Beyond the Transaction: Every Transaction Has a Story

E-commerce in Europe: what about consumers?

From one click payments to drones as the delivery service of the future, we often talk about the benefits and innovations of e-commerce businesses. But what about the consumer? At the heart of any retail service is the consumer and so to understand e-commerce it’s important to know the consumer trends. Are people fans of shopping online, what products are they buying and what are the drivers and barriers that will affect the growth of the sector?

The new Masterindex survey on e-commerce and payment trends across more than 20 European countries shines a light on some of these questions. With 25% of European internet users buying online once a week and 60% doing so once a month it is clear that Europeans are avid online shoppers but that there is still a lot of room for growth. In Ireland and Germany, around 30% of internet users shop online once a week, but that is around double the amount that we see in Denmark (16%). While we try to grow the e-commerce market in Europe, it will be important to ensure that an e-commerce divide does not develop.

E-commerce is all about providing consumers with offers and products that they want. Clothing & footwear, tickets, electronics and books were the most purchased products in Europe in 2016. These are often the products we think about when we think of e-commerce so it will be interesting to see how these develop over the coming years as e-commerce continues to grow. In the UK for example, 1 in 3 online shoppers buy their groceries online, but this is double the EU average.  Will this type of everyday purchase become more common in e-commerce or will it remain focused on occasional purchases of products such as tickets and flights?

To continue growing the sector we need to address consumers’ concerns over security and fraud, which remain European internet users main concern, in all countries. For Mastercard, this has always been our number one priority. EU policymakers can also tackle this issue by ensuring that high security standards apply equally to all players without compromising too much on convenience.

At Mastercard, we have a key role to play here as electronic payments are a key component of e-commerce. The Masterindex shows that while cards and online banking are the most used payment methods there is openness from consumers to try new payment methods such as e-wallets. This interest should be encouraged.

And of course growing a truly European e-commerce sector means consumers shopping cross border. Approximately 2 out of 3 online buyers have shopped cross border at least once but there are significant disparities between countries. If we are to build a truly European e-commerce sector, it must be cross border and meet the needs of consumers.