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New eMarketer Report Delves into Cross-Border Ecommerce in Europe

Digital buyers in the UK have relatively low cross-border ecommerce activity

March 15, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce

Almost every country in Europe—whether in the EU or not—has different opportunities and challenges associated with cross-border ecommerce. Even within the EU, individual countries have varying levels of cross-border buyer penetration.

Delivery Issues Experienced When Making a Cross-Border Digital Purchase According to Cross-Border Digital Buyers in Select Countries in Western Europe, Oct 2016 (% of respondents)

According to a PayPal and Ipsos survey from October 2016, only 33% of digital buyers in the UK had made a cross-border purchase in the past year, one of the lowest levels of overseas buying behavior in Europe. This might change, though, as a result of Brexit and how the pound sterling stacks up against the euro.

PayPal/Ipsos estimated that 12.9 million cross-border digital buyers in the UK spent £6.7 billion ($10.24 billion) in 2016. Spending is forecast to grow only 0.5% in 2017.

Eurostat put UK cross-border buyer penetration at 40% for 2016—a little higher than the PayPal/Ipsos figure, but ahead of Germany and on par with France, as it was in the PayPal/Ipsos study.

In Western Europe, France’s cross-border digital buyer penetration rate (34%) is similar to that of the UK. Digital buyers there are not as insular as Germany, but are less likely to shop abroad than digital buyers in Spain or Italy.

According to a September 2016 survey by Retail Week and Pinsent Masons, 23% of online shoppers in France said a brand’s trustworthiness was a motivation to shop on a foreign site. Good value ranked second, at 23%. Security of the payment platform was the leading concern for cross-border buyers in the country, cited by 27% of respondents, followed by delivery costs (21%).

Digital Buyers in Select Countries in Europe Who Make Domestic vs. Cross-Border Digital Purchases, Oct 2016 (% of respondents)

Germany has a relatively high digital buyer penetration rate: eMarketer estimates 81.1% of internet users in the country made a digital purchase in 2016. Although this rate was the third highest in Western Europe, Germany’s shoppers are some of the most unlikely in the region to buy on foreign sites.

According to the PayPal/Ipsos study, just 27% of digital buyers in Germany had made a cross-border purchase in the past 12 months. Paypal and Ipsos estimated that 15.2 million cross-border buyers in Germany spent €7.4 billion ($8.21 billion) in 2016. That figure is projected to grow 4% in 2017.

Eurostat found a similar penetration rate: 26% of digital buyers in Germany made a cross-border digital purchase in 2016, up from 17% in 2011.

These data points and hundreds of others can be found in a new eMarketer report examining cross-border shopping in 16 markets around the world. Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here: “Cross-Border Ecommerce 2017: A Country-by-Country Look at Consumer Behavior and Trends.”

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “Cross-Border Ecommerce 2017: A Country-by-Country Look at Consumer Behavior and Trends.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer PRO customers.

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