Have you ever picked up something in the store, only to put it down and buy it online later?
Perhaps you’d rather spend your time researching online before making an educated purchase at a physical location?
There is no doubt that the way we shop has been changing for some time, but events in recent years have accelerated this diversification of retail habits.
As a result, the online and offline retail ecosystem has never been more mixed, and digital touchpoints have become central to influencing consumer purchase decisions.
Like so many global markets, e-commerce continues to grow in importance in Germany. According to the E-commerce in Europe 2020 report, 92 pc Germans buy products online.
Along with France and the UK, Germany generates about two-thirds of total European e-commerce sales.
This growing market has not escaped the attention of international retailers, many of whom participated in the e-commerce Berlin Expo in recent weeks.
Given the increasing focus on changing retail habits, it should come as no surprise that this year’s expo was bigger than ever, with over 8,000 participants.
Some of the top DAChs in attendance. was the speaker of [Germany, Austria, Switzerland]-based e-commerce firms such as Henkel, Zalando and Otto.
“After a two-year pause of in-person events, we are seeing a huge increase in interest by foreign companies in expanding e-commerce service providers in Germany,” commented Peter Szczepniak, managing partner of the exhibition.
“For the first time in 2022, the number of international companies participating in the e-commerce Berlin Expo is the same as that of German service providers.
“This shows how important this market is, and any company that has ambitions to become a leader in the industry should be here.”
One trend that is demanding innovative solutions is the move to omnichannel selling. According to data experts Mackenzie Corp., 86 percent of consumers say they regularly jump between channels when making a purchase.
While many retailers try to sell across multiple channels – the challenge is to ensure seamless connections between each customer touchpoint so that the consumer experience is optimized and the purchase route is frictionless.
One Irish company rising to this challenge and achieving great success in the German market, and operating in over 70 markets globally, is ChannelSight.
ChannelSight’s e-commerce intelligence platform enables brands to optimize their route to purchase by streamlining the customer journey and ensuring their products win a digital shelf. “It’s not about being present everywhere, all the time, notes co-founder Niall O’Gorman.
“It’s about focusing on the platforms that matter, engaging the consumer with great digital storytelling, then providing them with a seamless path to online or in-store purchases.”
Take Belin based KaDeWe [Kaufhaus des Westens] As an example of how innovative German businesses adapt to evolving shopping practices.
KaDeWe belongs to the KaDeWe group along with Alsterhaus in Hamburg and Oberpollinger in Munich. Kadewe.de is their e-commerce platform.
As one of the largest luxury department stores in Europe, second only to Harrods in London, KaDeWe had high customer expectations when it launched online in 2020.
According to Philipp Engelman, general manager of omnichannel business at KaDeWe Group, “it was important to create an online shopping experience that reflects the luxury of visiting a KaDeWe department store”.
Another big trend in this area is the growing appetite for immersive e-commerce shopping journeys in response to the often-impersonal online shopping experience.
According to conversion rate optimization experts, Invesp gets more than a fifth (22pc) of returns because the product looks different from the way the customer thought it was when making a purchase.
This is where technologies like augmented reality and 3D-rendered virtual store environments – which enable shoppers to talk to avatars as store associates – have excelled.
Irish company Lahoma is finding success in this area with Schafrath, a leading furniture retailer in the German Rhineland region, which has an impressive 18 physical retail locations.
Schaffrath Group has been using Lahoma Immersive 3D Visualization since 2021.
“Our mission is to provide Schafrath customers an amazing experience in making their interior design dreams come true,” explains David Hussey, CEO of Lahoma.
Both Lahoma and ChannelSight participated in the E-Commerce Berlin Expo with Enterprise Ireland – and there is plenty of opportunity for more ambitious Irish companies in this lucrative e-commerce market.
Cathy O’Shea is a Business Development Executive for the DACH region in Enterprise Ireland (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). For more information on entering the German market, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.