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real.de gets an overhaul

German supermarket chain real merges with Kaufland. The merger includes the online marketplaces of both chains, which means that real.de will merge into and continue as kaufland.de. Find out how this affects the eCommerce market in Germany and what the situation regarding counterfeits is on the platform.

The landscape of hypermarkets in Germany is undergoing a major change. The well-known hypermarket chain real was bought by Kaufland, another well-known hypermarket chain.

Due to the size of the merger, German competition authorities (Bundeskartellamt) were investigating if the sale was in line with anti-monopoly legislation. Kaufland was given green light by the Bundeskartellamt at the end of 2020 and the merger was allowed to proceed.

Relatively unknown in the rest of the world, real was a large chain of stores not unlike Walmart or Sainsburys. While the main focus was on groceries, real offered a wide selection of goods from clothing through toys, electronics, beauty, and more.

From real to online

Founded in 1992, real started with brick-and-mortar stores and quickly became successful with shoppers. According to its last annual report before the merger (2018), real brought its parent company, Metro AG 7.07 billion euros in turnover.

Real launched its e-Commerce business, real.de in 2010, mainly as a virtual extension of its physical stores. However, the sales platform really took off in 2016 when the company bought hitmeister,de, an already successful online marketplace and merged it with real.de.

Offering a wide range of products including fashion, beauty, electronics, furniture, sports equipment, and more (basically everything the brick-and-mortar stores offer apart from groceries), real.de became a modest competitor to Amazon and eBay in Germany.

Over the last six months, real.de was the 59th most visited website in Germany and had an average of 26 million monthly visitors. Almost 95% of visitors come from Germany, and the rest from neighboring or other German speaking countries like Austria (1.15%), Switzerland (0.54%), and the Netherlands (0.47%).

In comparison, Amazon.de had around 500 million monthly visitors in the same time period and was the 4th most visited site in Germany.

The same data for eBay.de is 350 million monthly visitors and the 6th most visited site in the country.

Graph of monthly visitors on Amazon.de, eBay.de and real.de

While real.de doesn’t seem to have a chance to beat Amazon or eBay as the most popular online marketplace in Germany, its market presence can’t be ignored by analysts nor brands. And definitely not by online brand protection experts.

Real.de counterfeits

Although real.de’s handbook for sellers prohibits the sale of counterfeited products, the marketplace is not immune to fakes appearing on the platform (or even phishing scams organized by fraudsters in the marketplace’s name). Since real.de operates with third-party-sellers, counterfeiters and grey marketers have a chance to slip in and create listings.

Sellers on the platform come from all over the world, including China, where the majority of counterfeited products originate from today. These fraudsters really do their homework, researching markets and entering national niche marketplaces that, due to their inexperience with international counterfeiters, enable them to fly under the radar for a while at least.

And while real.de has a relatively high (4.4) score on Trustpilot, some customers still have issues with the quality and customer service provided by various sellers on the platform.

Screenshot: Trustpilot.com ranking for real.de and costumer evaluation of real.de
Screenshot: Trustpilot.com ranking for real.de and costumer evaluation of real.de

Online brand protection experts at globaleyez had their fair share of dealing with counterfeiters and grey marketers on real.de as well. Although not as popular with counterfeiters as Amazon or eBay, we have encountered fake versions of our clients’ products on real.de in several instances.

We’ve made these discoveries in the course of our test purchase service that is the best way for determining if a product is counterfeit and for creating court-admissible documentation that helps our clients fight against counterfeiters in a court of law.

The platform’s size and relative inexperience in dealing with counterfeits means that it takes a bit longer than average for them to react to our takedown requests. Although they do provide a way to report fraudulent listings, they are usually slower to react to our request than other marketplaces. Nevertheless, our enforcement service ensures that listings advertising counterfeited versions of our clients’ products are taken down from real.de as fast as possible.

Whether the merger brings a significant change to real.de’s operation regarding counterfeits remains to be seen. We certainly hope that the growing platform will give real.de (or rather, as it will be called from mid-April 2021, kaufland.de) the necessary boost it needs to create more efficient reporting procedures and better policies against counterfeiters.

However, we don’t think that the merger will raise the platform’s profile among counterfeiters and we expect the number of fakes on the marketplace to remain mostly as it currently is. This is because even despite the merger, real.de is still one of the smaller online marketplaces in Germany.

Real kaufland.de

As of mid-April 2021, real.de will merge with kaufland.de which is already a working online marketplace. In terms of numbers, kaufland.de is not doing as well as real.de. It has around 6-8 million visitors per month, and it’s the 329th most visited website in Germany.

Theoretically, the merger could unite those numbers and help the new marketplace reach new heights (just like real.de did back in 2016 when it bought hitmeister.de). As Real.de’s seller platform proclaims, “the largest trading company in Europe and one of the fastest growing marketplaces in Germany enter the ring together.” Clearly, Kaufland’s parent company, the Schwarz Group has high hopes for the emerging marketplace.

However, we don’t know how much the clientele of the two marketplaces overlap, and it also remains to be seen how much real.de’s old customers will trust kaufland.de.

Regardless of how the new marketplace’s future turns out, globaleyez will continue to monitor the platform and report on any issues that affect the online protection of brands.

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