The German e-commerce market has seen significant growth in recent years, with a revenue of 90.4 billion euros in 2022, making it the sixth-largest e-commerce market in the world and the second in Europe. With an increasing number of internet users in the country, reaching 78.02 million with a penetration rate of around 93%, businesses have a significant opportunity to reach and engage with a highly-connected audience.
Demographics, Behavioral Profiles, And Habits Of German E-commerce Buyers
So, who are the German e-commerce buyers? It’s essential to look at their demographics, behavioral profiles, and purchasing habits before you launch a product there.
According to a recent study by the Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW), most German e-commerce buyers are aged between 18 and 44, with the highest concentration of 25-34-year-olds. They are also highly educated, with a large proportion having a university degree, with a significant number having completed a tertiary degree. A large portion of them is urban.
In terms of purchasing habits, German e-commerce buyers have a strong preference for secure and convenient payment methods, they value the option of free returns, which is why many e-commerce retailers in Germany offer this as standard. German users are known to be highly engaged, tech-savvy, and loyal to their preferred online shopping platforms. Here are their key habits, supported by industry reports and statistics:
Online shopping frequency
According to a recent survey by the Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland (BEVH), German consumers shop online an average of 17 times per year. This is higher compared to other European countries and highlights the strong adoption of e-commerce in Germany.
Mobile commerce (m-commerce) has been growing rapidly in Germany, with a recent report by the Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW) showing that the majority of e-commerce sales in the country are now made via mobile devices. In 2021, around 60% of all e-commerce sales in Germany were made on mobile devices.
German consumers have high expectations for delivery, with a survey by Statista finding that around 70% of online shoppers in the country expect delivery within two days of their purchase. The same survey found that around 60% of German consumers are willing to pay extra for same-day delivery.
German e-commerce buyers are known to be loyal to their preferred online shopping platforms. A recent survey by EHI Retail Institute found that around 70% of German e-commerce buyers stick to just one or two platforms, with the majority shopping on Amazon.
German e-commerce buyers are known for their thorough product research before making a purchase. A study by the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin found that around 60% of German e-commerce buyers research products online before making a purchase, with over 30% visiting multiple websites to compare prices and product specifications.
What About Preferred Payment Methods?
In Germany, the most common payment methods for e-commerce transactions are debit and credit cards, followed by online payment services such as PayPal, Giropay, and Klarna. Direct debit and bank transfers are also widely used. According to a survey by the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association (BVH), cash on delivery is still popular among German consumers, but its popularity is declining as more people become comfortable with online payment methods. Other payment options such as mobile payments and digital wallets are gaining popularity but are still not widely adopted by German consumers. The German market is also known for its high-security standards and strict regulations. As a result, German consumers have a strong preference for secure payment options.
Return of products is a common practice
In Germany, returns are a common practice in the e-commerce industry, with many consumers purchasing items with the intention of returning them if they don’t meet their expectations. According to a survey conducted by EHI Retail Institute, approximately 50% of German online shoppers returned at least one item in 2019. Additionally, a report from the German Federal Association for E-Commerce and Mail Order (BVH) states that the average return rate for German e-commerce businesses is around 30%. This is higher compared to the average return rate of 20% for brick-and-mortar stores. To accommodate this high rate of returns, many German e-commerce businesses have implemented generous and convenient return policies, including free returns and extended return periods. This is seen as a key factor in maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Do Germans like discounts?
According to a survey by YouGov, around 77% of German e-commerce buyers consider discounts as an important factor when making a purchase decision.
Additionally, a study by ECC Köln found that nearly two-thirds of German consumers are attracted to discounts and promotions offered by e-commerce websites. In terms of the type of discounts preferred by German e-commerce buyers, percentage-based discounts tend to be the most popular, followed by limited-time offers and buy-one-get-one-free promotions. Free shipping is also a highly sought-after discount, with over half of German online shoppers indicating that they are more likely to make a purchase if free shipping is offered.
To communicate discounts effectively to German e-commerce buyers, it’s important to be clear and transparent about the terms and conditions of the offer. This includes the duration of the discount, the products and categories it applies to, and any restrictions or limitations. Additionally, showcasing the savings that customers can make with the discount, such as through the use of savings calculators or price comparisons, can help drive engagement and increase the perceived value of the offer.
Marketing trends and best working channels
The buying habits of German consumers are changing. According to the Statista Global Consumer Outlook, Google Shopping and price comparison sites despite still being the largest channels, have become 10% less popular compared to 2019. In contrast, social media and video websites like YouTube have gained more popularity among German shoppers for pre-purchase research. Previous studies also indicate that Germans heavily rely on user reviews before making an online purchase.
Also, search engines like Google, once favored by 70% of German shoppers, now have the support of only 60%. Meanwhile, social media is on the rise, with a 7% increase in usage for product research. Video websites like YouTube have also gained popularity, up by 4% compared to 2019. While the popularity of price comparison sites has dipped from 33% in 2019 to 28%, research through blogs and podcasts has gone up from 5% to 7%.
According to a survey conducted by the German Trade Association (HDE), online advertising is the most effective marketing channel for German e-commerce companies, followed by email marketing and search engine marketing. In addition, a study by the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications, and New Media (BITKOM) found that 70% of German e-commerce companies use social media to reach customers, and 63% use influencer marketing, some of the most effective marketing channels for German e-commerce businesses include:
Search Engine Optimizatione (SEO)
SEO helps e-commerce companies to rank higher in search engines such as Google, increasing visibility and driving more organic traffic to their website.
Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are widely used in Germany to reach customers and build brand awareness.
German e-commerce companies use email marketing to reach their customers and keep them informed about promotions, new products and services, and other important updates.
Many German e-commerce companies are leveraging the popularity of influencers to promote their products to a wider audience.
Display advertising on websites, such as banner ads and pop-ups, can be an effective way for German e-commerce companies to reach their target audience.
Content marketing involves creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to attract, engage and retain a target audience. German e-commerce companies use blog posts, videos, infographics, and other forms of content to educate their customers and build brand loyalty.
German Market Summary
As you can see the German e-commerce market has been growing significantly, with a revenue of 90.4 billion euros in 2022. German e-commerce buyers are highly educated, tech-savvy, and loyal to their preferred online shopping platforms. They prefer secure payment methods and value the option of free returns. They also shop online an average of 17 times per year, and mobile commerce is growing rapidly, with around 60% of all e-commerce sales in Germany being made on mobile devices. Returns are a common practice, with many consumers purchasing items with the intention of returning them if they don’t meet their expectations. Discounts and promotions are important for German users, with percentage-based discounts being the most popular. To communicate discounts effectively, it is important to be clear and transparent about the terms and conditions of the offer.
Book a Free Consultation for Your Product Launch in the German Market
If you’re planning to launch your product in the German market, our team of experienced marketers can help you achieve success. We offer a free consultation to help you get started. During the consultation, we’ll discuss your product, your goals, and your target audience to develop a customized marketing plan tailored to the German market. Our team has a deep understanding of German culture and consumer behavior, which allows us to create effective strategies that resonate with your target audience.