Strong eCommerce Adoption Must Drive Marketing Strategies

The German ecommerce market is a strong force, both in Europe and worldwide; accounting for 25% of the European ecommerce turnover, and ranking 5th in the world with online sales volume. Germany also sits among the world leaders in cross-border ecommerce, behind only the US and the UK. Mobile commerce is a significant trend in Germany, with 10% of all online sales being made via a mobile device.

Where brand awareness is the factor, trust schemes can play a major role whilst clear and concise information about the product, returns and customer support is vital. Communications also include localisation of the offer and customer support channels. Germany ranks behind some smaller countries in the number of consumers that speak English.[1]

The proliferation of social media, online communities and mobile communication have generated large amounts of consumer data of interest to marketers. Simultaneously, technologies to collect and analyze the data have improved greatly. The result is insight into the preferences of individual consumers and the ability to implement one-to-one marketing with unprecedented effectiveness. In fact, it can be argued that mobile technology will be central to all the future trends, e.g. Internet of Things, virtual or augmented reality, and wearables. Mobile is already the main focus of innovation and increased ad spending for countless major brands. This is no surprise, bearing in mind how rapidly smartphone penetration is rising globally.[1]


  • Total Population 82.6 million
  • Age Breakdown 42% of the population in Germany are between 25 and 54.
  • Religion Christianity is the dominant religion in Germany, with 34% Protestant and 34% Roman Catholic.
  • Urban Population 74%
  • Internet Penetration 86.8% or 71.1 million
  • Mobile Penetration 139.9%
  • Tablet Penetration 24.9%
  • Smartphone Penetration 62%
  • Online Shoppers 63.9 million 90% of all internet users buy goods or services online
  • Ecommerce Sales EUR 49.7 billion (goods and digital goods)
  • Ecommerce Penetration 77.3%
  • Ecommerce CAGR (2012 – 2013) 39.2%
  • Mobile Commerce Mobile commerce sales in Germany reached over 10% of the total online retail sales in 2013. EUR 4.97 billion
  • Mobile OS Platforms Android is the preferred mobile operating system in Germany, with the lion’s share of the market at 77.8%.

Cross-border Ecommerce Opportunities

  • Germany is the third most active country worldwide both in import and export ecommerce, third to only the US and the UK.
  • Estonia has a developed trade route with Germany; the largest proportion of cross-border ecommerce purchases arrive from Germany. As a result, Eesti Post and Deutsche Post DHL have agreed to develop additional services to facilitate and develop cross-border ecommerce.
  • German online merchants mostly sell, in number of cross-border sales, to France (5.9 million), Austria (5.5 million), Italy (5 million), Spain (3.9 million) and the Nordics (3.5 million).
  • German online shoppers mostly buy cross-border, in number of cross-border sales, from the UK (11.1 million), the US (8.6 million, and China (6.2 million).

Language as a Key Driver

  • The official language of Germany is German, spoken by 95% of the 82.6 million population.
  • German is spoken in neighbouring Austria (7.5 million people) and Switzerland (5.2 million people) Other European countries with a German-speaking majority include Luxembourg (0.48 million) and Liechtenstein (0.03 million).
  • There are German speaking communities in the US (5 million people) and Brazil (1.4 million people).
  • Non-native languages include Turkish, spoken by around 1.8% of the population, and Kurdish, by 0.3%.
  • German is spoken natively by about 100 million people, making it the most widely spoken native language in the European Union.


Demographics show that females are more likely to make purchases via mobile devices in most categories. The gender gap is biggest in the clothing and book sectors with electricals the only sector where this is reversed. 18 to 44 year-olds are also the biggest user group in these sectors but older groups are still showing a strong propensity to use mobile channels.[1]

Social Media

Social media growth has stabilised and even showed a modest fall in 2014. However, with over 40 million user accounts, the social consumer is an important segment in the market. Social media ad revenue is expected to exceed €2.2bn in 2015; a significant proportion of total digital ad spend. There is a strong trend of users engaging with adverts on social media and becoming buyers as a result.[1]

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are the top seven platforms used by marketers, with Facebook leading the pack by a significant margin. Social media advertising is also about personalisation. The better you know your customer, and for that you need to have data and analytics capabilities, the better you can offer personalised marketing and increase conversion.[1]

Major shopping categories

Mobile is of increasing importance with smartphone penetration at over 60% and clothes and electricals being the most popular sectors for the mobile consumer. The German ecommerce market survey in 2010 (market survey of the 1,000 largest online-shops of physical and digital goods) highlighted the following as the top 10 ecommerce brands. [1]

German consumers are most likely to purchase fashion from foreign websites with the UK and US the favourite markets to buy from and at the same time, highlights the appetite for cross-border trading. 46% of online consumers have already purchased from a foreign website.[1]

Major retail holidays

Special promotion days:‘Mother’sDay’ in Germany is on the second Sunday of May, as opposed to the English equivalent in March. ‘Black Friday’ has recently gained prominence, with the first dedicated sale activities taking place in 2014.[1]


  1.  eCommerce Worldwide. Germany Country Guide. "eCommerce in Germany"

82.7 million

Median Age:


Internet Use:

89.7% (20th)

Most Popular Social Network:

Facebook (31M users)