E-commerce statistics

Data extracted in November 2015. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: December 2016.

This article focuses on the electronic commerce (e-commerce) statistics in the European Union (EU) and is based on the results of the 2015 Community 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 e-purchases, turnover from e-sales, 2008 to 2014, EU-28 (% enterprises, % total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eu_en2)
Table 1: E-sales and e-purchases, turnover from e-sales, by size class, 2010-2014, EU-28 (% enterprises, % total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eu_en2)
Figure 2: E-sales and e-purchases, 2014 (% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_bde15dec)
Figure 3: E-sales broken down by web and EDI-type sales, 2014 (% enterprises with e-sales)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_bde15dec)
Figure 4: E-sales broken down by web and EDI-type sales and by economic activity, EU-28, 2014 (% enterprises with e-sales)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_bde15dec)
Figure 5: Turnover from e-sales broken down by web and EDI-type sales, 2014 (% total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2)
Figure 6: Web sales and EDI-type sales, 2014 (% turnover from e-sales)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2)
Figure 7: Turnover from web sales broken down by B2BG and B2C, 2014 (% total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2)
Figure 8: E-commerce sales to own country and other EU countries, 2014 (% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eseln2)

Main statistical findings

Share of turnover from e-sales increased to 17 % in 2014

In 2014, more than twice as many enterprises engaged in e-purchases than in e-sales. As shown in Figure 1, during 2014, 40 % of enterprises in the EU-28 made purchases electronically. In the same period, only 19 % of enterprises made electronic sales.

The percentage of turnover on e-sales amounted to 17 % of the total turnover of enterprises with 10 or more persons employed in the EU-28.

However, 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 2014, 43 % of large enterprises made e-sales corresponding to 24 % of total turnover in this size class. Similarly, 28 % of medium sized enterprises made e-sales corresponding to 13 % of total turnover in this size class. By contrast, 17 % of small enterprises engaged in e-sales, corresponding to only 6 % of the turnover of such enterprises.

In the EU-28, during the period 2010 to 2014 there was a small increase in the percentage of enterprises that had e-sales (+4 percentage points) as well as in the enterprises' turnover from e-sales (+3 percentage points).

Wide variation in the share of e-sales and e-purchases among countries

In 2014, among the EU-28 (Figure 2), the percentage of enterprises making purchases electronically varied widely from country to country, ranging from 11 % in Greece to 68 % in Austria. Similarly, the percentage of enterprises with e-sales ranged from 7 % in Greece to 32 % in Ireland, followed by Sweden (28 %) and Denmark (27 %).

During 2014, among all Member States, the percentage of turnover realised from e-sales ranged from 1 % in Greece to 37 % in Ireland, followed by the Czech Republic (30 %), Finland and Slovakia (both 21 %).

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 2014, 81 % of EU enterprises selling electronically used a website or "apps", while 33 % used EDI-type sales. On the one hand, during 2014, the percentage of enterprises that used EDI-type sales ranged from 10 % of enterprises conducting e-sales in Greece to 46 % in Portugal, followed by Ireland (43 %).

On the other hand, the percentage of enterprises receiving orders over websites or via "apps" was considerably high for almost all Member States, ranging from 67 % in Portugal to 94 % in Greece.

As shown in Figure 4, during 2014, almost all enterprises making e-sales in the 'Accommodation’ branch received orders via a website, while 16 % 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 (42 %).

The percentages for ‘Manufacturing’ enterprises that conducted e-sales via a website or "apps" and via EDI-type messages were very close, 54 % and 61 % 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, 85 % 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 17 % of their total turnover from e-sales during 2014, 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 5 %. From the 5 %, 3 % came from e-sales to other enterprises and public authorities while 2 % came from e-sales to private consumers (Figure 7).

As Figure 4 shows, large enterprises – with 250 or more persons employed – rely in principle on ICT and standards that integrate EDI-type sales within their business processes.

Figure 5 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 24 % in the Czech Republic and 22 % in Ireland. In addition, the share of total turnover from web sales ranged from 1 % in Greece to 15 % in Ireland.

Figure 6 shows the distribution of e-sales turnover between web sales and EDI-type sales. In 2014, for the majority of countries, the share of e-sales turnover from EDI-type sales was greater than the share from sales via websites or "apps". In particular, for Austrian enterprises making e-sales, the percentage of turnover realised by EDI-type sales was more than five times that from web sales.

Cross border e-commerce sales not fully exploited by enterprises selling electronically

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.

However, in 2014 in the EU-28, while almost all enterprises making electronic sales (19 %) reported that they sold to the markets in their own countries (18 %), only 8 % of enterprises made e-sales to other EU countries (Figure 8).

In particular, the potential for cross-border e-sales to other EU countries was not fully exploited. While 32 % of enterprises in Ireland made e-sales — ranking it first among the EU countries — as many as 17 % of enterprises reported selling to customers in other EU countries. For many other countries, however, the potential was much higher. For example, enterprises in Sweden and Denmark rank high in e-sales (28 % and 27 % respectively) but only 10 % (each) sold to other EU countries.

Outside the EU, Norway has the highest potential for enterprises to expand into foreign markets, with 29 % of enterprises making e-sales but only 5 % to customers in EU countries.

Data sources and availability

In 2015, 148 800 enterprises, with 10 or more persons employed, out of 1.5 million in EU-28 were surveyed. Out of these 1.5 million enterprises approximately 83 % were enterprises with 10-49 persons employed, 14 % with 50-249 and 3 % with 250 or more.

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.

Figure 5 and Figure 6: only countries that have reported turnover for both, web sales and EDI-type sales, are presented in the graphs. Figure 7: only countries that have reported web sales for both, to B2BG and B2C, are presented in the graph. Due to methodological changes in 2015, data on e-purchases for France and the Netherlands may not be fully comparable with previous years (break in series).

Context

Data presented in this article are based on the results of the 2015 Community 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 2015. The surveys' reference period was the current situation of the survey period or for some questions (like e.g. e-commerce) the year 2014.

The observation statistical unit is the enterprise, as defined in the Regulation 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).

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Database

Policy indicators (isoc_pi)
Benchmarking Digital Europe: 2011-2015 indicators (isoc_pibde15)
e-commerce, Customer Relation Management (CRM) and secure transactions (isoc_bde15dec)
E-Commerce by individuals and enterprises (isoc_ec)
E-commerce by enterprises: summary of EU aggregates (NACE Rev. 2 activity) (isoc_ec_eu_en2)
Enterprises selling via internet and/or networks other than internet (NACE Rev. 2 activity) (isoc_ec_eseln2)
Value of purchases and sales by Internet and/or networks other than Internet (NACE Rev. 2) (isoc_ec_evaln2)


Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

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 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EC) No 1023/2009 of 29 October 2009 implementing Regulation 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) No 821/2010 of 17 September 2010 implementing Regulation 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) No 937/2011 of 21 September 2011 implementing Regulation 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
  • Regulation (EU) No 1083/2012 of 19 November 2012 implementing Regulation 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 (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