E-tailers looking to expand their footprint in Europe are finding a vibrant, growing market—$133 billion in sales last year, with annual 25 percent growth for each of the next five years, according to a report from eMarketer.
But those merchants will also find a Europe that is changing, with vastly different country personalities and preferences, according to the report, released July 30. Europe may be moving to one consolidated currency, but its residents still use those Euros quite differently. The money may be the same, but Germans still buy differently than the French, Italians and the British.
In terms of straight revenue and buying power, the United Kingdom still dramatically overshadows all other European countries, with sales last year of $56 billion and a projected annual growth rate of 51 percent. Second- and third-place prizes go to Germany and France, respectively.
But revenue is only one way to measure a countrys e-commerce oomph. Some of the countries in Nordic region of Europe and the Netherlands—including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden—may deliver less revenue, but the efficiency of their activity is much higher. In other words, the percentage of residents who regularly use the Web and the percentage of those Web surfers who make purchases can make those companies a very efficient place to sell online, the eMarketer report said.
For example, the United Kingdom reports that 89 percent of its Web surfers often buy online, a figure that dwarfs the 54 percent in Italy, the 67 percent in Belgium and even the 75 percent in France. Germany is closer at 83 percent, but Norway tops the list at 93 percent.
Norway also took top honors for the highest average spend ($1,772), although the United Kingdom ($1,513) came close, followed by Denmark ($1,460), Sweden ($1,276), Belgium ($995), the Netherlands ($858) and then a steep drop with Germany ($656), France ($641), Italy ($572) and Spain ($570).
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So although Germanys much larger population makes the country a more lucrative target, the higher average income and literacy rate of Norway and Denmark makes their residents not groups to be ignored.
"The Nordic countries, they dont get the publicity and attention," said Jeffrey Grau, a senior analyst with eMarketer and the author of the European e-commerce report. But the data "keeps showing that the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden have the highest rates of online buyers and average spend online. These are affluent societies, yet because they are such small countries, you dont talk about them much in European e-commerce."
Even less talked about is what eMarketer dubs the third wave in Euro e-commerce, which is when the firm argues that some Eastern European countries—including Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic—will have a huge e-commerce impact, "perhaps starting early in the next decade."
The report also looked at the reasons various European e-commerce consumers opted to not make purchases. "Have no need" for the product or service—what a silly reason to not buy something—impacted most German (65 percent) and Spanish (58 percent) consumers, but had much less of an impact on Italian (43 percent), U.K. (38 percent) and French (30 percent) consumers.
An even bigger difference was seen when the question involved "trust concerns about receiving or returning goods, complaint/redress concerns," where it was again German consumers (55 percent) who expressed the most concerns, compared with other Euro consumers who seemed to shrug it off, such as Spain (15 percent), France (13 percent), Italy (16 percent) and the United Kingdom (10 percent), the report said.
Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com.
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