Last updated: E-commerce in Europe: It takes a village

E-commerce in Europe: It takes a village


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I was shocked the first time I found out that Jar Jar Binks was a generally disliked character, when reading online reviews about The Phantom Menace a few years ago. Personally, I have always found Jar Jar hilarious. I realized, though, that many negative reviews were about the original picture in English, whereas I watched a dubbed version in my home country.

Here, Jar Jar speaks a freaky, comical linguistic mash-up, which has nothing to do with the obnoxious original version. Same story, same character, very different results. I couldn’t help but see a parallel with the situation of e-commerce in my region, EMEA, as I was working on a marketing campaign based on the reports published annually by the Ecommerce Foundation.

It takes an Empire’s firepower to enter the competitive arena

The evidence is clear: B2C European e-commerce sales have been growing double-digit for the last few years, reaching a considerable €612bn in 2018, a rough quarter of total global B2C e-commerce sales.

Interestingly, the growth trend, even though at different velocities, is a constant across almost all of the 40+ countries composing the region. The big global marketplaces, Amazon, Ebay, and Alibaba, are fighting a position war to try and erode each other’s lead as the preferred go-to e-commerce shop for European consumers.

That there is no clear winner yet among the three behemoths, though, is revealing about the complexity of expanding an e-commerce business here.

There are no two Naboos: Serving a diversified market is no easy feat

Even foundational business indicators, such as E-GDP, Ease of Doing Business Index and the Logistics Performance Index, differ significantly by country.

In addition, some consumer-related information looks even more puzzling. Even considering only the countries where e-commerce is most developed, differences are substantial. For example, the percentage of individuals who shopped online last year spanned from only 34% of total shoppers in Italy to as much as 82% in the Netherlands, which poses the broader question of consumer trust toward experiencing a new brand online.

Personalize your weapons to deliver on your promise

Buying habits may differ, but, among the myriad of data, there is one specific area that seems to emerge as a recurring make-or-break purchasing factor, and that is delivery convenience.

For a striking 70% of consumers, stating clear delivery information is quoted as the most important factor. This means that personalizing your marketing using advanced digital targeting techniques can only be a plus if, at the other end of the chain, you are able to enact a true personalized sale, otherwise trust is at stake.

I personally remorselessly abandon my shopping cart as soon as I read the notorious “international delivery costs calculated at check-out” statement.

Good old Europe’s growth potential for e-commerce seems to be still high, but capturing it in a galaxy of customer experience may imply more than it takes, including strong local expertise, a trial-and-error mindset, and sophisticated go-to-market approaches.

Personalization: It’s not magic.
It’s method.
Find out who does it best HERE

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