Hello Germany: Grab Your Passport and Expand to Germany

28 June, 2018

Home of the Bratwurst, 99 red balloons and the largest economy in Europe, it’s not hard to see why Germany is one of the most appealing retail markets in the world. Germany’s e-commerce sales toppled more than $65bn in 2017 and are continuing to grow at a rate of over 11% annually. Despite industry analysts observing that the market has been slower to adopt digital practices compared to the UK, some ‘49.5 million people in Germany are expected to make at least one digital purchase this year.’ It’s clear the opportunity for UK retailers to export their products is massive.

In this blog we will be uncovering German consumer habits you need to know, the key channels to take note of with a spotlight onto the Otto Opportunity (try saying that fast!).

The German Shopper

Consumers in Germany are some of the most savvy and demanding around, we look at their attitudes and preferences when it comes to payment method, the mobile experience, product expertise and fulfilment.


Recent research from Retail Week discovered that Germany’s online retailers offer on average five different methods of payment to their customers; Paypal, invoice, Direct Debit, credit card and cash on delivery.

And straight away we see a strong divergence in consumer habits from the UK, over 40% of German consumers said their preferred method of payment was invoice. Something any brand or retailer needs to be aware of before they enter the German market.


Mobile shopping is gaining momentum in Germany, where its share equates to around 38% of total sales. Current estimates suggest that 29% of UK consumers using mobile only as their primary device to shop versus only 12% of Germany shoppers. However, this is changing. Retailers looking to export to Germany should concentrate on making sure the mobile experience offers clear product descriptions, information about fulfilment and returns, a good selection of product reviews and simple pricing. Ensuring that you meet the needs of the German shopper.


German shoppers are known for being product detail orientated, they like to be able to research their purchases and expect clear and concise information on anything they are considering buying. These consumers also expect breadth of product. In fact 72% of consumers said a wide product selection is the most important consideration for them in shopping with a retailer. On top of this, they also love a bargain.

This seeming paradox between high quality products at lucrative prices is something retailers need to negotiate to be successful in the German market.


Delivery and returns are big business in Germany. Shoppers in this market are some of the most demanding in the world. They are also notoriously serial returners. German consumers expect fast, convenient and free delivery, they are also high adopters of lockers. 36% of shoppers say free delivery is their most important shipping need. We’re also seeing a rise in same-day delivery.

The message is clear, if you want to appeal to German shoppers ensure you invest in your logistics capabilities and seek localised partners to support your e-commerce growth.

What are the Key Channels in Germany?

When launching a new cross border strategy, an effective solution can be to take advantage of popular marketplaces in that region. Germany has a flourishing marketplace culture. And whilst, Amazon and eBay are the dominant players, there are many other popular options you should consider.


Europe’s largest selection of clothing, shoes and accessories online. Zalando showcase over 1,500 brands for men, women, kids and every fashion occasion imaginable. With almost 24 million active customers and one of the strongest fulfilment propositions in the industry, Zalando are not to be missed.


Otto, Baur and Schwab, which are all part of the Otto Group, are three unique marketplaces that offer a wide range of products that spans a number of verticals including fashion, household, toys, sports and multimedia.

As the largest German online retailer in the fashion and lifestyle sector, Otto report more than 6.5 million active customers. They sell 2.8 million products from over 6,700 brands and roughly 280 marketplace partners are currently offered on otto.de.

  • Otto: Today, as the largest German online retailer in the fashion and lifestyle sector, Otto generates around 90 percent of net sales online.
  • Baur: The online presence of Baur is among the 10 biggest online shops in Germany. Baur mainly focuses on women aged between 40 and 55 and offers a wide range of assortment within fashion, shoes and furniture.
  • Schwab: Schwab has a full-range of brands across the fashion, technology and household verticals, and has been among the top 5 in Germany for many years.

What do I need to know?
The Otto Group has some restrictions to those who can list on its site. Products from fashion and sport, home and beauty, living and multimedia can be listed on the Otto Group. Retailers must have an attractive and diverse product range and German product content is needed. Through a single inventory feed, ChannelAdvisor customers can list their products across Otto.de, Schwab.de and Baur.de.

The opportunity in Germany is rife. If you aren’t currently selling to this fruitful market, it’s time to reconsider your cross-border strategy or if you’re already active in Germany, perhaps consider tapping into some of the marketplaces we mentioned.

If you would like more inspiration or advice about widening your horizon, why not download our eBook on Cross-Border Trade best practices?

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