The German eCommerce market is one of the largest in the world, accounting for 25% of European eCommerce volume and €71 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 summarised all you need to know about the German eCommerce market and listed the top marketplaces you should be considering...
Reasons for selling into Germany
Aside from the reasons outlined 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, and for sellers in the UK, US and China, the good news is that German customers already largely purchase from these countries.
As with any market, one of the best ways to get started and test the waters is by setting up shop on a marketplace. With that in mind, we have provided an overview on some of the leading German marketplaces you should consider selling on.
Top German marketplaces to sell on
In our recent article focused on selling in France, we discussed the fact that the french versions of both eBay and Amazon are popular choices amongst French customers and international sellers, and the same applies with Germany. For this reason, you should explore the possibilities of listing on ebay.de and/or amazon.de.
There are, however, a range of other German marketplaces available to you, some of which we’ve outlined below.
With around 2.5 million customers, Hitmeister is one of Germany’s leading marketplaces for new and used products, across a range of different categories including Electronics, Garden & DIY and Fashion & Accessories.
Hitmeister, which has positioned itself as a German counterpart to Amazon, is also a favourable option amongst sellers as it does not charge listing fees. Several other benefits to selling on the Hitmeister marketplace include its’ renowned customer service, which you can benefit from as a seller, as well as the fact it provides you with legal seller protection and gives your customers the option of various payment methods.
Zalando is a fashion eCommerce site, in fact it is the largest online fashion retailer in Germany and is also present in 15 European countries. With over 100 million unique monthly visitors, it is a marketplace that you should be setting your sights on if you’re in the Fashion retail industry.
As a result of its status and extensive customer base, retailers that wish to list on the site are 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. What this means is, while some of the other marketplaces we have listed are made up entirely of external vendors, Zalando also provides its own product ranges.
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 Germany, 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.
Tips for selling in Germany
Translate and localise 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 localised. Do bear in mind that some marketplaces will offer translation services.
In addition, you should ideally provide 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. Don’t let this put you off selling into Germany though, as we would argue that the benefits outweigh this negative, but if you are concerned about international returns, have a read of this article that outlines how you can make your international returns easy and profitable.
Secure payment options
Germans tend to avoid credit cards and many favour options 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 buyer's purchase decisions in Germany.
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 integral. When selling internationally, however, there is the small matter of logistics that needs to be considered, something that is a huge challenge for many cross-border traders.
Fortunately, with a shipping aggregator such as Parcel Station, you will be able to access the best rates for your international delivery, in fact you can send a parcel to Germany in 3-5 days, for as low as £4.