In Germany, e-commerce is now the “new normal”

E-commerce in Germany is boosting demand for alternative payment methods

Countries Germany

Intro Germany

In Germany, e-commerce is a booming and offers rich prizes to any company that can give German consumers what they want: a good deal.

Germans, famously, have money to spend. The country’s average per capita income is $US 50,419, around 20% higher than average income in the eurozone [1]. The country’s economy is set to grow at a rate of 2.1% in 2022, rising to 2.7% in 2023 [2].

The IMF may revise these rates downwards, under the influence of inflation and other headwinds, but so far forecasting bodies, including the European Commission, aren’t predicting any economic outlook worse than slightly slower growth [3]. Even in the face of economic uncertainty, the German labour market remains tight, with unemployment at just 2.9% [4]. Bad news for employers but good news for businesses hoping for consumer confidence to quickly rebound.

Germany’s e-commerce market

German e-commerce is worth $US 122 billion [1]. Germans buy 20% of all retail purchase online and complete 41% of all purchases on a mobile device [1]. 

The average online shopper spends $US 1,462 with cross-border and German e-commerce merchants every year [1]. 37% of German online shoppers buy from merchants outside Germany [1], spending an annual total of $US 18.7 billion [1]. The most popular German e-commerce categories are Electronics & Media (27%), Fashion (24%) and Toys, Hobby & DIY (22%) [1].

According to recent estimates, the German e-commerce market grew by 15% in 2020 [5]. Older demographics are now shopping online. More than one in three German e-commerce users in 2020 was over 60 years of age [5].

Germans now spend more than 12% of their disposable income online and 75% say they’ll continue to shop online as much, or more than, they do now, even after the pandemic is over [5]. There’s no sign of these changes kicking into reverse now that restrictions are largely over, with Germany’s federal economic development agency describing online shopping as “the new normal” [6].

Payment methods in Germany

The most popular German payment methods are, if you’re used to markets dominated by cards, alternative payment methods. The most popular local payment method in Germany is bank transfer, which Germans use in 34% of all online payments [1]. They use e-wallets in 29% of online payments, a range of local and minor payment methods in a further 19% and cash in just 4% [1].

Germans use credit and debit cards in just 14% of online transactions [1]. In the card market, local schemes dominate with a massive 75%, Visa has only a 13% share, MasterCard 11%, and American Express 1% [1].

Enabling and limiting factors

Germany is ranked number one in the World Bank Logistics Performance Index, which measures the speed and quality of carrier delivery (taking in factors such as the quality of the customs services, the infrastructure and the quality of the postal and carrier services) [7].

In a recent survey, Germans were the second-most satisfied (after the Austrians) with the post-purchase experience — and specifically with delivery — of any consumers in Europe [8]. This is despite the average delivery time in Germany being 2.6 days, compared to 3.7 days in Austria [8].

Since 202, more German retailers have moved to a multi-carrier, multi-modal logistics strategy [8]. Despite this, 43% still rely on a single carrier to deliver their e-commerce shipments to consumers [9].

100% of German adults have a bank account and 54% have a credit card. Internet penetration is 96% and smartphone penetration 79% [1]. In 2017, the country adopted a national broadband plan, the aim of which is to lay a nationwide gigabit fibre network, serving every community, by 2025 [10].


  1. Original PPRO research

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Quick facts

Economists are watching Germany closely as signs that the country is entering a recession are getting stronger. Business confidence has dropped from 85.8 in June to 80.3 in July according to the Ifo Institute.

There are 67 million e-commerce users in Germany, rising to 68 million over the next few years. Of those 67 million, 94% used PayPal to shop on-line over the past year.

More Europeans shop cross border. into Germany than any other country in Europe. Germany has 115 cross border online stores in the Top 500 e-commerce stores

In May 2022, the most popular e-commerce store was the marketplace with 298 m visits in July 2022.

A new law came into force on 28 May 2022 making it easier for individuals to ensure that reviews left on e-commerce websites have been left by real users, and that they are made aware that dynamic pricing is in place on sites that use it.

General Information

  • Population 83.9 m
  • Population 15 + 72.1 m
  • Online Population 80.5 m
  • Area 357,386 km2
  • Currency EUR
  • GDP 4,230.2 bn USD
  • GDP per Capita 50,419 USD

  • Card-based payments
  • Cash-based payments
  • Bank transfer
  • Wallets
  • Other
[{"label":"Card-based payments","value":"14"},{"label":"Cash-based payments","value":"4"},{"label":"Bank transfer","value":"34"},{"label":"Wallets","value":"29"},{"label":"Other","value":"19"}]

Banked population
  • Germany 100%
  • Western & Central Europe 94%
  • World 67%
Credit card penetration
  • Germany 54%
  • Western & Central Europe 46%
  • World 19%
Internet penetration
  • Germany 96%
  • Western & Central Europe 91%
  • World 62%
Smartphone penetration
  • Germany 79%
  • Western & Central Europe 75%
  • World 70%

The E-Commerce Market

Top e-commerce segments

  1. Electronics & Media: 27%
  2. Fashion: 24%
  3. Toys, Hobby & DIY: 22%
  4. Furniture & Appliances: 14%
  5. Food & Personal Care: 13%

Cross-border e-commerce

  1. Cross-border proportion of total e-commerce – 15%
  2. Value of cross-border e-commerce – 18.7 bn USD
  3. Online shoppers who have shopped cross-border – 37%

Top 3 cross-border shopping origin markets

  1. China: 38%
  2. UK: 11%
  3. Austria: 8%
B2C E-commerce Growth 2020->2021
  • Germany 15.8%
E-commerce % of total retail
  • Germany 20%
  • Western & Central Europe 17.6%
  • World 20%
E-commerce completed on a mobile device
  • Germany 41%
  • Western & Central Europe 43%
  • World 53%

E-Commerce Trends

  • E-commerce market size 121.8 bn USD
  • E-Commerce spending per capita 1,462 USD
  • E-commerce spending as % of GDP 3.0%

The Credit Card Split

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Local Schemes
[{"label":"Visa","value":"13"},{"label":"Mastercard","value":"11"},{"label":"American Express","value":"1"},{"label":"Local Schemes","value":"75"}]

The information on our Insights pages has been compiled by us in cooperation with Datamatics and Wright & Brown. The data shown is partially owned by us and partially owned by GlobalData. © 2021 by PPRO Financial Ltd. No data and information can be used for any further publication without the explicit approval of PPRO.


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