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Ecommerce Europe: research to stimulate e-commerce throughout Europe

Ecommerce Europe: research to stimulate e-commerce throughout Europe

Marc Hobé

Senior Account Manager

31 October 2014

Ecommerce Europe: research to stimulate e-commerce throughout Europe


According to the most recent research from Ecommerce Europe, there is a clear difference in online shopping across the various countries in Europe. For instance, people who live in northern and western Europe spend more time and money online than those who live in the southern countries. “Even though Southern Europe adopted the mobile phone rapidly in the past, their e-commerce is still a bit lagging behind the rest of Europe. People in Northern Europe spend time at home, where as life in southern Europe is spent more outside and otherwise due to cultural aspects,” explains Bert Nagelvoort, researcher e-commerce at Ecommerce Europe.

Ecommerce Europe was founded by leading national e-commerce associations across Europe. The association represents over 25.000 European companies that sell products online. Each year, the association publishes five reports that focus on the facts and figures of the various regions in Europe. Ecommerce Europe also publishes a report (the Europe B2C Ecommerce Report) that focuses on the facts and figures for the 28 EU member countries.

Providing figures and facts

“We want to provide conditions to improve e-commerce by providing facts and figures about the markets in the various countries, but also through advocacy,” says Nagelvoort. For example, Belgian online shops need information about the online market in other countries in order to grow their business. This makes it easier for online shops to conduct cross border e-commerce, because in fact the EU is all about the free movement of goods, services and labour. The 40-page Europe B2C Ecommerce Report contains figures about the markets, tips, comments and interviews from various stakeholders in European e-commerce.

It is a very detailed document, but what are the most remarkable findings? “What I find interesting is the huge growth in e-commerce in Europe. A double-digit growth is very impressive. Traditional retail has a lower growth percentage compared to online retail. Consumers are still buying, but are shifting more to online shopping,” says Nagelvoort. Even though Europe can be seen as one market, Nagelvoort sees a lot of differences between the countries. “In the Netherlands the average online spending is decreasing, compared to a country like Germany where e-commerce is fairly new. In the Netherlands it is more common to buy something cheap online, than higher ticket price items. However, the Dutch are open to buying anything online. Also, in the Netherlands there is a low threshold to shop online because there are almost no delivery costs anymore.”

Cultural differences in e-commerce

E-commerce growth is not only down to the size of the country but also cultural context should be considered as well. The Netherlands xxx is a small country and it is fairly easy to ship the goods, that’s one of the reasons online shopping is so successful over there. In Germany there has been a mail order culture for a long time, the traditional paper catalogue has only vanished just recently. German’s did not make the transition from paper to online catalogues as fast as the Netherlands. “Each country has its own pace of growth in e-commerce, but overall there is a growth in e-commerce”, says Nagelvoort.

At the other hand Germany has a huge investment climate in E-commerce. They are ahead in creating conditions that will improve cross border e-commerce strongly. Companies like Zooplus and Zalando are growing rapidly and could become major players of the European e-commerce market.

Living outside

Another difference is that the southern countries, like Spain and Italy, started with e-commerce a bit later than other countries. Nagelvoort: “They are used to buying in local small shops. Their lives are spent outside, more than in other countries, and there is no need to do online shopping when you are out of the house most of the time. You can especially see this big difference in countries such as Iceland or Norway.”

These are just some of the stories that can be found when you dive a bit deeper in the data of this report. More numbers, figures and facts can be found in the various reports of Ecommerce Europe. A free light version of the report can be downloaded here.