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What we can learn from the latest German e-commerce numbers

E-commerce was smooth sailing in 2020, with a friendly little nudge provided by the lockdown. Recently, my colleague Radboud wrote about some research by Google that shows how the corona crisis has permanently altered consumer behaviour in Germany. He also shed some light on what that means for growth opportunities in Germany.

Another interesting research paper is provided by BEVH, a German interest group on e-commerce. The most important findings and conclusions from that paper? Read all about it in this blog.

Growth numbers e-commerce Germany in 2020

In 2020, the German e-commerce space saw a rise in turnover of a whopping 92.5 billion Euros. The online sale of physical products rose by 15%. The largest increase at +41% came from the ‘daily essentials’ category, including foodstuffs and medicinal drugs. E-commerce now represents almost 20% of the total retail turnover.

Market places are dominating

For years we’ve seen marketplaces dominate German e-commerce. Almost half (49%) of all German e-commerce takes place on a site or app with a marketplace model. A mere 2.2% of sales is directly from brand or manufacturer to the consumer.

On top of that, in 2020 marketplaces saw the highest rise in turnover. Growth of market places was over 20% higher than the average increase in turnover. In Germany, Amazon is the undisputed market leader. The Seattle-based giant towers over the competition at three times the size of the number two on the list.

The e-commerce tipping point has arrived: online purchases become the norm

According to the research, e-commerce has reached a major tipping point. Three out of four consumers indicate that they will continue or even increase their online purchasing in the future. This means that even after the corona crisis is over and we return to normal life, consumers will to a large degree be spending their money online.

An interesting bit of information is that 25% of consumers consciously choose online shops that strive for sustainability.

2021 e-commerce expectations

The expectation is that 2021 will see an increase of sales of goods through e-commerce of 12.5%. For the first time in history, total e-commerce turnover will cross the magic threshold of 100 billion Euros.

Impressive numbers, but what does this say about e-commerce opportunities in Germany?

These growth numbers indicate great e-commerce opportunities for Dutch brands in Germany. And that is in fact the case. Germany is a giant market and that fact alone makes it a very interesting one.

However, you can’t just copy-paste what you’re doing in The Netherlands. German consumers have different wants and needs, and a different set of expectations. Failing to take that into account will make it a tough market to tackle. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Localisation is the key to success

For one, Germans are much more sensitive to sustainability claims. They’re more critical and focus strongly on certifications and quality labels. Another important factor is that of trust. If you have no brand awareness in Germany it will prove difficult to convince consumers, even if you can compete on price. The Dutch consumer is more easily tempted with deals than the Germans. They look beyond price and conduct more research before making a purchase.

Therefore, localisation of your brand is the key to success. Ensure a good German customer service experience and create a brand experience that fits the German culture and audience. Only then will you win the trust of the German consumer.

Would you like to benefit from the e-commerce opportunities in Germany? Then get a German perspective on your marketing. If you’d like, we can provide you with that perspective. Feel free to reach out to us.