Online Shopping Germany

Online Shopping in Germany – What do german consumers want

German customers spend the most on the Internet in Europe, and Germany ranks fifth worldwide in terms of sales in e-commerce. The online channel is worthwhile for companies in Germany more than ever. We took this as an opportunity to take a closer look in today’s blog post on what is particularly important for German consumers when shopping online and how they like to shop online.

A study by the digital association Bitkom [1] came to the conclusion that Germans prefer to shop online rather than in traditional retail. Not surprisingly, German consumers are „European champions“ in online shopping. 11.5% percent [2] The purchasing volume is attributable to e-commerce, with Germany leading the European comparison.In principle, 33% of respondents prefer online shops for their purchases, while only 21% clearly favor inpatient shops. For almost half of consumers, there is no clear preference when choosing the type of purchase. This can be explained above all by the fact that the decision between online or offline is strongly related to the desired product category.

What are the most popular products in German e-commerce?

Some products are particularly suitable for sale over the Internet. Clothing and accessories, shoes, books, electronics, as well as medicines and drugstore articles remain the most popular items for German online shoppers [3] . Saturation tendencies are not in sight, and the sectors are recording consistently positive growth rates.Particularly interesting: compared to other European countries, 36% of Germans have ordered medication via the Internet – more than twice as much as the European average [4] . In addition to these established product categories, cosmetics, DIY, kitchen appliances, building materials as well as food and delicacies are becoming more and more popular with German customers.

Products for online shopping

When, how and where do the Germans go shopping?

While the stationary trade has its wedding between 17h and 18h, e-commerce in Germany is booming from 8pm to 9pm. [5] German consumers are most likely to start their digital shopping spree on online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon (67%) or in online department stores, which offer a range of brands and categories (61%). A good quarter of Germans, on the other hand, click directly into the brand store of their favorite suppliers. [6] When it comes to the purchasing process itself, German consumers decide comparatively quickly – this was found in a Europe-wide study [7] . In the search for clothes and shoes, the Germans have already decided after an hour. Only the Norwegians are faster – the Scandinavians, for example, already have 10 minutes to pick a pair of sneakers. The situation is quite different again in France: on average, the French spend 4 hours picking fashion and shoes. The comparison shows that time is a decisive factor for German consumers.

Smartphones are especially popular as a shopping aid

Mobile devices, especially the smartphone, have become an integral part of e-commerce. This trend is not ignoring German consumers either: in 2017, 69% of German online shoppers said they also use their mobile phones for shopping – a value that has almost doubled since 2013. Among the 18 to 39 year olds, as many as 83% have already made a purchase via their smartphone. [8] So it is not surprising that Germany occupies fourth place worldwide with 48%, when it comes to the share of mobile devices in the entire e-commerce transactions [9] .

But mobile is rapidly gaining importance, not just as a direct shopping channel: the smartphone is particularly popular as a helpful companion in the buying process. Regularly or sometimes, respondents used their mobile phone to get suggestions (93%), gather product information (93%), compare prices (87%), pay or read customerreviews (84%).

Woman shopping online

The Germans are pragmatic and like to make bargains

Persistent cliché when it comes to the buying behavior of Germans: German buyers want to save above all. That this is actually more than just a prejudice is shown by a study by [10] that compared product prices on Amazon among the top 10 e-commerce countries. The result: in Germany, prices are as low as almost anywhere.Only in China could the tested products be purchased cheaper. In the categories of drugstore, personal care and sporting goods, the German offer was even cheaper than in any other country [11] . A representative survey conducted by Bitkom confirms that German consumers are remarkably pragmatic when it comes to purchasing decisions. For German customers, the decisive factor for German customers is the lower price, time savings and greater choice. In order to save even a few euros more, 65% of Germans also look for an online order for discount or coupon codes. [12] Personal contact, on the other hand, as the classic strength of brick-and-mortar retail, is only significant for a third. In fact, the anonymity of online shopping is even a plus for the majority of German customers.

Trust and security are particularly important to German consumers

To claim that only the price for German consumers decides, however, would be too brief. Data protection, privacy and security are further important points in the purchase decision – this is confirmed by a survey of German brand companies, in which security and trust are mentioned as the most important values ​​of German customers [13] .German consumers in particular are even more concerned about new shopping technologies than international peers. A certain amount of German skepticism becomes apparent, for example, with the preferred method of payment : while internationally the credit card payment method No. 1 is on the Internet, German online shoppers still like to use the safer but more uncomfortable option of bill payment. As criteria to judge the seriousness of online shops, German customers name above all the selection of payment options, the shipping and return conditions and online reviews of other customers. Customer ratings become even more important when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy from a particular supplier. Here, the German customers trust 65% on online ratings.Recommendations and opinions of other customers are thus the most important decision-making aid in the purchasing process – even before price comparison pages, personal conversations and the website of the provider.

Local shops are popular with German customers

A small leap of faith is enjoyed by German consumers of domestic online shops. For their online shopping, German consumers clearly prefer webshops from their own country. Only 42% [14] have already ordered in an international shop – thus the Germans are the clear tail in Europe. Concerns about transaction security and insufficient transparency with regard to extra fees or taxes are often mentioned reasons. If German buyers are still hesitant when it comes to cross-border online purchases, however, German shop owners can look forward to a high level of international popularity: compared to other European countries, online shops from Germany are the most popular choice, according to British providers. [15]


German customers shop a lot and like online. Thanks to favorable prices, time savings and a large selection of products, the growth of e-commerce in Germany is therefore unbroken. In order to benefit as a company from the shopping pleasure of German consumers, it is particularly important to provide a secure shopping experience in order to win the trust of customers. A serious appearance, the right means of payment and above all authentic customer reviews are crucial to convince the German customer of their own shop.

[1] Conference-171206-E-Commerce-Weihnachten.pdf