German lockdown boosts e-commerce purchases +7%, fastest delivery time will become more important than ever

German lockdown boosts e-commerce purchases by 7%

Read this post in German. 

It is evident that the German lockdown has created barriers for consumers to access brick & mortar stores and caused a significant switch in purchase behavior in e-commerce. AfterPay Insights research amongst 1,178 consumers in Germany shows e-commerce purchases have increased by 7% driven by a significant increase in Groceries followed by Health & Health food as well as Take away food with home delivery. The category groceries has undergone a revolution, growing 142% in number of purchases since the corona outbreak.

During the same period online fashion purchases in Germany have decreased 14%, but consumers intend to increase their online fashion purchases in the coming month. In general, 26% of German consumers say they will increase their number of e-commerce purchases in the coming month, with a positive outlook for Beauty and cosmetics and food-related categories.

With this expected increase in purchases also come higher demands of merchants to provide faster delivery, and more flexible returns as well as a clear display of stock information. Data indicates that same day delivery will become even more important to German consumers in the month to come.

Which consumers in Germany have changed their behavior?

In Germany – as also observed in The Netherlands and Norway - younger people display polarized behavior – some have increased their online shopping, while others have decreased e-commerce purchases. At the same time, older people (aged 45+) have continued to make roughly the same number of e-commerce purchases.

The data shows a clear difference between women and men when it comes to the amount of online purchases. Women have increased their number of online purchases, with women aged 18-34 showing the highest increase in numbers of e-commerce purchases. Men have not changed their behavior to the same extent.

Looking at household income, those with a lower income have purchased less, and those with higher income have purchased more than what they did before the corona outbreak. Looking at different life stages, consumers in the pre-family life stage have increased the number of e-commerce purchases, households with kids have decreased the number of online purchases. Middle-aged consumers with no kids and senior consumers have not changed their e-commerce behavior since before the corona outbreak. Lastly, those living in urban areas have either increased or decreased their online purchases in comparison to those living in more rural areas. These consumers displayed more stable online shopping behavior.

Why are German consumers changing their behavior?

The main drivers for Germans to increase their online shopping differ significantly from their fellow Europeans in The Netherlands and Norway. In Germany, the effects of the lockdown are quite evident as the main driver for increasing e-commerce purchases is to avoid meeting other people in physical stores. Other significant motivations to increase e-commerce purchases are related to closing stores, that products in stores are out of stock and that people are being quarantined at home. 

German consumers who have decreased the number of online purchases are mainly driven by a financial worry. They actively try to consume less due to the financial uncertainty or already find themselves in a financial situation that limits their online shopping. A secondary motivation for reducing online purchases is related to the worry of getting contaminated by packages and/or wanting to support local shops. 

How have German consumers’ worries impacted e-commerce?

From a general standpoint, the level of worry among Germans about the personal health and the financial situation in light of corona is about the same as in the other countries measured.

But as mentioned above, a financial reason is the main driver for decreasing their online shopping. German consumers who are purchasing less online do so primarily because they are more worried about their personal financial situation than about society in general. Defining for these consumers is that they not only buy less online but are shopping less in general.

And the group that display the least worry are also the ones that have not changed their overall online shopping behavior since the Corona outbreak.

Which products have German consumers bought more or less since before the corona outbreak?

In Germany, the category that has increased the most compared to before the corona outbreak is Food & Groceries. Compared to findings in The Netherlands and Norway, this increase is strongest in Germany. Health & Health food as well as Take away food for delivery also display significant increases.

Notable in Germany is the increase in Beauty & Cosmetics, while Fashion has decreased. This can be contrasted to findings in The Netherlands and Norway, where Beauty & Cosmetics suffered a larger decrease than Fashion.

And in line with other countries, German consumers have also purchased less Tickets, Travel and Transportation than since before the corona outbreak.

Which products will German consumers buy more or less in the coming month? 

As mentioned earlier, purchases within ‘Food and Groceries’ have seen a significant increase since the corona outbreak in Germany. And according to AfterPay Insights’ consumer projections, this is also the category that will increase the most in the coming month. Almost the same can be said for ‘Health and Health Food products’ with ‘Take away food’ chasing closely behind.

In Germany, consumers are shopping online more for Hardware and building materials and Gardening tools. But consumers’ future projections of purchases within in these categories are pointing towards a decline.

As we saw earlier, Cosmetics & Beauty experienced an increase, and Fashion a decrease, since the corona outbreak. But both of these categories are expected to increase since consumers claim they will increase online purchases in these categories in the month to come. ‘Pet food’ and ‘Media/Entertainments’ are two other categories with a positive outlook for the near future.

And in line with the research results in The Netherlands and Norway, online purchases in Germany within ’Travel and transportation’ and ’Tickets’ have displayed a significant decrease since the Corona outbreak, and consumers intend to continue consuming even less in these categories in the coming month.

Which German consumers will buy more or less the coming month

57% of all German consumers claim they will continue to purchase online to the same extent in the coming month. Around 26% of consumers say they will buy more while 15% say they will buy less. The remaining 2% are unsure about their future purchases. 

Consumers who have decreased their online purchases in the past will buy even less in the coming month. And German consumers that have increased their online purchases since the corona outbreak claim they will increase their purchases even further in the month to come.

A great majority of consumers that up to this point have displayed unchanged purchase behavior; claim that they will not change their e-commerce shopping behavior in the future. Within this group, the group of consumers that claim they will increase their purchases in the coming month is larger than the group that claim they will decrease their purchases.

German consumers prioritize fast delivery in coming month

As might be expected, the most important factor in choosing a webshop is having previous experience of the webshop, and this is true for Germans, Dutch and Norwegians. 

That the webshop has the lowest prices is the second most important aspect among Germans. Security is the third most important aspect and this goes hand in in hand with having used the webshop before.

From a functional perspective, having reliable deliveries, offering a wide range of products and good customer service are also important aspects. But German consumers that intend to increase their online purchases in the coming month place an increased importance on fast, flexible and reliable deliveries, as well as flexible return options and display of in-stock information.

Having the fastest delivery time is almost twice as important among the 26% of German consumers who intend to increase e-commerce purchases in the coming month.

In a normal market, these relatively smaller needs would be considered niche needs that probably only a smaller market segment would value to a higher extent. But in light of the corona outbreak, the demand on merchants are changing fast, so these aspects are really something all merchants need to pay attention to. 

How are these changing demands affecting choice of delivery methods?  

Prior to the corona outbreak, home delivery was used in 85% of all online purchases in Germany. During the last two weeks, the same figure was 87%. When we asked consumers about their choice of delivery method for the upcoming month, 57% of the German consumers claim they will increase the use of home delivery and only 5% said they will use this method less often.

The future use of home delivery is at the expense of both delivery to pack station, delivery to service point and pick up in store.

Furthermore, the trend is that almost 5% of German consumers indicate that they will use the same day delivery more often than today.