Electronic commerce

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Sub-areas of e-business

Electronic commerce , including Internet trading , online trading or e-commerce , refers to buying and selling transactions via the Internet (or other forms of remote data transmission). Early forms of electronic commerce were found in the online portals of the 1980s, particularly in the form of the Electronic Mall (electronic shopping center) at Compuserve .

In electronic trading, a direct business relationship is established between providers and buyers through data transmission. In a broader sense, electronic commerce encompasses any type of business transaction in which Internet providers - including those who are not trading companies - and Internet buyers use electronic communication technologies as transaction partners in the context of the initiation, agreement or provision of services. The term electronic business, which is often used in the literature, was popularized by an IBM advertising campaign in the late 1990s as "eBusiness". In the narrow sense of the electronic trading involves transactions conducted via the Internet business relations between Internet retailers , so trading companies that use the Internet exclusively, or (as a multi-channel retailer) in addition to stationary or traditional mail order business, and Internet buyers. Goods from the presented range can be selected and added to a so-called shopping cart, analogous to purchasing from a stationary retail establishment. The order process is completed by submitting and confirming the order online. Electronic commerce is part of the Internet economy in every sense.

Position in marketing

The peculiarities of electronic trading in distribution in the marketing mix compared to traditional sales channels are the enormous flexibility on the supply side, the choice of several sales channels , and a significant reduction in transaction costs with business partners. For example, travel or telephone costs in customer acquisition and performance presentation are also reduced. The physical distances still have to be overcome for physical services and require appropriate logistics capacities.

The term online shop is the Germanized English name for the goods sales through the website of a merchant. Further terms for the organizational implementation are webshop and e-shop (for electronics shop) or, rarely, e-shop .

Due to the now extremely high market penetration of Internet connections in Germany, especially among private households, e-commerce has initially established itself in the C2C and B2C market via online auction platforms. In the B2C market in particular, online retailers are increasingly concentrating on the use of various price comparison portals and product search engines. The high frequency of these platforms offers a very cheap alternative to classic search engine marketing to increase the level of awareness of the online retailers present. Institutional business partners in the B2B market are also increasingly processing tenders and business contacts via the Internet, and some large companies are already no longer allowing suppliers who fail to do so.

In the industrial sector, the provider can query technical specifications, delivery requests and often also a required cooperation with other providers in direct contact with the customer, transfer them to his database or CAD / CAM / CAQ systems for planning and tailor-made offers in the shortest possible time , without visiting the sales force or time-consuming queries.

Due to the high availability of the Internet in Europe, the sales medium is becoming increasingly important for the sale of consumer goods and is used selectively for follow-up business in the sale of capital goods.

Today, electronic commerce is generally understood to mean all methods of conducting business and administrative processes via electronic channels, whereby the Internet or at least the technologies and protocols used on the Internet play an essential role and information technology is generally viewed as a prerequisite. An important aspect here is the elimination of media breaks , as they are typical in conventional business transactions. In addition, human intervention in business processes should be reduced to the necessary minimum. In this case, one speaks of straight through processing , which requires extensive integration of the business functions.

If you combine application systems from different functional areas or across company boundaries for this purpose, it is a classic application field of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI). Enterprise content management (ECM) is seen as one of the basic technologies for e-business.

Economic basics

Economic consideration

The special characteristics of e-business are seen in complete market transparency and the absence of preferences. However, this is an unrealistic view. The New Institutional Economics (NIÖ) attempts a more realistic description of economic life . In addition, there is the possibility of international, cross-border traffic, so that the classic view of the economies of individual countries or economic areas (e.g. the European Union) cannot capture the actual processes and developments.

In the context of institutional economics, transaction costs play an important role. The Internet can reduce the costs of a transaction in the search and initiation phase. There are also opportunities to reduce transaction costs in the settlement phase. Overall, the costs for market transactions decrease and the coordination across markets becomes more advantageous.

As a result, the neoclassical was decisively differentiated, even if every scientific theory necessarily has to abstract and contain simplifications. In electronic trading, a distinction must be made between the economic and the business perspective. If the efficiency gains (economics) fully benefit the consumers, companies may not be able to gain a competitive advantage (business economics). If in principle everyone can realize these advantages, under these conditions the cost advantages become competitive disadvantages or, at best, are short-lived in extreme price competition.

