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E-Commerce in Germany: Cross-border shares are rising

by Editorial Office

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 during the pandemic

While 94 percent of Germans regularly surf the Internet, 85 percent of users already rely on the World Wide Web for shopping. The continuing pandemic has given e-commerce in Germany a strong boost and has changed consumer behavior: Sales revenues in e-commerce rose to a total of EUR 83.3 billion, a plus of 14.6 percent compared to the previous year. An ascending trend: For 2021, the German industry association Bevh anticipates an online sales volume of more than EUR 100 billion in the area of goods and services.

As of today, four out of ten e-shoppers make purchases online more than once a week. Almost three out of four online shoppers said that they plan to order more or just as much online even after the crisis. According to a Bevh consumer study, in 2019, only every other person expressed this intention. Older consumers are also increasingly making their purchases online: Last year, almost one in three online shoppers was older than 60.

In addition to everyday consumer goods, drugstore products, pet supplies and products from the entertainment category cluster are currently in particularly high demand – as are clothing and shoes.

The top three online stores and marketplaces in Germany

By far the most important online marketplace in Germany is Amazon. In 2020, the e-commerce giant’s sales in Germany rose to just under 25.9 billion euros. This is followed by the Otto Group with its shop Otto.de. The Otto Group is a long-established German retail and services group and, in light of the pandemic, it is also on an enormous growth trajectory: In German e-commerce alone, the retail and services group is expected to generate sales of around 6.9 billion euros in fiscal 2020/21, compared to 5.7 billion euros in the previous period. Main segments of Otto.de are fashion and accessories, home and living as well as household appliances.

Zalando.de follows in third place. Founded thirteen years ago in Germany, the online retailer for fashion and shoes has established itself as a fixture on the European market. In 2019, Zalando generated a sales volume of just under 1.6 billion euros in Germany and revised its forecasts for the 2020 financial year upwards several times during the pandemic. Here, too, management expects a plus of 20 to 22 percent. Today, Zalando has online shops in 16 European countries.

Like Amazon, Otto.de and Zalando.de are open to dealers and, under certain conditions, offer them access to their platforms.

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Rising cross-border shares in Germany

Cross-border trade has experienced continuous growth in recent years. According to a 2019 PwC study, around 70 percent of German online shoppers have already ordered goods from abroad.This trend is expected to continue and intensify during the fundamentally accelerated shift to e-commerce. After all, cross-border e-commerce is not only used to purchase special products that cannot be ordered in the local market. An important purchasing argument for German consumers is also the price factor. In addition, the majority of consumers do not perceive the service offered by foreign delivery to be inferior to that offered by German online stores, and a considerable percentage even perceive it to be better.

Marketplaces in Germany

International retailers can benefit from this trend – if they adapt their websites to German consumers or function as store operators on marketplaces that are popular in Germany. By far the most successful marketplaces in Germany are Amazon and eBay. More than 240,000 active sellers offer around 586 million products on Amazon.de. Worldwide, more than 50 percent of the total trading volume of all Amazon platforms is generated by third-party merchants.

The platform operator eBay may be overshadowed by Amazon, but it is also seen as a beneficiary of the crisis: its German business grew by more than five percent to 970 million euros in 2020. In the first half of 2020 alone, as many new customers were added as in the whole of 2019. Globally, the number of annual active buyers grew by seven percent to a total of 185 million.

For international retailers from the fashion, sports and furniture sectors, however, selling via the marketplaces offered by Otto.de or Zalando.de could also be lucrative alternatives.

Profitable German e-commerce market

Now is a very good time for international traders who want to enter the German market: 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

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