Recent research conducted by GfK Market Research Institute in 11 European countries (Europe11) shows that e-commerce has grown extremely fast over the past six years, especially in consumer electronics. According to the actual turnover of online shops, as recorded by GfK and presented to Ecommerce Europe (the leading European e-commerce association), the 6.7% share of the total turnover of online sales back in 2006 has reached 15.5% in 2012. GfK and Ecommerce Europe estimate that the total turnover of web-based sales of goods and services in 2012 will reach €310 billion.
The turnover of consumer electronics in Europe11 decreased by 1.3% from January to November 2012. This decrease is mainly due to the decline of traditional sales (-3.2%) whereas online sales saw an important growth (+9.3%).
Online sales more and more important in Europe
The online channel reached 16.8% of the total Europe11 turnover in consumer electronics, however with important differences between countries. Five countries have an Internet penetration above the European average of 16.8%: the Czech Republic (33.1%), Germany (21.9%), the Netherlands (18.6%), Switzerland (18.4%), France (15.8%) and the United Kingdom (21.6%). With shares below 7%, Italy and Spain are far under the European average; Portugal has the lowest Internet penetration (2.5%).
Share of countries and market specificities
The three largest markets in Europe are France, Germany and the UK. Their ranking may differ according to channels:
• Online Sales: Germany, the UK and France provide 78.5% of Europe11 e-commerce Turnover;
• Offline Sales: Germany, France and the UK with 63.4% of traditional sales.
Preliminary Trends in Christmas Sales 2012
Preliminary trends in the tracked sales of selected banners (leader panel) of specific High Tech products, identified as “Christmas techno gifts” in 6 European countries: United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain. The period covered extends from week 46 to week 51 of 2012.
The Christmas 2012 turnover trend for “Christmas techno gifts” shows an overall increase of 3%. Offline sales are almost stable (-0.6%), whereas e-commerce turnover shows an extremely positive increase of 17%. The dynamics of this channel keep on being strong during the Christmas period.
Seasonality: Online sales are concentrated on just a couple of weeks, as more than 40% of the turnover has been generated during week 49 and week 50.
E-commerce channels were up 2.8 points in market share during these six weeks before Christmas in the aforementioned six European countries; in every country we see the same trend but there are significant differences according to the season, which relate to local consumption and logistical specificities:
• In the Netherlands, peaks of activity are perceived in week 48 (the week before Saint Nicolas’ Day, when Dutch people exchange gifts) and week 51. Delivery time is less than 24 hours; therefore consumers have no apprehension when ordering a few days before Christmas.
• In Spain, online and offline sales in week 49 are decreasing, especially because of public holidays, more profitable for European holidays than Christmas sales; online sales are continuing until week 51 and even during week 52 and week 1 of 2013, because of traditional gifts offered during “The Three Wise Men Feast”.
• Germany shows steady activity during the season: the share of online sales increases every week and week 51 still contributes for 21% of the total online turnover during this period.
• In France, Italy and the UK, online sales are progressively concentrating until week 50; then we note a small contraction in week 51; most probably related to consumers’ fear about potential delays in delivery time.
Which are the best-selling techno products at Christmas?
The most appreciated techno gifts for Christmas show booming sales: flat screen TV sets, tablets, mobile computers, digital cameras and interchangeable lenses and in SDA: robot-vacuum cleaners and (espresso) coffee makers.
These product groups are the most often ranked in the top ten of most sold goods during the Christmas Season, independent of the country.
Web connected products will drive the further growth of ecommerce in Europe
To conclude, Christmas 2012 demonstrated the excellent health of e-commerce in Europe; in countries where e-commerce is emerging, such as Belgium, Italy or Spain and also in countries where e-commerce is more mature, such as the UK, the Netherlands, France or Germany. The past holiday period confirms new consumption habits, more and more through smartphones or tablets, thanks to the increasing uptake of European consumers of these two products. Diversification, mobility, logistics and business model optimisation are the focus of consumer electronics’ websites for the next years.