Data extracted in December 2018.
Planned article update: February 2020.
This article focuses on the electronic commerce (e-commerce) statistics in the European Union (EU) and is based on the results of the 2018 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) depending whether 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.
E-sales remain stable over recent years
During 2017, one out of five enterprises in the EU-28 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, during the period 2008 to 2017, the percentage of enterprises that had e-sales increased by 7 percentage points and the enterprises' turnover realised from e-sales increased by 5 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 2017, 42 % of large enterprises made e-sales corresponding to the e-sales value of 24 % of total turnover in this size class. Similarly, 28 % of medium sized enterprises made e-sales generating 13 % of total turnover in this size class. By contrast, 17 % of small enterprises engaged in e-sales, generating only 7 % of the turnover of such enterprises.
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 2017, among the EU-28, the percentage of enterprises making e-sales ranged from 8 % in Bulgaria to 35 % in Ireland, closely followed by Sweden and Denmark (both 32 %), Belgium (30 %) and the Netherlands (27 %) (Figure 2).
Enterprises using the web as a channel for sales 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 allows 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 or apps are increasingly offered by enterprises or third parties for various purposes. In particular, websites or apps allow customers to purchase by placing their orders electronically.
As shown in Figure 3, during 2017, 71 % of EU enterprises selling electronically used only websites or apps, 17 % used only EDI-type sales while 12 % used both. The percentage of enterprises receiving electronic orders only over websites or apps was considerably high for almost all Member States, ranging from 53 % in Czechia to 91 % in Greece. On the other hand, during 2017, the percentage of enterprises that used only EDI-type messages for their e-sales ranged from 4 % of enterprises conducting e-sales in Greece to 26 % in France, closely followed by Portugal (25 %). The percentage of enterprises using both channels were highest in Ireland (25 %) and Czechia (24 %).
As shown in Figure 4, during 2017, almost all enterprises making e-sales in the 'Accommodation’ branch received orders via websites or apps (99 %), while merely 8 % 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 (41 %).
For ‘Manufacturing’ enterprises, the percentages of those that conducted e-sales via websites or apps and those who used EDI-type messages were close, 61 % and 53 % 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, 87 % of enterprises tended to have web sales, whereas among the large enterprises 65 % received orders via websites or apps. The percentages for web and EDI-type sales were closest for large enterprises (Figure 4).
In the EU-28, enterprises realised 17 % of their total turnover from e-sales during 2017, consisting of orders via websites or apps or via EDI-type messages.
However, the turnover realised from EDI-type sales was 11 % 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 (24 %), most of it realised from EDI-type sales (16 %). In addition, the highest shares of total turnover from e-sales were reported by enterprises in 'Accommodation' (32 %), 'Transport and storage' and 'Manufacturing' (22 % each). However, enterprises in 'Accommodation' realised most of their e-sales turnover from web sales (28 %) whereas those in 'Manufacturing' from EDI-type sales (18 %). Enterprises in 'Transport and storage' realised more turnover from web sales (12 %) than from EDI-type sales (10 %).
During 2017, among all Member States, the percentage of turnover realised from e-sales ranged from less than 5 % in Greece and Cyprus to 35 % in Ireland, followed by Belgium (32 %), Czechia (29 %), Sweden (24 %), Denmark and Hungary (both 23 %).
Figure 7 shows the contribution of web sales and EDI-type sales to total turnover. The share of the total turnover realised from EDI-type sales ranged from less than 1 % in Greece to 21 % in Czechia and Ireland. In addition, the share of total turnover from web sales ranged from 2 % in Bulgaria and Slovenia to 15 % in Belgium and Ireland.
Web sales predominantly done via own website
Looking further into web sales, these can be done via own websites or apps 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 orders 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 2017, 87 % of EU enterprises with web sales used their own websites or apps, while 40 % used an e-commerce marketplace. The highest percentages of enterprises with web sales via own sites or apps were registered in Croatia, Slovakia and Finland (each 97 %), while the lowest were registered in Slovenia (67 %) and Luxembourg (69 %). Finland, Croatia, Denmark and Czechia are the countries with the lowest percentages of web sales via marketplaces (less than 20 %). Using web sales via marketplaces was most common in Italy (64 %), Cyprus and Poland (both 53 %).
In the EU-28, enterprises realized 7 % of their total turnover from web sales during 2017, where 6 % was realized from web sales via own websites or apps and only 1 % from sales via online marketplaces. The highest percentages of turnover realized through web sales via marketplaces were registered in Ireland (3 %) and the Netherlands (2 %) (Figure 9).
Source data for tables and graphs
Data presented in this article are based on the results of the 2018 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 each year. The surveys' reference period was the current situation of the survey period or for questions on e-commerce the preceding calendar year.
In 2018, 158 000 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 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9: only countries that have reported data for both elements are presented in the graphs.
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.
- Cloud computing - statistics on the use by enterprises
- Internet advertising of businesses - statistics on usage of ads
- ICT specialists - statistics on hard-to-fill vacancies in enterprises
- E-business integration
- ICT security in enterprises
- Social media - statistics on the use by enterprises
- Digital economy and society statistics - enterprises
- 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)
- ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises (ESMS metadata file — isoc_e_esms)
- 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 (EU) 2017/1515 of 31 August 2017 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