Germany - Country Commercial Guide

Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.

Last published date: 2022-08-04

Germany has one of the largest e-commerce markets in Europe. The number of e-commerce consumers, internet penetration and average amount spent per year is above the European average. In 2021, total sales amounted to USD 127.5 billion, which translates to a 24 percent growth compared to 2020. It is expected that the online population in Germany will increase from 62.4 million in 2020 up to 68.4 million in 2025. E-commerce penetration in 2021 reached 77 percent in the German market. As a result of strict COVID lockdown measures throughout 2020 and 2021, many German consumers have increased their online purchases and bought goods like groceries and sanitary items online for the very first time. Key reasons for consumers to shop online include home delivery (69 percent of online shoppers in Germany agree), 24/7 availability (64 percent), and convenience (60 percent).

German consumers are rather risk-averse and expect high quality products. Websites and online stores are expected to be in German language.

Smartphone penetration in Germany lies at 80 percent, with a social media penetration of 53 percent. The role of social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Instagram continues to be of high importance.

Popular e-Commerce Sites

The most popular online retailers in Germany in 2020 were (net sales of USD 15.8 billion), (USD 5.3 billion), (USD 2.2 billion), (USD 1.7 billion), and (USD 1.2 billion). Combined, those five online retailers share 47 percent of the German E-Commerce market.

Product Categories

The most popular products purchased online include clothing (76 percent of online shoppers), shoes (73 percent), food & drinks (69 percent), consumer electronics (61 percent), books/movies/games (58 percent) and healthcare products (56 percent). It is further expected that toys and “Do it Yourself” (DIY) products will play an increasingly crucial role by 2025. Consumers are most price-sensitive in the clothing and food industries, whereas luxury product sales are most common for smartphones and shoes.

Online Payment

When it comes to payment, the most common methods are purchase on invoice, PayPal, direct debit and credit cards. Many websites accept bank transfers or invoice/buy now, pay later. Online customers have the right to cancel orders and return goods or services within 14 days, for any reason and with no justification. As a result, Germany is known for its high return rate, particularly in the fashion industry, where 32 percent of products purchased were returned in 2021.

Mobile e-Commerce

The strong e-commerce market in Germany can be attributed to the considerable proportion of the population who owns smartphones (81 percent). In 2021, 59 percent of online purchases were made via smartphone. This growth is likely to continue as retailers improve their mobile websites and provide more convenient ways of shopping on mobile devices.