Digital economy and society in the EU is a digital publication released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

    For further information see:

    The dedicated section on digital economy and society on the Eurostat website.

    Articles on the digital economy and society in Statistics Explained.

    Information on data

    Date of data extraction/update: 01 June 2017 for text and all data visualisations.

    ICT usage data are organised in Eurostat's online database according to the year in which the survey was conducted.
    For households/people, most countries collected data in the 2nd quarter of the survey year. In general, data refer to the 1st quarter of the survey year. Data on e-commerce and internet security refer to the 12 months prior to the survey.
    For businesses, most data refer to the situation during the survey period. Data on ICT specialists, ICT functions and e-commerce refer to the year preceding the survey year.
    In the visualisations, data marked as 'not available' can be missing, unreliable or confidential. For more information, please see the source dataset available below each visualisation.


    If you have questions on the data, please contact the Eurostat User Support.

    Identifiers of the digital publication:

    Catalogue number: KS-01-17-543-EN-Q
    ISBN 978-92-79-69326-7
    Doi: 10.2785/247196

    © European Union, 2017
    Cover photo: © Shutterstock - copyright VLADGRIN - Image number: 217829920
    Menu icons: © Fontawesome

2.2 Online businesses & e-sales

Over the last few years, the share of people ordering goods or services online increased steadily. Businesses selling their goods or services via the internet can potentially reach a large number of online customers and complement their traditional sales channels.

20 % of EU businesses sell online; this makes up 16 % of turnover

In 2016, 20 % of EU businesses reported that they conducted e-commerce sales (e-sales) to consumers, other businesses and/or public authorities; this is a moderate increase compared with 15 % in 2010. Among the EU Member States, conducting e-sales was most common for businesses in Ireland (30 %), Denmark (29 %), Germany and Sweden (both 28 %).

In the EU, the share of large businesses making e-sales (42 %) was twice as high as for SMEs (20 %). Belgium (58 %) and Slovenia (57 %) had the highest shares of large businesses conducting e-sales, while the highest shares for SMEs were observed in Ireland (30 %), Denmark, Germany and Sweden (all 28 %).

Looking at the turnover generated by e-sales, this amounted to 16 % of total turnover in the EU; a small increase compared with 14 % in 2010.

Among the EU Member States, e-sales turnover was highest for businesses in Ireland (35 % of total turnover), followed by the Czech Republic (31 %) and Belgium (29 %).

The share of turnover from e-sales for large EU businesses (22 %) was more than twice as high as for SMEs (9 %). Large businesses in Ireland (45 %) and the Czech Republic (38 %) generated the highest e-sales shares among all Member States. The same two Member States also reported the highest share of e-sales turnover for SMEs (both 22 %).

16 % of EU businesses sell via websites; this makes up 5 % of turnover

Placing orders with businesses that sell online can be done via websites or apps (web sales) or in an automated way via EDI-type messages; businesses may offer one or both options to their clients.

When ordering online via a business' website, customers such as other businesses or internet users may use online order forms or apps to choose the goods or services they want to purchase. Web sales to other businesses are called B2B (business-to-business) sales and those to consumers are called B2C (business-to-consumer) sales.

EDI-type sales, on the other hand, are sales where orders are automatically placed and processed using computer-to-computer communication, based on a standard data exchange format. This means that no human intervention is needed in this process. Big supermarket chains, for example, use this method to order products in larger quantities from suppliers (see also our animation).

In 2016, 16 % of EU businesses reported having received online orders via a website or apps and 7 % via EDI-type messages. Looking at the turnover, the opposite situation can be observed: the share generated by EDI-type sales (11 % of total turnover) was more than twice as high as that from web sales (5 %).

Among the EU Member States, Ireland reported the highest shares of businesses with web sales (25 %) as well as with sales via EDI-type messages (15 %). Ireland also recorded the highest share of turnover generated from web sales (15 %), while the Czech Republic registered the highest share of turnover from EDI type sales (24 %).

13 % of EU businesses make B2C sales; this makes up 2 % of turnover

In the EU in 2016, 13 % of businesses reported having conducted web sales to consumers (B2C) and 12 % to other businesses (B2B). Of the 5 % of total turnover generated by web sales, 2 % came from B2C sales and 3 % from B2B sales.

Among the EU Member States, the highest share of businesses making B2C sales was found in Ireland (22 %), while the highest share of businesses making B2B sales was registered in Germany (18 %). The share of turnover generated from B2C sales was also highest in Ireland (12 %), while that from B2B sales was highest in Belgium (7 %).

online shopping
online shopping