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European cross-border online sales will top €40bn by 2018, rising from €29bn this year: Forrester

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It’s time to prepare for a future of selling online across borders, a new report suggests.

European cross-border online sales will pass the €40bn (£28.5bn) mark by 2018, growing from €29bn (£20.8bn) this year, according to Forrester report Western European Online Cross-Border Retail Sales Forecast, 2013 to 2018. That represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11%. By then, argues report author and Forrester analyst Michelle Beeson, 28% of online retailers from 17 Western European countries will sell across borders, using marketplaces such as Etsy and payment services that offer varied payment methods.

“Cross-border online sales growth will change the playing field for retailers of all sizes across Europe,” writes Beeson. “Your future competitors won’t just be your peers in your home market; increasingly, they will be international players.”

Graph: Forrester: Western European Online Cross-Border Retail Sales Forecast, 2013 to 2018

Today, the report suggests, cross-border sales account for 16% of all Western European online retail sales. Cross-border buyers – defined as shoppers who deliberately buy retail products outside their domestic market over the internet – tend to be from smaller and less mature ecommerce markets such as Italy and Spain where, respectively, 42% and 41% of online consumers have ordered from a website outside their home country in the past three months in the quest for better value and product availability. In the UK, 24% of online adults have done so.

Report author Beeson says in her blog that currently, “More mature ecommerce markets see greater price competition and product availability so their online buyers have less incentive to buy across borders.”

But by 2018, she predicts that 83% of all European cross-border buyers will choose to buy from another European market rather than from a market outside Europe, while spending an average €428 (£304) – up from €363 (£258) in 2015.

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