The German eCommerce market is one of the largest in the world, accounting for 25% of European eCommerce volume and €72.6 billion in eCommerce sales.
In other words, it's a country that provides a huge opportunity for global expansion.
But what exactly do you need to know about selling into Germany? And more importantly, which channels should you be selling on?
Below, we've summarized all you need to know about the German eCommerce market and listed the top marketplaces you should be considering.
What are the top German marketplaces to sell on?
While the answer to this will depend entirely on what it is you sell, there are a number of eCommerce sites across the country, many of which we've outlined below.
Formally known as Hitmeister, Real.de is one of the leading sites in Germany, selling everything from electronics, right through to clothing, accessories and DIY products.
Benefits to selling on Real.de include legal seller protection, the ability to offer various payment options and perhaps more importantly, the opportunity to benefit from their world-class customer service.
From a fees point of view, the marketplace also doesn't charge listing fees, just a monthly cost starting at €19.95 per month, as well as a commission rate of 5.9-12.5%, product dependent.
Not only is Zalando the largest online fashion retailer in Germany, it's customer base also spans 15 additional European countries.
In fact, with more than 100 million unique monthly visitors, it is a marketplace that you should be setting your sights on if you're in the retail industry.
That said, as a result of its recognition and reach, retailers wanting to list on the site will be subject to selection criteria, and will have to meet certain standards of product quality, while also being in-line with their current product offering.
Alongside Amazon.de and eBay.de, Zalando is one of the few German marketplaces to also operate as a vendor.
In other words, Zalando offers its own product ranges, something worth being aware of.
OTTO is a leading German fashion and lifestyle marketplace, selling over 2 million products from around 5,000 brands, including itself.
It is the second largest eCommerce company in the country, after Amazon, and while it is mainly present in Germany and France, it does operate in more than 20 countries.
When selling on the OTTO marketplace, sellers are provided with a range of benefits including inexpensive access to a large customer-base, as well as being able to leverage their extensive marketing expertise.
Described as an online shopping mall, Yatego features more than 10,000 online shops from a range of specialists and retailers.
The marketplace sells products across an extensive range of categories, including car accessories, health & beauty, furniture, fashion and sports equipment.
In addition to being able to access a large, active customer base, as a Yatego seller you can benefit from a personal advisor during your first four weeks of selling, legal seller protection and you can even link directly to your own store.
If you are seeing success on the Etsy marketplace, then you should consider DeWanda, as it has a very similar customer profile.
Specifically, DeWanda is a marketplace for handmade products, and is provided in 7 languages, so that you can sell in all of the countries.
This does, however, require you to include product descriptions in all of those languages if you wish to sell to each of these countries.
You should also be aware that while there aren’t monthly fees for selling on the site, there is a 5% transaction fee on sales.
Reasons for selling into Germany
Aside from the stats mentioned above, Germany is also one of the leading European markets for cross-border trade, and their already established delivery infrastructure is another huge benefit to retailers looking to reach the country’s 58 million online shoppers.
The fact that over 50% of these shoppers are already purchasing from international sites, again reiterates the opportunity Germany provides.
Tips for selling into the German eCommerce market
As with any international market, there are certain considerations that need to be made before selling into Germany.
Below, we have outlined some of these considerations, providing best practices to help you maximize your success in the German eCommerce market.
Translate and localize your content
When selling into Germany, it is expected that listings will be provided in the German language.
As a result, you will need to find a good translation provider that can ensure your listings are not only translated, but are also localized. Do bear in mind that some marketplaces will offer their translation services, so this is something worth finding out during your research phase.
In addition to this, you should ideally be providing customer service in the local language.
German customers, like all other online buyers, aren’t afraid to pick up the phone or send an email and speak with the company in which they are purchasing from, and as such, you should be able to provide German speaking support.
Although it probably isn’t viable that you hire a German speaking customer support representative, there are service providers available, such as Intercultural Elements, who will help you set up and manage international customer support.
Expect high return rates
You should be aware that Germany has one of the highest return rates on the continent; as high as 70% for fashion retail and around 5-10% for electronics goods.
In fact, a recent survey has found that every eighth online purchase (12%) in Germany is returned. Most returns in Germany are from consumers aged 14-29 - 18% of all German online orders end up back with the retailer.
German women are also known for returning items at an above average rate of 15%. In comparison, men do not even return every tenth purchase (9%).
Don’t let this put you off selling into Germany though, as we would argue that the benefits often outweigh this negative.
There is, however, lots you can do to try and relax your return rates in Germany.
For instance, detailed product information and multiple customer service options (e.g. live chat) can really help. The more information there is, the better a customer can assess whether or not the product fits their needs.
With clothing or related products, you could utilize 360-degree images, close-ups and videos to convey an item in a much stronger light and therefore reduce the risk of returns.
Choose a marketplace with secure payment options
Germans tend to avoid credit cards and many favor the option to pay through invoice, as well as debit cards, bank transfers, Giropay and PayPal.
When looking for a marketplace, we would recommend that you look at the payment methods they accept and how secure they are as a site, as this is will largely influence consumer purchase decisions in Germany, and therefore your success when selling into this market.
There is no denying that German customers expect their goods to be delivered in a timely manner, and it is for this reason that quick, reliable delivery services are imperative.
This is often easier said than done when selling internationally though, with the small matter of logistics needing to be considered.
While there are plenty of fulfillment services that you can outsource international fulfillment too, it's also worth considering the use of a shipping aggregator, as they will be able to access the cheapest rates for international delivery.
In addition, you may want to seek out ways to bring more efficiency into your order fulfillment process, such as through an automated inventory and order management system, so that you can decrease your time to dispatch and increase customer satisfaction.
Selling in Germany:A lucrative opportunity
So, there we have it.
A list of the top marketplaces to sell on in Germany, along with advice on how to succeed in this market.