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Retail ecommerce sales in Germany will rise by nearly $7 billion in 2017 to pass $65 billion, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast of ecommerce activity there. Despite this growth, digital sales will remain a small fraction of total retail sales.
Retail ecommerce sales are expected to once again climb by double digits in 2017, swelling a further 11.3%, but annual increases will slow during the remainder of eMarketer’s forecast period, with sales expected to grow just 5.3% in 2021.
Even as spending slows, retail ecommerce growth will continue to outpace that of total retail sales in Germany, which are expected to increase just 2.3% this year and eke out only a 0.5% gain four years from now. Consequently, ecommerce’s share of total retail sales will reach 10.0% by 2021, up from this year’s anticipated 7.9% share.
Some 49.5 million people in Germany are expected to make at least one digital purchase this year, equivalent to 81.5% of internet users and 68.6% of the population. But the proportion of web users buying products and services digitally is approaching a plateau—most growth in retail ecommerce sales volume will come from existing buyers making more frequent purchases and spending higher sums online, rather than from the addition of new converts to ecommerce.
Germany’s consumers have been more guarded in their embrace of digital buying compared with some other major markets, such as the UK. Many of Germany’s major retailers also took a conservative approach to digital operations, waiting to see whether they needed to rethink their businesses in a country where cash continues to be the preferred means of paying for products and services wherever possible. But in 2017, those debates are largely history, and the digital transformation of Germany’s retail sector is well underway.
“Gradual shifts in digital payment habits are just one aspect of this maturing market,” said Karin von Abrams, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “Retail Ecommerce in Germany: A Major Digital Market Growing in Size and Sophistication.” (Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here. Nonsubscribers can purchase the report here.)
“We’re also seeing an evolution of delivery preferences on the part of consumers, as retailers belatedly get to grips with options such as click and collect,” von Abrams said. “It’s interesting, for example, that digital buyers in Germany are far more likely than those in the UK, France and other key nations in Europe to pick up ecommerce orders from lockers in train stations or other public places. Overall, it’s clear that Germany’s ecommerce landscape will continue to be unique in some respects.”
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