German Retail Going Digital But Wants More

October 2021

Germany is increasingly exploiting the advantages of online shopping, but the journey is anything but over – that’s one of the conclusions drawn by a poll of 500 retailers and wholesalers by digital industry association bitkom.

In a mark of how much has changed recently, the survey found that 85 percent of retailers currently sell their products partially or wholly online – that compared to only 58 percent in 2019. 98 percent of those asked had a website, and 72 percent have a social media presence.

“The corona pandemic was a wake-up call for most trade companies,” said bitkom president Achim Berg. “It’s now clear that a good online presence is not just nice for retailers to have. It’s a must.”

Delivery options have also changed. 77 percent of those asked now offer customers “click & collect” options, compared with 36 percent before the pandemic. And one third deliver goods to customers homes.

But there is significant desire to take e-commerce even further. No less than 73 percent of respondents say that they are playing catch-up in terms of digitalization. That suggests market opportunities for e-commerce solutions.

“The bitkom poll shows that there is considerable place in the market for e-commerce solutions in Germany,” says Germany Trade & Invest digital retail expert Johannes Fischer. “Foreign IT companies can profit from the German drive toward digitalization in general and digital retail in particular. Companies that can maintain proximity to their customers, for instance, by having a German subsidiary, will be at an advantage in this growing market.”

The German E-Commerce Association bevh has calculated that German e-commerce generated EUR 45.2 billion in the first half of 2021. That represent an increase of 23.2 percent over EUR 36.7 billion in H1 2020.

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