E-commerce statistics


Data extracted in December 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: December 2018.

This article focuses on the electronic commerce (e-commerce) statistics in the European Union (EU) and is based on the results of the 2017 survey on 'ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises'. E-commerce refers here to the trading of goods or services over computer networks such as the internet. It can be divided into e-commerce sales (e-sales) and e-commerce purchases (e-purchases) according to the way in which an enterprise receives or places orders respectively.

Essentially, e-commerce is part of the business model of enterprises, complementing their conventional commercial activities for selling and buying aimed at enhancing their performance.

Figure 1: E-sales and turnover from e-sales, 2008-2016, EU-28 (% enterprises, % total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_eu_en2)
Table 1: E-sales and turnover from e-sales, by size class, 2012-2016, EU-28 (% enterprises, % total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_eu_en2)
Figure 2: E-sales broken down by web and EDI-type sales, 2016 (% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eseln2)
Figure 3: E-sales broken down by web and EDI-type sales, 2016 (% enterprises with e-sales)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eseln2) - see Country codes
Figure 4: E-sales broken down by web and EDI-type sales, by economic activity and size, EU-28, 2016 (% enterprises with e-sales)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eseln2)
Figure 5: Turnover from web sales broken down by B2BG and B2C, 2016 (% total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2) - see Country codes
Figure 6: Turnover from e-sales broken down by web and EDI-type sales, by economic activity and size, 2016, (% total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2)
Figure 7: Turnover from e-sales broken down by web and EDI-type sales, 2016 (% total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2) - see Country codes
Figure 8: Web sales broken down by own website or apps and marketplace, 2016 (% enterprises with web sales)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2) - see Country codes
Figure 9: Turnover from web sales broken down by own website or apps and marketplace, 2016 (% total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2) - see Country codes
Figure 10: Web sales to own country and other EU countries, 2016 (% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eseln2) - see Country codes
Figure 11: Difficulties experienced when selling to other EU countries, EU-28, 2016 (% of enterprises with web sales to other EU countries)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_wsobs)


Main statistical findings

Share of turnover from e-sales around 18 % in 2016

During 2016, one out of five enterprises in the EU-28 made electronic sales. The percentage of turnover on e-sales amounted to 18 % of the total turnover of enterprises with 10 or more persons employed.

In the EU-28, during the period 2008 to 2016, the percentage of enterprises that had e-sales increased by 7 percentage points and the enterprises' turnover realised from e-sales increased by 6 percentage points.

As Table 1 shows, there was a significant variation in the share of enterprises conducting e-sales and the turnover from the e-sales according to enterprise size.

During 2016, 44 % of large enterprises made e-sales corresponding to 26 % of total turnover in this size class. Similarly, 29 % of medium sized enterprises made e-sales corresponding to 13 % of total turnover in this size class. By contrast, 18 % of small enterprises engaged in e-sales, corresponding to only 7 % of the turnover of such enterprises.

Wide variation in the share of e-sales among countries

E-sales can be done via websites or apps (web sales) or in an automated way via EDI-type messages; enterprises may offer one or both options to their clients. In 2016, among the EU-28, the percentage of enterprises making e-sales ranged from 8 % in Romania to 33 % in Ireland, closely followed by Sweden (31 %), Denmark (30 %) and Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands (each 26 %) (Figure 2).

Enterprises using the web dominated in the area of e-sales

Specific methods for e-sales enable the ’sales process’ to take place in a faster and more efficient manner. These methods can be broadly divided into web sales and EDI-type sales referring to the way customers – private or business – place orders for the products that they wish to purchase.

Therefore, for the survey on ‘ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises’, respondents were asked to state whether they received orders via a website or apps (web sales) or in a format that allowed automated processing (EDI-type sales) using Electronic Data Interchange or Extensible Markup Language (XML) format for example.

Enterprises consider it important to be visible on the internet. Consequently, websites are increasingly offered by enterprises or third parties for various purposes. In particular, websites allow customers to purchase by placing their orders electronically.

