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E-Commerce Hub Index Reveals the Best Markets for Online Retailers

Data analysis has assessed the potential of all EU markets for operating an eCommerce business.

4 Minutes
  • eCommerce in Germany generates annual sales of 99.9 billion euros.
  • Online banking has a long way to go in Germany: Only one in two people banks online in Germany.
  • The Netherlands is currently the best market for running an eCommerce business.

Berlin, 4 April 2022 – The payment service provider Unzer has published the results of a study in which all EU markets were examined for their potential for operating an eCommerce business. The findings of the data analysis allow an evaluation of the markets and show where the best conditions for a successful and high-revenue eCommerce business currently exist.

Table: The ten most promising eCommerce hubs with the results of selected criteria.The full ranking of 27 EU markets and all information about the methodology can be found here.

eCommerce in Germany Generates Annual Sales of 100 Billion Euros

The results of the data analysis confirm that Germany has quite solid prerequisites for eCommerce, but also reveal the weak points of the German market. In the ranking of the best eCommerce hubs, Germany ranks 7th out of 27 EU markets. eCommerce turned over 99.9 billion euros last year. This makes Germany one of the top-selling markets in Europe. The only country which sees more sales is France with 123.4 billion euros.

Shipping is the heart of eCommerce. Germany scores here with an excellent and efficient postal and shipping infrastructure, as evaluated data from the Universal Postal Union shows. At around 3.53 euros per parcel, shipping in Germany is also comparatively inexpensive. In countries like the Netherlands, Spain or Italy, on the other hand, you pay between 5 and 9 euros. Commercial space can also be rented relatively cheaply in Germany. With a square meter price of 480 euros per year, commercial space, such as storage rooms, is about half the price of commercial space in France (880 euros/sqm/year).

Germany Is the Country of Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

One in five retailers sell goods exclusively or in addition to conventional trade on the internet. The majority of online retailers use the online marketplaces of other service providers as sales channels. Only 16 percent of eCommerce sell goods via their own online shop. This proportion is relatively low in an EU comparison. In Ireland and Denmark, 29 percent of all eCommerce businesses already use their own eCommerce platform.

German consumers have purchasing power and are above-average open to shopping online. 76 percent of the population buy online. At the same time, German consumers are noticeably very reluctant to engage in online banking. Only one in two people living in Germany banks online. In Denmark this proportion is 95 percent and in the Netherlands it is 91 percent. The EU average is 63 percent.

Sebastian Wenzel, VP of Marketing at Unzer: "As a result of the pandemic, eCommerce has experienced strong growth rates. However, some markets offer better conditions for running an online business than others. With the E-Commerce Hub Index, we want to provide orientation on the requirements for successful online trading in the EU countries. It aims to help founders find the right market, conditions, and shipping infrastructure for their business and uncover which EU countries have some catching up to do."

The Netherlands Is the Most Promising Market for eCommerce

The Netherlands currently offers the best conditions for eCommerce, followed by Ireland and Austria. The Netherlands benefits from consumers with purchasing power and digital affinity as well as the best infrastructural conditions according to an analysis of all EU markets. These include an extremely efficient postal service, inexpensive shipping costs, inexpensive storage and commercial space, and fast internet.

Austria offers entrepreneurs in eCommerce a high potential for skilled workers, low prices for shipping and commercial space, as well as the most efficient postal and shipping infrastructure in an EU comparison.

Bulgaria is at the bottom of the ranking. The country is well positioned in terms of infrastructure for eCommerce, but the consumer landscape is still very hesitant when it comes to shopping on the internet and has comparatively little purchasing power.

Methodology and Sources

Data from reputable sources and from all EU Member States were considered for this study. These sources include the University of Amsterdam’s 2021 European E-Commerce Report, the Universal Postal Union’s Integrated Index for Postal Development (2020) and the EU’s Eurostat database. Data was only evaluated for selected factors that are essential for the successful operation of an online shop. This included information on the market, the infrastructure, consumers, and the potential for skilled workers. Selected factors included sales figures, postal services, shipping costs, the number of online shoppers, online banking users, and professionals in the EU markets.

A detailed description of the methodology with all sources can be found here.

Additional Insights

  • The consumers with the highest purchasing power live in Luxembourg and Ireland. 81 percent of Luxembourgers and 87 percent of Irish people regularly shop online.
  • Online shopping is still not widespread in Bulgaria and Romania, where only about one in three consumers buy online. Although Bulgaria offers good infrastructural conditions, it still comes last in the ranking of the best eCommerce hubs.
  • eCommerce in Austria is dominated by sales abroad. 17 percent of online retailers ship across national borders. In no other country is this proportion higher. In Germany, only 11 percent of eCommerce sales are abroad.
  • Commercial space, such as warehouses, is cheapest in Slovenia at €131 per square meter per year and most expensive in France at €880 per square meter per year.
  • The costs for sending a small package (domestic, weight 1 kg) can vary greatly across the EU. While in Croatia you only pay 1.61 euros for the service, in Belgium it is 10 euros.

About Unzer

Unzer is one of the leading payment companies in Europe. More than 70,000 merchants rely on the company's end-to-end solutions for greater growth – online, mobile or at the point of sale. Whether international payment processing, risk management or customer behaviour analytics: merchants can compile their data-driven services on a modular basis.Thanks to numerous strategic acquisitions in the last few years, Unzer has developed into one of the fastest growing FinTech companies in Europe. Over 750 payment experts and tech enthusiasts today work on helping merchants achieve sustainable growth in a dynamic market.

Press contact: ABCD Agency

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