Digitisation is affecting all markets – including food retailing? How high is consumer acceptance of online orders for fruit, vegetables and other everyday products? This question arises regularly, not only for us. Current statistics (PwC) show an open-minded attitude among the British (57%). Among German consumers, 40% at least plan to buy their food online (Statista).

Statista Grafik

Percentage of consumers worldwide by country who plan to buy food online in the next twelve months

We were interested in what it looks like in this part of the world. First of all, we asked ourselves how popular online retailing is among customers in Germany and which product groups predominate. Last time, we conducted the same study in 2010. This enables us to compare the expected and actual behaviour of consumers.

What do Germans buy?

Jeans, shirt and summer dress: clothing is by far the most popular product category. 85% of all Germans have already bought a piece of clothing online – an increase of 15% compared to our survey in 2010. Our customers are primarily women and under the age of 50. The situation is similar with shoes, which at 70% are the third most popular online product and have thus increased by a whopping 21% over the past eight years. Here, too, women and the younger generation of under 50-year-olds press the order button much more frequently.

Books, on the other hand, recorded no increase, although it was already at a high level in 2010 (2010: 83%, 2018: 81%). Here, too, women are the bigger shoppers across all generations.

We were not surprised by the stagnation in hardware and software. Hardware is at a comparable level (2018: 57% vs. 2010: 54%), software is now predominantly downloaded from the cloud or even free alternatives are used, so that only a slight loss is discernible here (2018: 52% vs. 2010: 57%).

The cosmetics and drugstore segment showed a total growth of 12%. 52% of the respondents buy face cream or washing powder online, again more women and younger people.

The toy market tends to stagnate – despite annual booms in gift products around Christmas. With 46% in the current year and 42% eight years ago, there is no significant increase in buying interest. Interestingly, this category is the only one – besides hardware and software – in which men buy as much as women. And it is also clear that it is the parents’ generation of 30 to 49-year-olds who make the most orders in the toy category.

Last but not least: buying food online. Although the trend is upwards and 34% of those surveyed (compared to 22% eight years ago) have experience ordering cheese, chocolate or drinks online, the online supermarket is still the least visited shop on the net. Online consumers under the age of 50 buy 42-43% of their food online from time to time, but only one in four (26%) of respondents in the 50+ age group still do so.

Which of the products listed below have you already ordered on the Internet? (n=1,000)

Purchase of food on the Internet by age group (n=1,000)

Which of the products listed below have you already purchased on the Internet? (n=1,000)

Which foods are in the online shopping cart?

But what about cheese from the Internet? The Internet is still the most popular place to buy goods with a long shelf life: coffee, tea, spices. Sweets, wine and noodles also end up in the online shopping cart. Consumers are more cautious about goods that have to be stored refrigerated or even deep-frozen. For instance, only 6% of respondents have ordered fish on the Internet before. At any rate, dairy products such as cheese are bought by 13% of the respondents.

Which of the following foods could you imagine ordering online? (2018 n=219, 2010 n=294 Respondents who can imagine ordering food online in the future)


What do you think is the reason? Do customers have doubts about the cold chain during shipping? Or are you afraid of high costs? Obviously, we also asked our respondents for their opinion as to whether and how satisfied they were with their orders. Or why they wouldn’t order food on the Internet.

You will find the results in the next article. Take a look at our Dialego blog soon!

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