European shoppers, including the British, are becoming happier to buy online, and from overseas, a new study suggests.
Consumers in 12 European countries spent almost €180bn (£132.6bn) online last year, according to PostNord’s new Ecommerce in Europe report, which questioned 11,000 adult consumers in the 12 markets, including more than 1,000 in each market outside the Nordics. In each Nordic country around 600 people took part.
The total spent was some €10bn (£7.4bn) more than at the same time last year. UK customers led the way spending an average of €1,028 (£757) over the internet – well ahead of the Nordics, where shoppers spent an average of €549 (£404), and Italy (€295/£217). A large proportion of UK spending, the report suggests, went on grocery shopping. More German and French shoppers were also opting to buy food online. Clothing, footwear, home electronics and books were popular internet buys across the markets.
The 2015 study suggested that nearly 11 million more Europeans shopped online from abroad at least once than in the 2014 study, conducted by research company Nepa. In the Nordics, seven in ten consumers shopped at least once from abroad – ahead of consumers in the United Kingdom (58%) and Germany (53%). A key factor driving online shoppers was the ease of returns.
”We are no longer wary of buying from other countries,” said Karin Falkentoft, managing director of Direct Link, a PostNord company that offers borderless ecommerce solutions and distribution. “National borders have loosened up and, today, many of us feel that it’s just as natural to shop online as in a physical store. Consumers are looking for a wider range of products, more brands, better offers and lower prices. They have access to all of this when they shop from abroad.”
The study also found that more shoppers returned goods in Germany, followed by the Netherlands and the UK, with clothing and footwear the most returned goods. Home electronics was a distant second.
The importance of the website offering the lowest price varied between markets. Price was most important in Italy (59%) and Spain (54%). When it comes to payment, debit or credit cards were the most popular payment methods in most markets. PayPal and similar payment solutions are also popular in large parts of Europe with the exception of the Nordics and Belgium, where only around one-fifth of consumers use them.
The amount of time consumers are prepared to wait for their ecommerce deliveries also varies between European countries. In Holland, a third said that they want to receive their purchases within one to two days, a proportion twice as high as in the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium and three times as high as in the Nordics, France, Spain and Italy. In the Nordics and Spain, a full 25% of consumers are prepared to wait six or more business days for their deliveries.