Belgium e-commerce indicators

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Belgium’s e-commerce sector has grown rapidly in recent years. The country is above the European average for Internet penetration, but at the same time below average for both number of online consumers and yearly spending. However, the growth of new e-commerce consumers has been clearly above average, at 30 percent between 2014 and 2018. The products most bought in Belgium are clothes and footwear, home electronics, and cosmetics.

High delivery demands

Just like consumers in the neighboring Netherlands, Belgian consumers expect fast deliveries. At the same time, more than 80 percent of the consumers say that they would not consider paying for faster delivery. As in the Netherlands, Belgians have high expectations of deliveries, with speed being regarded as standard rather than a paid-for extra service. This is probably because of the countries’ particular prerequisites with very short distances, but it is a situation that sellers must take into account – especially when parcels are sent from abroad.

Buying from their neighbors

Belgium differs from the rest of Europe with regard to e-commerce from abroad. In nearly all European countries covered by this report, China and the UK are the countries that most people say that they buy from. In Belgium, it is the Netherlands that shoppers buy from the most. The two countries are connected historically, and both are small and densely populated which reduces transport distances considerably. Another factor is that Belgium has a large Flemish population which speaks Dutch, and this helps to drive trade between the countries.

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”. 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”.

France e-commerce indicators

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France is one of Europe’s largest economies yet ranks only in the middle in regard to e-commerce. It is slightly above the European average for the number of e-commerce consumers and internet penetration. Average spend is in line with the European average. Growth in the number of new e-commerce consumers has been moderate at 19 percent between 2014 and 2018. The products most commonly bought online in France are clothing and footwear, books, and home electronics.

Low-price deliveries valued by consumers

When it comes to delivery, low prices are what French online consumers value most highly. 70 percent say that price is an important factor, a share that is higher than most other countries in the survey. Nearly 4 out of 10 French consumers say that they would like their items to be delivered by mail carrier to the mailbox, which is one of the highest rates in Europe.

Credit cards dominate

Online payments in France are made, above all, using debit and credit cards. 56 % of French consumers say that they prefer this payment method when buying online, which is among the highest percentages in Europe. France has a history of popular local debit cards, such as Carte Bleue, which is a likely explanation for the widespread use of cards for online payments. As a result, French consumers have no wish to pay by invoice, and this is reflected in one of the lowest percentages in Europe, together with the UK and Italy.

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”. 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”.

In the United States, more than half of all households are expected to have a digital assistant or smart speaker like Google Home or Amazon Echo by 2022, and many people already today use these devices for shopping. In the Nordic region, however, relatively few consumers have purchased or plan to purchase an AI-based digital assistant. Those Nordic residents who do have one primarily use assistants to play music, do research and manage to-do lists.

robot holding a shopping basketYet when it comes to online shopping, the purchasing journey is to a high degree driven by convenience. In the next few years, AI solutions that save customers time and energy are expected to become increasingly common. Algorithms that adapt websites to customers’ preferences and customize recommendations can help to increase customer benefit. AI solutions will probably be the most radical behavioral change in how consumers shop since the takeover of the mobile phone. This means that e-commerce companies will need to be even more creative with how they reach their customers.

For example, soon consumers might ask their voice assistant to order ingredients for “pasta with tomato sauce.” The question is then what pasta and which crushed tomatoes will arrive at home – will it be a supplier’s brand or the retailer’s own brand?
Another more radical idea is that routine shopping could be replaced by algorithms automatically placing a new order on the basis of customer data or information collected by smart home appliances. Whoever controls these algorithms wields huge power over future purchasing journeys.

However, it is worth noting that many consumers feel a sense of anxiety about AI’s entry into more and more spheres of their life. In the Nordics, three out of ten citizens feel anxious about how AI may impact life moving forward, and the pattern is consistent across all age groups. This means that e-retailers must be transparent about what they are doing, work carefully with customer data, and respect their customers’ privacy.

Malin Herzig, Business Development, Direct Link

Source: “E-commerce in the Nordics”, Summary 2018

Spain e-commerce indicators

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The Spanish e-commerce scene has expanded quite dramatically in 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, at 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 crises, 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 different payment methods are are dominant in Spain – PayPal and similar services, and credit cards.

Low delivery cost also essential

The Spanish interest in low prices is also reflected when it comes to choice of delivery. To nearly seven out of ten online consumers, it’s very important that shipping comes at no extra cost. A large majority of Spaniards also prefer home delivery. Another plus is if the seller can offer different times and places for parcel pick-up. This is more important in Spain than in any other country in our e-commerce survey.

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”. 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”.

Poland e-commerce indicators

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E-commerce in Poland has been relatively late to develop, but on the other hand is growing fast. Poland is below the European average for the number of e-commerce consumers, internet penetration and average spend per year, but growth in the number of new e-commerce consumers has been strong at 25 % between 2014 and 2018. The most preferred products to buy online in Poland are clothes and footwear, home electronics, and cosmetics.

Prepared to pay for fast deliveries

Polish consumers want fast deliveries and they are willing to pay for it. 55 percent of Polish consumers say that speedy delivery is very important which, together with Dutch consumers, is one of the highest percentages in Europe. Polish consumers are also the ones with the highest willingness to pay for one-day delivery – 46 percent would do this.

Modest levels of buying from abroad

Polish e-commerce still mainly takes place within the country’s borders. 46 percent of Polish consumers who have shopped online say that they have purchased from abroad, the lowest percentage of all the countries in the survey. 60 percent of Polish consumers say that it is very important that a website is accessible in Polish, but since Polish is not that common on cross-border shops, this presents an obstacle to buying online from abroad.

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”. 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”.