European e-commerce market is the world’s third largest market, with annual online revenue exceeding 412 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. Amazon and eBay are the two major players of the European continent’s e-commerce business. With the launch of Amazon’s Polish site, the coverage of the two e-commerce giants spans almost the entire Europe. Although the European countries is geographically small and very inter-connected to each other, most domestic e-commerce platforms in Europe is limited to neighboring countries or even to one country. Why isn’t local e-commerce companies expand across to other neighboring countries? The economic and cultural barriers created by these factors, such as geopolitics, local customs, language, and currency, can all be used to explain the underlying causes of this phenomenon.
These differences also extend to the overall acceptance of online shopping in Europe. As far as Europe is concerned, online retail accounts for 12% of the total market retail sales. In Germany, this figure is 15.9%, while in Italy, it is only 3.7%, which is less than a quarter of Germany’s share. In some European countries, online shopping has begun to rise, but development in payment systems, delivery networks, cultures and languages have caused certain countries to be far behind.
Amazon’s European site has 1.1 billion visits per month. In terms of GDP and population, Europe and the United States are similar in size, but the number of visits to the U.S. site in a single month is more than twice that of the European site, about 2.3 billion. This reflects that Amazon’s US site has a larger market share than European sites, and the competition is more intense.
eBay is the second largest online shopping platform in Europe, but its traffic is only 35% of Amazon’s European site. In fact, eBay came to the European market earlier, but Amazon is a latecomer, and now eBay has been far behind.
Allegro may not be familiar to novices sellers, but the staggering rise in recent years is a miracle. Allegro has more than 200 million monthly active users, 96% of which are from Poland. Poland has been among the ranks of developed countries. In the past 30 years, Allegro has grown together with Poland.
Zalando is one of the few e-commerce companies on the list that blossoms all over Europe. Amazon and eBay are the other two pan-European online shopping platforms. Zalando is from Germany, but has a certain influence in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Poland and other countries.
Case in point, two major e-commerce giants in the United States dominate the European countries. The remaining six e-commerce platforms on the list all focus on a single market, or 2 to 3 neighboring countries.
- Bol.com – Belgium and the Netherlands.
- Ciscount.com, Fnac – France
- Ozon – Russia
- eMAG – Romania and Eastern European countries
Here is the list of sites Amazon opened so far:
- German (1998)
- British (1998)
- France (2000)
- Italy (2010)
- Spain (2011)
- Dutch (2020)
- Poland (2021)
- Sweden and Switzerland (soon according to rumors)
The monthly activity of Amazon’s European sites totals 1.1 billion (excluding the United Kingdom), which accounts for 20% of market share. Just for a comparison, Amazon US accounts for 39% in the United States.
Amazon only has sites in the above-mentioned 7 European countries, but its sales scope is throughout Europe. In particular, the German site is very popular among consumers in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe. Belgian consumers usually use the French site. UK site is very popular among Irish people. However, with Brexit, the situation may be different.
Amazon has more than 50 warehouses throughout Europe. Some locate in countries that do not have country specific websites such as Czech Republic. Prime Now and Amazon Business are also deployed simultaneously at various sites in Europe. Europe has a large population density and well developed traffic network. The “next-day delivery service” can be easily implemented than other markets.
Amazon has also laid out multiple FBA logistics channels in Europe, including Amazon European Fulfillment Network (EFN), Multi Country Inventory (MCI), Central European FBA and Pan-European FBA.
Amazon has a unified seller registration system for its European market, which means that you can use one account to sell on several sites. Amazon is the leading e-commerce platform across Europe. For companies that want to expand to Europe, Amazon is the best choice.
eBay opened sites in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom in 1999. At that time, it only had an online shopping platform, no warehouses, and no private label products. At present, eBay has 15 sites throughout Europe, with 389 million monthly activities, accounting for 24% of the total monthly activities of European e-commerce, and US sites account for 39% of the total monthly activities of American e-commerce. Except for the United Kingdom, eBay is firmly seated as the second largest e-commerce company in Europe. Especially in Germany, the gap between eBay and Amazon is small.
eBay uses a global account system.eBay’s model and policies are the same between regions. Seller information feeds into a centralized system. But this does not mean that eBay automatically displays search results on a global scale. Each site needs to use the local official language.
Sellers can ship products to consumer directly or use eBay’s Global Shipping Program (GSP) to deliver the goods. GSP accepts goods at the storage center in the consumer’s country. eBay completes the local delivery. eBay will calculate international transportation costs, tariffs and consumption taxes, and charge consumers separately. GSP is expensive and not many people use it.
