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Online Consumer habits among EU5 consumers

Business-to-consumer (B2C) cross-border eCommerce worldwide is continuing to grow, and it is expected to reach $424 billion by 20211. This means that consumers see the internet as a natural place to shop - not only from domestic companies but also from foreign ones. This trend showcases a large opportunity that you could capitalize on if you were to internationalize your business.


In our March article - How to Start Your International Journey - Part 1/2, we described the first 3 steps to drive the successful internationalization of your business.


We mentioned the importance of identifying your target market(s) based on consumer interest for the product/service you are offering, as well as the value of understanding consumer preferences and cultural differences across countries.


This article describes the e-Commerce habits of  EU5 (European Union Five: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom) consumers, based on what they buy and what their most important purchase drivers are.


What Are They Buying?2


According to GlobalWebIndex, the Apparel and Accessories category dominates the EU5 list of most important purchases online*. This category leads  EU5 markets with the exception of the UK, where consumers tend to buy more Entertainment-related products.


Interestingly, Apparel & Accessories, Entertainment and Travel are in the top 3 in all five countries, always followed by Electronics, Beauty Products & Fragrances and Home furnishing/furniture.


 EU5 CAT.png

Out of these 5, Germany has the highest percentage of online purchases of Apparel and Accessories (63% of respondents).


For Entertainment and Travel categories, the United Kingdom takes the lead with 54% and 46% respectively.


The Electronics category in France and Spain closely follows the top 3.


Top 5 Online Purchase Drivers3


As you are preparing to expand into new markets - it is also vital to understand the cultural nuances and adapt accordingly. These factors will have an impact on your bottom line.


This is especially true in extremely established and mature markets as the EU5, where it is crucial for companies to differentiate themselves by offering consumers different value adds which incentivize consumers to purchase online.


The graph below, based on GlobalWebIndex research, shows the main drivers to buy online across the different countries.


EU5 Drivers.png


Free Delivery is by far the top driver for online purchases in all markets, with an average of 70% of the audience among EU5 feeling that this aspect is very important when shopping online.


France seems to be the most price-conscious country - as the top 3 drivers for online purchase are related with cost-saving opportunities: Free Shipping, Loyalty Points and Financial Rewards.


Easy returns are an important factor for consumers, especially in Germany and the UK, with 53% and 42% of surveyed consumers respectively, selecting "Easy Returns" as a driver for purchasing online.


Italy and Spain, instead, tend to value a quick and easy checkout process, with 48% of the surveyed users considering this a factor that would increase their likelihood of buying a product when shopping online.


Other factors mentioned to a lower degree across the EU5 were Reviews from other consumers and Next Day delivery.


It is clear that online consumer behaviour varies significantly between the EU5, but it is also true that there are many similarities and common denominators.


Understanding these different facets is key to success, and Google is in the right position to help you in your internationalization journey. Watch out for our next article and, in the meantime, check out our Global Economy: Challenges and Opportunities for Global Businesses post, to learn more on internationalization opportunities.


eMarketer, Cross-Border Ecommerce 2017: A Country-by-Country Look at Consumer Behavior and Trends.

GlobalWebIndex: Survey based on All internet users aged between 16-64. Countries: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy. Time Period 2016 Full Year. Question: Which of the following have you purchased online in the past six months?

*Product Categories

Electronics: Mobile phone (To Q3 2016), Headphones / earphones, Tablet device, Laptop (>10" screen) , Flat-screen TV, Desktop computer, Games console, Digital camera,  2-in-1 Laptop / Tablet device.

Entertainment: Books, Music, Films, Broadband / hi-speed Internet.

Beauty Products & Fragrances:  Beauty products, Fragrances / perfume / aftershave

Home furnishings/furniture: Home appliances (white goods), Furniture, Vacuum cleaner, Dishwasher

Apparel & Accessories: Clothes, Shoes, Personal items e.g. watches / handbags etc, Jewellery.

Travel: Travel items, e.g. plane tickets / hotel rooms, Vacation (in my own country), Vacation (abroad).

GlobalWebIndex: Survey based on All internet users aged between 16-64. Countries: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy. Time Period 2016 Full Year. Question: When shopping online, which of the following things would increase your likelihood of buying a product?