Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and, reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 8/29/2019

EU Legislation
In 2015, the European Union launched an ambitious overhaul (the so-called Digital Single Market Strategy) of policy and legislation relevant to the digital economy.  The overall objective was to bring down barriers, regulatory or otherwise, and to unlock online opportunities in Europe.  E-commerce was a priority area, to ensure better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe and to remove key differences between the online and offline worlds.
New pieces of legislation have been adopted to facilitate cross-border portability of online content services, increase transparency of cross-border parcel delivery, and update and harmonize contract rules for online sales of goods and supply of digital content and services.  For more information: Digital Single Market
The Electronic Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) provides rules for online services in the EU.  It requires providers to abide by rules in the country where they are established (country of origin).  Online providers must respect consumer protection rules such as indicating contact details on their website, and clearly identifying advertising and protecting against spam.  The Directive also grants exemptions to liability for intermediaries that transmit illegal content by third parties and for unknowingly hosting content.
 Comprehensive Market Research on e-commerce in the EU is available upon request.
Key Link:  eCommerce
eCommerce in Germany
Germany has one of the largest e-commerce markets in Europe. The number of e-commerce consumers, internet penetration and average spent per year is above the European average. In 2018 total sales are estimated to have reached USD 109.8 billion, wich is a 10% growth compared to 2017. The estimated average spent online per person per year is USD 867. In 2018, Germany had an online population of 72.2 million people who were aged 15 and older.
German clients are rather risk-averse and expect high quality products. By law, consumers have the right to return online purchases within 14 days without explanation, and there is indeed a high product return rate. Websites and online stores are expected to be in German language.
The most popular products purchased online include clothing, electronics, tickets and books. 87% of the German population uses social media with Facebook, Youtube and Instagram being the most popular tools, thereby rending social media a valuable marketing tool.
Popular eCommerce Sites
According to statistics from 2018, the ten largest online retailers in Germany are: Amazon (USD 12,868 million), Otto (USD 3,555 million), Zalando (USD 2,296 million), Mediamarkt (USD 959 million), (USD 918 million), Lidl (USD 823 million), Bonprix (USD 702 million), Cyberport (USD 626 million), Alternate (USD 586 million), Conrad (USD 580 million).
Online Payment
Data from the Ecommerce Foundation shows that Paypal is the most popular method of online payment in Germany (52 percent of Internet users), followed by invoice (26 percent), debit or credit cards (12 percent), direct debiting (6 percent) and cash on delivery (1 percent). Online customers have the right to cancel orders and return goods or services within 14 days, for any reason and with no justification. As a result, Germany is known for its high return rate, particularly in the fashion industry.
Mobile eCommerce
The strong e-commerce market in Germany can be attributed to the considerable proportion of the population who own smartphones (nearly 80 percent). In 2017, retail sales conducted via mobile devices in Germany were worth an estimated USD 24 billion, 35 percent of this coming from retail ecommerce sales, with clothing, books, electronics and tickets being the most commonly purchased items. This growth is likely to continue as retailers improve their mobile websites and provide even more convenient ways of shopping on mobile devices.


Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

More Information

Germany eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce