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Which EU countries have the highest ecommerce penetration?

By Chris Dawson April 12, 2018 - 2:23 pm

It can be easy to decide to expand your marketplace sales to a country where the existing marketplaces you trade on already have a presence, but you could be missing out on sales but not considering partnering with new marketplaces in other territories with higher ecommerce penetration.

Today we take a look at the countries in Europe with the biggest GDPs, but rank them by who had the greatest online share of retail ecommerce sales as a share of total retail sales.

For comparison we’ve included the US as the country with the largest GDP in the world (25% of total world GDP) and the EU as a marker for average online sales as a percentage of total retail sales.

The UK is the stand out success story. Here in Britain we have a highly developed ecommerce infrastructure and still see more online sales than any other country in the world punching well above our weight in ecommerce terms. In comparison the US lags and compared to the EU we have twice the percentage of online sales then the rest of the EU combined.

Germany as the biggest economy in Europe should be top of your list for overseas expansion with strong online retail and could be a higher priority than France who only have a 10% ecommerce share of their total retail.

What may surprise you is that Spain and Italy fall well down the ecommerce share rankings although their GDP puts them 4th and 5th in Europe in GDP terms. It would be a mistake to think that just because Amazon have country sites in these territories that they are well developed in straight ecommerce terms, although because of the size of their economies a smaller ecommerce share is still significant.

The Netherlands and Sweden are countries to note. They have a higher ecommerce share of retail than the EU average, almost as high as France, indicating that consumers in these countries are more than willing to purchase online. Whilst translation will play a part in your decisions on which countries to target, these are two countries that should be considered as targets for overseas expansion.

As a side note, the US is the largest economy in the world (GDP $19 trillion) and China 2nd (GDP just under $12 trillion). However the EU taken as a whole has GDP of $17 trillion ($14.5 trillion once the UK leaves) which is why a Brexit deal which works for ecommerce is essential.

Country
GDP ($ trillions)*
Rank by GDP
Ecommerce % of Retail Sales**
UK
2.56
4
17.80%
Germany
3.65
2
15.10%
US
19
1
14.80%
France
2.57
3
10.00%
Netherlands
0.82
7
9.50%
Sweden
0.54
9
9.50%
EU Total
17
8.80%
Switzerland
0.68
8
7.50%
Austria
0.41
12
7.40%
Belgium
0.49
11
7.30%
Spain
1.31
6
4.80%
Poland
0.51
10
4.30%
Italy
1.92
5
3.40%
 
* source: IMF Estimates
** source: Statistica
  • SAM
    8 months ago

    Spain and Italy, both a lot lower than you would think. Italy actually surprises me it is so low.

    They do not have the infrastructure. Plus people still go out and socialize instead of just buying more things.

    Correos take up to 9 days to get international tracked to its end destination on average for us, and Italy is just a disaster zone with delivery.
    We have friends in Spain who are shocked if they get their orders in under 3 days.

    Will agree we NEED a Deal with Brexit the UK market is a total race to the bottom, our EU trade is essential for us.

    • 8 months ago

      There is no doubt that the postal system is vital to ecommerce. Having spent a decent amount of time in Spain this past year, I know that Correos isn’t as efficient as Royal Mail.

  • tony
    8 months ago

    It is the reliability of Royal Mail that makes ecommerce what it is in the UK. Anyone who claims INR for an item legitamately sent by Royal Mail is a thief in 100% of cases

    • northumbrian
      8 months ago

      apart from the shed loads of mail occasionally found in posties back gardens