Online Retail In Germany -- Isn't It Time For A Multichannel Approach?


Following on from my European eCommerce overview a couple of months ago, I’m continuing to build a deeper view of how the online retail markets are evolving in the major European markets. 

This month I turn to Germany, the second-largest online retail market in Europe, and one with a number of interesting characteristics. When we compare Germany to other European markets we see that:

·         eBay and are hugely influential. While eBay and Amazon see strong sales in Germany, their influence extends beyond their direct sales as many German web shoppers turn to these sites ahead of search engines to research products. Major retailers such as Conrad are trying to leverage this consumer behavior.

·         Consumer electronics is hotly contested. We looked at in some detail in our recent Website Functionality Benchmark of European Consumer Electronics Retailers, but with consumer electronics  the number one online category in Germany, other specialist retailers such as ComputerUniverse are looking at new ways of influencing online shoppers with rich product information and ratings and reviews.

·         Retailers have at best a fledgling multichannel offering. Although there are some innovative and noteworthy delivery options available to German shoppers (such as DHL’s Packstations), German retailers have yet to really embrace a multichannel approach. There are some seeds being sown, but these feel very much like experiments at the moment.

·         There is a complex payments landscape. We have looked at the subject of alternate payment methods in a recent study, but nowhere is this more of a challenge than in Germany. As debit cards can’t be used online a range of alternate methods (PayPal, ELV, bank transfers, etc.) thrive in Germany, making it a challenge for merchants to decide which methods to offer to shoppers.

We examine these and other key trends in our German Online Retail Overview, 2011 and look at the ways in which successful German retailers are responding to and shaping the market, as well as providing some advice to retailers currently operating in Germany and those thinking of an international expansion. To continue this journey we will be turning the spotlight on France in the coming months.