Germany’s local and alternative payment market

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

Countries Germany

Intro Germany

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

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 debit cards and credit cards, the standard payment method in markets such as the US, in just 14% of online transactions [1]. In the card market, Visa has a 13% share, MasterCard 11%, and American Express 1% [1] but other, local schemes hold a massive 75% share [1].

Germans, famously, have money to spend. The country’s average per capita income is 50,419 $US, over 60% higher than average income in the eurozone [2]. The country’s economy is set to grow at a rate of 2.1% in 2022, rising to 2.7% in 2023 [3].

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 [4]. Even in the face of economic uncertainty, the German labor market remains tight, with unemployment at just 2.9% [5]. 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 121.8 $US billion and has grown at a rate of 15.8% from 2021 to 2022 [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 1,462 $US 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 almost 19 billion $US [1]. The most popular German e-commerce categories are electronics and media (27%), fashion (24%) and toys and hobby items (22%) [1]. 

According to recent studies, over forty percent of Germans now shop online more than once a week [6]. 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” [7].

Doing business in Germany for e-commerce providers

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) [8].

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 [9]. This is despite the average delivery time in Germany being 2.6 days, compared to 3.7 days in Austria [9].

Since 202, more German retailers have moved to a multi-carrier, multi-modal logistics strategy [9]. Despite this, 43% still rely on a single carrier to deliver their e-commerce shipments to consumers [10].

Almost 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 [11].


  1. Original PPRO research

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Quick facts

Germans expect their shopping to arrive fast, with 10% expecting same day delivery. And Germans are fond of Buy now, pay later schemes which means that they are not too worried about returning goods – 32% of clothes are sent back.

A growing number of Germans are using live shopping to make their purchases. According to a survey carried out in 2021, 51% of Germans would buy during a live shopping event compared to the European average of 38%.

The most popular e-commerce site in Germany is Amazon, with almost €14 billion a year annual turnover, more than three times as much as its nearest competitor.

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 $US
  • GDP per capita 50,419 $US

  • 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 96%
  • World 67%
Credit card penetration
  • Germany 54%
  • Western & Central Europe 47%
  • World 19%
Internet penetration
  • Germany 96%
  • Western & Central Europe 92%
  • World 62%
Smartphone penetration
  • Germany 79%
  • Western & Central Europe 81%
  • 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 $US
  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%
  • World 20%
E-commerce completed on a mobile device
  • Germany 41%
  • Western & Central Europe 44%
  • World 53%

E-Commerce Trends

  • E-commerce market size 121.8 bn $US
  • E-commerce spending per capita 1,462 $US
  • 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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