Germany has one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the world and enjoys the greatest e-commerce customer potential within Europe, making it the clear continental leader. Try to imagine – you can find more than 40 million digital buyers here (more than 50 percent of the domestic population) and what’s really important – the e-commerce market is still rapidly growing. Ok, so let’s get started! First, a bit of important facts:
- Area: 357,168 km2
- Population: more than 80,000,000
- Currency: EUR (euro)
- Language: German
- Capital: Berlin
- Time zone: CET/CEST
- Internet TLD: .de
The German e-commerce market is rapidly growing. E-Commerce turnover grew by more than 27 percent in the 2011 to 2012 time period and reached 50 billion euro in 2012 (+22%). Germany has 37 million online shoppers and more than 40 million buyers. In 2012 online retail goods represented 6.4% of the German retail market. That makes up more than 60% of the Central European region’s total e-commerce turnover. What’s really interesting – Online shopping in Germany is popular not just among the younger population. According to a BITKOM study:
- Ninety-two percent of surveyed internet users have previously bought online
- Eighty-nine percent of people in the 50 to 64 year old age group shop online, with 79 percent of internet users 65 years of age or older also doing so
People 55 years of age or older are becoming an important target group for the retail industry in general and what’s quite important – they form the group with the highest per capita purchasing power. More information regarding this subject, check out:
Do I need to have an entity located in Germany to sell there?
No. You are able to sell your online products and services in Germany without having a company located in this country.
Germany is a member of European Union, so it’s important to check European Union’s directives (which have to be achieved by all member countries), as well as German national law (especially all kind of consumer rights). Remember to respect all aspects of these laws (e.g. regarding returning products).
The national language in Germany is German. However, you shouldn’t have any problems using English to communicate in Germany – lots of people know at least basics of it. However from my personal experience I can say that Germans don’t like to communicate in English, even if they know this language.
If you want to sell in Germany, you need to be prepared that offering payments (only) through credit cards could be not enough for buyers. That’s a really popular payment method here, but it’s worth your time to invest in implementing few other methods. I would recommend these payment methods for German buyers:
- Debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro)
- Direct debits (SEPA Direct Debits) – for subscription businesses
- PayPal – optional
Hot startups from Germany
Social media in Germany
My final thoughts
Germany is a huge market with an enormous potential, and ever increasing e-commerce industry. It may be hard to find your first customers as a foreign company, however it is definitely extremely worth trying (potential profits are not hard to see). And as always, hit us up in the comments section below or on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and share your thoughts with us!