Internet advertising in particular serves as an example of a comprehensible and sought-after added value compared to the old economy . It enables a concrete advertising success to be measured with even greater accuracy than the traditional mail order business, for example, is used to for its catalog advertising.

In the economic assessment of electronic commerce, it can also be assumed that it provides services for the market economy that are comparable to those of traditional (stationary and distance) commerce. In some cases, electronic trading provides additional competitive impulses both in the parallel process and in the exchange process. The Internet is also an excellent platform for group concepts and network strategies for trading partnerships and thus opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to increase their performance in competition.

Economy of Attention

Georg Franck assumes in his book Economics of Attention that attention is increasingly valued in society. Nowadays, every company has to spend enormous amounts of resources on advertising, as products are sold based on awareness, brand and image. On the one hand, companies in e-business have inexpensive ways to get in touch with customers, but on the other hand they suffer from being drowned in the flood of information on the WWW. Some net art projects ( million dollar homepage , the senseless 1234567 $ club) or particularly unusual e-business ideas work precisely with this topic.

Business consideration

E-commerce can help to reduce costs, for example through shorter and cost-saving ordering channels. By integrating the business functions along the value chain, more efficient business transactions are to be achieved. The boundaries between trading companies , namely wholesalers and retailers , are disappearing towards the end customer with the increasing possibility of direct sales .

The advantages for industrial companies as well as for trading companies can be:

  • New ways to communicate with customers
  • Development of new sales channels
  • acquisition of new customers
  • Sales increase
  • Efficiency increase
  • automated business processes regardless of working hours

However, electronic commerce can also have disadvantages that are by no means cost-neutral . These are mainly:

  • Additional sales and / or procurement risks
  • Decreasing customer benefit (if personal service is waived)
  • Declining customer satisfaction (reactance reactions to creating customer profiles)
  • Increased payment transaction risks (risk of fraud, for example in fake shops )
  • Additional effort by maintaining a typical mail order organization (warehousing, accounts receivable control, etc.)

Open, closed, vertical and horizontal marketplaces

In open marketplaces each market participant can register and participate. Examples of open online marketplaces are Amazon , eBay and Rakuten . In closed marketplaces, only certain, selected participants are invited or admitted. One example is the restriction to wholesaling or a certain branch of the economy (also called branch). A horizontal marketplace, on the other hand, maps individual business processes. It relates to a stage in the value chain, for example with a focus on procurement: Companies on the purchasing side take part in a horizontal procurement marketplace. They can come from different industries and access a common group of suppliers. In contrast, a vertical marketplace depicts various business processes from a single industry or user group. Selling via marketplaces can be useful for online retailers in order to increase sales and, if necessary, to reach customers who prefer to buy via the respective marketplace. The margin is usually lower than with other sales channels, but the marketing costs are lower.

Electronic trading by type of participant

E-commerce can be categorized according to the type of participant:

(The orientation - e.g. C2A not equal to A2C - can also be emphasized or special categories such as employee B2E can be addressed)

Dividing electronically supported business processes into categories is of course geared towards the needs of human development, so categories such as consumers to public administration (C2A) or other combinations of the above (e.g. B2E ) are only gradually spreading. In older literature, the abbreviation G for e-government is often found instead of the more comprehensive term administration . Likewise, there is often no distinction between orientation (A2C is not the same as C2A).

Whether the above categories always represent trade relationships is subject to legitimate doubts , at least with regard to administration ( A2A ). In Germany, categories C, B, A, E are clearly due to legal status, i.e. H. The classification into types takes place according to the position of the participants in the legal system / traffic, as there are different legally justified rights and obligations for the consumer , the entrepreneur and the public administration.

Online shop

An online shop is a special form of trade in which a dealer or manufacturer offers commercial goods or services for sale or rent. The communication between the provider and the interested party takes place largely over the Internet . On the one hand, the online shop takes on the task of product presentation and, on the other hand, the processing of the order and purchase process through to payment. Online shops are also made accessible on smartphones or tablet PCs via shopping apps ( mobile shopping ). During the ordering process, all information necessary for the dispatch of the goods and the processing of the payment are collected by entering the customer.

When it comes to product presentation, the providers rely on different means: In addition to product photography, texts and technical data, three-dimensional product images and videos are increasingly being used. The use of customer opinions is also increasingly becoming the standard. In the case of varied products that are mass-produced according to individual customer requirements, the customer can use a configurator to put together “his” according to various criteria such as color, material, equipment and design . All vehicle manufacturers offer corresponding vehicle configurators on the Internet. The actual vehicle order is mostly made via stationary retailers.

