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European e-commerce set to continue future growth

Growth in European e-commerce sales reached €636 billion in 2019, up by 14.2% from the previous year. European e-commerce turnover is forecast to grow at around 12.7% and to hit €717 billion in 2020. The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector will, however, only show next year.

At a time of uncertainty all over the world, the COVID-19 outbreak, and the restrictions it has led to, have had a major impact on business and consumer confidence. While physical shops have maintained supplies of essentials, e-commerce has played a crucial role in maintaining economic activity in Europe. Retailers of all sizes have accelerated their digital transformation, further developing existing and new omnichannel commerce solutions.

Europe not only offers expansion opportunities but also, in regions and countries where e-commerce is at its most sophisticated, the chance to witness best practice in action. Meanwhile, those countries whose e-commerce landscape is still maturing offer potential for businesses willing to take greater risks to get ahead in less established but faster-growing markets.

European e-commerce

E-commerce in Europe, across 34 countries and five geographical regions within the EuroCommerce analysis, has thrived as the continent’s population has looked to shop more and more online. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) of Europe’s 578 million inhabitants access the internet. Of these, more than two-thirds (67%) shopped online in 2019, a figure that continues to grow. Europe’s population has plenty of money to spend, with Europe’s overall GDP totalling more than €13 trillion in 2019. Of this, B2C e-commerce accounted for 4.78% in 2019.

Business-to- consumer (B2C) e-commerce spend is growing, with consistent double-digit figure rises year on year. It’s predicted to rise 12.72% to hit €717 billion in 2020 but the reality is that COVID-19, which has pushed offline spend online as well as encouraging new consumers, will mean those are figures likely to rise significantly over the coming months.

The 2020 report shows that Western Europe is still the most developed e-commerce market in Europe with 70% market share of the total B2C online turnover and the highest number of e-shoppers (83%), followed by Southern Europe with a 15% market share of the total B2C online turnover and the highest e-GDP (7.69%). Northern Europe (7%), Central Europe (6%) and Eastern Europe (1%) have the lowest market shares.

e-commerce in Europe

Other key trends identified in the report show that in 2019, the top three countries showing the most significant B2C e-commerce turnover growth were Romania (30%), Bulgaria (30%) and Spain (29%).

Belgium (7%), Ireland (7%), Austria (4%) and Iceland (3%) showed the least growth in e-commerce turnover in the last year.

Furthermore, the findings show that the country with the highest percentage of e-shoppers (94%) in 2019 is the UK, followed by Denmark (86%) and Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden (all at 84%). The lowest percentages for online shopping were registered in 2019 in Bulgaria (31%) and Romania (29%).

In terms of national and cross-border purchases, shoppers in The Netherlands (95%) and Poland (94%) mostly bought from national sellers, while Maltese (96%) and Cypriot (95%) e-shoppers are most likely to order cross-border (both from within the EU and non-EU).

“We are very proud of the resilience our sector has shown these last months and are delighted to see that the e-commerce industry has been successfully contributing to keeping the Single Market open,” says Luca Cassetti, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the strength of the digital commerce sector, it has also exposed the challenges online merchants still come across. Given the increasing cross-border nature of e-commerce, European businesses have struggled to implement new solutions across the Union due to regulatory fragmentation and diverging national approaches towards the crisis. In light of the current acceleration of the digital and green policy agendas, we need to step up our ambitions for building a stronger European Union with a truly harmonised Single Market.”

The E-commerce Regional Report 2020 sets out the main facts and figures related to the e-commerce sector in Europe, with country-by-country and sectorial analysis, interviews with heads of leading national e-commerce associations and other valuable information for merchants, policymakers and other stakeholders.

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