4th edition of “TOP 16 Countries Cross-Border Europe”: the annual ranking of the best 16 European countries in cross-border online shopping

Brussels, June 23rd 2022. Cross-Border Commerce Europe, the platform that stimulates cross-border eCommerce in Europe, releases a major research paper covering and ranking the 16 strongest European countries with a focus on their cross-border performance from both (I) consumer perspective and (II) business approach.

top 16 eu countries cover 2021EU consumers have re-elected Luxembourg as the country winner, while Germany confirms the lead as the EU country generating the best cross-border online shops and marketplaces. UK cross-border sales dropped to a historically low level (-12%), resulting in €29bn cross-border B2C sales online.

The total online EU cross-border market represents a turnover of €171 billion in 2021 (excluding travel), a YTD increase of 17%.

CBCommerce produced the study with the support of  our Research Partners Checkout.com, FedEx Express, Lengow, nShift and Payoneer.

The ‘TOP 16 Countries Cross-Border Retail Europe‘ edition is a significant compilation of cross-border data from the consumer perspective. Weighting four parameters obtain the ranking:

  • Online cross-border sales in Europe (16 countries within Western Europe, Scandinavia and the UK)
  • Cross-border online market share
  • Cross-border consumer confidence
  • Percentage of cross-border web visitors

Cross-Border eCommerce Trends

Based on the above-mentioned methodology, the TOP 16 Countries for 2021 are:

– TOP 1: Luxembourg
– TOP 2: Ireland
– TOP 3: Austria
– TOP 4: Denmark
– TOP 5: Belgium
– TOP 6: Switzerland
– TOP 7: Sweden
– TOP 8: Norway
– TOP 9: Germany
– TOP 10: Italy
– TOP 11: Spain
– TOP 12: France
– TOP 13: Portugal
– TOP 14: United Kingdom
– TOP 15: Finland
– TOP 16: The Netherlands

The climbers are Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy, France, Finland and Portugal. The one descending is the United Kingdom. The status quo countries are Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands.

Key findings by country

Luxembourg as TOP 1 Cross-Border Country

Luxembourg scores 1st place for the number of cross-border web visitors, confidence level and cross-border market share. “Luxembourg is the clear cross-border eRank country winner, with consumers eagerly ordering cross-border on large platforms such as Zalando, Asos, Veepee, Fnac and Amazon (.de and .fr). Luxembourg has a high share of its population online. According to the country’s Statistics Portal, 97% of households had access to the Internet in 2021. Also, the most recent online purchase was made during the last three months of 2021 for 79% of the population. The most visited cross-border webshops are Bader.de, Maisonsdumonde.com, Auchan.lu, Hunkemoller.lu, Rueducommerce, Alternate.lu, Next.lu and Zooplus, while 40% of cross-border purchases are clothing, shoes and accessories.

Belgium as TOP 5 Cross-Border Country

Belgium scores well in terms of consumer confidence in online cross-border e-commerce, but this is not yet spontaneously converted into cross-border purchases. Belgium accounts for €5.5 billion – an increase of 37.5% compared to 2020 – of cross-border sales for a market share of 35.5%. Across the border, Belgians mainly buy on Zalando, Zara, Asos, Boohoo, H&M, Amazon, Wish, Shein and AliExpress, as well as from their northern neighbours Coolblue and Bol.com.

Italy as TOP 10 Cross-Border Country

Italy went up to eRank 10. Cross-border market share went up from 30% to 35.4% and consumer confidence from 53% to 58% increased over 2021. Italy experienced a strong growth of 66.7% up to €9.5 billion.

France as TOP 12 Cross-Border Country

France went up from eRank 13 to 12, jumping one position. The cross-border market share of total online purchases stabilised at 20.4%. In absolute cross-border sales figures €23 billion. Over 2021, e-commerce growth in France was tremendous. The main reason is the extension from some big native French webshops to marketplaces, including Fnac, Carrefour, La Redoute, Nature et Découvertes, Conforama.

But also fast developing vertical marketplaces such as ManoMano.

The United Kingdom as TOP 14 Cross-Border Country

The UK with eRank 14, went down 10 positions due to the Brexit. The lack of confidence and less cross-border visitors generated a 12% lower turnover, resulting in €29 billion.

