How to expand your e-shop to Germany?

E-commerce in Germany is one of the largest e-commerce markets in Europe and quite an interesting one. According to data from the year 2020, the turnover of the e-commerce market in Germany was more than 103 billion euros, representing over 12% of the total retail trade turnover in the country.

It is challenging to say the exact number of e-shops operating in Germany because e-commerce is constantly developing and new e-shops are constantly appearing. According to some estimates, currently, there are more than 190,000 e-shops in Germany.

Specifics of the German e-commerce market

As for the German market, there are several specifics that characterize it and are slightly different from other countries:

1. Strong competition: Germany has a well-developed e-commerce market with many different merchants. This means that the competition is quite fierce and marketing specialists must strive to differentiate themselves from others and win over customers.

2. High customer demands: German customers are considered very demanding. They search for quality products and services at reasonable prices. Thus, merchants must offer high-quality products and provide the best possible customer service to meet these demands.

3. Security and protection of personal data: Germany has very strict laws regarding the protection of personal data and the security of online transactions. Merchants must therefore ensure that their websites and payment processes comply with these laws.

4. Marketplaces: Marketplaces, i.e. platforms on which sellers can sell their products, are widely used by customers in Germany.

Shopping behavior – what do German customers demand?

As previously stated, German customers demand high-quality products and services for a reasonable price. They are also very price sensitive and like to compare prices from different merchants to get the best deal. At the same time, German customers can bring a higher order value than you are used to from other markets.

In addition, German customers like to make decisions based on reviews and ratings of other customers, so it is important for merchants to get positive reviews on various platforms, ideally on their own e-shop.

German customers also expect fast and convenient delivery, which is why merchants who offer fast delivery and various pick-up options are popular. It often happens that they order more goods and return part of the products. This is related to a relatively high return rate, i.e. the return of goods within the legal period. Depending on the e-shop assortment, it can be between 10 and 50%. Your stronger brand and better product descriptions in the e-shop have an effect on reducing volatility. Expandeco, for example, can help you with customer support and a collection point for returned goods.

Trustmarks are a mark or certificate that is displayed on the e-shop and expresses that the e-shop is trustworthy and meets all the requirements for a safe purchase. Some of the most common trustmarks in Germany are Trusted Shops and TÜV.

Trustmarks should be an important part of your e-commerce journey,
since they are quite important for customers.

Impressum is an information page that contains important information about the e-shop (name and address of the owner, contact details, phone number, email address, company registration number, and other data). The law in Germany requires every website or e-shop with a business activity to have an Impressum. The imprint also helps increase the credibility of the e-shop and helps ensure that it complies with the law.

Payment preferences

German customers prefer various payment methods when shopping in e-shops, including the following options:

1. PayPal payments: PayPal is very popular in Germany and allows customers to pay online without having to share their personal or bank details.

2. Debit and credit cards: Debit and credit cards Visa or Maestro allow customers to pay for their purchases directly from their bank account.

3. Sofort: Sofort is an online payment service that is often used in Germany. It allows customers to pay online through their bank account without having to enter their personal or bank details.

4. Bank transfer: Many customers in Germany still prefer to pay by bank transfer, as they consider this method safe and reliable.

Logistics

Fast package delivery is immensely important for German e-shop customers. They expect their orders to be delivered within 1-2 days of ordering. Some e-shops in Germany already offer the option of immediate delivery or next-day delivery. In addition, many customers in Germany also appreciate the ability to track their orders online and receive up-to-date information on the delivery status.

There are several ways that e-shops can ensure the delivery of packages to customers:

1. Courier services DHL, Deutsche Post, Hermes, UPS

2. Postal and courier services of Deutsche Post

3. Collection of the package in the store

4. Your own transport department

Depending on the size of the e-shop and the scope of its operations, it can use different combinations of these methods of delivering packages to customers.