As shown in Figure 3, during 2016, 79 % of EU enterprises selling electronically used a website or apps, while 33 % used EDI-type sales. The percentage of enterprises receiving orders over websites or via apps was considerably high for almost all Member States, ranging from 70 % in Portugal to 95 % in Greece. On the other hand, during 2016, the percentage of enterprises that used EDI-type sales ranged from 11 % of enterprises conducting e-sales in Greece to 49 % in Ireland, followed by Portugal (43 %).

As shown in Figure 4, during 2016, almost all enterprises making e-sales in the 'Accommodation’ branch received orders via a website, while 11 % made e-sales via EDI-type messages.

More than half of ‘Manufacturing’ enterprises making e-sales reported that they received orders via EDI-type messages, followed by enterprises in the ‘Transport and storage’ sector (46 %).

The percentages for ‘Manufacturing’ enterprises that conducted e-sales via a website or apps and via EDI-type messages were very close, 59 % and 55 % respectively. For all other economic activities, enterprises received their orders in most cases via websites or apps.

It is noticeable that, among the small enterprises making e-sales, 83 % of enterprises tended to have web sales, whereas among the large enterprises 63 % received orders via websites. Web and EDI-type sales were almost equally reported by large enterprises (Figure 4).

The share of turnover from EDI-type sales is greater than that from web sales

In the EU-28, enterprises realised 18 % of their total turnover from e-sales during 2016, consisting of orders via a website or apps or via EDI-type messages.

However, the turnover realised from EDI-type sales was 12 % of total turnover, while the turnover from web sales was only 7 %. From the 7 %, 4 % came from e-sales to other enterprises and public authorities while 3 % came from e-sales to private consumers (Figure 5).

As Figure 6 shows, large enterprises – with 250 or more persons – rely in principle on ICT and standards that integrate EDI-type sales within their business processes. In fact, large enterprises reported the highest share of turnover from e-sales (26 %), most of it realised from EDI-type sales (17 %). In addition, the highest shares of total turnover from e-sales were reported by enterprises in 'Accommodation' (29 %), 'Transport and storage' and 'Manufacturing' (25 % each). However, enterprises in 'Accommodation' realised most of their turnover from web sales (25 %) whereas those in 'Manufacturing' from EDI-type sales (22 %). Enterprises in 'Transport and storage' realised more turnover from web sales (15 %) than from EDI-type sales (10 %).

During 2016, among all Member States, the percentage of turnover realised from e-sales ranged from 4 % in Greece to 33 % in Ireland, followed by Belgium and the Czech Republic (both 31 %), Denmark (23 %) and Slovakia (22 %).

Figure 7 shows the contribution of web sales and EDI-type sales to total turnover. In particular, the share of the total turnover realised from EDI-type sales ranged from less than 1 % in Greece to 22 % in the Czech Republic and 19 % in Belgium. In addition, the share of total turnover from web sales ranged from 2 % in Bulgaria to 16 % in Ireland.


Web sales predominantly done via own website

Looking further into web sales, these can be done via own website or via e-commerce marketplaces available on external websites or apps. E-commerce marketplaces, and in general online platforms, may facilitate economic growth by enabling sellers to access new markets and reach new customers at lower cost.

For the survey on ‘ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises’, the respondents were asked to indicate if they received order for goods or services via the enterprise's own website or apps and/or via an e-commerce marketplace website or apps. An enterprise may use one or both web sales possibilities.

As Figure 8 shows, during 2016, 85 % of EU enterprises with web sales used their own website or apps, while 39 % used an e-commerce marketplace. The highest percentages of enterprises with web sales via own sites were the Czech Republic (98 %), Finland and Slovakia (both 97 %) and Croatia (96 %), while the lowest were registered in Slovenia (64 %), followed Germany and Luxembourg (both 75 %). The Czech Republic, Finland and Croatia are at the same time the countries with the lowest percentages with web sales via marketplaces (14 % each). Using web sales via marketplaces was most common in Italy (54 %) and Germany (52 %).

The share of turnover from web sales via own website is greater than that from web sales via marketplaces

In the EU-28, enterprises realized 7 % of their total turnover from web sales during 2016, where 6 % was realized from web sales via own website or apps and only 1 % from sales via online marketplaces. The highest percentage of turnover realized through web sales via marketplaces of 2 % was registered in Italy and the Netherlands (Figure 9).

