Effects of COVID Vaccine Rollouts on E-Commerce Logistics in Germany

Nov 23, 2021

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In one of our previous articles, we examined the effects of COVID vaccine rollouts on e-commerce logistics in the US – the first Western country to approve any COVID-19 vaccine. Another study also demonstrated how different vaccination rates in different states influenced the respective performance of e-commerce logistics.

So, what about those countries with fierce resistance to the COVID vaccine? Germany, in particular, has one of the highest share of unvaccinated people in all of Europe; only 69.11% of its population has been fully vaccinated as of early November. How has this low vaccination rate affected the e-commerce logistics in Germany?

Let’s find out!

Note: This analysis compares the pre-vaccination period (Q4 2020 & Q1 2021) and post-vaccination period (Q2 2021 & Q3 2021) in Germany. 

E-Commerce Growth in Germany Slowed Down by 5.7%

While e-commerce growth in Germany is not stopping anytime soon, it has slowed down by 5.7% after the COVID vaccine rollouts. The decline can be attributed to the resurgence of physical retail as well as the easing of EU borders, both of which allow shoppers to do their shopping in-person instead. Given that 25.5% of e-commerce in Europe is cross-border, relaxed border measures could indicate a slower e-commerce growth in not just Germany but the rest of the European region as well.

Domestic Transit Times Improved by 16.6%

When it comes to package delivery performance, Germany has been faring relatively well in both periods. Prior to this, the average transit time for domestic parcels stood at 1.6 days. After the COVID vaccine rollouts, transit times had improved even further to 1.36 days. As e-commerce growth slows down after vaccine rollouts, the parcel carriers seem to have no trouble delivering parcels swiftly.

The higher transit time back in Q4 2020 could be due to it being the peak holiday shopping season. Since then, we have seen many German parcel companies devising approaches to address problems associated with last-mile delivery. For instance, Germany’s biggest parcel carrier DHL rolled out an AI-based software called IDEA to optimize pick routing and staff utilization. This could potentially explain the improvement in transit time early this year.

That being said, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has been warning its customers of potential shipment delays. Will this improvement persist in Q4 2021 and beyond given the ongoing supply chain crunch during peak season?

A 19% Rise in the Number of People Opting for Self-Pickup Option 

We have seen a 19% increase in the number of German customers opting for self-pickup at various collection points (CPs). During the pre-vaccination period, this amounted to only 2.99% of the incoming parcels as compared to 3.56% post-vaccination. 

Despite this shift in customer behaviour, the figures are still nowhere close to developed e-commerce markets like the US“Consumers in Germany aren’t as enthusiastic about buying online and picking up in-store as their UK counterparts,” says Cindy Liu, eMarketer Director of forecasting at Insider Intelligence. In fact, a recent survey from Shopify revealed that Germany has one of the lowest penetration rates when it comes to CPs, with just 11% of respondents saying they had used in-store or curbside pickup ever since the onset of COVID-19.

Will the Momentum Continue in Germany?

Even after almost 2 years of living with the virus, things are still very much uncertain.  It’s hard to tell what’s next, especially with the arrival of the fourth COVID wave in Germany this month. Nevertheless, we look forward to seeing how the e-commerce logistics in Germany will continue to evolve beyond these challenging times.

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