Another form of online shop is so-called live shopping , which usually only offers one product per day. In addition, shopping via social media platforms such as Facebook is becoming more and more important ( social commerce ).

Competition with classic retail

Textiles, books and music mail order are particularly strong sectors in Internet trading . In the course of the Internet boom towards the end of the 20th century, online shops became more and more important. Internet retailers have the advantage that they do not need a physical sales room ; this is available virtually as a website . For this reason, some online retailers do not have their own storage rooms, orders are forwarded directly to the producer or wholesaler, who takes care of the picking and shipping of the goods ( drop shipping ). Companies that send goods free of charge and also enable fast delivery have become serious competition to stationary retail. Even internet booksellers who are subject to fixed book prices in Germany and therefore cannot carry out any discount campaigns benefit from the fact that they save the customer the need to go to the bookstore for the same price . Here one speaks of the classic mail order business .

In some cases shops serve as stationary shops and as pick-up or return stations for goods that the customer has ordered on the Internet. In this way, the in-store service is linked to online trading. A study from October 2015 to January 2018 showed that traditional retail can compete with online retail, especially in cities.

In the case of digital products such as music files, software or online books, the customer can download the product directly after purchase. In this case, there is no physical dispatch and the customer can use his purchase immediately.


Since there is no personal sale on the Internet, the visual communication of the online shop has to meet a wide range of requirements for the dialogue between provider and customer. Large providers observe test customers in special laboratories for testing the usability ( usability ) in their online (test) purchases. The knowledge about eye movements on the screen ( eye tracking method ), font and image recognition as well as length of stay in individual areas of the website should provide information about possible improvements in user guidance and customer motivation . Surveys of the test persons also provide information about necessary changes.

Shop systems

A shop system is the software basis of online shops. It is mostly database-based and offered as a web application . There are currently around 200 shop software providers in Germany alone. The providers differ in the orientation of their offer in the orientation towards different target groups. There is software at a low price for the mass market and providers who have specialized in creating or optimizing software individually and specifically according to requirements.

From 1995 until today a wide range of different shop systems has developed. The range of functions has increased dramatically over the years and has changed significantly due to the different business requirements. Many shop systems can present the contents of the shop in several languages. Translation memory systems (TMS) are used to translate this content .

Evolution of web shop software systems

The development and evolutionary stages of standard web shop software systems are listed below:

The first shop systems between 1995 and 2000 tried to recreate the traditional department store and were primarily concerned with the pure presentation of products and the purchase process. These are known as the storefront system . By 2001 the shop systems were supplemented by the first administrative functions; such as the management of orders (order management features ). Until 2006, the requirements for the administration functions of the shop system increased. So were u. a. Functionalities such as product databases, content management (CMS), customer registration and administration are a natural part of the standard shop systems ( administration features ). Until 2009, in addition to the mere requirements for the administrative processes, from the shop operator's point of view, the requirements of the customers had come to the fore. Functionalities related to customer account management and u. a. the management of personal wish lists and help functions further developed. As a result, the requirements for data protection and security have risen sharply ( customer features / security ). The current development of shop systems since 2010 involves the customer / user even more, so functionalities around the subject of Web 2.0 (e.g. customer ratings, personal recommendations and social media) are pushing into the standard.

Shop architecture

Most e-shop systems have the following basic software components:

  • Shop database with product information
  • Administration database
  • Presentation system
  • Recommendation engine
  • Payment gateway (handling of the payment process)
  • Other functionalities (tools)
  • Web tracking system

E-shops are increasingly being equipped with live support systems in order to reduce bounce rates or to support advice and sales.

In addition to the target group orientation of individual software providers, shop systems also differ in the technology used . A distinction is made between web server-based applications and those that first generate static pages locally, which are then loaded onto the web server and make the shopping cart function available via the browser using JavaScript.

An additional variant of an online shop is the option of initially transferring operations to a provider. Comparable to large shopping centers in which stores are rented by individual operators who then use the existing infrastructure, this type of offer is known as the 'shopping mall concept'. Each individual shop operator receives his online shop system, which is linked to a software source in the background. This has the great advantage of being able to meet the constantly increasing demands on software functions through this source sharing principle.

