This article has been provided by Ecommerce Europe’s national association in Bulgaria: Bulgarian E-commerce Association
Within Europe, the CEE region has emerged as a thriving e-commerce hub, exhibiting remarkable growth in recent years. In 2022, the CEE e-commerce market was expected to reach €93.84 billion, showcasing a significant increase from the previous year (data from local ecommerce associations as presented in the European Ecommerce Report). The region has consistently outpaced Western Europe in terms of e-commerce growth, driven by rising internet penetration and increased consumer trust in online shopping platforms.
Over the last five years, the CEE e-commerce market has experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 14%, far exceeding the Western European average (PwC). This exponential growth reflects the untapped potential and evolving preferences of consumers in the CEE region, making it an attractive destination for businesses seeking to expand their cross-border e-commerce efforts.
In the European e-commerce narrative, the Western Balkans, comprising the non-EU countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, also plays a significant role, albeit with its unique characteristics. In 2022, the combined e-commerce market in the Western Balkans was estimated to reach around €2.2 billion, marking a substantial increase from previous years (European Ecommerce Report).
In the last years cross-border ecommerce expansion became a hot topic among e-merchants. Regulatory changes, development of delivery infrastructure and quick growth of online sales were among the factors that contributed most. In this context, in the summer of 2023 Mediapost Hit Mail launched an international ecommerce survey for second year in a row. Hundreds of companies from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) responded. Online sellers re-confirmed the survey as one of the most detailed private market research activities in the region. Again, the primary goal was to understand better the main challenges merchants have while selling their products online and expanding cross-border.
The key findings of the survey reveal that compared to 2022 the number of respondents that have their own ecommerce website is growing to 29%. Marketplace sellers decrease to 7% and this is because of more respondents from the Western Balkans region where the options for marketplace sales (especially for cross-border activities) are lower. Still 53% of merchants do not sell online, but more than third of all respondents are planning to start soon. The option for no additional marketing cost and the fact that marketplaces are a good way to test a foreign market rank highest when it comes to benefits for merchants using this channel.
For merchants with product that are good fit for ecommerce, lack of budget and expertise remain the main reasons not to do it. While budget constraints can be partially compensated by selling on popular marketplaces and paying commissions when there are orders, the lack of knowledge could only be bypassed by outsourcing some key activities.
More than one-third of merchants selling online in the CEE region expected up to 20% growth in revenue in 2023 compared to 2022. One quarter saw no difference, and almost 14% expect to have their revenue down by up to 20% compared to the previous year.
About Mediapost Hit Mail Bulgaria
Mediapost Hit Mail Bulgaria was founded in 2005 as a specialized agency for direct marketing. In 2009 it was acquired by the French group La Poste. Since 2010 several new services were added to the portfolio: email marketing, PPC, landing pages optimization etc.
Today Mediapost Hit Mail is offering services for clients in more than 15 markets in the EU, in three main divisions: digital marketing, promotional campaigns, and cross-border ecommerce. The Mediapost Cross-border division helps local ecommerce companies grow their business internationally at scale.
Mediapost Hit Mail is a member of the Bulgarian E-commerce Association.