E-commerce growth

Take these tips to make a success of your German webshop by Didi Hoogerwerf

Owning a successful (Dutch) webshop, you’re probably dreaming of expanding. Ambitious as you are, you don’t only want to cross borders but also expand transatlantically or even trans-pacifically. Great ambition, although we would advise to take a beat and reconsider. Start small. Maybe check out Belgium. Or Germany. Our eastern neighbor has great potential when it comes to e-commerce. And not just because the country is about five times the size of the Netherlands and we’re much closer - both geographically and lingually - to Germany than, say, the UK or France.

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Our co-founder and CCO, Bob Rockland, always says: “It costs only one euro more to send something to Germany, so why not take the chance?” And since our Shopify agency has a Berlin-based branch, we have extensive and direct experience with serving the German market and we’re now also a Shopify Plus partner there. In this blog, we’ll give you some useful tips for successfully launching your German Shopify webshop. “Jetzt geht’s los!,” as the Germans would say.

The German consumer

In our experience - and that of our clients that already made it across the border, like Stoov, Rosefield and Jane Lushka - German consumers are open, honest and caring. Additionally, they’re extremely loyal. They may scrutinize your shop and services the first time around but when you prove yourself worthy of their business, they turn into faithful customers who’ll keep coming back for more. We have also noticed that for our clients, the AOV (average order value) of German consumers is often up to 35% higher than of the Dutch consumers. And all that for only one euro more for shipping.

Furthermore, Germans prefer to speak German (so no English and definitely no Dutch) and like to be addressed formally but what really stands out is that German consumers are very concerned with privacy. This means that they like to shop online in guest mode (without an account) and prefer to pay for their items with a wallet, so that their purchases can remain ‘anonymous’. When they order in a Dutch webshop for the first time, they’ll probably prefer post-pay billing services like Klarna. Germans also like to use PayPal or their Amazon cards for online payments and when they go shopping physically, they prefer paying cash.

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AGAP (as German as possible)

Let’s start off with a tip to attract German clients: hire a German marketing agency and make sure that all your advertising is directed towards introducing your webshop to the customers. As we’ve learned, you only have to get German customers over the threshold and the rest will take care of itself. Or almost, at least, since advertising alone won’t get you there.

Of course, you should also have your webshop translated by a professional translator (and don’t just run it through Google Translate), make sure that the copy is clean as a whistle and that your German-speaking customer service is up and running from the get-go. It’s also paramount to make sure that your Terms & Conditions and your shipment and payment conditions are up to code, because Germans will read them and will let you know when something’s off. And that will be the last time you hear from them.

Every decent German website has an Impressum at the bottom, a kind of footer that contains information about the company, like their Chamber of Commerce registration number and who the Geschäftsführer (the owner) is. This is not just to accommodate the Germans, it’s mandatory.

Germans love quality

Don’t forget to register a .de domain name and take the local rules and regulations into account. You’d be wise to also adhere to the unwritten rules here, such as Germans being all about quality and dependability. They love trusted webshops (with an accompanying quality mark, of course) and like to receive their products in sturdy boxes, instead of the soft, recycled cardboard and flabby plastic bags that we use in the Netherlands. “If you also add a little something extra to the orders every now and then, you’ll have fans for life in the Germans,” Bob discloses.

By the way, also take care to find a trustworthy fulfillment partner, such as Alaiko, Shipwire or the Dutch Active Ants, which has also successfully entered the German market. Finding a good shipping partner is just as important. Consider a partner like Sendcloud if you want the stuff you send to actually arrive. Finally, our eastern neighbors are very sensitive to cross and upselling, so invest in excellent recommendation software, such as Limespot or Rebuy.

Let's make it happen

We hope that this blog has given you some insight into the German market, that it has convinced you of the amazing potential of this country and that you’re now dreaming of your very own .de domain-named webshop. If you’ve replied ‘yes’ three times and you’re already successful in the Netherlands, we think you’re ready to try your luck across the border. Are you looking for the ideal Shopify Plus setup for your international webshop? Then you might be interested in this blog about a multi-store setup.

Didi Hoogerwerf
Written by

Didi Hoogerwerf

Didi writes, translates and edit Dutch and English copy for life. In her spare time, she writes short horror stories. She loves dogs but owns a transgender cat.

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