- Survey of around 4,000 consumers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland
- Almost everyone in the DACH region shopped online in 2020
- Even traditionally analogue products and services such as groceries and insurance were bought online surprisingly often
- Large differences in payment preferences in the DACH region
- CEO Hoffmann: "Merchants and service providers need new hybrid models – the future lies in unified commerce"
Eschborn, March 23, 2021. Between 96 and 98 percent of Germans, Austrians and Swiss made purchases online in 2020. This is the conclusion of the E-Com Report DACH 2020, a survey of almost 4,000 consumers conducted by Kantar Sifo between September and December 2020 on behalf of the European payment service provider Nets Group for the first time also for the DACH region.
Overall, consumer behaviour has changed drastically. Due to the pandemic and government restrictions, the sale of goods and services shifted heavily to the Internet. As a result, many long-standing inhibitions were broken down and almost everything was offered and also purchased online. While nearly every respondent purchased products online, up to 75 percent in the region also purchased services.
"2020 has completely changed our everyday lives. Our working world, our private lives and even our purchases are significantly more digital than they were the year before," said Robert Hoffmann, CEO of Concardis and Nets Merchant Services. "Companies, especially merchants and service providers, have had to transform their business models and rethink distribution channels at breakneck speed. Customers have gratefully embraced these new online offerings, overcoming many reservations in the process. The acceptance of online services and hybrid sales models has become established over the long term, and the E-Com Report shows: One in four will maintain this newly learned consumer behaviour in the DACH region even after the pandemic."
Groceries are – directly after the classic clothing – the 2020 most frequently purchased goods online. Between 25 percent and 30 percent of respondents purchased food or alcohol online in the four-week period prior to the survey. Restaurant deliveries and ready meals came in at an additional 14 percent. Pharmaceutical items and drugs were purchased in similar proportions. The pandemic has taken online sales to new high levels in both traditionally analogue industries.
Even traditional services, where consumers used to place a lot of emphasis on face-to-face consultations, were in high demand online in 2020. For example, between 13 percent and 17 percent of respondents said they had purchased insurance online. Extrapolated to the full year and with sales of up to EUR 5.7 billion in Germany alone, this is a remarkable figure for the industry and a paradigm shift towards the industry’s challengers, the insurtechs.
Even though the pandemic year brought high losses for the travel industry, travel-related services such as parking services were purchased online in the region, especially in Germany and Austria. Only in Switzerland is the online booking of train tickets ahead of the use of parking-related services. Nevertheless, here, too, one in five people bought a parking ticket online during the study period.
Broad payment mix desired by all consumers in the DACH region
While many of the results show how close the countries in the DACH region are in terms of shopping behaviour, there are clear differences when it comes to payment behaviour: the Swiss and Austrians prefer to use credit cards when shopping online; in Germany, people prefer to pay with e-wallets or on account. However, what unites all countries in terms of payment methods in the survey results is the need to offer customers a broad payment mix in the future, because in addition to the three payment methods mentioned, people in the region also like to pay by online bank transfer, debit card, SEPA direct debit, mobile payments, instalment payments or prepayment. “A broad payment mix that takes into account the country-specific needs of its consumers is one of the most important aspects for e-commerce merchants. After all, up to 26 percent of respondents say they have abandoned a purchase at checkout because their preferred payment method was not available,” Hoffmann said. Also of interest to merchants in the region: more than half of customers in Germany and Austria prefer to shop online at major marketplaces such as Amazon. This is a behaviour that will pose new challenges for traditional retail in the short to medium term.
Retail needs new hybrid models
Hoffmann sees this change as a clear challenge, but also a great opportunity for brick-and-mortar retail: "2020 impressively shows that retail must reposition itself in order to reach its target group wherever it is. Those who are visible on the web today and no longer focus their efforts on the sales channel, but on the customer, can also bring them back to the retail store by addressing them precisely, offering them individualized products, and providing a cross-channel shopping experience. Social media, newsletters, apps and online stores formed the bridge to bring customers into the local store. In a nutshell, if you're not visible online and don't offer anything there, you won't be in real life either. There is no way around hybrid models - the future lies in unified commerce," says Hoffmann.
The E-Com Report 2020 looks at which revenues were generated in which segments for the individual countries of the DACH region, what consumers want in terms of shopping experience, offers and internationality, and what is important when checking out. The sales and frequencies for the individual countries are examined in detail and compared with each other. Consumer interviews were conducted between September and December 2020. The survey is part of an overall survey that will continue in 2021.
The full report can downloaded here (available only in German).