Smartphones vs. Tablets: What Wins for Western Europe Mcommerce? - eMarketer
« Return to Mobile Website

Newsletters Sign-Up

Schedule a Demo

Does My Company Subscribe?

Smartphones vs. Tablets: What Wins for Western Europe Mcommerce?

Tablets lead smartphones in several markets, but not everyone's on the bandwagon

March 13, 2015 | Retail & Ecommerce

Across the EU-5, tens of millions of residents will use mobile devices this year, eMarketer estimates. Smartphone users outnumber tablet users in every country, according to a new eMarketer report, “Western Europe Mcommerce Trends: Mobile Consumers Fuel Double-Digit Growth and Sales Share.”

Smartphone vs. Tablet Users in Select Countries in Western Europe Who Use Their Device to Purchase Products/Services, May 2014 (% of respondents)

From the consumer perspective, mcommerce is already moving past the early adopter phase. In several Western European markets, tablets already have the edge over smartphones for mobile purchasing. In May 2014, IDG Global Solutions found that tablet users in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK were more likely than smartphone users in those countries to make a purchase with their mobile device. It’s worth noting, though, that these respondents were recruited via IDG websites devoted to the uses of technology, so they may have been more likely to make a mobile purchase than typical consumers in those countries.

Smartphone vs. Tablet B2C Ecommerce Transaction Share in Select Countries, Q4 2014 (% of total B2C ecommerce transactions)

Not all sources consider tablets the undisputed future stars of Europe’s mcommerce scene, however. IDG noted that smartphones ran tablets a close second in Spain last year, and Criteo reported that smartphones were responsible for more transactions than tablets were in Italy and Spain—though not in France, Germany or the UK. This data suggests that tablet commerce mirrors tablet ownership; where consumers enjoy relatively higher disposable income and can afford to buy a tablet in the first place, it is often preferred for transactions.

When projected year-end ecommerce sales for the EU-5 and selected other countries in November 2014, it too looked for a strong performance—at least 10% of digital Christmas sales—from tablets in the UK and Germany and a much lower proportion (less than 4%) in Italy and Spain. In Italy, smartphones were forecast to claim an impressive 15.7% of all ecommerce sales—almost as high as the proportions expected in France, Germany and the UK. But Italy and Spain were perhaps most notable for the high percentages of seasonal purchases still anticipated on a PC: over 80% in both cases.

Christmas Retail Ecommerce Sales Growth in the US and Select Countries in Western Europe, by Device, 2013 & 2014 (% change vs. prior year)

Similarly, RetailMeNot predicted that mcommerce sales in Italy and Spain would increase by triple digits in late 2014, but projected growth rates for mobile purchasing would be even higher in France, Germany and the UK. Italy and Spain were also expected to see double-digit gains in sales via PC, while RetailMeNot forecast a decline in PC-based sales in other EU-5 nations.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “Western Europe Mcommerce Trends: Mobile Consumers Fuel Double-Digit Growth and Sales Share.”

This report answers these key questions:

  • What proportion of ecommerce sales and transactions in Western Europe’s main continental markets are carried out on mobile devices?
  • How many consumers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain are shopping and buying with smartphones and tablets?
  • How do mobile shopping and buying habits differ in these four countries?
  • Are smartphones and tablets associated with different patterns of mobile shopping and buying?

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer corporate subscribers.


  • Go beyond the articles:

    eMarketer Products

    You've never experienced research like this.

  • Hear from our clients:

    Customer Stories

    Nearly all Fortune 500 companies rely on us.

  • Want to learn more?

    Contact Us

    Inquire about corporate subscriptions today.