1999, Trusted Shops awards the Trustmark to online shops after a thorough website audit.
The benefit for customers is that they know the website has been checked and is “safe” to shop on. They can also opt in to a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you are interested in expanding your business to the German market, you'll need a deeper insight into the inner workings of the German e-commerce sector. Get to know the target audience and find out which devices they use to shop online, which products they prefer and what payment methods they use the most.