Voice of the Industry

Payment practices in Germany series II: insights into ecommerce payments

Tuesday 22 June 2021 06:59 CET | Editor: Anda Kania | Voice of the industry

Caroline Coelsch of EHI Retail Institute reveals in-depth stats on the ecommerce payments ecosystem in Germany

The payment on invoice, PayPal, direct debit and credit card, continue to be among the top four most popular payment methods for online shopping. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, however, a new dynamic can be observed in the field of payment methods, which the current EHI study ‘Online Payment 2021’ provides details on.

Payment on invoice is particularly popular with ecommerce customers and is the number one payment method with the highest turnover. In 2020, 30.4% of ecommerce sales were generated with this payment method, however, the share of sales decreased by 2.4 percentage points from 2020 to 2021. Within the EHI panel, this development can be observed at almost all retailers, with a few exceptions at retail companies in the clothing segment. One possible explanation is the increased number of new customers who have migrated from stationary retail to ecommerce. Many retail companies do not yet offer new customers the popular payment method for their first purchases, seeing as they want to avoid possible payment defaults due to a lack of creditworthiness.

Paypal on the rise

In 2020 PayPal achieved a share of almost 25% of ecommerce sales, which means an increase of almost five percentage points (previous year: 20.2%). This means that PayPal has achieved the highest share of sales within the online payment study for ten years, yet remains in second place among the payment methods with the highest sales. The e-wallet is particularly popular with customers due to its fast and simple payment process. It is therefore not without reason that it is one of the most frequently offered payment methods at checkout in 2020 and is offered by almost 96% of the top 1000 online shops. The payment method is also popular with new customers, as almost 90% of the retail companies surveyed report that new customers preferred to pay with the e-wallet in the past year.

In 2020, direct debit achieved a share of sales of 17.9% (previous year: 18.3%) and continues to hold a third place among the payment methods with the highest turnover. When taking a closer look at the sales shares, one can see that ecommerce giant Amazon is decisive for the high share of direct debits in the overall market. Since Amazon relies on direct debit and credit card payments for a fifth of its ecommerce sales, Amazon's shares play a major role here. When looking at the proportion of payment methods without Amazon, it can be seen that fewer and fewer online shops are recording high proportions of sales with direct debit from year to year - in 2020 the proportion without Amazon was 3.1%.


*The market extrapolation was based on the Online Payment Study 2021 and the EHI Ecommerce Market Germany Study 2020 from the EHI panel.

The credit card is in fourth place and achieved a share of sales of 11.8% (previous year: 10.5%). This corresponds to an increase of 1.3 percentage points over the previous year. The originally feared abandonment rates when choosing the credit card payment method due to the deadline of the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) and the associated strong customer authentication (SCA). But the regulation did not seem to have had a negative impact on payment behaviour, particularly since the deadline for switching to the SCA did not come into force until March 2021.

Implementation of security standards

In the 2020 EHI survey, 51% of the retail companies surveyed used the 3D Secure procedure 1.0 and only 49% used the 3D Secure procedure 2.X to secure credit card payments. One year later (February/March 2021) three quarters of the retailers surveyed have already switched to the new 3D-Secure 2.X security standard. A total of 93% of the retail companies in the EHI sample already secure credit card payments with 3D Secure (either version 1.0 or version 2.X).


With the sales distribution of payment types in 2020, a new dynamic can be observed in ecommerce payments. The corona pandemic has not only changed payment at the point of sale, but also in ecommerce. Throughout the past ten years, the e-wallet Paypal has seen a significant increase in its share of sales. However, payment on invoice is still the most popular payment method among Germans and still accounts for around 30% of ecommerce sales. Online retailers want to further optimise their payment options by 2024 and are dealing with issues relating to mobile and omnichannel payments. Additionally, the topic of online marketplaces will play an important role for a third of those surveyed.

Source: stores-shops.de

About Caroline Coelsch 

Caroline Coelsch was born in Cologne in 1992 and first completed a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in business administration and economics after graduating from high school. Since December 2018 she has been working as ‘Project Manager Online and Mobile Payment’ at the EHI Retail Institute. In this role, she deals with payment developments, trends and framework conditions in omnichannel retail, carries out the annual EHI study ‘Online Payment’ and oversees the EHI working group of the same name. She is also responsible for the mobile payment initiative and has been the head of the EHI LAB since April 2021.

About EHI Retail Institute

EHI is a scientific institute of the retail industry. The members of EHI include international retail companies and their industry associations, manufacturers of consumer and capital goods, and various service providers. We research topics relevant to the future of retailing, organise conferences and working groups, operate our own publishing house, and are partners to Messe Düsseldorf in staging the world’s biggest capital goods trade fair for the retail business, EuroShop. We offer individual research projects to address specific problems.

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Keywords: report, ecommerce, PayPal, online shopping, payment methods
Categories: Payments & Commerce | Ecommerce
Countries: Germany
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce