Ecommerce is one of those sectors that offers almost unlimited development possibilities and is easily scalable. However, to reach new growth levels, you have to think about cross-border expansion, primarily to Western European countries. What is waiting for you behind the western border? Tens of millions of new customers, frequently well-acquainted with online shopping and with wallets a bit thicker than those in Poland.
The E-commerce in Europe 2020 report published by Postnord shows the current situation in the European eCommerce sector. What are the main conclusions we can draw from it? Well, the crucial conclusion is this: If you want to grow your online business, you have to expand your activity to other European countries. Poland is simply not sufficient.
“Among our clients, we are observing a growing trend of foreign expansion to the Western markets. Polish brands, especially fashion labels, are appreciated by foreign customers because of their high quality and competitive prices (especially in comparison with local brands). As our clients’ experience shows, the cross-border strategy allows them to increase profits by up to 100% year after year! It’s a growth level absolutely unachievable on the Polish market”–explains Piotr Suchodolski, Marketing Director at Omnipack.
268 million customers shopping online are waiting! Right now!
That’s the target audience of online shoppers waiting for you in eleven of the most developed European countries:
- Germany: 61.2 million
- The United Kingdom: 48.6 million
- France: 45.4 million
- Italy: 39.3 million
- Spain: 33.4 million
- The Netherlands: 13.1 million
- Belgium: 7.5 million
- Sweden: 7.5 million
- Finland: 4.1 million
- Denmark: 4.0 million
- Norway: 3.9 million
What’s even more interesting is that online buyers living in these countries are typically more willing to spend money online than Poles. The estimated average eCommerce expenditure per person per year in Poland is just 456 EUR. In Germany, it’s 947 EUR. In France, 752 EUR. In the United Kingdom, it’s 1,020 EUR!
Europe not only gives you access to a more extensive market, but it also gives you access to a more profitable market! In fact, when it comes to eCommerce expenditure, Poland is in… last place. Although this country is rapidly developing, opening yourself up to other countries allows you to grow much faster.
Interestingly, the vast majority of European consumers are open to buying in foreign stores. People in these countries are especially keen on making cross-border online purchases:
- Germany: 45.9 million made at least one cross-border purchase over the past year
- UK: 32.6 million
- France: 32.4 million
- Italy: 32.1 million
- Spain: 26.2 million
The most popular product categories
When we talk about the prevalent product categories in European countries, we have to name three segments:
- Clothing and footwear
- Home electronics
Clothing and footwear is, by far, the most popular category of the three. Take a look at this chart:
If you run a fashion store, you’re in for a treat! In the UK alone, 33 million consumers buy clothing online. In Italy, 22 million. In Germany, 40 million. In other countries, fashion is also the number one shopping category.
Other categories that also bode well are as follows:
- Home furnishings
- Sports and leisure products
- Children’s items and toys
- Car accessories
- Dietary supplements
If food caught your attention, you have to know that’s mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, in Spain alone, 30% of consumers bought groceries for the very first time online during the coronavirus pandemic.
If your store operates in some of these market segments, you’re good to go. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that stores selling different products shouldn’t think about expanding their businesses. We can only indicate the most popular categories, therefore it’s not enough to decide whether your company should take this step.
Europeans love marketplaces
The vast majority of European online shoppers are well-acquainted with marketplaces and are keen to use them. In the United Kingdom and Italy, 97% of respondents said they made at least one purchase on a marketplace over the past year. In Spain and Germany, 95% said so. In France, 89%. Interestingly, Sweden is a rare exception. Only 56% of Swedish consumers said they use online marketplaces.
The most popular marketplaces in Europe are:
In most countries, 30-45% of respondents state that they have shopped online at Zalando (except for the UK). For Amazon, the corresponding figure is 80-90% in a few (large) countries, but considerably lower in other countries.
Now, we are going to analyze three of the largest European eCommerce markets: The United Kingdom, Germany, and France. If you’re thinking about cross-border expansion, these three countries are your best bet, especially at the beginning.
Ecommerce market: Germany
If you are interested in this country, we have in-depth analysis for you right here. The fact is, German economy has suffered severely due to the pandemic, yet it still remains an interesting destination for your store.
The prevalent product categories in Germany are:
- Clothing and footwear: 65%
- Books and audiobooks: 47%
- Pharmacy products: 46%
- Home electronics: 42%
- Home furnishings: 32%
- Sports and leisure products: 32%
- Cosmetics: 30%
- Movies: 30%
What about marketplaces? 88% of German respondents said they purchased something on Amazon over the past year, and 56% bought something on eBay. The third most popular marketplace is Zalando (31% of answers).
Ecommerce market: The United Kingdom
In fact, it’s one of the largest eCommerce markets not just in European terms but also in global terms (just behind The United States and China). The UK gives you access to almost 50 million potential customers.
The most popular product categories in the UK are:
- Clothing and footwear: 68% of the British online consumers made a purchase over the past year in this category
- Books and audiobooks: 46%
- Groceries: 45%
- Home electronics: 43%
- Cosmetics: 39%
- Home furnishings: 30%
- Movies: 23%
- Toys: 22%
Moreover, in the past year, 91% of Brits shopped online on Amazon, and 63% on eBay. These marketplaces can be the most straightforward and fastest way to enter this tremendous market.
Ecommerce market: France
Over 45 million potential customers are waiting for you here! And it’s no surprise that in the fashion capital of the world, clothing and footwear is the number one category when it comes to eCommerce purchases. 54% of the French customers bought at least one piece of clothing within the last year.
What are the other best-selling categories in France?
- Home electronics: 36%
- Sports and leisure products: 34%
- Books and audiobooks: 34%
- Cosmetics: 32%
- Groceries: 27%
- Home furnishings: 25%
- Toys: 23%
Regarding marketplaces, Amazon is number one. 82% of respondents said they purchased something on Amazon over the past year. Only 28% said so about eBay, and 25% about Zalando.
Get ready for the cross-border expansion: Gather necessary knowledge
If you want to expand your business and conquer foreign markets, now is a perfect time. Due to global lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, customers buy more products online. But before you start your expansion, there is a lot of work and preparation that have to be done.
We advise you to read some of the articles that can be found on our blog. They will broaden your knowledge and show you the big picture related to running an international online store. Take a look at these posts:
- How to build an international eCommerce business?
- Cross-Border strategy for eCommerce in 3 easy steps
- Start selling in Germany
And lastly, think of the fulfillment service. Working with a logistics operator can significantly facilitate this endeavor. Logistics operators like Omnipack have a fully developed infrastructure and vast experience in cooperation with carriers. As a result, you don’t have to worry about the warehouse, delivery times, packaging, returns, etc. We handle all of that for you! If you’d like to find out more, drop us a line today!