The payment methods used by online shops is one of the most decisive factors in the final stage of the buying process for most online consumers. The right payment options can be the difference between success and failure, in that preferences vary substantially from one market to another. Especially in cross-border transactions.

For this very reason, most online shops offer several different payment methods to make consumers feel secure and therefore shop more. The two most popular payment methods by far in Europe are debit or credit cards, and Paypal or other payment services. The reason for cards being widely preferred is most likely because European consumers are simply highly familiar with that payment method both in online shopping and in physical shops. Convenient payment services like Paypal are successful because consumers regard them as safe and they are widely offered. These two payment options are the ones that have grown most in the past years, at the expense of other alternatives such as invoice, COD, and payment by installments, which are rarely used nowadays.

Preferred payment options by European country

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The relative shares of the two largest options are more or less equal, but the one that is preferred varies from one country to another. In Italy, Germany and Poland, services like Paypal hold a stronger position than debit cards. The opposite applies in the Nordic region, Belgium, and France. Payment methods are on an equal level in the UK, the Netherlands, and Spain. The option that in general is the third most popular is direct bank transfer, yet this also depends since national options are extremely strong in the Netherlands and Poland, for example.

PostNord/Direct Link has conducted studies of the European e-commerce market since 2014, presenting its findings in the report “E-commerce in Europe”. The report is based on interviews with consumers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The complete report “E-commerce in Europe 2018” can be ordered free of charge.

Olof Källgren, Market Information Manager, Direct Link

Biggest cross-border fans

Nordics e-commerce indicators

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The Nordic countries were early adopters of the Internet and have a highly developed digital infrastructure. The Nordics are above the European average for the number of e-commerce consumers, internet penetration and average spend per year. Growth in the number of new e-commerce consumers has been relatively weak at 12 percent, which is to be expected in a mature market where the majority already buy online. The products most commonly bought online in the Nordic region are clothes and fashion, home electronics, and cosmetics.

Nordic consumers accept longer delivery times

To date, no platform or market place operator has established a presence in the Nordics. This means the Nordic countries have not yet been able to fully share in the benefits that truly large scale platform operator’s offer, such as free shipping and same-day deliveries. The absence of these global giants, in combination with large geographic distances, is probably one explanation why Nordic consumers are willing to accept relatively long delivery times.

Nordic countries the biggest buyers from abroad

PostNord driver delivering package in Nordic snow climateThe Nordics are the countries in the survey that buy the most from abroad. 83 percent of the consumers who have bought online say that they have also made purchases from abroad. The foreign markets mostly favored by the Nordic consumers are China, UK, Germany and USA. Even if not all the Nordic countries are EU members, they have their own reciprocal trade agreements, which favor e-commerce between the countries.

PostNord/Direct Link has conducted studies of the European e-commerce market since 2014, presenting its findings in the report “E-commerce in Europe”. The report is based on interviews with consumers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In a series of blog posts, we will take a closer look at the individual e-commerce markets covered by this year’s “E-commerce in Europe 2018”. The new 2018 report can be ordered free of charge.

For more in-depth information about consumer behavior in the Nordics, you can also order our report “E-commerce in the Nordics”.

Olof Källgren, Market Information Manager, Direct Link

PostNord/Direct Link has conducted studies of the European e-commerce market since 2014, presenting its findings in the report “E-commerce in Europe”. The report is based on interviews with consumers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In a series of blog posts, we will take a closer look at the individual e-commerce markets covered by this year’s “E-commerce in Europe 2018”.

Focus on the Netherlands

Netherlands e-commerce indicators

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The Netherlands rank among the more highly developed e-commerce markets in Europe. The number of e-commerce consumers and the level of internet penetration is above the European average. The growth in the number of new e-commerce consumers has been moderate – 17 percent between 2014 and 2018. The products most commonly bought online in the Netherlands are clothes and footwear, home electronics, and books.

High demands for fast delivery

Speed is a crucial factor for Dutch consumers. The country is small, densely populated and centrally placed in Europe. Consumers have become used to high delivery standards. This is clearly shown by the fact that 34 percent of online consumers say it should take no more than two days to receive an e-commerce delivery – a considerably higher figure than in any other European country in the study. Companies considering selling in the Netherlands should take the local delivery culture into account.

Ideal is the dominant payment option

When it comes to payments online, the local service Ideal has been the cornerstone in the Netherlands since the early 2000s. The payment service, developed and supported by the major Dutch banks, enables direct payments to be made online. The service has gained a strong position, and basically all sellers wanting to sell in the Netherlands need to support payments via Ideal.

The new 2018 report can be ordered free of charge.

Olof Källgren, Market Information Manager, Direct Link

PostNord/Direct Link has conducted studies of the European e-commerce market since 2014, presenting its findings in the report “E-commerce in Europe”. The report is based on interviews with consumers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In a series of blog posts, we will take a closer look at the individual e-commerce markets covered by this year’s “E-commerce in Europe 2018”.

Focus on Spain

Spain e-commerce indicators

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The Spanish e-commerce scene has expanded quite dramatically during the last few years. After lagging behind most other European countries it is now starting to catch up. The number of e-commerce consumers, internet penetration and average spend per year is now more or less in line with the European average. The growth in the number of new e-commerce consumers has been very high – 48 percent between 2014 and 2018. The products most commonly bought online in Spain are clothes and footwear, home electronics and books.

Price an important factor

Spain recently underwent a financial crisis, and this has led to price sensitivity among consumers and a burgeoning low-price sector. Spain is one of the countries in Europe where low prices are most highly valued when consumers choose which online shop to buy from. Also, of the markets in Europe, Spain is the one where consumers buy most low-price products from China. Two payment methods totally dominate in Spain – credit cards, and Paypal and its rivals.

Low shipping cost also essential

The Spanish interest in low prices is also reflected when it comes to choice of transport. To nearly seven out of ten online consumers, it’s very important that shipping is free. A large majority of Spaniards also prefer home delivery. Another plus point is if the seller can offer a choice of both delivery time and place. This is more important in Spain than in any other country in the survey.

The new 2018 report can be ordered free of charge.

Olof Källgren, Market Information Manager, Direct Link