E-commerce sales are expected to grow by about 21 percent in Germany in 2013, according to the Bundesverband des Deutschen Versandhandels (German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association). The Association has forecasted that the increasing adoption of B2B e-commerce is one reason for this growth in the country. The volume of B2B e-commerce has reached $1.15 billion in Germany in 2012, and that represents an increase of 24 percent over the previous year, according to the Association’s statistics.
According to the Verband der Deutschen Internetwirtschaft (Association of the German Internet Industry), more than half (53 percent) of German GDP generated in 2017 will be e-commerce-related (compared to 37 percent in 2012). These numbers highlight the significant potential within the e-commerce market in Germany in both B2C and B2B environments.
But, as the Association has noted, payment issues are still one of the greatest obstacles to developing B2B e-commerce in Germany. Online payments not only play an important role in terms of consumer satisfaction and customer loyalty for B2B e-commerce buyers, they are also essential to new customer acquisition. Due to the increasing importance of the internet as a distribution and merchandising channel, and the continuously changing demands of customers, more and more companies are challenged with providing internet-appropriate and secure payment solutions for B2B transactions.
Research has proven that having the appropriate method of payment available during a B2B online transaction is one of the most important success factors in B2B e-commerce. A study conducted by the E-Commerce Center confirms that over 80 percent of buyers making online purchases consider the availability of an acceptable payment method to be very or absolutely important. An acceptable payment method is one that can handle the unique requirements of B2B transactions—such as workflow integration to ERP and other back-office systems, the ability to handle multi-level approval flows and data flows, and in real-time, anytime, anywhere, anyhow.
In addition to leading the way for e-commerce within European borders, many German online retailers are already engaged in international business. Of the surveyed members of the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association, almost 90 percent conduct online business beyond national borders. Twenty-two German e-commerce companies are represented in the list of the Top 100 European E-Commerce companies. Forty-three percent of those companies who do not currently generate business abroad are working on their international expansion. As this trend continues, having a suitable B2B electronic method of payment that can follow the sun, and handle the data requirements and regulatory aspects of global business becomes absolutely critical.
Germany is leading the way for what is becoming a worldwide trend of B2B companies shifting more of their businesses online. Making secure payments available will accelerate this migration, and the first movers will have the advantage.