• Jonas S. Müller

Who in Germany Buys From Foreign Online Shops and Why?


More and more people in Germany purchase not only from physical stores but also from online stores. In 2019, eight out of ten people in Germany had shopped in the previous 12 months, and an impressive seven out of ten people during the last three months. [data from Eurostat] Furthermore, the EU aims to internationalize electronic trade within Europe. For instance, just over a year ago, the EU ended the geo-blocking rules, which unleashes more options for cross-border trade within the EU.


An increasing part of German online shopper shops from abroad

Germans get slowly but steadily used to foreign online shops. Now more of us take advantage of cross-border e-commerce. If it was 26 percent of online shoppers in Germany who purchased from abroad four years ago, last year (2019), it was 37 percent. However, there is a lot of potential left for foreign online shops (see our next articles).

Comparably more Germans buy from online shops located in another EU country than from countries outside of the union. For both categories, the trend is clearly upwards and accelerated in 2018, which shows the internationalization of the German online marketplace for the benefit of all. Well, except for local online shops, who will face more competition from abroad.


Percentage of online shoppers in Germany who purchased from online shops from …

Online shoppers: people who purchased online in the previous 12 months (private use)

Source: Eurostat [isoc_ec_ibuy]





Who buys from foreign online shops and why?


As the relevance of the e-commerce market in Germany increases for foreign firms and gains momentum, we want to present you relevant and interesting statistics about who buys from foreign online shops and why.




1. Reasons why Germans shop online from abroad

According to a survey published by Idealo, German customers buy from online shops abroad for two main reasons: different assortment and lower prices. Earlier availability is not really a reason for Germans to shop online from abroad - only 18 percent stated they buy from abroad because the products are earlier available.

Why Germans shop online from foreign firms

Source: Idealo (2018)


Consequently, foreign online shops can follow three main strategies


1. Cost advantages

They can pursue the strategy of cost advantages (or better: cost leadership) in your specific market environment and thereby be able to offer lower prices than the German competitors.


2. Product differentiation

The other generic business strategy by Porter is to differentiate. This differentiation could be done by offering different products, in function, quality, or design and thereby having a different product offering then German competitors.


3. Broader product assortment in a specific category

The last option at differentiation through the product assortment could be done by providing a very broad product spectrum in one specific product category and thereby having a wider assortment and more choices for the customer than German competitors.



2. Who buys online from abroad?


Men are more international when it comes to online shopping


Men are more direct and take chances to try new ways of shopping, at least when it comes to buying from foreign entrepreneurs. Women, on the other side, are sceptical about shopping from abroad. Relatively fewer women purchase from foreign online shops.


Percentage of online shoppers who purchased from foreign online shops, by gender

In the age of 16-74

In Germany, 2019

Line: percentage of online shoppers in Germany who purchased from online shops abroad (average)

Online shoppers: people who purchased online in the previous 12 months (private use)

Source: Eurostat [isoc_ec_ibuy]




More Germans younger than 44 purchase from foreign online shops than older compatriots do


The most open-minded age group towards foreign retailers is the one between 25 and 34. For the other age groups under 45, the share of online shoppers who buy from abroad is above average.

The older the people, the less they shop from foreign online shops. However, people older than 45 can still be an important target group, as there are many people at this age (the “babyboomer“ generation). Moreover, people between 45 and 54 people are not reluctant to purchase from foreigners. But the older the target group, the more persuasive and reputable foreign online shops need to be to convince the older people to shop online from abroad.


Percentage of online shoppers who purchased from foreign online shops, by age group

In Germany, 2019

Line: average

Online shoppers: people who purchased online in the previous 12 months (private use)

Source: Eurostat [isoc_ec_ibuy]


Note: number of online shoppers in each age group














In Germany, 2019

Online shoppers: people who purchased online in the previous 12 months (private use)

Sources: Federal Statistical Office and Eurostat [isoc_ec_ibuy]




Well educated online shoppers are more international on the online marketplace


The higher the formal education level, the more open Germans are towards foreign retailers. Forty-four percent of the online shopper with a high educational level shop also from abroad. Whereas only 33 percent of the people with low or no formal education purchase from foreign e-commerce stores.


Percentage of online shoppers who purchased from foreign online shops, by education

In Germany, 2019

Line: average

Online shoppers: people who purchased online in the previous 12 months (private use)

Source: Eurostat [isoc_ec_ibuy]




City dwellers are up to cross-border e-commerce


The more urban the place of living, the more open Germans are to order from foreign online stores. Germans living in cities are more likely to buy from foreigners than the rural population is. Forty-two percent of urban online shoppers use the international online marketplace, while only 32 percent of rural online shoppers do so.


Percentage of online shoppers who bought from foreign online shops, by place of living

In Germany, 2019

Line: average

Online shoppers: people who purchased online in the previous 12 months (private use)

Source: Eurostat [isoc_ec_ibuy]





Younger than 45, well-educated, and urban


Conclusively the profile of people in Germany who buy from online shops from other countries is male, younger than 45, well-educated, and live in cities. Thereby, an interesting target group could be students. By the way, every second student that shopped online in the previous 12 months also purchased from foreign online shops.







Sources



© 2020 by Müller & Müller Consulting GbR