Webinar: How to sell online in Germany

well hello again everyone

we about to start the webinar so thank

you for joining us for how to sell

online in Germany just a few

housekeeping points some everyone will

be on mute during the webinar but please

do use the chat box if you'd like to

send us a message the webinar will be

about 30 minutes and today's presenters

are Suzanna Hardy and Teresa Sante

during the webinar there will be four

poles at different points we'll have

time for questions and answers at the

end and also rightly and there'll be a

brief survey which we do appreciate your

feedback the copy of today's broadcast

and the slide deck will be sent out to

everyone on Friday finally this is one

of a series of webinars that we run to

help companies exports and do business

internationally all of the recordings

can be found on IBT partners website

under the resources just a moment to

tell you about IBT partners we're a

private company that says based in the

UK Germany France and the US we have

been helping do international business

for over 15 years and our core activity

now is development of international

websites and to provide online marketing

services as we believe that is call for

companies to succeed in the

international market our host today is

Susannah Hardy Sedona is IBT Partners

Managing Director for Europe she has

lived and worked in US and in Europe and

has over 20 years of experience helping

companies grow internationally our guest

speaker is Teresa Santa Teresa is one of

our senior project managers based in

Germany and she is directly responsible

for helping clients with their online

strategies and developing their

international sales Teresa has a

master's degree in system analysis and

design and a bachelor's degree in

international business

Susannah I'm going to hand over to you

are you there

by today and and to be with today's are

talking about selling online in Germany

and and what we would slightly changed

the format of this webinar because it

seems to me that we had a lot of

questions already there from our clients

that we could really share some of that

knowledge with you so here's what we're

going to be talking about I'll be

talking about a bit about so Germany's

place in the world and particularly

internet world and then what we've done

is curate the best questions or some of

them brought us some why this reaching

questions that we have from regularly

from clients and and try and sort of see

you know what we've learned from our

experiences what they've learned and try

and share that all with you and then at

the end we have saved some time also for

some Q&A and as Michael has said you

know drop your questions into the little

little box on the right hand side and

we're trying to get to all of your

questions at the end and also we'll be

having these little polls to try and you

know figure out a bit better for

answering their questions the way you

you want us to or try and sort of steer

the conversation to best suits today's

audience and it's really exciting

actually the we've had really strong

uptake on this webinar it's very very

pleasing to see also pleasing to see how

many people we have from a very wide

spectrum and then and wide geographic

base so without further ado and a bug

bit about Germany's place in the world

and where that really means so a couple

of lets a couple of facts and figures

now obviously Germany is number one in

Europe for population with 81 million

and you know Germany is large by any

standard you know 81 million well that's

a equivalent to about a quarter of the

United States if you put it another way

you could say that it is equivalent to

the three largest states in terms of

population United States so that's

California Texas and Florida combined

that's Germany so really worth thinking

about that and in terms of GDP you're

Germany is also Europe's largest but by

a really serious amount

over 1 trillion dollars larger than the

number 2 in the number 3 which happens

to be Germany in France sorry France in

the UK so it's the fourth largest

economy in the world ranked by GDP also

GDP by purchasing power and by the way

just you know all these numbers come

from the World Bank the only CD

estimates but if you put that into

perspective what is you know some nearly

4 trillion dollars well $14 is

equivalent to roughly twice the size of

India so so that also gives you a sort

of some kind of perspective of how big

this economy is and finally Germany

really is a manufacturing powerhouse and

you can tell this because of its

positive trade balance year after year

you know Jeremy just exports amazing


now 1.5 trillion dollars worth of

exports last year that by the way is

pretty well on a par that's what the USA

did so they equals USA in terms of

exports the USA was 1.6 Germany was from

25 last year

put it away German exports is equivalent

to twice the level of Japan just one

year and that's in a year after year so

I want to talk also a bit about what it

means to be a sort of a manufacturing

powerhouse now these iconic brands that

you can see here Susannah I just put a

couple of them up there


I was just going to interrupt you can I

launch the first poll before you go on

too far okay I'm just gonna launch the

first poll so this should come up on

your screens I'm getting mixed results

here it looks like about 50% of you 40%

directly exporting to to the US sorry to

Germany and about 39 indirectly with

about 14% on the bottom two polls thank

you very much how close

No thank you Michael and apologies for

galloping ahead there so I really want

to just talk about some of these iconic