The largest e-shops and marketplaces in Germany

As for the largest e-shops in Germany, there are local as well as international e-shops operating here. At the same time, some of them are also marketplaces, so even smaller traders can sell their products on them. The largest e-shops in Germany include:

1. Amazon: one of the largest e-shops in the world and very popular in Germany. It offers a wide selection of products including fashion, electronics, books, and food. Amazon is also a marketplace.

2. eBay: a very popular auction e-shop and marketplace that offers different types of products from different sellers.

3. Otto: German e-shop with more than 50 years of history, offering a wide range of products including fashion, home furnishings, and electronics. Otto.de is also a marketplace.

4. Zalando: German e-shop and marketplace focused on fashion, offering a wide range of clothing, footwear, and accessories for men, women, and children.

5. AboutYou: an e-shop that sells fashion products for men, women, and children. It offers a wide range of clothes, shoes, and accessories from different brands.

6. Etsy: online marketplace for handmade and vintage products. It is very popular in Germany because it offers many products, including fashion, jewelry, and home decorations.

Other large e-shops include Kaufland, Lidl, IKEA, Notebooksbilliger, Douglas, MyToys, Netto, and Deichmann. For you, this means that you can be inspired by the largest e-shops and thus gain an advantage over medium and small e-shops in your segment.

Where to advertise?

Advertising products online will always bring you more customers, and conversions. There are quite a few advertising platforms where you can launch online campaigns. For inspiration, we offer you a brief overview of where you can run campaigns in Germany, but you will surely find other places where you can run profitable and successful online campaigns.

Marketplaces: As we already mentioned, marketplaces are very popular in Germany. Even a smaller e-shop can register on the marketplace and start selling. Marketplaces allow customers to order products from different merchants in one place, which is more convenient for customers than visiting individual e-shops. At the same time, Marketplaces allow customers to rate and review products and services, which can help an e-shop quickly gain positive ratings and increase credibility.

Google: For Google campaigns, we recommended starting with Google search campaigns. These are different performance campaigns that will bring you the first orders relatively quickly. You can run Performance Max or Shopping campaigns, where you can also get the benefit of lowered CPC when using the CSS. Germany is a large market and therefore you need to have higher daily budgets or to set the targeting of the campaign more precisely.

Facebook and Instagram: Similar to other countries, these are the most widespread social networks in Germany. Their advantage is, for example, that they offer precise targeting options for advertising campaigns. This can help you better target campaigns to a specific target group and achieve better results.

Microsoft: We would also recommend running campaigns for the Bing search engine. Bing currently has a share of around 5% in Germany, which is around 4 million. users per month. It is possible that gradually Bing’s share among search engines will grow, so it makes sense to automate campaigns now to get ahead of your competition. You can read more about product campaigns for the Bing search engine on our BlueWinston blog.

Price comparison sites

There are several large price comparison sites in Germany that are very popular among customers and are used to compare the prices of various products and services:

1. Idealo: the largest price comparison site in Germany and includes more than 400,000 stores and more than 250 million products. It focuses on a wide range of products, including electronics, fashion, and accessories.

2. Billiger.de: a major price comparison site in Germany that includes more than 50,000 stores and more than 10 million products. It mainly focuses on electronics and appliances.

3. MyPrice: a price comparison site focused on shopping in computer and electronics stores. It includes more than 10,000 stores and more than 300,000 products.

Summary

Among the owners of e-shops in countries around Germany (Poland, France, and the Czech Republic), expansion into Germany is mentioned quite frequently. The German e-commerce market is very demanding, but you can be rewarded with higher order values.

In recent years, German e-commerce has grown significantly, by approximately 10% every year. It is a mature e-commerce market, where there is a lot of competition between e-shops. It can therefore be said that expansion into Germany can be a great opportunity for foreign e-shops to help them fine-tune processes and increase the quality of customer service in their home country.

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About the Author:

Account manager at BlueWinston & CCS Shopping in EU (I'm the guy responsible for the most effective PPC tool to create product text and Smart Shopping campaigns for Google Search)