European e-commerce is booming. This is apparent from the new European B2C Ecommerce Report published by Ecommerce Europe, the European umbrella organisation for online retailers. European online revenue of goods and services grew by 19% to reach €311.6 billion in 2012. The EU28 (including Croatia, joining the EU as of 1 July 2013) reached €276.5 billion, or 88.7% of total European e-sales, a growth of 18.1%. Ecommerce Europe figures are compiled in cooperation with various e-commerce associations around Europe and in cooperation with GfK.
The European e-commerce industry is clearly dominated by three leading countries: the UK (€96 billion), Germany (€50 billion) and France (€45 billion). The total of €191 billion of these three countries together represents 61% of the total European B2C e-commerce sector and 69% of the EU28.
Impact of the Internet (including e-commerce) on the European Economy
The total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Europe in 2012 is estimated to have reached €16 trillion, of which the GDP of the EU28 was just over 80 per cent. Ecommerce Europe estimates the share of the European Internet economy at 3.5%, a percentage that is set to double by 2016 and to triple by 2020 given the fact that the Internet economy grows much faster that the economy in general.
The number of jobs created directly and indirectly by the B2C e-commerce sector is estimated at 2 million in Europe, a figure that will grow with the on-going increase and penetration of online in society, and the projected growth of B2C e-commerce.
Ecommerce Europe estimates the number of B2C websites to have grown to 550,000 at the end of 2012, growing at a pace of 15 to 20% per year and set to grow even more given the growth foreseen in the upcoming markets in the South and the East such as Spain, Italy, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey, where B2C e-commerce is rapidly closing the gap with the more mature markets in North, West, and Central Europe.
Postal and private operators have reaped the fruits of the impressive growth over the past years of B2C e-commerce. Ecommerce Europe estimates the annual number of B2C parcels sent to customers domestically and across borders to other (European) countries at 3.5 billion, a number that will certainly continue to grow with the increase forecasted for B2C e-commerce in Europe.
European e-commerce is growing steadily every year, outpacing growth in traditional retail and services. B2C e-commerce represents one of the major drivers of the ailing European economy. However, there are large differences in development between the mature markets in the North and the North West, and the emerging (though rapidly catching up) countries in South, Central and Eastern Europe, led by Russia, Turkey, Poland and Ukraine..
E-commerce penetration and growth differs per region
Western Europe (including the UK, France, the Benelux countries and Ireland) is the European region with the highest B2C e-commerce turnover. This is due to the impact of two of the largest e-commerce economies in Europe: the UK and France. Western Europe represents €160.8 billion or 51.6% of the total European e-commerce market.
The Central European region – which includes Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Poland – is the second largest e-commerce region in Europe, with €76.3 billion or 24.5% of the European e-commerce industry. Germany sets the tone in this region as the second largest e-commerce nation of Europe.
The Southern European region surpassed the Nordic countries in 2012 and is now the third region in Europe, with €33.2 billion turnover and a 33.6% growth rate. Its share in the total European e-commerce market is 10.7%. Eastern Europe and Southern Europe – including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Turkey – are the two regions with the most emerging e-commerce markets.
The Northern European region – with Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and the Baltic states – is now in fourth position for e-commerce size, with €28.7 billion, a 9.2% market share.
The Eastern European region, led by Russia, has shown an impressive 37% growth, reaching a turnover of €12.6 billion and a 4% market share.
Europe is the largest B2C e-commerce market in the world
In 2010 Europe overtook the USA, as the biggest B2C e-commerce market in the world. In 2012 the total European B2C e-commerce turnover, including goods and services, reached €311.6 billion, a 35.1% share of global B2C e-commerce. North America, including the USA and Canada, is currently the second largest e-commerce region, with a €294.2 billion turnover and a 33.1% share. Asia-Pacific is the third region: €227.8 billion and a 25.6% share. In 2012 Asia-Pacific has confirmed being the world’s fastest growing region. The emerging regions are Latin America with €42.1 billion turnover (4.7% share) and the MENA countries (Middle East and North Africa) with €10.8 billion turnover (1.2% share). Ecommerce Europe estimates the total global e-commerce market at €889 billion.
Rapid growth to continue
According to Wijnand Jongen, vice-president of Ecommerce Europe and in charge of statistics and research, growth in Europe can easily be explained. “The Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in particular have a head start as far as Internet usage and mobile devices is concerned. These mature countries are scoring very high for both e-commerce and m-commerce (sales via smart phones and tablets). In these countries 70 to 80 per cent of Internet users are e-shoppers. Internet penetration is 90% or higher. Their growth figures are currently 10 to 15 per cent. But other European countries are catching up fast. These countries currently have relatively fewer online purchasers, but the market is growing rapidly. Ecommerce Europe expects the European B2C e-commerce market to double in size by the end of 2016 to reach €625bn, driven by increased confidence and a growing number of e-shoppers.
Trend: more and more consumers in Europe are always online
In the coming years growth of online sales will largely be determined by the rapid and spectacular penetration of mobile commerce. In the United Kingdom, m-commerce has reached 12 per cent of total online sales in 2012. This was “only” five per cent at the end of 2011. In Scandinavia the share is currently 8% and in France 2%. By way of comparison: the share of m-commerce in the United States is estimated to have reached close to 10% almost double the size of 2011. Jongen: “Here, in Europe, we see a comparable trend. The Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom are leading.. Other countries will follow soon and fast: today 47.6% of all Europeans have a smart phone. Consumers are already always connected; they can search and purchase wherever and whenever they want. A major challenge for innovative entrepreneurs who manage to jump on the bandwagon.”
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