Spain and Italy have been lagging behind when it comes to e-commerce, says Ecommerce News. Online sales as a percentage of total retail are far lower than in countries from Northern Europe. It seems that consumers from Southern Europe have been more resistant to e-commerce.
Last year, almost 80% of German consumers shopped online. On the other hand, 38% of consumers in Italy shopped online while Italy is the 8th biggest economy in the world. However, this year, Spain and Italy experienced two of the strictest lockdowns due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Ultimately, this led to a surge of people buying products and/or services online for the very first time. The only questions is if these consumers will keep shopping online in the upcoming years.
Not just a matter of money
There are several reasons why e-commerce in Southern Europe still lags behind other online retail markets in Europe. It is not just a matter of money, even though the gross domestic product per capita in Italy and Spain is very low compared to markets in Western Europe.
A possible explanation for the differences between Southern Europe and Western/Northern Europe, could be the fact that Spain and Italy are geographically distinct from their northern neighbors. Mountainous, and with a lack of navigable waterways, industrialization was slower in the Southern Europe. In addition, these countries still have less developed rail and networks.
Logistics need improvement
The Iberian and Italian peninsulas also slows cross-border traffic. In Southern Europe, logistics are considerably worse. This makes trade slower and more expensive. The e-commerce offered to Southern Europeans is of lower quality. For instance, Amazon Spain only offers its Prime (next-day) delivery service in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
Furthermore, the climate is also a key factor that has led to a different e-commerce landscape in Southern Europe. Moreover, the fact that the most popular websites are in English, while English is less spoken in Spain and Italy, also weighs in favor of the northern markets.
Spanish and Italian people are offered a worse product. Deliveries take longer and are more expensive. Added to this is the lack of dedicated pages in local languages. At the same time, with more sunny days, and retail less concentrated in chains and huge megastores, shopping is a more localized and communal experience in Southern Europe.