brands and really just highlight the

fact that these brands range from you

know the amazing amazing car companies

and Germany made six million cars last

year just in Germany but it also

retailers consumer goods sa P Europe's

largest software company finance

harrybo's sweets you know it's got all

so that's really I think what's

important they're just you know it's

fans from Pharma the household

consumables chemicals manufacturing so I

guess my point really is that the

chances are your biggest your biggest

client your biggest competitor your

biggest supplier and your biggest

surprise fact buyer is German so Germany

has got to be one of those priority

markets for you when you're looking at

export markets across the world by just

getting back into sort of you know what

it what causes that when what drives

that that powerhouse I wanted to spend

just one moment talking about what's

called the Mitchell stunt Mittal stunt

is a very particular term it's it's

almost medieval in terms of how it was

formed and through the the guilds and

all of this but anyway today what it

means is a type of company that you find

in Germany it accounts for over half of

German GDP and it employs over

two-thirds of German workers and they're

basically family-owned companies that

have really strong expertise in specific

products they're probably world leader

in their niche most likely engineering

niche and I think what's important to

realise your race in the very beginning

is how long-term orientated and how

expert orientated they are the export

orientation is from the very start of

these companies and those has been they


they're the way they're structured is to

expand internationally but it also means

because partly also because they're

family-owned they have a very strong

belief in very direct and loyal

partnerships which they have for long

periods of time so they don't like risk

they want partners buyers suppliers who

are reliable trustworthy known to them

and and and and and within easy reach

easy dialogue and this becomes very

important when you start looking at your

online online profile and how you'll

you'll Center that and those trees we'll

talk a little bit later just the map on

the right hand side by the way just a

little picture Germany they're just a

reminder Germany is a very federal place

it's made up of lots of what are called

lunch like States Linda and each one is

quite can be quite specific so you know

North rhine-westphalia ya know W is

probably one the largest

and that's really just all the chemicals

manufacturing if you look at the Rhine a

car for example that's the largest IT

and high-tech cluster in Europe stuff

that we're we're Teresa is talking to us

from Jenny is the center of the German

car industry and so on so there's really

again it is very localized localized

centers which are worth knowing about in

Germany now looking at Germany online

and and where Germany sits on a digital


Germany online has again the largest and

leading European internet population at

51 million consumers that go online

regularly and that's 51 out of the 81

million that we talked about now there

lots of graphs and trends and things

talking about b2c and b2b the one here

on the right that I'm showing is by

Arthur T middle but they're they're

there many of them the numbers the

actual numbers themselves are not that

important but I think what's what's

important is just to kind of get the

scale of it first of all that the b2c

world in Germany represents

quarter of all European ecommerce sales

so one market equals a quarter of all

Europe again you know these aren't is

that again highlighting the importance

the priority the German that Germany

takes in a you know an export strategy

and the other point I guess is just how

fast growing this is twenty five percent

growth in the sector which means that it

should overtake the UK by the end of

this year in terms of actual total size

which i think is also worth knowing

about there are a lot of studies that

are put out there they mentioned some of

them are looking at sort of the

e-commerce world representing sort of up

to 50 percent of German GDP by 2017 2018

so again these are these are very strong

numbers and strong things like that

there's one other topic that I think we

we decided not well we're going to touch

on but not really explore fully and this

has to do with cross-border sales

cross-border sales really are German

websites or any website which reaches

into nearby neighbors and German

websites you know in in in German they

obviously reach into german-speaking

neighbors like Austria parts of

Switzerland but they're also reach into

parts of Poland of the Netherlands

eastern France some of eastern Germany

now this is a phenomenon which is which

is known as cross-border cross-border

transactions prosper e-commerce it's

growing very very quickly indeed you

decide it's it's a very important topic

for your strategy and we have an entire

website and webinar sorry devoted just

to that so we're going to you know just

just mention it here but it was to say a

German website does also reach out

beyond the the pure German before pure

German economy was just very useful and

then I wanted to turn to the nuts and

bolts of our presentation and and get

yours online she's there and and really


talk about some of the key questions

that our clients have given us and I

guess one of the very first ones that we

have yes you know why have a German web

site in that sense I have you know a lot

of our clients come to us they say to us

I have an English website and I get I

get you know

