How to sell in the German ecommerce market

Dec 11 2019 | PayPal Editorial Team

Have you considered selling to Germany? 

It’s a big market of smart online shoppers and mature infrastructure, maybe an ideal target for your international marketing. In fact, German shoppers are responsible for 15% of all global cross-border sales1 – and, they love British brands. But how does it differ from the UK?

What should you know before you dip your toe in the German market? Our new, 72-page ebook can help. PayPal has partnered with the ecommerce platform BigCommerce to produce The International Selling Guide: Operational Considerations & Logistical Challenges. It’s designed to answer your international questions and it includes an 8-page, fact-packed chapter specifically on selling to Germany. Here’s just some of the important and useful information included.​

Main characteristics of the German marketplace.

  • 80.69m population 
  • 71.73m active  internet users
  • 89% internet penetration rate
  • 87% of population shops online
There are differences between shoppers from western and eastern Germany, with incomes lower and unemployment higher in eastern Germany. To accommodate this, sellers should offer a variety of delivery, payment and return options.

Cultural differences and buying behaviour.

Compared to the UK, German shoppers have greater concerns over security, privacy and trust. As a result, giving German shoppers reassurance regarding the use of personal data is of vital importance. German consumers are also security-oriented and usually don’t like paying upfront. It’s important to offer a choice of secure and familiar payment methods. If online shoppers can’t find their preferred methods of payment during checkout, 25% will abandon the shopping cart. Popular payment methods include: PayPal, ELV, GiroPay, Sofortüberweisung, RatePay and cash on delivery.

German shoppers will, typically, pay greater attention to legal aspects. In fact, before buying a product online, 82% of Germans will read the terms & conditions of the sale first. If possible, international sellers should aim for a localised website, with a .de domain, to help reassure visitors. A legal statement confirming the owner of the site should be included on websites. Certificates and quality seals are also likely to bring German shoppers closer to your brand.

Logistics, delivery and shipping.

Germany has a well-developed delivery network that includes Deutsche Post (and its DHL subsidiary), myHermes and DPD. Home delivery is preferred by 87% of the population but buyers are becoming increasingly open to alternatives like click-and-collect or delivery lockers. If you are shipping to Germany, you should be aware that the country has one of the most precise customs procedures in the world. That can mean delays if you don’t provide correctly completed forms.

It’s also worth knowing that Germany tends to have a very high returns rate for goods. This ranges from 5-10% for electronics up to 70% for fashion in online sales. You can help minimise this with detailed and accurate product details on your site. Each product listing should thoroughly describe the item, its quality and functionality. You should also use high-definition photos with zoom and rotate functions where possible. This way, the buyer will know exactly what to expect and the chance of them being disappointed and returning a product will be lower.

Get your free copy of The International Selling Guide.

Does that sound useful? As well as the 8-page guide to Germany, the free ebook includes chapters on selling to France, Italy, the US and China. It also covers logistical questions like international shipping and payments and how to think about customer service for new markets. 

The International Selling Guide is full of data points, tips and quotes from experts to help you make the most of the international opportunity.

You can download your free copy of The International Selling Guide by visiting the BigCommerce page, here.
The information in these articles does not constitute financial, business or investment advice of any kind and does not count as a substitute for any professional advice. Always do your own research on top and seek professional advice if you want to ensure that what you do is right for your specific circumstances.

1Source: All data in this article comes from the following: Webinterpret, Ecommerce in Germany: the definitive guide, 

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