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Tips for starting an e-commerce business in Germany

Online commerce currently offers great business potential to B2B and B2C companies.  More and more companies are starting e-commerce businesses to find new opportunities in the UK and abroad. Germany is undoubtedly one of the most attractive European markets, and its location in the heart of Europe makes it a significant trading partner for the UK.  Germany experienced a surge in e-commerce retail growth in 2020 and continues to offer a wealth of opportunities for local and global e-commerce businesses.

So, what should you know, and what details should you consider before starting an e-commerce business in Germany?

In 2020, 75 % more Germans purchased online than in the previous three months of the previous year. Online revenue in e-commerce in Germany reached an all-time high of 95 billion Euros in 2020 for B2C goods (source: Statista, 2021). About 23% of consumers say they usually buy online from abroad at least once a year. One of the main reasons for this is the desire to have access to various products that are not yet locally available.

E-commerce retail in Germany ranks as one of the top e-commerce markets in Europe, second only to the UK. The online commerce sector is favoured by factors that characterise the German market: Internet access guaranteed to 90% of the population, excellent infrastructures, and a high standard of living all contribute to make Germany a market with a solid digital culture.  Online shopping is a well-established habit among German consumers, with over 80% of German consumers saying they usually buy online.

The thriving German market offers excellent potential for UK businesses and online shops; Below are the first steps towards starting your e-commerce business in Germany.

How to make your e-commerce business well known in Germany

Before setting up your online shop, it is essential to understand which digital strategy to follow in this market. A careful analysis of the path German users take to purchase your products and services is vital to determine the structure of your e-commerce strategy.  The route you decide to take, the resources, and your available budget will help to identify the most suitable way to reach your business goals.
Then, you can focus on building your online shop: one of the most important aspects of communicating with a new audience is doing it in their native language. Using German, in this instance, will build more trust in users. German consumers will then be more comfortable navigating a site in their native language and much more likely to buy.

An SEO study of keywords in the consumer's native language must be conducted to determine the main keywords to use.  These keywords should be inserted in your e-commerce business site to make sure it is easily found among the search results. For this step, it is helpful to check out which keywords local competitors are using to make sure your business stands out from them.

Paid advertising on Google offers a range of available options to meet business objectives such as:

search campaigns based on keywords relating to the products/services or brands for sale;

display campaigns to increase brand awareness;

retargeting campaigns to pursue customers who have visited your website or made purchases in your shop;

brand campaigns based on the name of your e-commerce business (this step will be helpful once the brand is already well known).

As for promotion, social networks play a crucial role in e-commerce: Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn will make the shop well known to a wider audience and open up possibilities for dialogue with consumers. Social media increases company brand awareness by initiating customer interaction and comments and providing valuable feedback.

Social networks work equally well in expanding newsletter readership and increasing sales; they enable companies to follow customers of their online shop, and allow the companies to specifically target shoppers who have abandoned their carts without buying the goods.

When using all these tools, it is essential to communicate in the native language of the audience, if possible, use appropriate idioms and colloquial expressions to show a good command of the language and instil consumer confidence.

Mintense emphasises individual countries' cultural and linguistic aspects and has been helping UK companies and other e-commerce companies enter new markets abroad for over 15 years. Digital channels, multilingual international SEO activities, Google Ads sponsorships, and advertising on popular social media have helped create these possibilities.

If you are thinking of opening an e-commerce business in Germany or increasing sales from your German shop, contact us to find out how we can help you.

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