Trend report

Germany e-commerce trend 2020

Germany is the strongest economy in Europe. It always was surprising that it was not leading in online shopping behaviour. It seems this will change this year as online retail shows a steep increase.

According to Eurostat, in 2019 Germany was in the sixth place of countries when you look at the amount of people who were buying online. ( EU, EU partners as Norway and Switzerland and UK data).

Looking at the first half year of 2020, we see a negative start (decline of online sales) and a booming rise if 85% during the lock down period. But afterwards we also see a decline of this growth, towards summer. Germany is more consistent and less volatile compared to countries like the UK. Is this also going to happen during the second wave?

We have to wait and see if this rise in the first two weeks of October will be an indicator of a new retail landscape and is there to stay. In these two weeks, Covid-19 cases also rose.

Germany is leading in online sales of fashion and accessories. The figures in the first two weeks of this month show an increase especially in this sector. When you look at the largest webshops in Europe we will find second place, just after Germany is certainly an interesting e-commerce market to keep an eye on.

According to research by Insights/ Emarsys, Germans are embracing ecommerce and online shopping. In the first two weeks of October ( 2020) pure ecommerce revenue has risen with 70% compared with the two weeks before and compared to 2019 the rise was more than 200%.



Understanding people

To become successful in Germany, you’ll have to understand the Germans. People like to shop online when they understand the language, e.g. written in the German language and running on a .de domain extension.

​Reasons for shopping online

​Direct delivery to their home, is the mayor reason provide for online shopping. But cheaper process and convenience are running up just behind this main reason. For the more remote or rural  areas people like to shop online, as this means less travelling for shopping more specific items.


Germans are more uncertainty avoiding ( Hofstede) and we see this in the way they shop. They prepare online for shopping in a brick and mortar store, and online they are less likely to buy on a whim while they were just browsing. According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey 71% of the respondents said they always looked for information on the Internet first before buying.


Building trust is in every webshop in every country the first thing to do. To build trust in Germany, language plays an important role. But also reviews from fellow countrymen, trust certifications, like TÜV, e-trusted shops will help building up trust. If you as an outsider, want to start a webshop in Germany, also make sure you are compliant to German law as this might differ from your home country. Providing an Impressum on your website is not the most complex one, but be aware of all the other legalities.



A third of the population wants to see a product before they buy it. This can explain the popularity of paying after receiving the product. Payment methods like Sofort Überweisung ( Bank transfer) and paying afterwards by invoice are still the most popular payment methods.


Webshops offering bank transfer


Offers payment on account of invoice


Webshops offer pre-payment


Germans buy day-to-day products online, although there is a strong brick-and-mortar network for these products in nearly every small town. Germans also like to buy regional to strengthen their local economy. In the meantime, there is a large amount of retailers who do not take online seriously and many of them don’t even have an online ecommerce channel. This might change rapidly now, as there will be more economical reasons for reaching their customers. This also creates a window of opportunity for retailers who can and will compete online with these regional players.


Germany is for certain an interesting country, where retailers can play a part in this shifting landscape. Even if it is expected that in 2021 the growth will be less than in this pandemic year, it certainly will stay above than numbers of 2019.

We see these people feel less affected with the economic outcome of the pandemic. They keep spending more in comparison with the younger age groups. This makes them an interesting group for companies to focus on. Although this group may be less savvy online, compared with GenX, but they certainly are not naïve.