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Half of online shopping across EU will come from mobile and tablet, analysis suggests

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By 2018, European mobile phone and tablet commerce could reach €142 billion – €28.2 billion from mobile, €113.3 billion from tablet – a whopping 49% of total online retail sales in the EU-7 nations of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK. And a large chunk of it will come from cross-border shopping.

According to research by Forrester, mobile and tablet commerce accounts for 20% and €43 billion of total online sales in 2014, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41% over the next five years. Tablet commerce will grow faster than mobile commerce with a compound annual growth rate of 46% for the period of this forecast, compared with 27% for mobile commerce. Forrester also forecasts that the UK, France, and Germany will continue to account for 80% of EU-7 mobile and tablet commerce through to 2018.

The study also finds that, in addition to researching and buying across multiple devices, European consumers will increasingly shop cross-border. Almost a quarter of online adults across the EU have already purchased from websites outside of their home country in the past three months and this cross-border shopping is set to boom between now and 2018.

While European cross-border buyers are not in the majority, they are a valuable target group for retailers as they are highly connected technology users, spending significantly more than online shoppers who do not buy internationally. Compared to online shoppers in larger e-commerce markets, those in smaller markets, such as Spain and Italy, are more likely to look to websites outside their home country to make online purchases.

However, Forrester analyst Michelle Beeson, warns that the majority of European retailers have yet to grasp the full value of mobile. “2015 will see more mature organizations begin to step beyond mobile site optimization,” she says. “These firms will recognize the greater opportunity of using mobile drive overall sales by addressing customer needs and connecting them through the purchasing cycle.”

Other areas that Beeson expects to see movement in during 2015 include beacons. “Beacon trials will steal the lime light from the full value of digital in stores. 2015 will see a flood of beacon-related trials in stores across Europe, but with limited results,” she says. “Beacons have disruptive potential as they bridge the digital and physical worlds. But they are only one part of the story. Retailers must also continue to trial other digital technology in-store, such as tablet-enabled associates.”

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