Dutch Brazilian Mexican people clicking

on it but I get very very few Germans

why is that

Trey's aren't you there yes hi Susannah

hello everybody thank you for inviting

me to join today's webinar I'm really

happy to be here so to answer this first

question actually about half of the

sites on the Internet are in English and

that's pretty much understandable given

the history of the day of the Internet

but just because the most of the online

content is in English it doesn't mean

that the Germans search in English this

might be true for some nations that

don't have many online resources in

their native language or where the

products are not available for any other

reason but usually this is not the case

of Germany in fact German is the third

most common language on the Internet

so when Germans are looking for

something online there's a very good

chance they're gonna find it sometimes

they can search in English for example

if they're looking for specific piece of

information maybe a research or study or

when they're really persistent and

looking for a specific niche product and

you might think yes that's me

I'm the niche product manufacturer but

these are exceptions and you shouldn't

base your market strategy on an

exception because ultimately most

Germans will use their native language

to search online to use the Internet so

when they look for something like your

product Google will provide them with

many results in German in your English

site will not be able to get there and

therefore your company your business

will remain invisible so that's why

that's why you might be getting only

you German visitors to your English

sites my teacher is very concise it's an

amazing factoid that Germany is the

third most common language on the

Internet and that really does I like the

fact that you know they've they've

already got it there so you need to be

there if you want to play in their Park

as well thank you Susannah I'm going to

interrupt with another poll if I can

okay here come see next poll do you

already have a localized website for

Germany yes

no but planning to do so in six months

or no just give everyone a few more

minutes or a few more seconds to answer

that one at the moment we have 30

percent yes 40 percent who planned to

within six months and about 30 percent

who have no yeah I'll just give you a

moment longer last chance to vote I am

closing the poll thank you thank you

very much Michael

getting back to getting back to to

Drai's on some of the main questions we

have one of the world's top questions

that comes up particularly you know

regularly with us with for our

clearances you know if their clients

have a distributor then they say why do

I need a local website if I've got a

distributor for Germany why can't he

promote me online Teresa

definitely having a distributor doesn't

mean you shouldn't have a website or the

other way around

many companies delegate promotion of

flying and online to their distributors

and they completely rely on the

distributors in the marketing activities

and it makes sense I mean the

distributors they have the local

knowledge the expertise that the US

companies don't so that's why you

appointed them right that's their job

but you have to realize that many

distributors they have their own agenda

they might have products that are

competing with your brand and that might

get more attention from prospective

German customers for example even if you

had product that is of better quality

but next to a product that is known

determines the brain is recognized and

you're probably gonna lose so it might

give you it might put you in a in a not

such a good position what you need to do

is really show the professional branding

you should provide them the background

information on your company you should

share reviews customer references to

show the track records did you already

developed even if it wasn't in Germany

it might be elsewhere in the States

elsewhere in Europe Germans love seeing

that something has been certified their

various organizations that can provide

it and if you are able to present this

information then you're gaining their

trust you're getting recognized and it's

so important that's what can make or

break the sale so we don't say don't

encourage your mister beuter definitely

ask him to help you promote but you are

responsible for great for building your

brand so he engaged him but don't

completely rely on him thank you very

much tourism very I mean it all hangs

together also was what we were talking

about girl

there was the middle strands and that

need for trusts reliability credibility

which is so important in export markets

and which which has to do with online

platforms and here it's like you know

well I can't like to sell on Amazon or

some other platform in Germany Tereza

yeah Amazon is really popular in Germany

not just in the United States and it's

an easy solution you're actually under

very successful online platforms you can

see an example of top and cheeba cheeba

actually started as a coffee selling

company but now they are one of the

biggest online retailers and they sell

you anything from electronics holidays

insurance very popular in Germany to


anything they're also a specific

product or industry specific online

platforms probably the most successful

one in Germany is a Salander which is

internationally renowned there in the

fashion industry and you can buy

anything from shoes clothes so of course

it's very easy and convenient to use

these platforms when you're selling in

Germany but these platforms might not be

suitable for all products so you should

