Doing e-commerce in Europe
Some time ago, Ecommerce Europe posted a report on online sales in the European market. This market is experiencing real growth. Many e-merchants think first of all of this market, to export their products, because of its proximity and its apparent accessibility.
It is therefore important to know how the European market is evolving and to know the opportunities for your e-commerce website. What is the growth of the sector? What are the obstacles? Here is an overview of e-commerce in Europe.
E-commerce in Europe: a disparate market
It is a rather disparate market. When it comes to e-commerce, each country has its own specificities. However, the European Union is trying to harmonize the different legislations by adopting directives that apply uniformly to each country.
The aim is to provide greater consumer protection. But also to give equal opportunities to e-traders in each country wishing to expand into the European market.
Economic, demographic, and cultural factors are at the root of the disparities. Such as access to the Internet, purchasing power, the presence of companies on the web, and, of course, legislation.
The major players in European e-commerce
Europe has more than 700 million inhabitants. A growing opportunity for your online shop. About 80% of the population uses the internet via different media: mobile, tablet, computer. And a good part of them makes purchases on the web. 2019 was a great year for e-commerce: 636 billion euros in turnover! This double-digit growth clearly shows the enthusiasm of Internet users for e-commerce.
Western Europe is home to the major players in online sales: France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Italy, Spain, Belgium, and some southern European countries have strong growth potential. This is even more true for Eastern European countries such as Poland, which are still in their infancy.
Europe can become a real Eldorado for your e-commerce business. It is certain that some European countries would pale in comparison in terms of volume with markets such as China or Brazil, but the opportunities are still interesting!
The adaptation of e-commerce websites to the European market
Currently, the difficulty is that some Internet users are rather reluctant to buy from a foreign merchant site.
The language barrier is a major obstacle. This is why Europe wanted, among other things, that e-commerce websites be translated into 25 languages and include a payment system in 7 different currencies. Numerous e-commerce players such as FEVAD took up the cause against this directive, which was finally retorted and voted through. Among the obstacles, there is also the lack of export assistance organizations, customs fees, and administrative complexity.
With the Powerlab e-commerce solution, you can automatically translate your site into all the EU languages. Such as Italian, Portuguese, German, English, Dutch, Spanish, French…
A desire for the Europeanization of e-merchants
If you want to become Europe-oriented, you have two options: either you adapt your offer to the countries, or you select the countries likely to match your offer.
More than the language barrier, it is the cultural specificities that quickly become restrictive. Each country consumes differently.
Don’t expect to start selling frogs’ legs and snails online in England… Although….
The use of payment methods is not the same everywhere either. For example, there is no payment by cheque in the Netherlands. It is important to study the culture of the country beforehand so as not to risk unnecessary marketing expenses.
In short, you need to adapt your offer to target new countries. It is therefore important to carry out market analysis and to know the best practices in order to set up an effective strategy. Whether it’s the design of your website or the web marketing levers to use.
To help you in your project, here is a brief reminder of what European e-commerce is.
Marketplaces: a lever for e-merchants.
With the expansion of marketplaces, Europe is much more reachable. The various marketplaces attract a multitude of online buyers from all over Europe. The most important ones are undoubtedly Amazon and eBay.
Apart from being an excellent lever to boost your sales in Europe, marketplaces can also help you to see even further afield! Internationalization is within reach with these platforms.
Have a look at this article about the Advantages & Disadvantages of Marketplaces.
The European Dream
Internationalization is not an easy thing to do, but we should not be discouraged. European e-commerce is largely viable, despite growing American competition on the old continent.
Especially since Europe wants to encourage consumers to trust foreign sites and e-commerce websites in general.
From now on, with the new directive, there will be no more opt-outs (pre-ticked options), e-buyers will benefit from a withdrawal period extended to 14 days. Then they will have to be reimbursed within two weeks from the date of receipt and all possible additional costs or return fees will have to be indicated.
This is rather restrictive for the e-merchant but it also helps to reassure consumers and encourage sales.
There are many questions to ask before you tackle the European market with your e-commerce. Internationalization is becoming almost indispensable for the development of a company that has reached a certain scale. It depends to a large extent on the strength of your company, your offer, and all your preparation beforehand.
The final word
We hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us or leave a comment.
We are one of the major pillars of European e-commerce and we would be delighted to become one of your most reliable partners.
If you are interested in European e-commerce, please check out the articles in this category.