Voice of the Industry

EHI Kartenkongress 2018: Germany is ready for innovation

Tuesday 5 June 2018 00:02 CET | Voice of the industry

Insights from EHI Kartenkongress 2018, hosted by the EHI Retail Institute, on ecommerce and epayments in Germany 

Last April, the EHI Retail Institute hosted the EHI Kartenkongress 2018, a two-day event discussing the rapidly changing world of online payments in Germany, with topics ranging from mobile payments, POS solutions, instant payments, and omnichannel services. Participants hailed from various branches of the retail industry, and the main topic of this year’s Kartenkongress was being ‘customer-oriented’; easing the customer’s journey through the entire shopping process. We will provide a short summary of two talks that were given at the conference that stood out to us.

Firstly, EHI Retail Institute themselves gave an elaborate lecture on the state of online payments in Germany. The ecommerce sector is rapidly growing, with a large number of new small webstores entering the market as well as incumbent stores growing to new heights. 

At the top of the ecommerce companies stands Amazon, followed by German stores Otto and Zalando. Germans have traditionally mainly used cash, but this is, most of the time, not an option for ecommerce transactions, and therefore online payments are on the rise. The largest online payment methods, in order, are e-invoice, direct-debit,  and PayPal. Interestingly, direct-debit is mainly popular because of Amazon’s market share; 15% of online payments on Amazon are completed using direct-debit. In the last decade, online shops have started offering a growing number of payment methods to customers, especially e-wallets: PayPal is the fastest growing payment method in Germany. The growth of e-wallets and direct-debit is at the expense of e-invoices, which are steadily declining in usage.


Online Payment 2018 Report by EHI Retail Institute. (Translated)

Secondly, s.Oliver presented their new omnichannel solution, developed with Computop, among others, explaining what omnichannel means in Germany today. The key difference between omnichannel and multichannel is that while multichannel solutions are touchpoint-centric, i.e. the solution is made to best fit the method of shopping and/or paying, omnichannel is customer-centric, i.e. the solution is made to give the customer a unified, connected experience. 

Multichannel solutions often fail to be seamless or a good user experience. For example, if the mobile store does not mirror the experience of the online store, or when the online store is out of stock while the physical store is still well-supplied. There is no hard divide between multichannel and omnichannel, but rather a gradient; a service becomes more omnichannel the more different services and methods are incorporated to the solution. 

In the case of s.Oliver’s omnichannel solution, this means connecting the in-store services, like returning items or goods collection with online services, leading to solutions like click-and-collect, orders that are shipped to your door from the store, and reserving goods online. 

Another concept that they are exploring is the ‘digital store’. This consists of providing their employees in the physical store with the means to access the options of the online store. For example, when a product is out of stock in the physical store, an employee can personally help a customer order the product online and ship it to either the store or their home. On top of all this, s.Oliver provides a wide array of payment options to their customers across platforms, so customers can pay where they want, how they want.

In conclusion, the main takeaway of the conference is this: Germany is ready for innovation in the payment space. Relative to the rest of Western Europe, Germany is not as adoptive of new online payment methods, especially offline, but there is a world to win for the company that can create a widely adopted payment method for all platforms. 

EHI Retail Institute’s survey confirmed that more and more companies and consumers are becoming aware of the trend towards online and mobile commerce and payments, so Germany will be an interesting place to watch for the coming five years.

About the EHI Retail Institute

EHI is a scientific institute of the retail industry. Its more than 800 members include international retail companies and their associations, manufacturers of consumer and capital goods, and various service providers. EHI cooperates with the most important international institutes and associations in this sector.

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Keywords: EHI Kartenkongress, Germany ecommerce, German ecommerce payment methods, payment methods Germany
Countries: World