Cross-border web sales within the EU not fully exploited by enterprises

E-commerce enables enterprises to establish their presence in the market at national level and also to extend their economic activities beyond borders in order to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Moreover, e-commerce has the potential to reshape the European Single Market for enterprises and private consumers by enabling price and product-related comparisons in a borderless market environment.

In 2016 in the EU-28, while almost all enterprises with web sales (16 %) reported that they sold to customers in their own country, only 7 % of enterprises made web sales to other EU countries. The largest proportions of EU enterprises in 2016 with web sales to other EU countries were recorded in Ireland (13 %), followed by Austria and Lithuania (both 12 %). In contrast, the web sales to other EU countries were lowest in Romania (2 %) and Bulgaria (3 %). (Figure 10).

Transport charges main impediment to cross-border web sales within the EU

The majority (59 %) of EU enterprises having received orders via a website or via apps during 2016 reported no difficulties for their web sales to other EU Member States. However, almost four in ten (38 %) reported hampering factors. These mainly concerned economic reasons – such as the high costs of delivering or returning products (27 %), linguistic and technical barriers – such as the lack of knowledge of foreign languages (13 %) or adapting product labelling (9 %) – and/or judicial reasons related for instance to resolving complaints and disputes (12 %).


Data sources and availability

Data presented in this article are based on the results of the 2017 survey on 'ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises'. Statistics were obtained from enterprise surveys conducted by National Statistical Authorities in the first months of 2017. The surveys' reference period was the current situation of the survey period or for some questions (like e.g. e-commerce) the year 2016.

In 2017, 159 000 enterprises, with 10 or more persons employed, out of 1.6 million in EU-28 were surveyed. Out of these 1.6 million enterprises approximately 83 % were enterprises with 10-49 persons employed, 14 % with 50-249 and 3 % with 250 or more.

The observation statistical unit is the enterprise, as defined in the Regulation (EC) No 696/1993 of 15 March 1993. The survey covered enterprises with at least 10 persons employed. Economic activities correspond to the classification NACE Revision 2. The sectors covered are manufacturing, electricity, gas and steam, water supply, construction, wholesale and retail trades, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, transportation and storage, accommodation and food service activities, information and communication, real estate, professional, scientific and technical activities, administrative and support activities and repair of computers and communication equipment. Enterprises are broken down by size; small (10-49), medium (50-249) and large enterprises (250 or more persons employed).

Data in tables shown as ‘:’ refer to data that are unavailable, unreliable, confidential or not applicable. Unreliable data are included in the calculation of European aggregates. Data presented in this article may differ from the data in the database on account of updates made after the data extractions used for this article. Data in the database are organised according to the survey year.

Figure 5, 7 and 9: only countries that have reported turnover for both elements are presented in the graphs. Figure 11: the percentages don't add up to 100 because of item non-response. Island and Turkey are not available in some figures because data was not reported for all indicators.

Context

The Digital Single Marketfor Europe is a major priority of the European Commission. The strategy is built on three pillars: (1) better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; (2) creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; (3) maximising the growth potential of the digital economy. More specifically, for the first pillar, the Digital Single Market strategy aims at removing the key differences between online and offline worlds, and to break down barriers to cross-border online activity. Boosting e-commerce in the EU includes actions related to making cross-border parcel delivery more affordable and efficient and promoting customer trust through better protection and enforcement.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Database

ICT usage in enterprises (isoc_e)
Summary of EU aggregates (isoc_ci_eu_en2)
E-commerce (isoc_ec)
E-commerce sales (isoc_ec_eseln2)
Value of e-commerce sales (isoc_ec_evaln2)
Obstacles for web sales (isoc_ec_webobs_n2)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)

Other information

  • Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 of 21 April 2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EC) No 960/2008 of 30 September 2008 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EC) No 1023/2009 of 29 October 2009 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) No 821/2010 of 17 September 2010 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) No 937/2011 of 21 September 2011 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) No 1083/2012 of 19 November 2012 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) No 859/2013 of 5 September 2013 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) No 1196/2014 of 30 October 2014 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) 2015/2003 of 10 November 2015 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) 2016/2015 of 17 November 2016 implementing Regulation (EC) No 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EC) No 696/1993 of 15 March 1993 on the statistical units for the observation and analysis of the production system in the Community

External links