Payment systems

From an individual psychological point of view, particularly high importance is attached to the simple conclusion of a sale when selling online, because the customer should be able to pay for his shopping cart without fear of losing data and spying on his payment data . The classic payment methods in advance, invoice, cash on delivery and credit card continue to make up a large part of payments in Germany. The well-known direct debit procedure is also often used , as the inhibition threshold for transmitting account details is often lower than that for dialing a value-added number or providing credit card details . Proprietary micropayment systems, on the other hand, find it difficult to establish themselves. Another payment method, for example, is giropay . The debtor is directed from the online shop to the website of his bank and exchanges personal data exclusively with his bank. PayPal , formerly a subsidiary of eBay, has achieved a high level of awareness for payment systems specially developed for the Internet .

Payment systems combine several payment methods and try to combine the variety of payment methods in one account. Depending on the customer's creditworthiness and verification of the required bank / account details, the various payment methods are activated.

The internet platform boost offers one possibility to donate the commission, on which the price comparison portals live, to a charity .

Overview of payment methods on the Internet

The conventional steps in business processes such as invoice , cash on delivery , transfer , prepayment and hire purchase are usually also offered.

Electronic payment methods are:

The majority of online retailers offer a combination of conventional and electronic payment methods; two to four of the alternatives mentioned above are often available. According to the eCommerce study, the invoicing method is most used by the surveyed customers with 78.6%, followed by online transfers (60%), credit cards (59.5%) and cash on delivery (57.2%). Retailers, on the other hand, prefer prepayment (30.8%), credit card (17.6%) and cash on delivery (15.5%).

Criteria for assessing shop systems

Customer benefit
What added value can companies deliver to their customers through the shop?
Customer analysis
How and to what extent can you gain knowledge about customers?
Integration ability
How and to what extent are existing business systems integrated?
Administration ability
How easy and flexible can the system be designed / administered?
Future security
How future-proof are the investments made that go far beyond the software acquisition?
How expensive is the solution in terms of total cost of ownership ?

Many have had bad experiences with online shopping. For example, the goods delivered did not correspond to the descriptions and pictures, goods could not be returned or exchanged, purchased items did not arrive, there were problems canceling online subscriptions or account or credit data was misused. In addition, studies have shown that the perceived security when shopping online is related to the frequency of use: the more e-commerce is used, the more secure it is assessed. It is therefore recommended that you pay attention to the following when trading on the internet:

  • The full business address of the provider with contact needs due to the information requirements to be specified
  • A seal of approval should be available - three seals of approval (Germany) have established themselves: EHI , Trusted Shops , TÜV Saarland
  • Encrypted connections with https when transferring account data can be seen on https: // in the address line and a lock symbol in the browser.

Online shop as part of the IT landscape

The online shop is usually integrated into the IT landscape of the respective company. Interfaces to the inventory control system , enterprise resource planning software or customer relationship management solutions are essential in order to match customer data, customer orders and article information and to dispatch customer orders quickly. A largely automated process chain consisting of receipt creation, picking, payment management and logistics plays a role here, especially in larger online shops with high order volumes. The CRM system can also evaluate which customers have placed which orders in order to be able to send targeted advertising or newsletters.

Legal issues

German law

In § § 312b  ff. BGB to special provisions using the so-called distance contracts , which also include e-commerce, because the consumer who shops outside business premises makes by inserting distance communication. Means of distance communication in accordance with § 312c para. 2 BGB are all means of communication which to initiate or enter into a contract can be used without the parties are physically present at the same time as letters , catalogs , telephone calls , facsimiles , e-mails , via the mobile service sent Messages ( SMS ) as well as radio and telemedia . In electronic commerce, online retailers must clearly state on their websites in accordance with Section 312j Paragraph 1 BGB at the latest at the start of the ordering process whether delivery restrictions exist and which means of payment are accepted. The entrepreneur has to make according to § 312j par. 3 BGB the order situation in a contract so that the consumer explicitly confirmed his order that he become a payment obligation. If the order is over a button ( English button ), the duty of the entrepreneur is met only if legible this button "Order liable for payment" with nothing but the words or is labeled with a corresponding unique formulation. There is also the obligation of the online retailer to provide consumers in the order process immediately before they place their order with the information in accordance with Art. 246 § 1 Paragraph 1 No. 4 first half sentence and No. 5, 7 and in a highlighted manner 8 EGBGB . As a legal consequence of these contracts, the consumer has a right of withdrawal according to § 312g BGB.

