European e-commerce is enjoying strong growth every year. In France, many e-traders invest in this nearby market first, to export their products or to exploit their services.
Proximity and ease of exchange, European trade allows these companies to evolve internationally with an accessible territorial development, as for delivery or prices in € for example.
It is therefore important to know how Europe is evolving in terms of e-commerce. And to know the opportunities for your distance selling website. What is the growth of the sector? What are the obstacles? All the information you need to know before making your company known internationally.
E-commerce in Europe: a diversified market
A global upward trend
The European commerce curve is growing. If we look at even the 2020 e-commerce figures for France. FEVAD sheds light on historic growth in 2020. 112 billion euros: this is the sum that defines the French sector, an increase of 8.5% compared to 2019.
Marked by current events and the global health crisis, European consumers have been present on the web. Facing the closure of shops in all countries.
The latest analysis by Ecommerce Europe highlighted the strength of e-commerce in the Old Continent. A sector that had exceeded €621 billion in 2019 and €700 billion in 2020.
These increases of 13% compared to 2018 and 2019 set the tone for a constant progression of retail and online services. Even more so with data influenced by an unprecedented health situation.
The number of Europeans is also increasing: in 2019, there were 798.4 million inhabitants. Which corresponds to more than 500 million potential buyers, according to the E-commerce Europe study.
Countries do not show the same growth. In 2019, 25,5% of the turnover of the European e-commerce business was concentrated in Western Europe. Of the €682 billion spent by internet customers in that year, €588 billion came from Western Europe.
The North stands out for having the highest per capita spending rate of €2,046 per year. On average, online shoppers spent over €1464 in 2019 compared to €1346 in 2018.
When it comes to online shopping, each state has its own specificities. In law, however, the European Union is trying to harmonize the different laws for businesses by adopting directives that apply uniformly to each region.
The aim is to protect the consumer more in the act of buying, to balance prices, to offer delivery methods that are regulated in the same way for all, but also to give all companies the same opportunities, without any difference in location.
However, it is above all economic, demographic, and cultural factors that 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
Distance shopping has never been more powerful.
In 2020, the most connected areas on the planet were Europe, with a penetration rate of 85%, followed by North America with 84%.
For Internet commerce, the figures are mainly supported by the United Kingdom, Germany, and France where the rate of online purchases exceeds 85%. This is followed by countries such as Spain and Netherlands.
Eastern Europe is the region with the fewest online shoppers, such as Ukraine with only 22% of customers online.
The key for your e-commerce will be to analyze the winning products in each region of Europe, the services that could be developed in a neighboring country, to find more and more potential buyers for your business.
The key is to know how to adapt the sale, its prices, its offers, its delivery methods, the collection of VAT, according to the customer country…
Adapting your website to the European market
At present, the difficulty is that some Internet users are rather reluctant to buy from a foreign merchant site.
If a product is poorly referenced online in a foreign country, the customer’s act of buying will not be obvious and the contract of trust cannot be established.
The language barrier is a major obstacle. This is why Europe wanted, among other things, that e-commerce sites 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 reworked and then passed. Among the obstacles, we also find the lack of organizations to help to export items, customs fees, and administrative complexity.
If you want to go European, you have two solutions: either adapt your offer to the countries or select the countries likely to correspond to your catalogue of items.
With the Powerlab e-commerce solution, you can automatically translate your site into all the European languages.
A desire for Europeanization for e-merchants
More than the language barrier, it is the cultural specificities that are the main issues. Each country consumes differently, as we have seen with online transaction rates.
Payment methods are not all the same. 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 an analysis of the sector and to be aware of best practices. In order to implement an effective strategy. Whether in terms of the design of your site, the web marketing levers to use, or the country’s e-commerce trends.
Beware also of VAT taxation: everything depends on the nature of the operations and the identity of your customer. Sale of goods, provision of services, online services, private or professional customers… VAT applies in Europe.
To help you with your project, here are 3 tips for a successful digital transformation.
Marketplaces: a lever for e-merchants
European e-commerce is largely dominated by online marketplaces, as you can read in this article.
With the expansion of marketplaces, Europe is much more reachable. The various marketplaces attract a multitude of online shoppers from all over Europe, like industry giant Amazon.
Apart from being an excellent lever to boost your sales in Europe, marketplaces like Amazon can also help you to see even further afield! Internationalization is within reach with these sites.
The European Dream
Internationalization is not an easy thing to do, but we should not be discouraged. European e-commerce is largely viable despite increasing American and Chinese competition on the Old Continent.
Especially since Europe wants to encourage consumers to trust foreign sites and e-commerce sites in general.
From now on, customers will have a 14-day withdrawal period: they will have to be reimbursed within two weeks from the date of receipt and any additional costs or return fees will have to be indicated.
This helps to reassure consumers and encourage sales, a contract of trust between the business and the end customer.
There are many questions to ask before embarking on the European expansion of your Internet business. However, information is increasingly available and transparent to enable you to operate in Europe.
Your success in Europe depends to a large extent on the strength of your company, your offer and your preparation beforehand. Support will be essential for success. Are you ready for the adventure?
Trust Powerlab, take the digital lift.
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