There are a number of key differences between UK and German websites that are important if you want your German website to generate sales. The key element when preparing e-commerce sites for other countries is to reduce the potential buyer’s lack of trust. Businesses can achieve this by making the site look as close as possible to sites generated in-country. Here’s how to do that…
Impressum: German law requires each website to disclose the publisher’s information including
- Company name, address, telephone number and email address
- Company registration number and other registration details if the company is based in Germany
- VAT number
- Any relevant supervisory authority, e.g. for financial services.
This information must be displayed prominently and we recommend using a button/page called Impressum so that German buyers know what to expect and where to find it.
Terms & conditions – Each site must present its terms of doing business (AGB). This information must also include the right to cancel a contract and/or return goods.
We recommend placing buttons with links to all of these items on every web page.
Trust and reassurance signals
German buyers are very much risk-averse and likely to break off a purchase if they feel uncertain so sellers have to work hard to reduce their uncertainty and risk. In addition to detailed technical information for B2B sales, both B2B and B2C consumers respond well to reviews, seals of approval and guarantees. This may include http://www.trustedshops.de/ grades, TÜV certification, SSL encryption and listed partner status.
A further trust signal is to offer free or low-cost delivery – and it’s ideal to make the delivery charges clear throughout the buying process. If the price suddenly goes up at the end, this can result in the buyer cancelling the purchase.
This is where the risk-averse nature of German culture most comes into play. Up to 72% of buyers will break off the purchase if their preferred payment method is not available.
Only 36% of Germans have a credit card and most banks do not allow people to build up a balance – the full amount is simply paid off automatically at the end of each month. Whereas in the UK the payment method is done and dusted with Visa/Mastercard plus PayPal, this only covers around one third of German buyers.
The most popular and common payment method in Germany is direct bank transfer or one of the newer methods for doing this automatically (SOFORT bank, Giropay) by connecting with online banking systems. However, you may be surprised to learn that up to 70% of buyers prefer to pay by invoice after receiving the goods – and this applies in particular to B2B buyers. Although from the seller’s perspective this is considered highly risky it demonstrates to the buyer that this company is safe and serious about doing business with them – which is extremely important to German buyers. Although the direct debit procedures stated above are frequently adequate for B2C businesses, B2B sellers may not be able to avoid receiving payment after delivery – but even then frequently restrict this to purchases from other companies and regular customers.
How can we help you with your international websites?