In the case of contracts concluded online , it is often not clear which law is applicable. In the case of an electronically concluded sales contract , for example, the law of the country in which the buyer is domiciled, that of the country in which the seller is domiciled or that of the country in which the server is located could be used. E-business law is a cross-sectional law mentioned above . The regulations of international private law (IPR) (in Germany, for example, regulated in the EGBGB ) apply.

The technical side of e-commerce is regulated in the Telemedia Act (TMG). For the operator of an electronic trading venue, § § 8 TMG to § 10 TMG result in the obligation to check (if reasonable) to prevent legal violations by users, and, if necessary, to block or delete content. This also applies if (possibly mobile) software agents participate.

Austrian law

The subject of e-commerce in Austria is primarily regulated by the E-Commerce Act (ECG), the Distance Selling Act , the Signature Act , the Access Control Act and the E-Money Act , whereby the contractual and compensation law provisions of the ABGB and the UGB , insofar as they are not modified by these special provisions, also apply here.

European regulations

In order to legally simplify cross-border electronic commerce and to protect the consumers involved, the European consumer guidelines for Europe on June 23, 2011 ( guideline 2011/83 / EU ), the legal basis and minimum standards were renewed. Before that, the old directive of July 17, 2000 ( Directive 2000/31 / EC ) applied. As part of the implementation of the older Consumer Rights Directive of July 17, 2000, two types of e-commerce liaison points were set up in each Member State in order to encourage the growth of the electronic marketplace and to resolve legal difficulties. One liaison office is supposed to be the point of contact for the governments of the other member states, while the other liaison office is tasked with providing consumers and businesses with information on internet law and providing addresses of complaint and arbitration bodies.

In order to simplify the transactions, there is a fundamental freedom of choice for the parties in contractual obligations within the EU, cf. Article 3 Rome I Regulation (formerly Article 3 EVÜ or in Germany Article 27ff EGBGB ). An exception to this are consumer contracts, for which it is stipulated that the consumer may not be deprived of the protection of mandatory provisions of his country of residence through a choice of law if the conclusion of the contract, for example, is preceded by an express offer or advertising in the consumer's state of residence and action , see. Article 6 Rome I Regulation (formerly Article 5 EVÜ or Article 29 EGBGB).

With the new guidelines of June 23, 2011, consumers and retailers were promised “full harmonization”, as the EU countries still differ significantly in online shopping. Because until now it has been considered very complicated to include the law of the buyer country, as the retailer would first have to deal with 27 different jurisdictions in the EU, most of which are also written in foreign languages. European e-commerce will be standardized so that the jurisdictions of the individual countries are no longer different or even dealers from certain nations are being taken advantage of.

After part of the European directive was implemented in Germany in 2012 ( button solution ), the new rights and obligations have been binding since June 13, 2014. This means some changes not only for online retailers, for example with regard to the right of withdrawal . Consumers now also have to observe some new guidelines in online shops, such as the assumption of costs for returns.

Non-European regulations

For example, many items are only offered in certain countries. Another aspect is the use of exchange rate advantages, for example, due to the dollar devaluation, it is currently possible to benefit from the dollar devaluation when shopping in the USA . With the help of special search engines, the potential customer can now track down the products they are looking for and even compare the offers of the dealers in the various countries. In some cases, not only are the prices of individual product groups different, but also the VAT rates, so that, despite the increased postage costs, an order abroad can prove to be very worthwhile. Within the EU, the buyer is not burdened with customs duties, so that the real costs remain transparent.

In summary, it can be said that cross-border electronic trade is slowed down somewhat by certain legal uncertainties, but offers great potential for development. Uniform European law that takes the interests of the consumer even better into account will certainly ensure further growth in the long term.

General development in Germany

In parallel to the growing spread of the Internet, electronic commerce has also experienced a significant boom. In 2001, according to Allensbacher Computer- und Technik-Analyze, around 13 million Germans bought products or services over the Internet. In 2010, the number of online buyers was 34.1 million, according to the Society for Consumer Research (GfK). For 2011, the GfK forecasts 38.1 million online buyers. At the same time, sales in e-commerce have grown significantly over the past ten years. According to figures from the German Retail Association (HDE), e-commerce sales in 2000 amounted to 2.5 billion euros. In 2010, online retailing generated 23.7 billion euros and in 2012 29.5 billion euros. The sales forecast for 2018 is 53.6 billion euros; the online business thus accounts for almost a tenth of all trade in Germany.

