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eCommerce in Europe: Developments and customer preferences

Shopping on the Internet is for most people as normal as coffee for breakfast. A new outfit can be conveniently purchased from home, the apartment newly furnished, and tickets can be booked or food ordered. And all this right around the clock! The product selection is huge, as is the number of suppliers. The consumers’ preference for online shopping also has a positive effect on the market. Last year, the turnover in European eCommerce stood at over 500 billion euros. This represents a 15 percent increase over the previous year. The retailer network Ecommerce Europe has stated that this year it is to be worth over 600 billion euros.

Do you want to exploit this market growth and sell in other European countries? Then go right ahead, because Europe is offering a lot of interesting perspectives. For cross-border trade, you should be clear about customer preferences and the relevant target markets. In the first part of our article on eCommerce in Europe, we offer you an overview of the market development, as well as the purchasing behaviour of European online shoppers. In the second part we will then introduce you to the most interesting eCommerce pioneers and the growth markets in Europe.

The European Ecommerce Report 2017 from the Ecommerce Europe retailer network makes clear that the volume of the European eCommerce market will this year exceed the 600 billion euro mark.

The European Ecommerce Report 2017 from the Ecommerce Europe retailer network makes clear that the volume of the European eCommerce market will this year exceed the 600 billion euro mark. Source: European Ecommerce Report 2017

Strong sales in Western and Central Europe plus promising growth in Eastern and Southern Europe

With 53.19 percent of the total turnover, Western Europe represents the strongest eCommerce region. Included here, according to Ecommerce Europe, are the UK and Ireland, as well as France and the Benelux countries. In second place comes Central Europe, comprising the DACH region, the Czech Republic and Hungary, with a share of 20.68 percent.
Looking at each country individually, it is Great Britain that is snatching the largest slice of the European eCommerce cake. The British spent 197 billion euros in online retail last year – more than Germany (86 billion) and France (82 billion) combined together. Russia and Spain share fourth place with sales of 28 billion euros.

According to the European Ecommerce Report 2017 , the UK has the largest share in the European eCommerce market (197 billion euros), followed by Germany and France.

According to the European Ecommerce Report 2017 , the UK has the largest share in the European eCommerce market (197 billion euros), followed by Germany and France. Source: European Ecommerce Report 2017

When it comes to the growth markets in European eCommerce, it is worth taking a look at Eastern Europe. In Romania, sales in online retail increased by an impressive 38 percent in 2016. In Slovenia and Estonia the market grew by 35 percent and in the Ukraine by 31 percent. For the current year, the Southern European market (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Turkey) stands at the forefront. The experts at Ecommerce Europe are forecasting for these a strong growth rate of 18 percent.

The right eCommerce offering also convinces consumers from other European countries

With an interesting product portfolio and competitive prices, sales to European countries can be extremely worthwhile to you as a retailer or manufacturer. The credit card provider Mastercard recently published its Masterindex 2016 on online retail and customer preferences within the European Economic Area (EEA). One key result was that the most popular products across Europe were clothes, accessories and shoes (48 percent), followed by tickets (34 percent), electronics (33 percent) and books (31 percent).

As far as growth rates are concerned, the European Ecommerce Report 2017 shows that the countries of Eastern and Southern Europe are leading the major economies of the West. Source: European Ecommerce Report 2017

As far as growth rates are concerned, the European Ecommerce Report 2017 shows that the countries of Eastern and Southern Europe are leading the major economies of the West. Source: European Ecommerce Report 2017

A large proportion of consumers were also prepared to buy from suppliers in other European countries when shopping online. Some 41 percent of respondents order products from outside their home country at least once a year. The motives for this are clear, since 40 percent were convinced by bargains, 33 percent preferred foreign shops due to their conditions and 32 percent of Internet users preferred the better availability of products in other European countries. The preferred product categories for cross-border online retail in the EEA are similar to those in the general European profile. At 37 percent, clothing, accessories and shoes also ranked first, followed by books, CDs, DVDs or video games (21 per cent) and then digital cameras, video cameras and audio devices (17 per cent).

Some 40% of European Internet users were convinced by foreign online shops with appealing offers

Some 40% of European Internet users were convinced by foreign online shops with appealing offers. Source: Masterindex 2016

A quarter of European consumers buy online at least once a week

The study also clearly shows how popular online shopping is generally with European consumers, since 90 percent of Europeans buy online at least once a year. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) buy products online once a month and 25 percent of European consumers shop online once a week. But then again, 9 percent of respondents said that they use the Internet daily for purchases.
In a country comparison, the UK also stands at the forefront here, since, according to the Masterindex, British consumers are the most active of online shoppers. In terms of daily online purchases, they are (8 percent) almost equal to Poland (9 percent), Lithuania (9 percent), Italy (8 percent) and Spain (8 percent), but do stand out where weekly activity is concerned (41 percent). So Great Britain stands ahead of Ireland (31 percent) and Germany (30 percent). The Finns (17 percent), Estonians (16 percent) and Danes (16 percent), on the other hand, make up the tail-enders.

Within the EEA, the figures for the daily and weekly use of online shopping offers differ greatly. Some 41 per cent of Britons report buying once per week on the Internet. The trailing Denmark and Estonia each account for 16%

Within the EEA, the figures for the daily and weekly use of online shopping offers differ greatly. Some 41 per cent of Britons report buying once per week on the Internet. The trailing Denmark and Estonia each account for 16%. Source: Masterindex 2016

Use active price management for online retail in other European countries

To be successful in international eCommerce, you need to gain a competitive advantage. As the Masterindex shows, an attractive price and a well-sorted product portfolio are decisive differentiation features.
The first step towards cross-border online retail involves performing a market analysis. Identify your competitors and their product ranges. Then follow their prices and adjust your own pricing strategy accordingly.
For a quick and comprehensive analysis of the often confusing market, online retailers and manufacturers need an intelligent software solution. Our Business Intelligence Suite blackbee affords you an effective market and price monitoring. With active pricing you can secure a major competitive advantage! blackbee can be used in any language, thus enabling a price optimisation across all European countries and sectors.

Would you like to enter the European online market and are you interested in the topics of market analysis, product line analysis and price management on the Internet? Contact us now – we look forward to your message.