definitely consider that they are good

for example if you're selling a cheaper

standardized commodity type product

let's say HDMI cables what does the

customer need to know what's the price

is it cheap and is it good it means

reduce did it get four or five stars

from other people who purchased it and

Amazon can provide just that information

so it's really good for these types of

products on the other hand you have the

branded products everybody recognizes

some of the fashion brands or

electronics and they search for it on

Amazon it's really easy to sell these

types of things there but if you are in

the b2b sector or if you're selling high

quality niche products then these online

platforms might not be sufficient for

you because you need to explain your

story the build of the brand and it ties

back again to the previous question when

we're talking about a distributor and

how you need to build that credibility

and recognition in the German market so

dedicated company website can really

help you achieve that but these online

platforms will not successfully let you

do that straizo thank you has to be

clear yeah you know you needed some kind

of a local presence you know to build

the trust again Michael do we have a

poll here as well we do we have our

third poll I will launch that now do you

actively sell online via platform in

Germany so we have three answers here at

the moment we have about seven percent

saying yes via Amazon and eBay about 10

percent no but planning to in six months

but the vast majority about 85 percent

don't okay thank you our clay support


that's very interesting what we're

saying so now we've got some of the big

picture stuff talking about some of the

nuts and bolts and specificities of the

German of German websites and German

online selling one of the things that

asked regularly from our former clients

Teresa is basically how do the Germans

find me what are the best ways to get

your prospects to find my sites

yeah I'm always fascinated how many TV

commercials I can see that are promoting

website there are almost as many of

those as insurance advertisements so

it's really fascinating but to be honest

this probably won't suit your budget or

you don't want to reach such a broad

audience because so many people are

watching TV you might want to target a

specific audience and for that we would

recommend a combination search engine

optimization social media and possibly

if you are attending a trade show and

that's a great opportunity to promote

your brand in your website there and

again engage your distributor when he's

doing networking or whatever means

accessible to him these are the great

ways how to promote your website because

if you're just going to build it and not

do anything

the visitors won't come so one of the

most important parts of this is the

search engine optimization making sure

that you pop up on Google and this is

really important when it comes to German

language you need to get the right

keywords for your product names German

is a wonderful language and Germans love

creating new

it's from existing words and sometimes

they can get really long like those that

you can currently see on the slide these

are actually genuine words describing

various types of businesses or companies

or services and if you are translating

your product names to German you might

end up with something similar is it good

or bad well I'm an able to say just

based on this information because you

have to compare all different possible

ways how you could translate your

product in German and then do keyword

research and find out what are the

Germans actually looking for and then if

there's a match you will increase your

visibility online so that's one of the

recommendations and then also let's talk

about social media because that's so

important today you can be successful

with some of the global social media

networks like Facebook or Twitter there

is also a local social media network

called think it's quite similar to

LinkedIn so mostly for networking b2b

also carrier opportunities so you can

use the mix of those but in all of these

cases you should be creating content and

communicating in German but don't get

discouraged by the fact even if you

didn't have german-speaking stuff in

your office if you have a marketing

specialist who's really dedicated and if

you have a localization experts work

with like IBT then that can help you

overcome that obstacle and you can

really reach out to people in Germany

and drag them to your website convince

them that you're the one they should

choose and then sell more Thank You

tourism a very clear message really I

took away from that was if you're going

to build the website use it as well and

there's no excuse for not using a

website just because in the different

language from yours

so more specificities that we have

regularly coming up to us from clients

another one we have in German

is preferred online payment method

sudana before you move on I'm just going

to launch our final poll here - are you

active in social media in your export

markets let's just see what the audience

are saying on that okay well we're

getting mixed results here okay I think

we're nearly done 6 / 7 6 percent

yes via their local websites 59 percent

yes but only via domestic websites and

31 percent no ok I will close that um

thank you just want to then get back on

track here we were talking about other

specificities in the German market and

preferred online payment methods and one

of the questions we get regularly from

our us particularly from us clients is

you know can I use PayPal a Germany you

