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State of E-Commerce in Germany 2021

Jun 28, 2022

German e-commerce gross sales reached €99.1 billion in 2021, representing a 19% increase over 2020. According to Bitkom, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed Germans to conduct even more online shopping, particularly the younger generation aged between 16 to 29. Having said that, has the country’s state of e-commerce evolved in any ways over the past year or so, especially with the gradual reopening of international borders and resurgence of physical retail? Let's find out below!

Download the infographic for more findings from RetailX's E-Commerce Country Report on Germany (exclusive to Parcel Monitor members). 

Domestic Parcels in Germany Had an Average Transit Time of 1.3 Days in 2021 

Did you know that German consumers are more concerned about the cost of delivery than they are about speed? Based on findings from RetailX’s E-Commerce Country Report 2022, 74% of them expect their items within 3 to 5 days, versus the 15% that expect them in 1 to 2 days. That being said, transit times of German domestic parcels averaged at 1.3 days last year, which is only a bit slower than Belgian deliveries of 1.1 days, but much faster than Dutch deliveries of 1.7 days.

When it comes to last-mile delivery, German consumers show a high preference for home delivery with signature required. According to RetailX, 52% of the population favor this method as it can provide them with certainty and proof of delivery. This is followed by just under a third (32%) who are happy with doorstep delivery without signature. Meanwhile, click-and-collect is less popular among the group, with just 6% opting for it in 2021. In fact, only 25% of the top 500 German online stores offer click-and-collect as a shipping service to their customers.

61.9% of International Shipments to Germany Came from the Netherlands, Austria and Poland

The European cross-border e-commerce market was valued at €12,710 million in 2021, with Germany accounting for around 28.5% of the entire market share, estimated at approximately €3,622 million. Cross-border e-commerce is still popular among German buyers since it enables retailers to extend their revenue and client base instead of focusing primarily on their home market.

The majority of Germany’s imports can be traced back to other European nations, more particularly so from the Netherlands, Austria, and Poland, where 61.9% of last year’s international shipments originatedThe Netherlands and Germany have geographical proximity as well as cultural commonalities, resulting in a close bilateral trade relation between them. Furthermore, thanks to the EU Single Market, delivering a parcel to Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart, or Berlin is as simple as sending a parcel within the Netherlands. Similarly, many Germans prefer to shop online from Austria because it is simple, given the geographical proximity and linguistic similarities. In turn, many Austrian consumers are eager to make a purchase from Germany as well. In addition to the Netherlands and Austria, German customers are increasingly purchasing products online from Poland. This country stood as the third biggest supplier of German imports for the first time in the first quarter of 2021. 

94.5% of Domestic Parcels in Germany Were Successfully Delivered on the First Attempt

Although the pandemic has slowed down retail sales amidst the lockdown measures and the emergence of various waves, Germany has seen a growth in e-commerce, as indicated by better delivery success rates in 2021. According to Statista, Germany’s first attempt success ratio was 93% in December 2020. This percentage, however, increased by 1.58%, reaching 94.5% in 2021. Indeed, the delivery success rate is critical since it contributes to customer retention. A bad delivery experience may negatively affect the relationship between retailers and customers. After just one bad delivery experience, 84% of customers say they will not return to a brand. Therefore, this high delivery success of Germany contributed significantly to its e-commerce growth in 2021.

Perhaps this increased delivery performance in Germany could be linked to the fact that more people were staying home throughout last year. In April 2021, for instance, the German government decided to close down most of public life, including the closure of stores over Easter holidays in response to the rising number of infections. Public gatherings were also prohibited in order to encourage people to stay home. As a result, the country was again poised to approve compulsory remote working just months after people started to return to work. Another reason is that contactless deliveries and collection points have become an increasingly popular and widely used delivery technique for many German consumers. Compared to standard house deliveries, these alternative delivery options provide both carriers and consumers with a more convenient, flexible, and efficient choice. For these reasons, it comes as no surprise that Germany had such a high first-delivery success rate in 2021.

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