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An Overview of E-Commerce Trends in Germany

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Basic Elements to Consider for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Doing Business in Germany via E-Commerce Channels

Quick facts (2015)

  • Population 82.1 million
    • GDP/capita US $42,181
  • Internet population
    69.9 million Internet users
    • 85.9% of households have access to the internet
  • All online purchases US $93.2 billion (with a growth rate of 10% from 2013 to 2016)
  • Consumer spending (2016)
    • Total online consumer spending: US $1,333.33 per internet user
    • Total online grocery* consumer spending: US $16.57 per internet user (* Total online grocery data only includes food and drinks)
    • Total online grocery purchases: US $1.2 billion (with a growth rate of 23% from 2013 to 2016)
    • Total online packaged food purchases: US $474.4 million (with a growth rate of 9% from 2013 to 2016)

Top devices used for making digital purchases

  • Personal computer purchases: US $75.5 billion
  • Tablet purchases: US $10.7 billion
  • Mobile purchases: US $7 billion
  • Most online grocery sales are made from personal computers or laptops because consumers are more likely to be thinking about groceries while at home and prefer using a bigger screen.
  • The number of mobile internet subscriptions continued to increase at a double-digit rate of 20% from 2012 to 2016.
  • M-commerce is forecast to account for 16% of all internet retail sales by 2021, with a growth rate of 22% from 2017 to 2021. This growth may be due to larger phone screens and improved payment security.

Top Packaged Foods Sold Online (US$ millions)

Processed meat and seafood made up 24% of online packaged food sales.
Edible oils saw the highest growth rate of 25% from 2012 to 2016.

  • Processed Meat and Seafood: 114
  • Dairy: 80.3
  • Processed Fruit and Vegetables: 62.8
  • Confectionery: 60.8
  • Baby Food: 36.3
  • Ice cream and frozen desserts: 30.2
  • Sauces, dressings and condiments: 22.1
  • Ready meals: 20.2
  • Savoury snacks: 14.7
  • Edible oils: 9.9

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German customer behaviour and trends

Although Internet sales in the food and drink category were relatively low in 2016, it was still the best performing category.

German consumers are increasingly going online to purchase beverage products such as coffee pods, tea bags, and coffee beans, as well as specialized food products that are not available in local supermarkets.

German shoppers want:

  • A variety of brands and prices
  • Easy-to-understand return policies
  • Well-functioning and user-friendly mobile platforms
  • Free and fast delivery options
  • Convenient and trustworthy payment options
  • Fast and interactive online customer service

Germany has the highest internet and mobile subscriber base in Western Europe.

Understanding germany’s online marketplace

  • Recently improved fresh food logistics have encouraged German grocery retailers to extend their delivery areas.
  • Rewe and Edeka are the largest store-based grocery retailers in Germany and are also key online grocery players.
  • Rewe has recently launched a grocery shopping app.
  • Online sales in Germany are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 10% from 2016 to 2021. Consumers' growing interest in online shopping is due to increasing trust in methods of payment, and a growing number of mobile shopping apps.
  • Payment methods are often still a deterrent for German consumers shopping from a mobile device due to security reasons.

Germany's top online retailers* US$ millions

Amazon and eBay, with a combined 55.8% market share, are the largest internet retailers that offer grocery products; however, neither one offers fresh food yet.

Amazon is expected to enter the online fresh food grocery category by 2021 with its Amazon Fresh concept.

  • Amazon.com Inc.: 17,987.9
  • eBay Inc.: 6,595.0
  • Tchibo Hlding AG: 387.9
  • Zooplus AG: 289.6
  • Liberty Interactive Corp: 220.5
  • Home Shopping Europe GmbH & Co. KG: 206.5

*Note: Only includes top retailers that sell groceries online.

Data represents total e-commerce sales (that is, food and other products).

Source: Euromonitor International, 2017.

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An Overview of E-Commerce Trends in Germany (PDF Version, 179 KB)

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