By Nathan Rigby, VP Sales and Marketing at One Click Retail

Last June, Amazon shook the grocery space by announcing the $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods. Now, Amazon has strengthened its hold in Europe as well by striking a deal with retail chain Monoprix, the latest in a series of strategic moves aimed at increase Amazon’s control of the valuable grocery market.

Monoprix controls nearly 800 stores in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and, like Whole Foods, is known for focusing on fresh, high quality food products. Amazon’s partnership with the chain will allow Prime memberrs to purchase grocery items through the Prime Now app and have them delivered to their door (the service is initially only available in Paris and its suburbs but likely to expand in the near future).

Currently, Amazon’s most valuable market in Europe (by sales volume) is Germany, worth an estimated € 65 million in Q1 2018 – a 33% increase compared to 2017. Amazon already controls over 25% of online retail sales in Germany and continues to expand its Amazon Fresh coverage, which is already available in Hamburg, Berlin and Munich.

Amazon Grocery Data Comparison Q1 2018

In Germany, ecommerce penetration remains relatively low (under 10%) as most consumers prefer to do most of their shopping in-store.  To combat this, Ralf Kleber, head of Amazon Germany, recently stated that it’s only a matter of time before Amazon opens brick-and-mortar stores in the country. But even with a relatively small share of total grocery sales, Amazon is thriving in Germany’s online grocery market, as we can see by taking a closer look at Q1 2018 to break down what’s big, what’s growing, and what it all means for brands going forward.

Germany Top Grocery Categories on Amazon Q1 2018

What’s Big

Beer, Wine & Spirits, which had already been a major category, grew very rapidly through 2017 to become Amazon’s largest category by far: during Q1 2018, in both Germany and the UK it more than tripled the sales of Coffee, Amazon’s top Grocery category globally. In Germany, this category was responsible for an estimated € 25M in sales during the first quarter of this year – that’s nearly 40% of Amazon.de’s total Grocery sales – and remained one of the strongest growers with a 45% increase compared to Q1 2017.

Though alcoholic beverages as a group outsold Baby & Infant foods by more than double in 2017, it wasn’t until the first quarter of this year that they’ve ranked as the top Grocery items overall, led by two single malt scotch whiskies: Dalwhinnie 15 Year and Lagavulin 16 Year respectively.

Interestingly, almost all of the growth in the Beer, Wine & Spirits category can be attributed to an influx of third-party sellers. Alcoholic beverage retailers, as opposed to brand manufacturers, were the first to realize that Amazon was poised to become a major sales channel in the German Beer, Wine & Spirits market, and as a result went from holding a 20% share of sales in Q1 2017 to a 60% share in the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, most alcoholic beverage brands remained focused on traditional sales channels, to their detriment. Now to compete on Amazon they will have to go up against 3P sellers that have already earned a strong placement and search ranking. The longer they wait, the more they will have to invest in order to win.

What’s Growing

Amazon’s most rapidly growing category in Germany is Snacks & Desserts, which climbed from the #4 category in 2017 to #2 in Q1 2018 thanks to a rapidly increasing YoY growth rate of 55% driving sales to an estimated € 10 million. The bulk of this category is made up of sweets and chocolate, led by successful items from first party sellers Nestle, Lindt, Haribo, and MARS. Snack foods, in comparison, are not selling as well in Germany.

Germany Top Grocery Items on Amazon Q1 2018

What’s Not Growing

In 2016, Baby & Infant was the #1 category on Amazon.de, but then sales flatlined. Over the course of 2017, sales of Baby & Infant groceries recorded <1% growth in Germany. That rate did not improve during the first quarter of this year, causing the category to drop to #4 beneath Coffee – and on track to fall below the rapidly growing Condiments, Spreads & Cooking later this year if growth trends follow the current trajectory.

That being said, the top brands in this category are still going strong, in particular Aptamil by Danone. Aptamil holds four of the top 10 Grocery items as of Q1 2018, down from 5 in 2017, and the leading competitor HiPP holds the #3 item in the category. For both brands, the majority of top items are Baby Milk/formula. The success of each of these brands, which both originated in Germany, exemplifies the preference for domestic brands among German shoppers; in most categories, domestic brands are more likely to outperform global market leaders on Amazon.de.

Amazon Pantry

Across all markets, Amazon Pantry sales are leveling out. In Germany, Pantry growth fell to only 15% (compared to total Grocery growth of 33%) and earned only € 2 million in sales during the last quarter, a smaller share of total Grocery than in both the UK and US. In response to this poor performance, Amazon announced in early March that Pantry will be shifting to a subscription model – instead of a per-box flat rate, Prime members will be required pay an additionally monthly fee for access to Pantry items.

This is an attempt to make the service both more profitable for Amazon and more attractive to consumers. Whether or not it works to save Pantry, Amazon’s clear commitment to (and successes with) subscription-based services such as Amazon Fresh and Prime Now is going to have a strong impact on brands. Amazon Prime and it’s growing list of value-added “members only” features such as exclusive items, streaming services and delivery discounts is quickly becoming one of the world’s largest loyalty programs – and the benefits of this loyalty get passed down to Amazon’s first party sellers.

Today, Amazon is winning the online grocery race – they surpassed a 25% share of German ecommerce sales all the way back in 2015 – and they only continue to ramp up their investments, with the Monoprix partnership, the continued expansion of Amazon Fresh, and the upcoming plans for brick-and-mortar stores in Germany. No matter how you slice it, Amazon’s share of the online grocery channel in Europe gets bigger every quarter.

One Click Retail is the industry’s most accurate source of sales data for the world’s top eCommerce marketplaces. Using a combination of website indexing, machine learning and proprietary software, OCR estimates weekly online sales figures with market leading accuracy in order to deliver the best insights, analytics and strategies to their brand manufacturer clients. To catch a glimpse of how OCR gives brands critical edge on online platforms with our unique data and expertise, subscribe to our weekly eCommerce insights blog, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you are a brand manufacturer who would like to learn more about how you stack up to the competition—or would like to see your market share and category growth insights—email us at info@oneclickretail.com for a free capabilities demo.