Online sales of FMCG brands slow in Germany

17 August 2010

COLOGNE: Shoppers in Germany have proved reluctant to buy FMCG products on the internet, despite the best efforts of some of the leading retailers in the country.

At present, it is estimated that just 0.1% of revenues in the food sector are derived from the web, as consumers remain loyal to bricks and mortar chains. (The original article is available in German here.)

Since July, Amazon, the ecommerce pioneer, has been selling approximately 50,000 grocery items directly to customers in the country.

However, Consline, the consultancy, found that 52% of electronic word of mouth related to this service on forums and similar sites was negative in its first few weeks of trading.

This was largely due to concerns about high shipping costs, and perceived obstacles regarding delivery.

Rival offerings run by Gourmondo, Froodie, Edeka24 and Lebensmittel also generated comparatively little feedback, either complimentary or critical, through these channels when measured against Amazon's total.

Stefan Genth, ceo of HDE, the German retail body, argued the extremely developed nature of the local market means it will be difficult to induce a shift in popular behaviour.

"It has something to do with convenience, and with changing daily routines and habits," he said.

Metro, Edeka, Rewe and Tengelmann are also experimenting with online platforms, often as much to gain a foothold in this fledgling category rather than in the expectation of yielding substantial returns.

Chehab Wahby, of consultancy OC&C, suggested that, to date, German consumers had demonstrated a greater conservatism than their counterparts in France, Switzerland and the UK.

"Germany is lagging behind the trend," he said. "But acceptance will increase."

Indeed, Wahby forecast that web sales would improve by between 50% and 70% over the period to 2015, as more shoppers become comfortable with utilising this medium to purchase FMCG products.

Data sourced from Welt; additional content by Warc staff