According to a research by GfK, the online sales of technical consumer goods in Europe lags behind. While e-commerce accounted for a third of the total value of technical consumer goods globally sold, the number in Europe is much lower. On average, the online share in 18 European countries is currently at 25 percent. This percentage is increasing over the past few years (2015: 21%), as can be concluded from the findings of GfK’s study on the online sales of technical consumer goods. Not all product categories were equally popular when it comes to buying online in Europe. This may change as the European online retail sector is undergoing a massive change.
China and the APAC-region were driving global online sales. Chinese e-commerce retailers enjoyed significant double-digit growth at nearly 23 percent. In the first half of 2018, the online share of technical consumer goods sales in China reached over 30 percent. Unlike the US and Europe, where internet penetration levels are at 80 percent or higher in most countries, China’s internet penetration is still low at 55 percent as much of its population is located rurally. However, further investments in China’s infrastructure will set the ground for the further growth of internet usage – and thus – online sales. The Chinese e-commerce giants from China will focus on product categories in Europe, mostly in products that have shown some high levels of online growth during the first half of this year. Examples of these categories are telecommunication (21%), consumer electronic goods (22%) and small domestic appliances (28%). “These are the products to watch for increasing levels of online sales activities,” GfK writes.
The growing number of tech-savvy consumers increases the number of consumers using a smartphone or tablet to buy products online. The mobile device will become ever more important in Europe as a shopping tool. Here, the influence of Chinese e-commerce giants can be seen, as they are well positioned in the area of m-commerce through many years of experience in their home markets.
Competitive advantages for European key players
According to GfK, strong alliances amongst key players in Europe will be able to address these new challenges in the retail sector. Partnering retailers will take competitive advantage of their unique omnichannel selling propositions – allowing them to bring the best on- and offline shopping experience to their customers through new technologies, joint innovation activities, and co-investments into big data analytics. As much as the ongoing changes in Europe can be seen as most disruptive for technical consumer goods retailing, ‘traditional’ retail has not lost its attraction: The percentage of consumers who believe that physical stores today are less important than a few years ago has not changed over time (2015: 43 percent vs 2018: 43 percent).