Key Takeaways about E-commerce in Europe [European E-commerce Report 2022]

While it seemed that we were slowly putting the pandemic behind us after more than two years, we all faced a major crisis – Russia’s attack on Ukraine. There is a reason we talk about this, as it also affected European e-commerce.

In today’s article, we will give you the highlights of e-commerce in Europe in 2022. We also encourage you to read the entire report from Ecommerce Europe.

Europe Market and E-commerce Overview

Digital markets are particularly intricate on the European continent. Despite the growing number of people accessing the internet and shopping online, SMEs are falling behind in using digital tools to sell online. After the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns were lifted, many countries saw their e-commerce remain stable despite expectations of a significant slowdown. 

Source: European E-commerce Report 2022

Source: European E-commerce Report 2022

In 2021, European e-commerce experienced an increase in B2C turnover, despite some countries reporting lower e-commerce sales due to fewer Covid-19 pandemic measures. 

For quite some time, Eastern Europe has experienced higher growth rates in B2C e-commerce sales than many Western European countries. However, Western Europe still holds the largest share of total turnover at 63% compared to Eastern Europe’s 2%.

Europe’s Western region remains the leader in terms of B2C e-commerce turnover, accounting for over 60% of total turnover. The E-GDP of the regions reflects this share of turnover, with Western Europe having the highest E-GDP. 

Although Northern Europe appears to lag behind in terms of share of total European turnover, e-commerce markets are robust, contributing over 4% to total GDP. 

Source: European E-commerce Report 2022

Even though the digital economy in Eastern Europe continues to grow, it still has a long way to go before it can compete with Western and Southern European markets.

Western Europe

Source: European E-commerce Report 2022

Western Europe includes Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and United Kingdom.

  • In Belgium, there are some e-commerce trends like growing awareness of the importance of safety. Ukraine, cybercrime, and the importance a consumer attaches to privacy (GDPR) are quietly leading to an awareness that e-commerce must pay further attention to safety online. 
  • France saw, over the past two years, the digitalization of retailers, particularly SMEs, speeding up considerably. The amount of revenue coming from online really boomed during Covid-19, although the rate of change is now slowing a little bit because we went very high during lockdowns. 
  • Germany saw an increasing share of ecommerce in the retail sector, probably following increasing investments during the pandemic. What’s more, AI and Machine Learning (ML) currently mainly play a role as part of marketing optimization and personalization, as well as big data analytics. 
  • Ireland, on the other hand, saw a rapid shift towards online retail, with Covid-19 a catalyst in accelerating digital adoption and usage. 
  • In Luxembourg, the percentage of internet users that bought goods or services online grew by 1% from 2021. 
  • In the Netherlands, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers were forced to sell online due to the lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • In the UK, the percentage of the population accessing the internet grew by 1% from 2021.

Northern Europe

Source: European E-commerce Report 2022

Northern Europe includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden.

  • In Denmark, some small shops (clothing, cosmetics, etc.) stayed connected to their customers during lockdowns via Facebook and Instagram.
  • Estonian logistic companies are moving to carbon neutrality and electric delivery vehicles. It is understood that the whole process must be optimized since consumers are also thinking about the ecological footprint of e-commerce.
  • In Finland, a continuing trend is providing more personalized services for consumers. Another is the cooperation between online stores and app-based delivery services, which has made rapid delivery.
  • In Iceland, 100% of the population has access to the internet.
  • In Latvia, there is a reduction in the use of courier delivery services and a huge corresponding rise in the use of so-called ‘automatic post devices’ to facilitate pick-up from a network of automated lockers.
  • In Lithuania, 72% of f internet users bought goods or services online in 2022.
  • Norway observed sustained growth in domestic e-commerce. There has been unprecedented digitalization of commerce, with physical retail players going digital at increased rates.
  • In Sweden, there is a negative effect on e-commerce because consumers are being more careful with their purchases and are tending to hold onto their money to see whether worse times lie ahead.

Central Europe

Source: European E-commerce Report 2022

Central Europe includes Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and Switzerland.  

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has shown in Austria how important it is to be able to serve consumers in every situation and age group. Three-quarters of retailers have upgraded digitally over this period, one-third of them massively. 
  • The role of marketplaces in Czechia has become more important, even though there is no dedicated version of Amazon in this country.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been more focus on the online retail channel among SMEs in Hungary. The number of Hungarian-based webshops reached 37,000 at the beginning of 2022.
  • In Poland, the current political situation and economic landscape is not optimistic. What’s more, e-consumers are more likely to buy from an online store that minimizes its impact on the environment.
  • Slovak Republic has 91% of the population accessing the internet. 
  • Slovenia has 80% of internet users that buy goods or services online.
  • Switzerland will implement a new data protection law by September 2023 that will be very similar to existing EU laws.

Eastern Europe

Source: European E-commerce Report 2022

Eastern Europe includes Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine.

  • In Albania, there are 41% of internet users that bought goods or services online.
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina has 79% of the population accessing the internet.
  • Over 40% of older Bulgarians shopped online at least once a month in 2021, while the level in Western Europe is over 60%.
  • In Croatia, there is 85%  of the population accesses the internet.
  • Montenegro has 36% of internet users bought goods or services online.
  • According to Eurostat data, North Macedonia ranks well in internet penetration – 86% of Macedonians aged 15-74 are connected in 2021, compared to 81% in 2020. 
  • In Romania, 2021 has brought about changes in the digitalization rates and technology adoption of retailers, specifically SMEs. 
  • Serbia has 59%  of internet users that bought goods or services online.
  • In Ukraine there are 67% of the population accesses the internet.

Southern Europe

Source: European E-commerce Report 2022

Southern Europe includes Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain.

  • Cyprus has 92% of the population accessing the internet.
  • Greece, on the other hand, has 81% of the population accessing the internet.
  • Italian companies are strengthening their presence in digital channels. Their approach is more and more sophisticated and covers direct e-shops to strategic partnerships with e-retailers and marketplaces.
  • Since the pandemic, Malta registered the highest share in the EU of businesses that started or increased their efforts to sell online.
  • Portugal has 67% of internet users that bought goods or services online.
  • Spain, however, has 73% of internet users buying goods or services online.

Over to You

In terms of online business, Europe has a lot to offer. A more digital and circular economy can be significantly influenced by the EU. We hope that with this short report, you have learned the most important facts about e-commerce in this area.

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