You can’t assume German speakers will understand English. German online shoppers’ attitudes are vastly different from the UK and US in terms of delivery methods, payment options, security and even social media. Without understanding these cultural differences, any attempt to break into the German eCommerce market simply won’t work. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you work with the online German market.

WHAT DO GERMAN ONLINE SHOPPERS WANT?

It’s not enough to tell German shoppers that they’ll want your product – you have to show them why.

Low cost

The top-selling products that Germans purchase abroad are clothing, books, CDs, DVDs and video games. They shop online for lower costs, regularly comparing prices across several websites to ensure they are getting the best deal, so be sure to make your product and pricing information (including delivery rates) easily accessible.

Flexibility

44% of German consumers want more flexible delivery dates, while 33% want more options for collecting a package at a convenient retail location (source: Comscore).  With the importance of flexible delivery, German businesses have gained a competitive edge by improving delivery and return options. That’s why overseas companies are expected to provide the same services in order to compete.

Security

German online shoppers have deep-seated reservations about sharing personal details on the web. Data privacy is a huge issue in Germany, causing general reluctance to create online accounts to buy things, or to pay via credit/debit card. Contactless and mobile payments via smartphones are also facing resistance due to trust concerns. Therefore, you should offer direct debits and invoices on delivery payment options, especially if you’re operating overseas.

Humility

In Germany, less is more. Brash slogans claiming to be the best will have little impact. Instead, Germans prefer understatement and modesty. Prove it through the product information you provide and the product’s functionality, not through loud slogans. The same goes for brand logos – German brands, such as Adidas and BMW, favor minimalist designs.

Localization

If you want to connect with German shoppers, you’ll need to speak in German, in the right way. Content and keywords should be natural and adapted for the local market. It’s better to generate these from scratch since translations could eat up your character count.

German uses both formal and informal language to address people. While some fields like IT are abandoning the formal form, other industries, such as the automotive industry, still use it since acknowledging status is important.

How do I connect with them?

Customer interaction differs vastly between German and English-speaking countries. Although social media is growing in popularity, usage figures are still below those of other developed countries. But it is still possible to foster strong customer relationships online. Here’s how:

Website

Research is an important part of the customer journey, so your website should provide easy access to the information shoppers are looking for, such as product information and pricing details. You could take it to the next step by having your website audited by TÜV, a technical inspection association, to receive an official quality certification and  indicate your compliance with German data privacy regulations on your website.

Content Marketing

Effective content marketing can not only lead to a purchase, but can also win consumers’ brand loyalty. Provide meaningful, data-driven content that avoids showing off but incorporates humor and valuable product information.

Social media

Despite having lower social media usage than other countries, over 80% of German millennials now use Facebook, so it should be a pivotal part of any online campaign. Other platforms, such as Snapchat, Instagram and Xing, are popular with different demographics, so leverage them properly.

FINAL THOUGHT

Having an invoice on delivery and easy return policy helps provide the low costs, flexibility, and security German online shoppers are looking for. This encourages online shopping, while removing the apparent need for brick and mortar stores. In order to connect with shoppers and build brand awareness, it’s crucial to have localized content that is marketed effectively on your website and social media.