European countries are at the forefront of e-commerce. Gain insight into the markets and consumers' preferred payment and delivery methods.
Europe has become a mature e-commerce market. The vast majority of countries are well advanced with the process, with 82-96% of the population shopping online - including the around 293 million online consumers in Europe, which makes European countries attractive when choosing your next expansion.
In this analysis of European e-commerce, we take 12 countries; Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Germany.
The figures in the analysis are based on surveys from PostNord and are backed by Shipmondo’s figures.
Europe: A matured market
Historically, Western Europe has been at the forefront of digitalization, but now Eastern Europe is well on its way to catching up. More and more countries are now approaching the top level, with an online consumption per person of almost 1,000 EUR a year, while the vast majority of Europe’s population shop online.
Germany and the United Kingdom are some of Europe’s strongest online markets in terms of volume and purchasing power, with 61.2 and 48.6 million online consumers respectively and some of the largest average consumption per person per year.
So it is not surprising if you are considering the potential of expanding your business to one or more European countries.
A changing market: Corona as a driving force
The global corona pandemic has affected e-commerce in Europe. In particular, older populations have begun to shop more online, and certain product categories have grown online with the coronavirus as the driving force.
The countries that have moved the most in the past year are, among others, Spain, Italy, and Belgium. All three of these countries have also been particularly affected by the coronavirus. So, it is also reasonable to conclude that many consumers in these countries have changed their habits in response to the pandemic and have embraced e-commerce across age groups. At the same time, products in the categories of groceries and of medical articles have increased significantly in Europe in 2020, while the electronics and fashion categories always have been high - and that continues to be the case.
Payment methods in Europe
When consumers choose their preferred payment methods, the differences between European countries become clear. The payment methods on your webshop are crucial to whether you convert a visitor into a customer.
The Nordic countries, that is, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, have major differences regarding payment methods - but some similarities, too. One of the most popular payment methods in all four Nordic countries is debit and credit card. But here the differences begin. In Sweden, 30% prefer invoice payment, in contrast to Denmark, where only 4% prefer that payment method. In Denmark, on the other hand, it is mobile apps that are growing, such as MobilePay by 18%. In Norway, the other percentages are primarily divided between invoice payments and PayPal payments, with approximately 20% for each. The same goes for Finland, where 20% still prefer direct bank transfers.
France and Spain in particular are happy to use debit and credit cards, followed by PayPal. Meanwhile, the opposite goes for Italy, which prefers PayPal instead to debit and credit cards. Other forms of payment have not gained ground among the countries.
The UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands share the same preferred payment methods as the previously mentioned countries, namely PayPal and debit and credit cards. And, while 0% in the UK prefer mobile apps, they are significantly more popular in Belgium and the Netherlands, with 11% and 21% respectively.
PayPal and debit/credit cards are also preferred by many consumers in both Germany and Poland. But in Germany, invoice payment is also popular, with 21%, while 27% in Poland prefer direct bank transfer and 12% prefer payment when the item is delivered.
Shipping and delivery methods in Europe
Shipping and delivery play a crucial role if you want to be successful in the European market. There is a big difference in consumers’ preferences for delivery methods across borders in Europe. There are also many different carriers and freight products available in the markets, so watch your step.
It requires a thorough analysis, but we help you along the way here. We review consumer preferences, so you know how to deal with the markets.
Delivery methods in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland
The Nordic countries are similar in many ways, and they are all happy to shop online and have great purchasing power. Nevertheless, the northerners vary a lot when it comes to preferences regarding delivery.
The Swedes and Norwegians are particularly happy with delivery to the mailbox. Otherwise, they prefer to pick up the package in a parcel shop.
Bring and PostNord have freight products in both Norway and Sweden that ensure that the customer’s goods arrive at the mailbox or are hung on the front door. Both carriers are popular in the Norwegian and Swedish markets.
The mailbox solution does not exist in the Danish market, but home delivery is a must during the day. The next best alternative is to pick up the package yourself - either in a parcel shop or parcel box.
In Finland, consumers do not prefer to have the package delivered to their home address to the same extent, but most people want to pick up the package themselves in a parcel shop or parcel box.
If you ship from Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, you can ship through our shipping agreements with popular carriers. All you need is a free account, and then you can book your first shipping label right away.
Delivery methods in UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Poland
When we look at the UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Poland they are more reminiscent of each other - home delivery is popular. 64% of consumers in the UK prefer home delivery during the day. It is also the most popular delivery method in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium - though closely followed by delivery in the mailbox.
Only Poland differs, in that more people prefer delivery to a parcel box (38%) to home delivery (35%). But they are close, and one should perhaps consider finding a flexible solution with multiple delivery methods.
Delivery methods in France, Italy, and Spain
In Spain, consumers also love home delivery, both during the day (38%) and in the evening (29%). In France, delivery to the mailbox is the favorite delivery method, with 42% of consumers’ votes, followed by home delivery, with 25%.
In Italy, on the other hand, opinions are clear: 70% prefer home delivery during the day.
Are you sending packages in Europe?
Depending on the country you are sending from, you can find good options for shipping and solutions in Shipmondo to make your freight management and freight booking much easier.
With a free company account with Shipmondo, you can book shipments immediately from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden with popular carriers.
If you have your own shipping agreement with one or more of our supported carriers, you can collect them all in your account and streamline your work. You can check your shipping options through Shipmondo and see all your options.
In Shipmondo, you can monitor all your packages across carriers and send personalized emails and text messages with tracking links to your customers. You can even integrate your webshop or financial system and manage your orders efficiently - and across national borders.
All features are free, and so is your account. No subscription and no binding.
You can also read more about how to set up delivery to several countries and the considerations you should take into account concerning shipping products.
Marketplaces in Europe
There is a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of marketplaces, but consumers are active on them. However, the degree varies from country to country.
The United States has long been at the forefront of the development and use of marketplaces. This is not surprising, as American Amazon is the first successful marketplace in the world. Amazon dominates US e-commerce and they have been aggressive in their expansion into Europe from an early stage. In some European countries, Amazon has been very successful, while in other countries they are struggling to take root. The German marketplace, Zalando, which is the leading marketplace in fashion, sports, and beauty products, has meanwhile also gained ground in many European countries.
Other marketplaces are also lurking in the wings and gaining smaller shares on the European market; for example Wish, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba/AliExpress, JD.com, and Allegro.
The large marketplaces have made inroads in particular Italy, Spain, and France, but also large countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Poland. Up to 97% have shopped from a marketplace.
82-95% of the online consumers in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany are Amazon users. In the UK, Amazon is also a huge player: as many as 91% of those who have shopped online have shopped in that marketplace, followed by eBay with 63%.
In the Nordic countries, however, the situation is different. Here, the proportion of consumers who have shopped in a marketplace drops to between 56-69%. In the four Nordic countries, Zalando is the most popular marketplace, with around 35% of online consumers.
The Netherlands and Belgium use the marketplaces more than the Nordic countries, with figures of 71% and 76%, respectively. Here too, Zalando ranks in first place as the most popular marketplace, with 42% and 46% respectively among online consumers in these two countries.
Want to know more about your options?
Do you have questions about how to enter logistically into one or more new markets in Europe? Maybe how to manage the - hopefully - new, large volume of orders? Or which shipping solution best suits your goods and your business? Then feel free to send us an email at email@example.com and describe your business and needs, then we will send our best advice your way.
Read more about the new VAT One-Stop Shop model for B2C sales of goods and services within the EU right here.
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