Brexit has a negative impact on cross-border trade to and from the UK. UK customers lose faith in cross-border commerce (-35%).

For e-commerce sellers, Brexit basically means more bureaucracy and tax. No one can deny the operational and logistical headaches Brexit is causing for e-commerce retailers of all sizes, and across all sectors. Rising shipping costs, delivery delays, new regulations, and increased paperwork are posing unprecedented challenges for EU e-tailers selling to UK customers and vice versa.

The Netherlands as TOP 16 Cross-Border Country

The Netherlands as last in eRank only has a cross- border market share of 15.9%, representing €4.8 billion. The main reason for this is the large selection of strong native Dutch webshops such as Bol.com, Coolblue, Wehkamp, and AH. Zalando is the country’s favourite fashion cross-border online platform.

Consumers’ most essential concerns when shopping online in other EU countries

The biggest challenges for consumers to ordering online across borders are speed in terms of delivery, incorrectly delivered goods, damaged items and the related return policy. During the coronavirus pandemic logistics challenges have become even more prominent.

(II) The ‘TOP 10 Countries Cross-Border Retail Europe’ edition from a business perspective is a major compilation of cross-border data issued from the TOP 500 EU Cross-Border Retail.

In this ranking the TOP 10 countries generating the best cross-border webshops and marketplaces are:

TOP 1: Germany with n°1 Zalando (Kinnevik), n°2 Lidl (Schwarz Group), n°3 About You (Otto Group)
TOP 2: Sweden with n°1 IKEA, n°2 H&M and n°3 COS (H&M Group)
TOP 3: The Netherlands with n°1 Euronics, n°2 Vistaprint (Cimpress) and n°3 Philips (Signify)
TOP 4: Denmark with n°1 Lego, n°2 Jysk and n°3 Vivino (Balderton)
TOP 5: France with n°1 Decathlon (Mulliez), n°2 Vestiaire Collective and n°3 Moncler (Richemont)
TOP 6: United Kingdom with n°1 JD Sports (Pentland), n°2 MyProtein and n°3 Bookdepository
TOP 7: Switzerland with n°1 Nespresso (Nestlé), n°2 Expert and n°3 Dolce Gusto (Nestlé)
TOP 8: Spain with n°1 Zara (Inditex), n°2 Mango and n°3 Bershka (Inditex)
TOP 9: Ireland with n°1 Smartbox/Bongo (Smartbox Group), n°2 Qwertee and n°3 Smyths Toys
TOP 10: Italy with n°1 Gucci (Kering), n°2 Diesel (OTB Group) and n°3 Napapijri (VF Corp)

In 2021, Germany, with 84 million inhabitants, reached eRank position n°1 with cross-border webshop champions, including brands such as Hugo Boss, Hello Fresh, Zooplus, Zalando, Lidl, About You, Adidas and Westwing. Germany holds 112 cross-border webshops in the TOP 500, the UK ’only’ 74. Germany is the leader as it counts many cross-border webshops, from which nine are marketplaces and 55 (49%) are pure players.

Sweden, with 44 strong cross-border webshops in the TOP 500, relies heavily on its fashion retailers with H&M Group (H&M, COS, & Other Stories). Their brand & Other Stories demonstrates that an online cross-border expansion strategy successfully outperformed new store openings.

Pan-European Holdings like Inditex, Richemont, Kinnevik, Heartland, Signify, Mulliez, Otto, Schwarz, LVMH and Nestlé are major drivers to European cross-border e-commerce.

Due to the store closings during the pandemic, multichannel retailers increased cross-border trade, as did direct-to-consumer brand manufacturers (DTC) such as Philips and Lego.

Carine Moitier“I want to thank our research team warmly and partners Checkout.com, FedEx Express, Lengow, nShift and Payoneer for their support in establishing this new ranking edition. It makes the best European countries in cross-border eCommerce transparent and stimulates the entire retail industry,says Carine Moitier, the founder of CBCommerce.eu.

About Cross-Border Commerce Europe

Cross-Border Commerce Europe is the European network and knowledge platform for all eCommerce and omnichannel players present in at least three countries in Europe. CBCommerce.eu brings the different actors in contact with each other to increase visibility, share knowledge and figures, and discover trends and specificities of each European country.

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