Selling your food products online in Germany

Although only between 3 and 4% of the money for groceries in Germany is spent online, this is a fast growing segment that may facilitate your entry into the German market.

The online grocery market in Germany

If you look at the adaption of online shopping where it comes to groceries, Germany takes the third position among the bigger European countries:

Share of individual who use online shopping for their groceries. Source: Statista

This does not mean of course that all these individuals directly do all their shopping online. In 2021 only 2,7 percent of the spending on groceries was done online (source: Statista). But also in Euros, the online distribution channel is growing quickly.

Revenue of online sales of groceries in Germany (source: Statista)

The slowdown in growth in 2022 may be there because during the Corona-crisis in 2021 more people were forced to shop online, and in 2022 the normal offline shopping resumed. According to a report by Research and Markets, the online grocery market in Germany is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.77% during the period 2021-2026. This growth is expected to be driven by factors such as increasing consumer demand for convenience, rising penetration of smartphones and internet connectivity, and the growing availability of online grocery delivery services.

Where to sell your product online?

Below you will find a list of the most important websites that sell food products in Germany.

RankCompany NameURLCategory
1Amazon Fresh
2HelloFresh kits
3REWE Online
7Foodist food
8Gourmondo food
10Vitafy food supplements
11Grillido products
12Marley Spoon kits
13Bringmirbio produce
14Lieferello, snacks, and groceries
15Flaschenpost beverages
18Wine in Black
19Koro Drogerie, dried fruits, and superfoods
20Chocri chocolate bars
21PureRaw food
22FoodSpring food supplements
24Tchibo and accessories
25Bofrost food
26Cremesso pods
27Schäfer’s and baked goods
28Spirituosen Superbillig beverages
30Bier Deluxe beer and accessories
31Lizza and gluten-free food
33Gourmetfleisch products
34Made with Luve food
35Tea and More
36Selo pasta and sauces
(Ranking based on estimates of market share and online traffic of each company as reported by different sources, such as Euromonitor International, Statista, and EcommerceDB)

Only a few of these platforms are open to third party sellers who can set up their own shop-in-shop and do their own product management. These are Amazon, Picnic and Lieferando. Other platforms that allow third-party selling, such as Ebay or Rakuten, are very limited in size where it comes to food.

Also please note that a number of these websites are the online version of brick-and-mortar supermarket chains, such as Rewe and Edeka. The typical discounters that you have in Germany, like Aldi and Lidl, do have a website to advertise their products but not an online store.

How to select the right store?

Just as for offline sales channels, everything comes down to preparation. If you think that your product is unique, then please keep in mind:

  • There is always a broader category in which you compete. Vegan cheese may compete with both normal cheese or with other vegan hearty spreads for on the bread or pizza. People are not going to spend extra on food because of your product, they will leave something else out of their basket.
  • If there really is no competition, then the question is whether there is a market. Or you may have to develop this market first, e.g. for a rice-based warm late night snack product.

So in most cases the first step is to do a competition analysis, which is relatively easy if you do this online. For example, if you look at peanut butter you will find nine different brands or packages offered, with a price per kilogram ranging from € 7,96 to € 33,68. Please also note that already three of these are organic, including REWE’s private label.

Online there may seem to be infinite space, but people hardly scroll down a page if they search for a specific product. And also the online shop needs to keep stock of your product if they want to sell it.

Having said this, getting your product in an online store may be easier than getting it in the ‘real’ supermarket:

  • The room on a web page is a bit more flexible than the shelf space in a supermarket. Although limited people will scroll down, there is no need to push directly a competitor out of the assortment.
  • To get your product in a physical supermarket or drugstore, you mostly pay a ‘listing fee’, which is actually a compensation set in advance for the revenue loss of introducing your product in stead of the product of your competitor. For online stores you may not have to pay such a listing fee.
  • As stock is concentrated in one warehouse, it is easier to have a pallet or few boxes of your product there than having it spread among hundreds of stores. You can even give your product in consignment, so that the store owner only pays you when he sells the product.
  • As a supplier or brand owner, you can bring internet traffic directly to the online store, rather than referring people to a supermarket. Through your own advertising and social media, you can make it worth while for an online platform to sell your product there. In this case, please set up a clear tracking mechanism with the platform so that you can measure the effectiveness of your advertising.

If you can’t draft a compelling story for the online shop to take on your product, then we mostly advise not to approach them and pick a better fitting store first. You only have one chance to make a first impression, and you should not spoil that chance.

How to approach an online store with your product?

Once you have identified potential stores, try to find the right contact person to approach. This could be the owner, purchasing manager, or a relevant buyer. The store’s website may not give the exact information that you are looking for, so you may want to use LinkedIn or Xing as platform to identify the right person.

Please note that a cold outreach, especially by a non-German, does not work well in Germany. Having a German introduce you works much better, and even then you have to prepare your pitch, as you only get a few minutes to convince your counterpart.

Ideally your pitch should contain:

  • The real USP’s of your product;
  • Sales data from other countries or platforms;
  • The (price)positioning among competitors;
  • Your proposed branding;
  • The margin potential for the online store.

To help the store make an informed decision, it can be helpful to provide samples of your product. This will allow the store to see the quality of your product and determine whether it is a good fit for their customers.

Be prepared to negotiate. When approaching a store, it’s important to be prepared to negotiate on price, terms, and other details. Be open to feedback and willing to work with the store to find a mutually beneficial arrangement.

After making contact with a store, be sure to follow up regularly to keep the conversation going and ensure that your product stays top of mind. This could include sending additional information or samples, providing updates on your product, or checking in on the store’s needs.

Remember that building a relationship with an online store takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent in your approach. Stores may have certain moments when the reconsider their portfolio, so wait for that and be back on time. Or keep the purchasing manager informed once in a while with new developments on your product or with relevant market data.

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