European B2C ecommerce still growing fast, with national markets moving at different speeds


Online retail has continued its double-digit growth, with European ecommerce turnover increasing by 11% to €534 billion in 2017 and forecasted to grow by 13% to €602 billion in 2018. In 2013, it was no more than €307 billion. This is one of the many findings of the European B2C Ecommerce Report 2018, that will be jointly launched today by Ecommerce Europe and EuroCommerce. The report sets out the main ecommerce[1] trends, facts and figures, and offers insights for each of the European ecommerce markets.

Marlene ten Ham, Secretary General of Ecommerce Europe, stated: “As the European ecommerce association, we are delighted to see these figures, because strengthening and fostering online sales in Europe is our mission. We aim at creating a level playing field for online trading in EU countries and these data offer great insights into European ecommerce markets and provide valuable information for companies that want to start selling cross-border in Europe”.

Online retail is strongest in Western Europe, with approximately 68% of total European online retail turnover. This can be attributed mainly to Western Europe’s advanced infrastructure, high internet penetration and high level of consumer trust and familiarity with online shopping. Southern Europe, Northern Europe and Eastern Europe show lower share of European ecommerce: 12%, 8% and 6% respectively. However, these are the regions with the fastest growth, reflected by the annual ecommerce growth rate in Romania of 37% last year.

Key trends identified in the report show that the largest ecommerce market in Europe is the UK (€178 billion[2]), followed by France (€93.2 billion[3]) and Germany (€93 billion[4]). The UK scores the highest also in terms of E-GDP (i.e. Ecommerce Turnover / GDP = Ecommerce Share of GDP), with a 2017 rate of 7% and a projected 8% in 2018.

The report also reveals challenges that consumers still face when shopping online. Among the main complaints are speed of delivery (17%) and technical failures (13%). Logistical performance plays a crucial role in the success of ecommerce penetration and integration within a nation. Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Sweden excel in this regard, topping the list of European countries according to the Logistical Performance Index from the World Bank.

Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce, commented:

“These figures show how the fast-growing role of online sales is both driving, and responding to, changes in consumer purchasing behaviour. In those markets where this trend is still slow, much progress could be made if more was invested in the communications and logistical infrastructure which ecommerce needs to work effectively if it is to thrive. Meanwhile, we will continue to press for a regulatory regime which creates the right conditions for growth in all channels of sales, and helps the EU compete globally in innovation in retail.”

[1] Ecommerce in this report is seen as any B2C sale of products or services fully or partly concluded by distance communication technology.

[2] 2018 forecast

[3] Idem

[4] Idem