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Ecommerce in Europe

Information about ecommerce in EuropeThe ecommerce industry in Europe consists of three major markets, upcoming countries and thriving startup scenes. But it’s difficult to see the European ecommerce industry as one, as it consists of several regions that all play their own role. Let’s have a look at ecommerce in Europe.

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EUROPE
Population 743.1 million people
– % internet users (EU) 85%
Online sales €621 billion (2019)
Online stores worth mentioning: Otto, Tesco, CDiscount, Bol.com, Zalando, H&M

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Ecommerce customers in Europe

A Mastercard survey from 2017 shows that one in four Europeans who have internet access have shopped online at least once a week, while over 60 percent shopped online once a month and 6 percent even bought products or services via the internet every day. You can read more about online consumer behavior in Europe on our dedicated page.

Cards account for the largest share of business-to-consumer ecommerce transactions in Europe, as research from yStats.com shows. Digital wallets are second best. In the UK, credit cards are very popular: about four in ten online transactions are paid this way. Debit cards account for 35 percent of all online transactions, while PayPal is the country’s third most used online payment method. Germans like to pay with invoice, while French consumers use debit card Carte-Blue, MasterCard, American Express and PayPal. In the Benelux, iDeal (the Netherlands) and Bancontact (Belgium) are very popular. For more common payment methods in Europe, check out our overview of the most popular online payment methods in Europe.

The ecommerce market in Europe

Data from 2014 shows that in the UK, Germany, France, the Benelux, the Nordics, Spain, Italy and Poland clothing and footwear are amongst the most popular product categories, just like home electronics and books.

Popular product categories in Europe 2014

Ecommerce sales in Europe grew to 621 billion euros in 2019. Most of the online turnover is still being generated in Western Europe, which accounts for approximately 66 percent of total European online retail turnover. Southern Europe, Northern Europe, Central Europe and Eastern Europe show a much lower share of European ecommerce with 14, 9, 6 and 4 percent respectively.

Ecommerce turnover in Europe, from 2013 to 2019.
Ecommerce turnover in Europe, from 2013 to 2019.

As the Centre for Retail Research has found out, apart from the UK and Germany, market shares are comparatively low in many European countries. In 2016, the average online share of the European countries surveyed was 8 percent, while it’s expected to reach 8.8 percent in 2017. Countries where the ecommerce industry accounts for a fair share of total retail sales are the UK (17.8 percent forecast for 2017), Germany (15.1 percent) and France (10 percent). Not surprisingly, these are the biggest ecommerce countries in Europe. Other countries with high market shares are Sweden and the Netherlands.

Source: Centre for Retail Research

Big online stores in Europe

Of course, major American retailers have their influence on local ecommerce industries in Europe. As a matter of fact, Amazon was the most-visited online marketplace in Europe in 2018. But that’s not to say Europe doesn’t have its own ‘Amazons’. In Internet Retailer’s top 10 list of biggest online retailers in Europe, Amazon, Staples and Apple are the only American retailers. The list also contains Otto (Germany), Tesco (UK), Groupe Casino (France), Shop Direct Group, Home Retail Group (both UK), Zalando (Germany) and John Lewis (UK). And then there’s this list of top 10 online stores in Europe, which features Amazon (on 7th place) as the only non-European player in that list.

Latest news about Europe

The status of ecommerce within manufacturing

Manufacturers increasingly want to digitize their sales- and buying processes. But what is the current maturity level of their online sales- and services capabilities? And how does it come that manufacturers act so protective in the after-sales business?

Forever 21 relaunches online stores in Europe

Fashion retailer Forever 21 has re-entered the ecommerce scene in Europe. The American company has launched new localized online stores for the most popular markets in Europe.

Inditex closes many stores, invests billions in ecommerce

Inditex, which owns eight brands including Zara and Pull&Bear, will close up to 1,200 stores. Instead, the fashion giant has unveiled a digital platform while it wants to further boost its digital transformation.

Just Eat Takeaway acquires Grubhub

Just Eat Takeaway, the Dutch-British meal delivery company, has acquired Grubhub, a food delivery service from the US. It’s an extra interesting acquisition from Just Eat Takeaway: competitor Uber Eats had also been trying to acquire Grubhub.

Shavatar wants to decrease fashion returns

Shavatar is the name of a 3D avatar tool that should lead to fewer returns in the online fashion industry. With Shavatar, consumers can create their own avatars based on a few parameters. The tool then suggests the right size and fit of any given fashion item.

Read all our articles about ecommerce in Europe.

Last update: June 2019