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: 2021-10-07

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 2020 total sales amounted to USD 83.1 billion, which is a 23% growth compared to 2019. It is expected that the online population in Germany will increase from 62.4 million in 2020 up to 68.4 million in 2025. This will likely lead to an e-commerce penetration of 74% in the German market. As a result of the strict lockdown measures throughout March and April 2020, caused by the global healthcare crisis, many German consumers have increased their online purchases and bought goods like groceries and sanitary items online for the very first time.

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

The most popular products purchased online include clothing, electronics, household appliances and furniture. It is further expected that toys and “Do it Yourself” (DIY) products as well as food and drugstore products will play an increasingly crucial role by 2025. The smartphone penetration in Germany lies at 80% with a social media penetration of 53%. 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 (revenue of $16.2 billion), ($5.4 billion), ($ 2.3 billion), (USD 1.8 billion), and (USD 1.2 billion).

Online Payment

Most German online stores accept PayPal and credit cards as payment methods. Many websites also 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.

Mobile E-Commerce

The strong e-commerce market in Germany can be attributed to the considerable proportion of the population who own smartphones (80%). In 2020, 54% 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.