Allegro in Poland
96% of Allegro’s traffic comes from Poland. Poland has a relatively small population, with only 38 million people. It has only recently entered the ranks of developed countries. However, Allegro’s 20 million users and 200 million monthly view make Poland the third largest e-commerce market in Europe. Allegro’s visits account for more than 50% of eBay’s 15 European websites together.
Allegro was founded in 1999. In the past 20 years, the ownership of the company has been transferred between major Internet companies. Permira is currently owned by an investor fund consortium under Permira. In October 2020, Allegro made an IPO on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
Similar to eBay, Allegro operates as a platform and has no its own private labeled products. Allegro currently has 117,000 sellers and more than 164 million SKU on the platform, making it the world’s 15th largest online shopping platform. In the field of e-commerce platform in a single country, only PayPay Mall (Japan), Taobao (China) and Flipkart (India) can compete with Allegro. In terms of Poland’s land area and permanent population, Allegro is indeed phenomenal.
The Allegro market covers almost all product categories from electronic accessories, fashion, groceries, auto parts, art and industrial products. Not only the Allegro Smart membership program, Allegro also launched the “Hand-picking Festival” like Prime Day, encouraging everyone to purchase online throughout the year.
Allegro provides self-service registration. Foreign companies need to upload relevant documentations.
Zalando in Europe
Zalando was established in Berlin, Germany in 2008. Currently, its sales range covers the whole of Europe, mainly in fashion and daily-use products. Zalando’s global monthly session reached 119 million, 94% of which came from Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Norway and other European countries (excluding the United Kingdom). Zalando started by relying on self-operated products to make a fortune, but since 2013, it has followed the model of Chinese e-commerce only as a bridge between consumers and sellers. Zalando learned from Amazon to put logistics services and market share in the first place. In 2019, its operating income exceeded 6.5 billion euros and its profit margin was 3.5%. Zalando’s six warehouse centers are located in Poland and Germany.
Sellers can enter Zalando through the Partner Program, and Zalando will review the seller’s existing and operating Internet accounts including Instagram. In addition, the seller must provide free shipping and unconditional return and exchange terms, and the return period will be as long as 100 days.
Zalando’s future plans include adding new product categories and setting up outlets; and cooperating with physical retail to expand its horizons to other countries and regions.
Bol.com in the Netherlands & Belgium
Bol.com was founded in 1999 by Bertelsmann, a German media company. In the first half of its life, Bol.com was as ill-fated as Allegro, and it was among the buyers of all walks of life. 2012 ushered in a turning point when Ahold Delhaize, a supermarket chain with “dual citizenship” in the Netherlands and Belgium, acquired Bol.com. Bol.com launched its online platform in 2011.
97% of Bol.com users come from the Netherlands and Belgium. The total population of the two countries is only 29 million. However, the per capita income of the 2 countries is among the highest in the world. Consumers are not merciful to spend money on shopping. Bol.com’s 76 million monthly sessions come from 11 million active users. Currently, there are as many as 35,000 brands on the platform. From books, music, toys to fashion, DIY products, the number of products is approaching 23 million.
Bol.com is similar to eBay. The marketplace focuses on certain product categories. Sellers only provide barcodes and price products. Bol.com does not charge monthly fees, but will charge commissions for closed orders. In addition, the prerequisite for sellers to enter Bol.com is that the company’s place of business is located in the Netherlands or Belgium, and sellers who do not meet the requirements can seek help from an intermediary. Bol.com also provides logistics services, similar to Amazon FBA.
Ozon in Russia and neighboring countries
Founded in 1998, Ozon was originally an online bookstore, and then the product category expanded to CD and DVD, apparel, electronic products and other products. Ozon started early, but has been tepid. On the one hand, the development of e-commerce in Russia is relatively slow.
There are as many as 10 million Internet users in Russia, ranking 10th in the world’s e-commerce market. The total annual online transaction volume is about 27 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for only 5% of the total omni-channel transaction volume. The distrust of distribution and merchants has dragged its feet. But the good news is that the reversal of the situation in recent years has accelerated the transformation of Russian people’s shopping. In 2019, Ozon’s online transaction totaled US$1.1 billion, an increase of 93% year-on-year. In 2020, it will be “affected” by the epidemic and the increase will be even stronger. Russia has a vast land and resources, and across 11 time zones, logistics has become a problem. But none of these can become negative factors for young people to shop. In addition, the epidemic has not been fully controlled and travel has been blocked. Ozon has a promising future.
