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Irish firms seeking a slice of the German ecommerce pie 


Zalando’s offices in Berlin are home to a multinational ecommerce retail giant selling in 17 markets

Zalando’s offices in Berlin are home to a multinational ecommerce retail giant selling in 17 markets

Zalando’s offices in Berlin are home to a multinational ecommerce retail giant selling in 17 markets

Germany has always been a nation of online shoppers, but Covid-19 has seen ecommerce become even more deeply rooted in society – with 65 million people, or 80pc of the German population, now purchasing online on a regular basis.

Huge German digital retailers like Zalando will be familiar to fashion-forward Irish consumers, or those who work in their Dublin offices. The multi-national mega-retailer took in profits of nearly €8bn euros in 2020 alone.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in the German ecommerce boom, as store closures due to the pandemic didn’t just create a new wave of online shoppers, it also activated a new wave of online shops. Bricks and mortar retailers were forced to close their doors amid varying levels of lockdown, and this has made the ‘etail’ environment more competitive than ever.

This pattern is reflected across the whole eurozone, which saw record breaking ecommerce sales of €717bn last year and highlights, again, the eurozone opportunities on our doorstep and the benefits of accessing the biggest free trading area in the world with little friction.

Increased competition means that ecommerce retailers need to pay critical attention to every customer touchpoint and focus on excellence behind the scenes to stand out from the crowd. There is a clear demand for innovative solutions which help connect online retailers to their customers.

Over the last year, we’ve really seen ecommerce and Retail Tech innovations out of Ireland grow their business in the DACH region [Germany, Austria, Switzerland], one example being Luzern – a leading ecommerce platform and related services provider, specialised in delivering innovative strategies for Amazon Marketplace.

Nowadays, up to 70pc of product searches begin on Amazon, making it the largest search engine for ecommerce. Essentially, if you are a growing brand, Amazon is a must for getting discovered by new customers and this is where Luzern comes in – they help companies to reimagine their Amazon strategy and find new ways to protect their brand, while also increasing their online revenue.

ChannelSight is another great example who have experienced particularly rapid growth of the last year, as the explosion of online retail has prompted brands to invest in ecommerce technology.

In the DACH region, ChannelSight works with multinational brands such as BSH, one of the global sector leaders in home appliances, and Tado, the European leader in intelligent home climate management. It’s great to see German retailers embracing Irish solutions and seeing significant growth as a result and these are just two companies of many – and for any other businesses wishing to avail of ecommerce opportunities in the eurozone, Enterprise Ireland can support them in accessing the market.

There are distinct pros for Irish companies looking to export to Germany, Switzerland & Austria. Irish companies react fast, deliver on time and are quick to pivot when hardship strikes – this reactivity and reliability goes a long way when doing business in the DACH region.

On the other hand, buyers have high standards and Irish companies need to be able to show their commitment to the market and come prepared if they are to win business. The value proposition needs to be clear, well-defined, and specific in order to make an impression.

As a Market Executive in Enterprise Ireland’s Dusseldorf office, my role involves supporting Irish client companies to access market opportunities in the DACH region. Market research, buyer introductions and in-market connections are all areas that we can assist with across the whole eurozone. Even in the virtual environment, securing some face time with the right decision maker can go a long way.

This is why we’ve built a virtual 1:1 networking into our digital Consumer-Centric ecommerce event on June 10. The event is all about the German perspective on the ecommerce market right now, looking at the trends, pain points and opportunities the future will bring in this area. It’s an exciting time to be selling online and it’s going to ignite some big conversations and we wanted to accommodate that.

Cathy O’Shea is Market Executive, Trade Development – Germany at Enterprise Ireland. For those who are interested in finding out more about ecommerce in the German market or the virtual Consumer-Centric Commerce seminar on June 10, contact: coshea@enterprise-ireland.com

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