German distribution channels of goods

German distribution channels of goods

In Germany, goods are retailed through many different channels, from grocery stores, department stores, discount stores, to markets, supermarkets, hypermarkets, shopping malls, etc.,  - the current largest retail channels are: discount stores, supermarkets and department stores. According to the German Retail Business Federation, in 2019, German discount stores recorded the highest net turnover with EUR 74.5 billion, followed by supermarkets with EUR 51.2 billion, department stores with EUR 18.5 billion, and hypermarkets with EUR 17 billion.

Table: German distribution system



Popular brands

 Department stores

Non specialized department stores

Located in the city center.

Kaufhof, Karstadt, Kadewe

Shopping malls

Located in the city center

Bringing stores together on areas of 10.000m2 to 50.000m2.

Arcaden, Passagen, Carré

Textile department stores

Large stores specialized in textiles.

Peek&Cloppenburg, H&M, C&A

Specialized department stores

Specialized department stores: for example electronics, DIY (Baumarkt)

Saturn, Media-Markt, Conrad Electronic, Bauhaus, Obi, Hellweg


Located in the city center

Specialized in foodstuffs.

Kaiser,  Edeka, Rewe

Beverage market

Located in the city center

 Specialized in beverages

Fristo, Hol'ab

Organic supermarkets

Located in the city center

 Specialized in organic products

LPG-Biomarkt, Bio-Company, Naturkostladen


Fruit and vegetable markets, in the city center

Open air or covered markets.

Markthalle, frische Märkte

Small local shops, grocery stores

Located in the city center

Often selling regional specialties (Turkish, Italian, Greek).



 Located in the city center and on the outskirts.

Lidl, Aldi, Netto

Cash & Carry

Hypermarkets and fresh produce markets reserved for professionals.

Métro, Frische Paradies, Beussel Market

Source: Santandertrade, 2021

The system of distribution stores in Germany usually exists in both forms: traditional stores and online stores, in which the online form has increasingly developed.

Especially since the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trend of online consumption has also increased, which is reflected in the increasing number of online shopping orders and email orders. As a result, more and more retailers are turning to omni-channel sales strategy - both maintaining direct retail channels and developing e-commerce channels. Almost 40% of retail businesses in Germany now have an online shop on e-commerce platforms ( In 2020, e-commerce sales in Germany reached EUR 73 billion, increased by nearly 23% compared to 2019.

Currently, the largest e-commerce platforms of Germany are: Amazon, eBay, eBay Kleinanzeigen, Otto, Zalando, Notebooksbilliger, Cyberport, Bonprix, Idealo, MediaMarkt, Lidl, Thomann and Saturn... Foreign suppliers can access these channels to sell directly to German consumers (cross-border sales). The data shows that cross-border online shopping has become increasingly popular in Germany in recent years. According to a 2019 PwC study, around 70% of online shoppers in Germany ordered from abroad.

Source: "Business Handbook: Exploiting the EVFTA  to import and export goods between Vietnam and Germany" - Center for WTO and International Trade