At the bottom of the league in Europe: Germans hardly ever buy groceries online

As of: 12/29/2021 11:03 a.m.

When it comes to booking trips or buying fashion items, many Germans use the Internet. On the other hand, they hardly ever order groceries online. Germany lags behind other European countries in this regard.

Most Germans still prefer to buy meat, vegetables and fruit in the supermarket or at the discounter around the corner – at Aldi, Lidl, Rewe or Edeka. They avoid online shopping. Just two percent of sales in the food sector in this country come from the Internet. That is the result of a study by the market research company NielsenIQ.

The French and British are more likely to buy groceries online

In other European countries the online share is higher. In France, 10.8 percent of grocery purchases come from e-commerce. In Great Britain it is even 13.8 percent. “When it comes to online retailing of groceries and other consumer goods, Germany brings up the rear in Europe,” says retail expert Thomas Montiel Castro, co-author of the study. “Corona has not changed anything about that either.”

One reason for the reluctance of Germans to shop for groceries online is the large number of supermarkets, discounters and drugstores in Germany. The closest shop is often just a few minutes’ walk away. In other parts of Europe, the density of grocery stores is lower.

Retail giants are holding back with online offers

In addition, most of the large retail chains in Germany are not very present online, says Nielsen expert Montiel Castro. In this country there is still a lack of sufficient consumer goods offers on the Internet. If there were, more people would do their big weekend shopping online, believes Montiel Castro.

This is confirmed by a study by the Cologne Institute for Retail Research. According to this, only just under a quarter of German consumers really have a choice of providers who also deliver on the Internet.

Online delivery services are entering the market

It currently appears that a lot is happening in the German online grocery trade. Online delivery services such as Gorillas, Flink or Picnic are currently entering the market and expanding in numerous German cities. The bike couriers have changed the cityscape. Flink says it brings food ordered in 41 cities to households within a few minutes. Competitor Gorillas promises delivery in just ten minutes in 23 cities.

Only Rewe active

Among the German retail giants, only Rewe is very active in e-commerce. The Cologne-based company currently offers a delivery service for goods ordered online in 75 cities. Business is booming. This year “we have increased sales in e-commerce by around 50 percent to over 700 million euros,” says Rewe boss Lionel Souqué.

Souqué is calm about the competition for fast online delivery services. The market segment is growing very quickly, but is still “totally unprofitable”, he says. In the end, he believes one or two vendors would survive. Rewe itself relies on Flink. The food giant has a ten percent share in the fast delivery service.

Grocery retail in the “online trap”

Most grocery retailers still see online sales as a threat. The more that is sold on the Internet, the less profit there is in stationary retail. According to a study by the credit insurer Euler Hermes, every percent of life sales that are made on the Internet leads to a loss of profits of at least 500 million euros – with an average operating profit of 3.7 percent. Euler-Hermes speaks of the “online trap” in the grocery trade.

As a result, it depends on Aldi, Lidl, Edeka & Co. whether there will be a breakthrough in the German online grocery trade, emphasize the NielsenIQ experts in their study presented today. “The big commercial jets have to significantly expand their online offer – throughout the country, not just in some metropolitan areas.”

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