1.) Payments: German customers much prefer online payments such as Paypal and Sofort, as well as invoices to be paid on delivery. The German consumer is more security conscious as a rule and less keen to pay on credit or debit cards. Retailers selling in Germany need to use these payment gateways and absorb the costs associated with this.
2.) Returns: Return rates in Germany are much higher than the UK. Customers like to order several items to choose from (hence the preference to pay an invoice after receiving the items). They expect high quality, value for money goods and have no problem returning something they think is overpriced. Being able to absorb this cost is something retailers need to consider before moving into this market.
3.) Delivery type: There is a far greater preference for delivery to lockers and pick-up locations (packstations) in Germany. German customers also expect tracking on goods of all values and are unhappy if they can’t track something. This can lead to higher delivery costs if retailers wish to maximise sales.
4.) Delivery time: German customers hate to wait and expect their items fast (hence in German supermarkets you don’t pack at the checkout, a concept brought to the UK by the likes of Aldi and Lidl). Also if you promise a delivery date or time, it is expected that you deliver on that and German customers are even less forgiving than UK customers if you don’t. These logistical costs can mount up for retailers.
5.) Local experience: German customers expect the same levels of product descriptions and customer service from international retailers as they would from German retailers. Many would be put off buying again from someone who used Google translate for customer service for example. Whilst hugely important to making a success of your international business, employing native translators can be costly and difficult for retailers to justify.
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