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Online shopping is nearly universal in Germany, according to new research from Mintel. Over nine in ten (92%) German internet users have made an online purchase in the past 12 months. What’s more, almost all demographics have made the shift to buying online, as even 89% of those over age 65-year-old internet users have shopped online in the past year. In Germany, online pureplays dominate as 96% of online shoppers in the country purchase from a retailer without a store network in the past year.

Thomas Slide, Senior Retail Analyst at Mintel, comments:

“Germany has among the highest penetration of the major European nations when it comes to broadband access, ahead of Spain, France, and Italy. As a result, it is clear that online shopping has now reached almost every demographic group. Even retailers targeting older customers have to accept the likelihood that they are increasingly shopping online, meaning that a multichannel approach is essential for almost all retail operations in Germany.”

What do Germans buy online?

 

Nearly two thirds of German consumers (64%) have bought clothing, footwear or accessories online in the past year, making it the most popular product category for online shopping by some distance. In fact, it’s nearly double the size of entertainment (ie books, CDs, DVDs and video games) (36%) and small electronics (33%), the second and third most popular categories.

Even though the market is receiving widespread interest, just 22% of German consumers bought food and drink products online. However, despite continuing to make up a minuscule share of online sales (1.9%), food sales are growing significantly, up 21.2% to €1.1 billion in 2017 from €0.9 billion in 2016.

Free postal returns appear to be the most important factor for German online shoppers, as over half (52%) rate this as ‘extremely important’, more than any other feature. While Germans of all ages seem to appreciate free returns, other factors of the online shopping experience see more of a generational divide. Younger online shoppers are more concerned about flexibility of delivery options, with express delivery being described as ‘extremely important’ by 20% of 16-24-year-olds, significantly more than the national average of 11%.

Younger consumers also value a wide range of collection points more so than their older counterparts, as 23% of 16-24-year-olds rate this as extremely important, compared to only 15% of consumers overall and just 11% of over 65-year-olds. An easy to use mobile website is even more important to young consumers: nearly half of 16-24-year-olds (49%) rate this as extremely important, compared to less than one third (30%) of consumers overall.

Thomas Slide, Senior Retail Analyst at Mintel summarises:

“German e-commerce continues to experience strong growth, but the category is dominated by the pureplayers and is skewed heavily towards particular product categories. While the clothing and electronic sectors are now well-established online, other categories, including food, remain remarkably underdeveloped, providing the potential for growth in the future. While online shopping is nearly universal in Germany, depending on their age, consumers prioritise different aspects of their e-shopping experience.”