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REPORT: E-commerce in Europe on the rise


According to a new report commissioned by PostNord/Direct Link, Europeans are catching onto e-commerce and making more online purchases than ever before.

The study, based on interviews with 12,000 consumers from 12 different European markets showed that approximately 250 million consumers in the surveyed markets shopped online in the past year.

With the total spend in these countries estimated at around 190 billion Euros, the three largest European e-commerce markets were the UK, Germany and France. Online consumers in the UK had the highest average spending per capita with slightly over 1,100 Euro per year.

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So where are they buying from? Mostly overseas, with price and availability being two core reasons why.

Core categories

Clothing and footwear are the most popular product categories in all of the studied markets with the exception of Italy – where home electronics top the list. Food is also increasing slowly, where it is most popular in the UK with more than 30% of residents shopping online for food items.

Delivery methods

Consumers differ in how they want their purchases delivered. In six out of nine markets, they preferred daytime home delivery. In Germany, the Nordics and France however, online shoppers preferred delivery to their mail boxes first.


The European e-commerce market.

Product returns

It is more important than ever to provide customers with very clear information on how to process returns. The online consumers most inclined to return items are Germans with 46% having returned an online purchase in the last year. Not surprisingly, the most returned product category is clothing and footwear, with home electronics and children’s items in second and third place.

Localised payments

In most markets, paying by credit or debit card was the most valued option but in Germany, only 18% preferred this method. However, more than 50% of consumers in France and Belgium preferred paying by credit or debit cards. Poland also stood out with as much as 22% choosing cash on delivery as their number one option.

Top countries

While the overall proportion of those who shop online from abroad is growing noticeably in all surveyed European markets, the consumers most interested in buying from abroad are in The Nordics, UK and Belgium. The largest increase compared to last year study was recorded in Poland, by twelve percentage points, while Belgium and Spain showed steady growth.

Download the report “E-commerce in Europe 2016” for more information.