E-Commerce in Europe – Growth Market Germany

Cross-Border E-Commerce in Germany


Germany is one of the top e-commerce nations in Europe. Together with France and Great Britain, the Federal Republic of Germany generates about two-thirds of total European e-commerce sales. A good reason to consider the market: What are the most important online shops? Which online shopping platforms do the Germans use and what is the situation with cross-border trading? Here is an overview.

E-Commerce in Germany

While 92 percent of Germans regularly surf the internet, 80 percent of the population over the age of 14 use it for purchasing. Further, five percent of online shoppers are already shopping online every day. Last year, the annual revenue per capita amounted to 1,134 euros. Overall, the German e-shoppers generate a turnover of about 93 billion euros. According to Ecommerce Foundation’s E-Commerce Report Germany, particularly popular product groups are apps, books, fashion and clothing as well as the purchase of tickets for events or travel.

The top three online shops in Germany

By far the most important online shop in Germany is Amazon. The generalist generated retail sales of 8.8 billion euros last year. This is followed by the Otto Group with its shop Otto.de. The Otto Group is a traditional German trading and service group and generated just under three billion euros in 2017 with its retail, financial and service divisions. Main segments of Otto.de are fashion and accessories, home and living as well as household appliances. Zalando.de follows in third place. Founded ten years ago in Germany, the online retailer for fashion and shoes has established itself as a fixture on the European market. Last year, Zalando generated a sales volume of just under 1.3 billion euros after taxes in Germany. Today, Zalando has online shops in 16 European countries.
Otto.de and Zalando.de are open to dealers and, under certain conditions, offer them access to their platforms.

Cross-border rate rises

Almost one quarter of German online shoppers purchase goods across national borders, yet still within the EU. In addition, 18 percent of e-shoppers buy their products from countries outside of Europe. Over all, Germans spend a quarter of their total online purchases cross-border – and the number is rising. The rate of cross-border purchases increased by five percent last year. Experts are forecasting a further growth for the current year as well.

Nearly half of German e-shoppers named favorable prices as the primary reason for buying abroad, followed by the possibility to purchase products that are not available on the domestic market. Only one quarter of online shoppers said they were looking for a specific brand.

Marketplaces for international dealers

International dealers have the opportunity to sell their products in Germany, as well. For dealers who do not want to start immediately with their own German online shop, the integration of their products in one of the marketplaces is an alternative.

The most successful marketplaces in Germany are by far Amazon and eBay. Amazon had 4.8 billion visits in the past year, with about 230 million products sold by 64,000 active merchants (2016). Thus, the e-commerce giant achieved a turnover of nearly 17 billion US dollars.

On eBay, almost twice as many dealers (125,700) offered just under 250 million products in 2016. eBay has a reach of 2.87 billion visits per year, generating net sales of 1.45 billion US dollars in 2017.

Other very successful marketplaces include Alibaba’s B2C platform for international distributors, Aliexpress, and Japan-based Rakuten. Rakuten use just about 7000 dealers in Germany to sell their products. In total, 22 million products are offered. The reach comes up to 35 million visits per year. However, considering the business figures of Amazon and eBay, other platforms cannot yet keep up.


For international traders who want to enter the German market, now is a very good time. The purchasing power of Germans is unabated: e-commerce revenues are rising and the proportion of cross-border purchases is increasing. In addition, with an entry through one of the marketplaces, the risk is manageable. Amazon and eBay offer the greatest chances of success. Service providers such as Hermes International, a division of Hermes Germany, provide companies with a full service support and offer solutions for warehousing, customs matters and transport logistics.

Would you like to know how Hermes International can support your market entry? Or would you like more information about successful marketplaces in Europe? Please continue reading:

Global E-Commerce – Made in Germany

E-commerce in Europe – marketplaces for your success

Sources: European E-Commerce Report 2018, which you can download at https://www.ecommercefoundation.org/free-reports for free, E-Commerce Report Germany, Statista Digital Market Outlook, fleischwirtschaft.de, ionos.de.



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