I want to offer congratulations to my colleague Dorothee Vogel, who a month ago gave birth to her first child, a son. Reports are that mother and child are both doing well — and as if to prove it, Dorothee’s already back tracking the online commerce space. Here’s her take on how German retailer Tchibo keeps exploring new tactics in e-commerce:

Many German retailers still lag far behind their UK counterparts in terms of exploring the online channel. However tchibo.de, who lead the German market in so many ways, continues to set trends.

First, tchibo.de recently introduced its first weekly ‘wardrobe’ (a themed section of featured products) targeted to targeted to older users (follow the link and then click on the box that says “Unter einem Dach”), containing cleaning kits for false teeth, supportive underwear, heating pads and incontinency bed covers. Although older users are a relatively small part of the online population today, they’re growing increasingly important and influential online — and by 2012, more than 40 percent of European Internet users will be age 45 and over.

Second, Tchibo is also going green. While many airlines have begun to offer carbon offsetting schemes in the last year (mainly in the US and the UK), this year we could see more general online retailers adopting the model. Tchibo.de adds an opt-in “gogreen” box (see below) to the shopping basket during check out, where the customer is asked to donate 10 cents to an environmental project to offset the impact of their delivery. It will be interesting to see whether Germany will in 2008 catch the Green trend that was so apparent in the UK in 2007.

For more of Dorothee’s take on selling to green consumers online, check out her report European Green Consumers: Identifying and Seizing the Opportunity Online.