can use people in Germany it belongs to

the most popular online payment services

together with other providers like so

forth Ebru by zone or click and buy or

jitter pay

so these are very popular and we

recommend using them but try to compare

the individual providers people might be

the one but you might find the others

suits you better

the only payment methods they're really

different compared to the United States

for example credit cards that's the

number one in the US and then a long

time there's nothing else in Germany not

so much about about 10 percent of the

Germans perfer credit cards as means to

pay online and why is that probably

because they don't use credit cards as

much as I don't

patience not because they don't pay at

terminals but because they use etc it's

called electronic cash card also called

van comet in Austria or in Italy and it

just works on a different principle but

that's how you pay in brick-and-mortar

stores when you go shopping but it's not

actually working when you when you

purchase online so that's one of the

reasons why they prefer online payment

services where they actually can use

these as a captain and one more thing I

would like to point out is purchase on

account it's quite unusual what it means

basically a customer places an order

online and you ship the goods you

invoice them and then you wait one or

two weeks depending on the terms and

then the customer pastes you well it

sounds a bit risky right it is there are

some methods that help you identify if

the customers are credible but it can

have its advantages for example if

you're in a competitive market then this

can be a differentiating factor it

happens so many times that people left

at the checkout because they were not

happy with the payment method so pay

attention to this part of your strategy

of your export strategy in Germany as

well it's really worth it it's very

interesting trees and also I think one

thing of it comes across again and again

this is necessity for to be trustworthy

reliable and so on and the whole notion

of purchase on account just just just

it's quite foreign to to a lot of

Americans and UK buyers and what about

now other terms and conditions can I

apply the same terms T's and C's as for

my u.s. yeah that's a very common

question but unfortunately there's no

straight answer to it it really depends

on what you're selling to whom you're

selling in

your existing trims and conditions are

in some cases the lawyer can tell you

yes you're a US company so you can just

stick to the US legal framework and

you're good but the Germans will expect

you to adhere to do local rules into the

local standards and they are much

stricter than the u.s. one especially

when it comes to consumer law in Germany

as in other European countries you have

to provide two year warranty on goods as

well as two week cooling-off period

during which the customer can return the

product back to you without giving the

reason and yeah that sounds tough that

sounds strict but that's what all

European providers have to do and if you

don't then maybe they will go to your

competition even if your product is

better I mean if you cannot provide to

your guarantee probably it's not good at

good enough so it really comes back

again to the credibility and the

guarantee because the better guarantee

you can provide more sales you can

actually close so that's really

important um also there was a specific

case where a court ruled the company a

foreign company that was that had

nothing to do the Germany had to comply

with the German legislation just because

they were targeting German customers so

it's a really stay nice and we would

advise you consulted with your lawyer

but rather offer more than less Thank

You Trezza a very succinct view on that

and again we're getting complete clear

messages on this given the time we're

just sort of gonna wrap up now just a

quick resume of a couple of things that

we've been talking about and I wanted to

leave you also with sort of a you know

some incentive you know here's a very

often we find a lot of our clients come

to us when they have on a major event

like a big trade fair that they that

they're going to attend and they say

right I'm finally gonna bite

I'm gonna get a localized website so I

can really optimize the expense of the

trade fair

however messes this year in April end of

April gonna be a mega trade fair with

you know Obama and everyone else turning

up it's going to be that's a huge one

and the USA is actually the the host

company country this year so we are

getting a lot of requests for this thing

and you know when we're looking at

localized website marketing we've put

there 40% more leads obviously these

numbers that's just from from from our

numbers in-house of what we've seen with

our clients but it's clear that if you

have a website that's working for you in

your dedicated target market when you

have a trade fair you really can't

optimize and increase the number of

leads and I've given a couple of little

things there are at the bottom optimizer

tips about you know what some of the

things that that are really useful to do

is you know for example if you're always

going the same trade fair stick on your

website all the time all throughout the

year and I'm also bringing this up

because obviously Germany is is like the

home of the trade fair there's over 150

international trade fairs and exhibits

held every year in Germany alone and

it's you know it's the world's number

one and if by far the largest trade

fairs internationally so just summing up

some of the things because that really

