The 10 Largest European E-Commerce Markets

Bart Vintcent
CEO | Bart, ooit programmeur, is een van de co-founders van EffectConnect.
21 July 2020

In this article we’ll explore the 10 largest e-commerce markets in Europe, and how your business can target them. 

The e-commerce market continues to grow

That e-commerce is a growing all over the world shouldn’t be news to anyone. The online ordering of products (as well as services) is becoming the world’s favourite way to buy stuff.

Are you a retailer but not selling online yet? You might want to reconsider that. Are you already selling online in the Netherlands or Belgium? Smart! The total Dutch e-commerce market is expected to be €14.089 million in 2020 (Statista).

But if you’re only selling in the Netherlands and Belgium, you’re passing up some significant opportunities. Global e-commerce shows incredible figures that make it interesting for all business to at least consider looking across the border.  

For 2020 the total revenue of the global e-commerce market is estimated to be €2,000 trillion. For 2022 that estimate of the global e-commerce market grows to as much as €2,239 trillion. Looking at Europe, we see that the estimated total revenue for e-commerce is €347 trillion in 2020. The 2022 forecast is €436 trillion (Statista). Unprecedented growth all around.


Why is the European e-commerce market interesting for Dutch and Belgian businesses?

As was mentioned above, the amounts of money being made in global e-commerce is huge. The Netherlands is just one tiny player on this market. That’s the reason why it’s so appealing for Dutch and Belgian businesses who are successful in their own countries to broaden their horizons to larger markets. Why limit yourself to the BeNeLux when there is so much potential beyond it?  

Larger markets, such as China with an e-commerce revenue of €936 trillion and the United States with a revenue of €331 trillion, are naturally interesting markets for any business. However, if you plan on selling your products to these countries from Europe, you will be dealing with high shipping costs and long delivery times. You simply won’t be able to compete effectively if there are local online shops that sell your product (or an alternative) cheaper and with quicker delivery.

The European e-commerce market worth €347 trillion is interesting though, since higher shipping costs and longer delivery times aren’t as much of an issue here. That means you are in a better position to compete with (local) online shops in Europe.

Which European countries should you consider and what is their potential?

The following is a list of the 10 largest European e-commerce markets (2020) and their expected growth for 2022. This list is based on figures from Statista.

Country                                              

         Expected E-Commerce revenue 2020      

               Expected E-Commerce revenue 2022             

1. Verenigd Koninkrijk

€80.533   million

€117.351 million

2. Germany

€72.681million

€81.214  million

3. France

€44.265 million

€61.920  million

4. Spain

€17.042  million

€24.689   million

5. Italy

€16.682  million

€19.245  million

6. Netherlands

€14.089  million

€16.235  million

7. Poland

€9.996  million

€12.842   million

8. Sweden

€9.719   million

€9.998     million

9. Switzerland

€7.268   million

€10.361   million

10. Austria

€5.843   million

€9.414     million


Yes, the European e-commerce market is a trillion-euro market of potential customers, but how will I reach them?

One option is to redesign your existing shopping website to target the European market. That will however require a significant investment. It’s not just about the website; you don’t have any brand name recognition abroad either, let alone visitors. That’s why you will have to spend a lot of money to attract visitors to your website through ads, for instance. Even if you decide to go ahead with this investment, there is no guarantee that it will be worth it. Search engine optimisation is of course an option for the longer term, but the first effects of that usually don’t appear until about 7 months to a year.

BUT

It can also be interesting to sell product through online marketplaces operating in Europe. In the Netherlands and Belgium there is the well-known bol.com platform. For years now, bol.com is has allowed others to sell their things through their platform; over 20,000 online sellers are now active on bol.com. And who can blame them? Bol.com gives you a huge reach and will do all of the marketing for you!

Other European have similar platforms, known as marketplaces. In France you have Cdiscount and Conforama. Amazon is also active in many European countries. In Germany, for instance, over 40%(!) of all online purchases is made through Amazon. That’s good to know, isn’t it?

In a previous blog post we wrote about the advantages of selling through Amazon.


Entering all my products and tracking stock levels for all those marketplaces, isn’t that going to be a lot of work?

Using a link it’s possible to integrate your existing online shop with marketplaces such as Amazon, bol.com, and Cdiscount. This will enable you to easily reach millions of European consumers with your Dutch shopping website. If an order comes in through a marketplace, let’s say Amazon, it will be forwarded to your own online shop and Amazon gets the track&trace code in return. When your online shop is linked to multiple marketplaces and a customer orders something from one of them, your stock levels are automatically updated for all other marketplaces as well.

If you already operate an online shop, this makes it very easy to sell your products in the rest of Europe.


Conquer the Netherlands first

It’s important to first be successful in the Netherlands before you take on the rest of Europe. If it isn’t working out in the Netherlands, how can you expect to have better luck abroad?

Did you just start your online shop, and are you still working on conquering the Netherlands? Or have you been an online retailer for a while, but looking for tips? We wrote an article with e-commerce tips aimed at conversion optimisation and increasing your sales.


Do you not yet have an online shop, but are planning on getting started with one? Or are you looking for a new platform?

In our blog post about e-commerce platforms, we look into the 10 largest e-commerce platforms, we discuss all pros and cons, enabling you to make an informed decision when starting – or migrating – your online shop.

Are you ready to grow?

Do you want to grow exponentially by selling trough marketplaces? Download our free white paper titled ‘Growing Exponentially on Marketplaces’, which includes input from entrepreneur Bas Urlings.