Compared to the eastern neighbors, the Netherlands is of course only a small country. Germany has more than 81 million inhabitants, the largest economy within the European Union and the fourth strongest economy in the world (after the US, China and Japan). And it is right next to the Netherlands! The big misunderstanding among many entrepreneurs? That you can trade in the same way as in the Netherlands. Online business and marketing in Germany goes way beyond translation.
But first about that translation: there are Germans really sehr sharp up. A webpage with three language errors quickly gets a scornful smile and is clicked away. Therefore, make sure you have one good translation. And there is more, because even though the Dutch market is very similar to the German market, there are major differences. Especially online.
The online channel in Germany: Amazon
Together with the United Kingdom, Germany was one of the first countries to which the American e-commerce giant Amazon expanded. Today, 59 percent of German online sales go through Amazon. That is direct sales and brokering for brands and wholesalers who sell directly to consumers on Amazon. Do you want to do business online in Germany? Then you have to delve into Amazon: as a channel or as a competitor. This is really the very first point of interest for online business in Germany.
Sells German quality
German exports have transcended imports for years. For German beer, for example, you can rely on German quality because of the Reinheitsgebot that was already established in 1516. Germans expect high quality standards for all products and services (including ISO, EN, DIN), research and well-trained people. Whatever you want to offer in Germany, ensure appropriate quality. Not only in your products, but also in your webshop. This must run optimally (fast, safely) regardless of the device (desktop, tablet, mobile) and work logically. Your customer service must be friendly, accurate and still grammatically correct. And your deliveries must be on time and communicated step by step.
Go local and social
Germans don't make jokes, says Opel in a TV commercial. Now Germans love humor just as much as Dutch people, but they are certainly also serious about sustainability: Nachhaltigkeit. A German also considers the ecological, social and ethical aspects. They have the term Mitbestimmung: companies perform better with motivated employees who have a say. The importance of social involvement is also reflected in the added value of having your own local branch in Germany: it reinforces credibility and proves a long-term commitment. Germany is also known as the stock exchange country number 1: for many industries there is the German stock exchange that you cannot ignore worldwide.
Are you going to conquer Germany purely online? Then build trust with a German domain (locally hosted for speed or use Cloudflare), a German mailing address, a German account number, a German telephone number (with a perfect German-speaking employee behind it!) And a German BV: GmbH. The Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung corresponds to the Dutch BV. To create extra confidence, consider German webshop quality marks such as Trusted Shops, TÜV-SÜD Geprüft, Datenschutz-Gütesiegel ips and EHI Geprüfter Online-Shop.
Online marketing in Germany
Where many online entrepreneurs choose to bring in customers via conversion-oriented channels such as SEO, SEA and Google Shopping, online branding in Germany plays a major role. They want to be able to trust your shop. You build your brand with branding via affiliate marketing, content marketing and of course display. That then ensures that your conversion costs go down. And that brings you directly into the water of privacy. Because to successfully apply branding, you also want to use remarketing to get those first visitors back to your website for further conversion. The application of the new European privacy rules still allows this.
Other things to take into account with you online marketing in Germany:
- Not just online. The Netherlands leads the field online. This means that the transition from print to online is still in full swing in Germany. Online marketing is seen as a part of the marketing mix.
- SEO and link building. Like every Dutch link builder who once orientated himself on the German market can confirm: SEO works differently there. There are no start page clones, and Germans are looking for products not only through Google but through Amazon and specialized corporate portals or B2B search engines.
- Social media. A German is careful with his likes and actions. The interaction has been retained. Once you have a German who follows you, he is much more loyal than a Dutchman. For business B2B contact, there is in addition to LinkedIn also Xing: a German community for private and business.
Privacy in Germany
The AVG is called the DSGVO in Germany. This is different in Germany in terms of privacy:
- Minimal age: you must make efforts to guarantee the German age limit of 18 years. If applicable, you must prove that the child has parental consent.
- Person protection officer: Depending on the type of company, someone must be registered in Germany as responsible for compliance and application of the privacy law.
Pay in Germany
Germans would rather pay in cash than by debit card. According to research by the European Central Bank, nowhere else in Europe do so many people have cash in their pocket than in Germany. Around 78 percent of all purchases in Germany are made in cash, according to the EHI Retail Institute. Main reason: retailers had to pay high fees for credit card payments. And that leads to some aversion to electronic payment options. There is also fear of being hacked. A PwC survey reports that 88 percent of Germans fear that the mobile phone will be hacked. So 36 percent do not want to know anything about mobile payments. Now you have a good idea of physical payment in the store. How does that go online? Again according to the EHI Retail Institute:
- Germans prefer to pay on account (30.5 percent);
- (Debit) payment card is second (20.2 percent);
- PayPal was on two and is now third with 17.9 percent;
- Credit card is stable at 12 percent
Paying afterwards is a sign of mutual trust. Below is mainly open invoice understand. These are services such as Klarna and Afterpay where the retailer receives a payment guarantee and the payment moment is moved. PayPal has become so big in Germany because of the early arrival of eBay to Germany, that the parent company was until 2014 from PayPal.
Debt collection in Germany
Of course you also want to know how it is going to pay on time. The RVO reports that late payments of company invoices occur less frequently in Germany compared to companies in Western Europe. The payment terms are even among the shortest in the region. Payment habits in Germany are monitored by credit company Atradius in the Payment Practices Provider.
Collection fees are not reimbursed in Germany, but a collection agency cannot take legal action. Only a lawyer can do that, which is why it is more convenient to call in directly. He can take over the claim, summon the debtor via writing and telephone and then start the proceedings.
According to Landmark Global, home delivery is the favorite of 92 percent of Germans. Picking up the delivery yourself is number two, with 21 percent. Click-and-collect, so order online and then pick it up at the store itself, is at number three with 20 percent.