Online trading develops very differently depending on the industry. This is due to the products on the one hand, but also to market developments and logistics on the other. The logistics for the online grocery trade are very complex in relation to the end customer. According to an investigation by the REWE Group , each employee covers up to 15 kilometers per shift. Rationalization is only possible in large distribution centers, one of the first of which was opened near Cologne on September 22, 2018.

From October 2015 to January 2018, a study examined how online retailing affects traffic and urban development . Although the market share in the mail order business increased significantly in the years 2005-2015, there are still doubts about the connection, which is often seen as obvious, with the increase in traffic observed so far. These doubts arise mainly from the fact that there are numerous other influencing factors in traffic. However, “strong demand for storage and logistics space” and an increase in carbon dioxide emissions are forecast . The study was carried out as part of a research program of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. Currently, a burden is seen primarily through the numerous returns .

The corona crisis gave online retail a strong growth spurt . According to a study by the German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association, e-commerce sales from April to June 2020 hit 16.5 percent year-on-year to over 20 billion euros. The demand for everyday goods rose by 51.2 percent and online food retailing by almost 90 percent.

Website usage in the area of ​​small and medium-sized companies

58 million or 84 percent of Germans already have internet access - according to the results of the ARD / ZDF online study in 2016. A large proportion of them use the internet primarily for information about goods and services, and online research often results in a purchase decision. 83 percent of Internet users attach importance to finding local providers (such as shops, restaurants and craftsmen) online. A website is therefore an essential component of contemporary self-promotion and increased sales, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). According to the Federal Statistical Office, the proportion of German companies with their own website was only 70 percent in 2016, although the frequency decreases with the size of the company. 97 percent of large companies had their own website, while medium-sized and small companies also performed very positively with 95 and 90 percent. However, a clear lag is noticeable among small businesses, only 67 percent of which have their own website - although there are industry-specific differences and strong growth has also been evident here in recent years. In terms of quality, a large number of companies (especially local companies) still have some catching up to do: Only a few providers manage not to view their website as an end in itself, but to offer their customers added value online - mostly due to a lack of specialist knowledge, insight into the relevance or human and / or financial resources. The different types of website creation also play a major role here. But even if the digital supply of SMEs is still not growing in the same way as the demand on the consumer side, there is an increasing awareness of the economic importance of a company website.

The online buying behavior

The following data relate to the results of two studies, the study Sicherheit im Online-Handel 2006 by eBay / TNS and eCommerce 2004 on behalf of Postbank and the Europressedienst. Basically, these studies showed that men shop online more often than women. In addition, well-known online shops are preferred and the use of price comparison portals such as pricerunner.de, idealo.de or guenstiger.de increases with increasing Internet experience. In addition to fast delivery of the goods, the ability to shop around the clock and better price and goods comparison options are particularly important. The study shows clear differences in terms of shopping behavior between male and female customers. Women spend less time on the Internet, but are still ahead when it comes to online purchases. Men, on the other hand, buy more often at auctions and foreign online shops. High-income women with a net income of more than 3,000 euros have the greatest pleasure in virtual shopping. While cheap prices are important for men, women place more value on product quality and customer service. Men are clearly ahead when it comes to online banking, online brokerage and the other processing of share transactions on the Internet. 264 online retailers and 1,020 private individuals were interviewed for the study. According to a study by the industry association Bitkom , seven out of ten online buyers (72%) have already bought or booked something from a retailer outside Germany. Online shops in other European countries are right at the top with 74% of customers, followed by Asian (49%) and North American shops (40%). However, a quarter (25 percent) of online shoppers have never bought anything in foreign shops. For the representative study, 1,166 internet users aged 14 and over were surveyed in December 2016.


Overall, 67 percent of those surveyed stated that they had traded or shopped online before, while 33% had never been commercially active on the Internet. E-commerce users are divided into three categories:

  • Heavy users shop online at least once a week,
  • medium user at least once every three months and
  • low users on average every six months or less.

Among the physical goods, books are the most common purchases (75.1%), followed by travel (59.4%), tickets (57.6%), CDs and DVDs (53.8%) and electronic items (51.1 %). In the field of digital goods, software downloads are particularly popular (48.4%), followed by specialist articles (43.4%) and music downloads (32.9%).

