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E-commerce in the European Union - statistics & facts

Recent forecasts are positive that the European e-commerce market will continue its fast and dynamic climb with revenues reaching over half a trillion U.S. dollars in the next few years. This comes as no surprise as the share of e-commerce users is higher than 60 percent in the most mature e-commerce markets across the European Union.

The ever-growing business of selling online

EU companies generate roughly one-fifth of their revenues from the online sales channel, with Ireland outdoing all other countries. In 2020, firms located in Ireland produced over 40 percent of their revenues from e-commerce. The changing consumption behavior in favor of e-commerce platforms resulted in increased revenue and user base across the European continent. For instance, in 2020, revenue from online retail physical goods in Germany grew by more than ten billion euros from 2019. Similar increases were reported in other countries as well. Likewise, the annual spending per capita expanded, reaching over 1,000 euros in the UK and Sweden.

An e-commerce common market

As European countries share a common trade market, it is quite normal that EU consumers buy from e-commerce companies not located in their country. On average, one-fourth of the EU’s e-commerce revenue is due to cross-border activities. In turn, cross-border e-commerce from outside of the EU is a shopping habit reported by one in four online shoppers. Excluding travel services, the value of cross-border B2C e-commerce in the leading 16 European markets neared 150 billion euros in 2020, while projections for 2022 forecast a further growth to 220 billion euros.

Paying online gets easier

Debit and credit cards are still the undisputed payment method for online transactions, except for Italian shoppers. However, the range of options is getting wider. While Scandinavian users preferred PayPal and invoice payment in equal measure, French online shoppers showed a much higher preference for PayPal or similar services. In the Benelux region, mobile applications like Swish or MobilePay have gained user base shares. One in five Dutch online shoppers used mobile payment methods for online shopping, unlike their Belgian neighbors, whose usage rate stood at roughly ten percent in 2020.

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