Ozon has as many as 8 million active users, 64 million monthly active users, and more than 11,000 sellers. Selling goods to Russia may seem complicated, but Ozon supports direct mail from sellers. Sellers can also choose to settle in US dollars or Euros, and there is no need to register for a VAT account. The platform is also equipped with English-speaking customer service.
eMAG in Eastern Europe
eMAG was established in 2001 and is headquartered in Romania. Its main online business is computers and office supplies. In 2012 and 2013, it successively entered Bulgaria and Hungary, quickly grabbing market share. Nowadays, the products on eMAG can be described as various, including household appliances, fashion, toys and so on. The monthly activity of eMAG 28.1 million comes from Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria each have 6 million monthly activities. The combined population of the three countries is only 36 million. eMAG occupies most of the e-commerce market in the three countries.
Over 20,000 sellers have settled in eMAG and over 11 million products on the platform. Seller registration is free, and eMAG also accepts international sellers to settle in, but the qualification review will be pre-qualified. Consistent with the practices of other platforms, eMAG will record the seller’s performance and provide monthly reports. In addition, buying Account Partners sales advice will cost approximately US$50 per month.
Other Online platform across Europe
As mentioned earlier, most European e-commerce companies like to sell in their home markets, and their radiation coverage is very limited, mostly in neighboring countries. Only Amazon, eBay and Zalando (only Zalando was “born” in Europe) products on three platforms operate across Europe.
ManoMano, based in France, the online shopping platform ManoMano is mainly engaged in household goods, with consumer groups from France, Italy, Spain and Germany, with a monthly activity of 26 million. France has the highest monthly activity, accounting for 49%, Italy and Spain have 23% and 16% respectively;
Spartoo, also from France, sells apparel, shoes and accessories on the platform to France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Greece and the Czech Republic, with a monthly activity of 7.5 million. France is also the largest source of monthly livelihoods, accounting for 45%;
French e-commerce platform
In France, in addition to Amazon, most of the other major e-commerce platforms belong to the Casino Group—a retail chain that dominates the French mainland. Its brands include: Fnac Darty, Carrefour, Conforama and Galeries Lafayette.
Cdiscount.com is the second largest e-commerce platform in France, with 63 million monthly activities. As one of Europe’s leading online shopping platforms, Cdiscount.com sells a variety of products, and 92% of its traffic comes from France;
Fnac is the third largest e-commerce platform in France, with a monthly activity of 42 million, accounting for 67% of the total monthly activity of the platform. Fnac’s products are diverse;
Rue du Commerce is another comprehensive platform in France, with a monthly capacity of 25 million, accounting for 95% of the platform’s global traffic;
Darty and Fnac belong to the same group of companies. 22 million monthly activities come from France, accounting for 95% of the total monthly activities of the platform. Both platforms have their own seller registration systems.
La Redoute has a wide range of products, mainly in fashion and household goods. The monthly activity from France is 19 million, accounting for 95% of the total monthly activity of the platform.
Conforama sells household daily necessities and has 10 million monthly activities from France, accounting for 65% of its platform’s total monthly activities.
German e-commerce platform
Otto, 96% of its traffic comes from Germany, and its monthly activity is as high as 55 million. Otto belongs to a large group company, and its platform includes both seller products and self-operated products, and it ranks among the forefront of European e-commerce in terms of scale;
Real.de comes from Germany with a monthly activity of 25 million, accounting for 94% of its total monthly activity. It not only provides a platform but also self-operated products;
Other European e-commerce platforms
lamoda is an e-commerce platform under the multinational company GFG, located in Russia, mainly engaged in apparel products, with 16 million monthly activities from Russia and Ukraine;
cdon is in Scandinavia platform, with 11 million monthly activities, 57% from Sweden, 13% from Denmark, and 14% from Norway and Finland. It is a shopping platform and a retailer, and its business includes electronic products. A variety of products including video games;
Worten is from Portugal. It is not only a shopping platform but also a retailer. It has self-operated products and mainly sells electronic products. The monthly activity of the website is 11 million, of which 70% are from Portugal and 25% are from Spain;
Digitec is an e-commerce platform located in Switzerland, which is mainly engaged in electronic and computer accessories. Not only a shopping platform but also a retailer, with self-operated products, with a monthly activity of 8 million, 92% of which are from Switzerland;
Wehkamp, with 8 million monthly activities from the Netherlands, accounting for 96% of the total monthly activities;
Aukro is the Czech version of Allegro, which was originally part of Allegro and is now independent. No self-operated products, 6 million monthly activities, 92% from the Czech Republic;
Joom was established in 2016 and sells products to countries around the world including Russia. Of the 6 million monthly activities, 40% comes from Russia. Joom uses a similar approach to AliExpress and Wish to deliver direct mail products from China to consumers;
Privalia is different from other platforms in that its sales area spans southern Europe and South America. Of 6 million monthly activities, 32% are from Italy, 28% are from Brazil, 27% are from Spain and 12% are from Mexico. Privalia’s fast sales model is owned by French online retailer Veepee;