At the radio exhibition 2007 the Federal Statistical Office published the following: 53% of Internet customers order books (this one as an example) ... 52% of private Internet users buy online.

The most common responses to the question of which items respondents would never buy online were:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Food
  • Clothing / shoes / accessories
  • Furniture
  • Consumer electronics

The reasons for this are the lack of immediate quality control, the lack of advice and a price that is too high for online purchases. When asked how much money users would spend buying an item at most, there is an increase in the average maximum expenditure depending on the frequency of e-commerce use. Low users would spend a maximum of € 393 on average, medium users would be willing to spend a maximum of € 616, while heavy users would spend € 779 on online shopping. The main reasons given by respondents to stop spending were security risks when paying or transferring data.


A total of 1,000 B2C companies were surveyed within the 2006 and eCommerce 2004 studies, which reported total sales of EUR 11 billion in 2003. 51.1% expect an increase in electronic commerce in the next few years, consequently 72.7% intend to expand their online offering. In 2008, sales increased to around 19.3 billion euros. In the large-scale study Internet in Retail 2006 by ECC Retail , 2390 primarily medium-sized companies were asked about the importance of the Internet for both procurement and sales in Germany. In 2006, 62.7% of the companies surveyed stated that they procured goods on the Internet. In the preliminary evaluation of the 2008 Internet in Retail study , the number continued to rise, so that up to 94.2% of companies now purchase goods online. The retailers questioned in the 2006 study by ECC Retail stated that 29.5% of sales were made in online business. The share of sales by companies with an end customer focus (B2C) is, however, somewhat higher at 31.7%. After its own online shop with 59.3% of sales, eBay is the sales channel with the highest sales for retailers on the Internet with 21%. In 2017, Amazon dominated almost half of German online retail. According to a study by the German Retail Association, the German subsidiary of the US group accounted for around 46 percent of nationwide e-commerce sales in 2017. The growth in sales came primarily from the Amazon Marketplace area, the company's virtual marketplace, which is also open to other providers. There sales increased by 2.1 billion euros compared to 2016; twelve percent of all online sales come from originally purely stationary retailers.

Technical e-business standards

XML for electronic business processes
XML for accounting
XML for the exchange of catalog data / price information ...
XML for the exchange of order data ...
Product group system in the electrical industry
ECl @ ss
Product group system of mechanical engineering
Cross-industry product group system of the United Nations
proficl @ ss
Cross-sector system of product groups and product characteristics

Climate balance

In 2015, the German Cleantech Institute published the most extensive study to date comparing CO 2 emissions between brick-and-mortar retail and online retail, which was also examined by the Öko-Institut . The result shows that the CO 2 emissions of online parcel delivery products are lower than those of stationary retail , despite the high number of consumer returns . The main reason for this is that the home delivery can be carried out in a more climate-friendly manner by compressing the consignments than individual trips to the city in your own car. For a further improvement in the CO 2 balance, the authors of the study recommend u. a. the use of packing stations that can be reached by foot or public transport, fewer returns and improved supply chains at retailers.

See also


  • Andreas Duscha, Kai Hudetz: Internet in Retail 2006 - Status Quo and Developments . Ed .: Institute for Trade Research. 2006, ISBN 3-935546-03-3 .
  • Peter Ludwig: Trust in online shopping . Pabst, 2005, ISBN 3-89967-230-5 .
  • Katja Richter, Holger Nohr: Electronic marketplaces. Potentials, functions and selection strategies. Shaker Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-8265-9890-3 .
  • Knut Hildebrand: Electronic Business . Dpunkt Verlag, 2000, ISBN 3-932588-80-0 .
  • Michael Clasen: Success factors of digital marketplaces in the agricultural and food industry . Gabler, Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-8350-0029-2 .
  • Frank Migalk: Electronic trading platforms (trading platforms). Opportunities for medium-sized businesses . Loeper Literaturverlag, Karlsruhe 2005, ISBN 3-86059-661-6 .
  • Bernd Schauer: E-Commerce in the European Union . Series of publications by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European Law, Volume 3, Manz Verlag, Vienna 1999
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  • Eva Stüber: Personalization in e-commerce - The acceptance of purchase recommendations in the clothing industry. Gabler, Wiesbaden 2011, ISBN 978-3-8349-2842-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

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