Online consumer behavior in Europe

To better understand the European ecommerce industry, it’s a good idea to look at online consumer behavior in Europe. Over the years, dozens of interesting studies have been conducted which shine some light on how, when and why the average European consumer shops online.


According to a study by Direct Link at least 297 million European consumers shopped online in 2020. They are estimated to have spent 465 billion euros online. European consumers are more often making their way to online stores. In 2017, over 60 percent shopped online once a month and 6 percent bought online every day. During lockdowns in 2020, even 96 percent of consumers in Europe shopped shopper

Cross-border shopping

While the strong growth in online shopping that was seen during the pandemic has slowed down, consumers are still buying online. According to a study in 2021, half of online shoppers all over the world buy cross-border

European spend 5% of spending on subscriptions.

Research shows that subscriptions are here to stay, as Europeans spend 5 percent of their spending on subscriptions and spend on average 130 euros per months for subscriptions. And every year, 350 billion euros is spent on these type of purchases in Europe.

Sustainability is important to European consumers

Sustainability is increasingly becoming important for European consumers. Research published in 2022, showed that over 50 percent of shoppers are willing to wait longer for a parcel if it is coming from a sustainable shop. However, only 1 in 5 customers are prepared to pay extra for eco-friendly deliveries. Consumers consider the environment most often when shopping for groceries and fashion.

In 2020, Sendcloud conducted a large study on online consumer behavior in Europe.

2020 Study on online consumer behavior in Europe

In 2020, Sendcloud conducted a study amongst a total of 8529 consumers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria. All respondents bought products online. Here are some of the most important findings from this study:


  • Online shoppers in Europe order online 1.9 times per month on average;
  • On average, 5.3 products are ordered online in the last three months;
  • If consumers leave an online store, it’s mostly because the shipping costs are too high (65 percent);


  • 34 percent of online shoppers are not willing to pay for shipping at all when the order value exceeds 150 euros;
  • 70 percent of European online shoppers are likely to add another product to their shopping basket to reach a free shipping threshold;
  • On average, European shoppers believe that orders made just after 4 PM should still be eligible for next-day delivery;
  • Costs of delivery are the most important part of the delivery to online shoppers, followed by the speed of delivery and the flexibility in delivery options;
  • European shoppers expect to have their order delivered in 3.1 days; The average maximum time they are willing to wait for their delivery is 4.4 days;
  • For 47 percent, the carrier(s) offered by an online store has/have an influence on the purchase decision;

European shoppers expect to have their order delivered in 3.1 days.


  • European shoppers prefer to receive delivery updates through email (64 percent) and SMS (43 percent);
  • They want to be kept up-to-date on the delivery status of their order, especially when their package has left the warehouse, has been handed over to the carrier
    and is on its way to the delivery address;
  • Consumers are least interested in receiving an update when the order is delivered;


  • 53 percent of European online shoppers will typically return products if they are not satisfied;
  • If they don’t return a product, it’s mostly because returning is a big hassle to them (50 percent), or returning the product is more expensive than keeping it (44 percent);
  • European online shoppers believe that online retailers are mainly responsible for arranging and paying for the return shipment of their order;
  • 56 percent of Europeans always check the return policy before they decide to buy a product from an online store.

56% of Europeans always check the return policy before buying something.

  • 45 percent prefer to bring their return to a drop-off point; followed by 34 percent wanting it picked upt at home or at work;
  • Online shoppers are willing to wait for a refund only 5 days after they’ve submitted a return (the law saws a maximum of 14 days is allowed);

Cross-border shopping

  • 53 percent of online shoppers have ordered from an international website in the past twelve months;
  • Main reasons not to order from abroad are: delivery costs are too high (51 percent), potential extra costs for customs (42 percent), and difficulties in returning products (40 percent).