just about localized websites how they

can provide the visibility and

credibility that you need to succeed in

the German markets how you can use your

distributors rather than get used by

them with you and you control your local

website and and how you can really go

global with a website localization now

that being said we have left I hope a

little bit of time for some questions

and things but um I don't know Michael

do we have do we have any questions that

have come in hi Susanna yeah we've got

quite a few questions that have come in

so I will pick three of those that we

will answer and the rest we will follow

up with you afterwards so if you have

sent a question through the chat box

or reached out through the messaging

then we will follow up with you

afterwards with with answers to your

questions okay so the the first question

that I'm going to pick out of the list

here is where do I actually buy my

German Dannette domain name threes I'm

going to ask you to answer that one so

we're talking about dot de this is the

one for Germany and you can purchase it

pretty much at any domain register so

wherever you see if they

offer the usually they do if not then

it's just a question of quick google

search who provides that purchasing a

domain is a german domain is so fairly

easy the local requirement to purchase

the german domain is to have a local

address but a lot of domain registers

can provide you with a local contact so

you can overcome that problem if you

don't already have a distributor or

subsidiary don't worry you can still

register de fairly easily um the cost

fifteen twenty twenty-five dollars it

depends where you buy it and sometimes

you can find that the the domain was

already purchased by somebody else we

saw that so many times

competitors or ex distributors during

that that's very nice but it happens and

what you can do is actually try to

negotiate for them but usually they ask

like thousands of dollars not really

worth it it's important to own it so

that you have your brand but it's not

that important for search engine

optimization yes

having that helps but there are ways to

actually find a way around it for

example using subdomains like de dot

your company name dot-com or sub

directory which is company name dot

count of de so I'm sorry that I took a

bit longer to answer

is that actually what happens very often

is that you cannot register because

somebody else has already but don't give

up it's not a disaster that's that's

great results that's really interesting

and it's true it's happened quite

regularly with us that a US or UK

whatever his company tries to buy is

German one that's very taken so good

that we already have some some answers

to that

I'm just interjecting here because

there's a question for Michael which i

think is right up your street Michael

and I wonder if you could answer it it's

basically one of the attendees who is

looking at sort of thinking about

getting a localized website and he's

been told that he needs to have to host

locally so his question is what does it

mean the host locally and is it safe

yeah locally hosted means that the

server the website that the server is

sitting on is actually yeah in country

so in this case in Germany we usually do

recommend that because it does help with

the website speed and also with search

engine optimization but for for actually

obtaining one then most the

international hosting companies will be

able to provide that service and

security-wise they all have very high

level of cyber security so if you do

want to go down that route

it is only a good idea but not the only

option but it is something worth

considering I will finish off with the

last question this one's going to be for

you Suzanna I have two main clients one

in Germany and one in Austria I have

been told that the German used in

Austria is different so can I use a

single local website well back to our

little question here about cross-border

transactions and and look out for our

webinar on cross border which we will

host at some point it's true that German

spoken in Austria Switzerland

is slightly different from German in

Germany and even within Germany there's

a difference between the regions north

south and even within within say the

south there's a difference in you know

Bavaria or other places so yeah there

are regional differences nevertheless

there's something called ha storage

which is like a standard German and even

if there are differences in the standard

German hostage and they're acceptable

the main difference is that you can get

within hostage within standard German

are things that relate to things like

food you know so so the Austrians will

have different words for you know

certain types of food and that's Germany

but and so with that but excluding that

exception it is very acceptable in

everybody everybody's happy

whether it's in Austria or the north of

Germany if you just use a standard level

of hostage as it's called Hydra thank

you Michael

great we have run quite a bit over time

so we will be closing the webinar very

soon just before I do that I just say

again that for those people who have put

questions into the chat box we will

follow up with you afterwards and an

answer your questions so thank you very

much for participating today the webinar

will be sent out as a recording to you

on Friday we're going to just finish the

webinar with a survey on your screen and

we would appreciate your feedback to

help us improve the webinars in the

future and very finally thank you very

much Susanna and Teresa for excellent

presentation thank you thank you