In­te­rim re­sults – pu­blic con­sul­ta­ti­on on di­gi­tal plat­forms

Between March 2020 and May 2021, a total of 317 business customers reported in the Bundesnetzagentur’s public consultation on their experience with marketing and sales activities via digital platforms in Germany. The majority (69%) of the consultation participants are active throughout Germany or the EU and generate annual revenue of less than €2m (71%).

Digital platforms very important for sales and marketing

Marketing and sales via digital plattformsSource: own figure. Base: all participants, n =317.

  • Sales via digital platforms are rated by 76% of business customers as important or very important.
  • Marketing via digital platforms is also considered important or very important by 55% of business customers.
  • Overall the majority of the participants consider both marketing activities and sales activities via digital platforms to be significant. However, in direct comparison, sales play a more significant role.
  • This is evidenced by the fact that 65% of the digital platforms are solely used for sales purposes. Another 29% of the platforms are used both for marketing and for sales purposes, and 3% exclusively as a marketing channel.
  • Only 12% of business customers use services by independent agencies (for the strategic optimisation of a range of products, for instance).

Revenue and marketing shares via digital platforms

Revenue and marketing shares via digital platformsSource: own figure. Base: all participants, n = 317

  • The majority of business customers (60%) make more than half of their revenue in Germany via digital platforms.
  • In Germany, 29% of business customers spend more than half of their marketing budget on platforms.
  • This underscores the tremendous importance of digital platforms for business customers in Germany for their marketing and sales activities.

Heavy dependence on digital platforms

Dependence on digital platforms

Heavy dependence on digital platforms Source: own figure. Base: All participants, n = 317

  • More than three quarters (77%) of business customers would see themselves having considerable difficulties competing successfully in the German market without the use of digital platforms. Overall, more than one half of business customers (56%) assume they would not even be able to exist in the market without digital platforms.

Focus on e-commerce platforms

Matching the digital platforms used with sectors

Matching the digital platforms used with sectorsSource: own figure. Base: all participants, n = 284 (no response = 33).

  • A total of 284 business customers provided concrete information about their use of digital platforms (multiple answers allowed). More than 470 responses were provided about more than 50 different platforms from various industries.
  • The majority of the participating business customers are from the commerce/e-commerce segment. Individually, they come from various sectors such as clothing, books, automotive, furniture, jewellery and many others. As a result, e-commerce platforms are frequently the focus of customer experience reports about digital platforms.

Reports about various difficulties

Difficulties with digital platforms

Difficulties with digital platformsSource: own figure. Base: all participants, n = 317.

  • Generally, more than half of business customers reported having experienced difficulties with digital platforms in the areas of complaints management (67%), dealing with customer and product ratings (62%), commissions and other fees (61%), the dual role of the platform operator (56%) and ranking and findability of own products (54%).
  • Most of the customer experience reports to date relate to e-commerce platforms.
  • These reports, however, provide a mixed picture. There were reports of various difficulties with “big”, internationally active e-commerce platforms, but there were also individual instances indicating that difficulties could exist with “smaller” platforms as well. The problems with the smaller platforms, however, appear to be less severe.


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