From Statistics Explained
- Data from December 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article focuses on the electronic commerce (e-commerce) statistics in the European Union (EU) and is based on the results of the 2013 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 and e-commerce 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.
Main statistical findings
Share of turnover from e-commerce stable at 15 % in 2011 and 14 % in 2012
In 2012, more than twice as many enterprises engaged in e-commerce purchases than in e-commerce sales. As shown in Figure 1, during 2012, 37 % of enterprises in the EU-28 made purchases electronically, – e-purchases. In the same period, only 17 % of enterprises made electronic sales – e-sales.
The percentage of turnover on e-sales amounted to 14 % 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 2012, 40 % of large enterprises made e-sales corresponding to 19 % of total turnover in this size class. Similarly, 25 % of medium sized enterprises made e-sales corresponding to 11 % of total turnover in this size class. By contrast, 15 % of small enterprises engaged in e-sales, corresponding to only 5 % of the turnover of such enterprises.
In the EU-28, during the period 2008 to 2012 there was a small increase in the percentage of enterprises that had sales electronically (+4 percentage points).
Wide variation in the share of e-commerce sales and purchases among countries
In 2012, among the EU-28 (Figure 2), the percentage of enterprises making purchases electronically varied widely from country to country, ranging from 6 % in Bulgaria to 78 % in Denmark. Similarly, the percentage of enterprises with e-sales ranged from 7 % in Bulgaria to 30 % in Denmark, followed by Norway (28 %), the Czech Republic (27 %), Germany and Sweden (both 26 %).
During 2012, among all countries, the percentage of turnover realised from e-commerce ranged from 2 % in Greece to 31 % in Ireland, followed by the Czech Republic (26 %), Iceland and Norway (both 19 %).
Enterprises using the web dominated in the area of e-sales
Specific methods for e-commerce 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 (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 2012, 80 % of enterprises selling electronically in the EU-28 used a website, while 33 % used EDI-type sales. On the one hand, during 2012, the percentage of enterprises that used EDI-type sales ranged from 11 % of enterprises conducting e-sales in Greece to 46 % in Czech Republic and Ireland.
On the other hand, the percentage of enterprises receiving orders over websites was considerably high for almost all countries, ranging from 65 % in France to 95 % in Cyprus.
As shown in Figure 4, during 2012, almost all enterprises making e-sales in the 'Accommodation’ branch received orders via a website, while 11 % 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 closely by enterprises in the ‘Transport and storage’ sector (40 %).
The percentages for ‘Manufacturing’ enterprises that conducted e-sales via a website and via EDI-type messages were very close: 58 % and 54 % respectively. For all other economic activities, enterprises received their orders in most cases via websites.
It is noticeable that, among the small enterprises making e-sales, 84 % of enterprises tended to have web sales, whereas among the large enterprises 61 % received orders via websites.
The share of turnover from EDI-type sales is greater than that from web sales
In the EU-28, enterprises realised 14 % of their total turnover from e-commerce during 2012, consisting of orders via a website or via EDI-type messages.
However, the turnover realised from EDI-type sales was 10 % of total turnover, while the turnover from web sales was only 4 %.
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 cumulative 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 and Bulgaria to 20 % in Ireland and Czech Republic. In addition, the share of total turnover from web sales ranged from 1 % in Greece to just 11 % in Ireland.
Figure 6 shows the distribution of e-commerce turnover between web sales and EDI-type sales. In 2012, for the vast majority of countries, the share of e-commerce turnover from EDI-type sales was greater than the share from sales via websites, except for Lithuania, Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus. In particular, for enterprises making e-sales in Austria, the percentage of turnover realised by EDI-type sales was more than six 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 national 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 2012 in the EU-28, while almost all enterprises making electronic sales (17 %) reported that they sold to the markets in their own countries (16 %), only 7 % of enterprises made e-sales to other EU countries (Figure 7).
In particular, the potential for cross-border e-commerce sales to other EU countries was not fully exploited. While 30 % of enterprises in Denmark made e-sales — ranking it first among the EU countries — only 10 % of enterprises reported selling to customers in other EU countries. A similar phenomenon can be observed for Sweden, where 26 % of enterprises made e-sales but only 8 % sold to other EU countries.
Outside the EU, Norway has the highest potential for enterprises to expand into foreign markets, with 28 % of enterprises making e-sales but only 6 % to customers in EU countries.
In 2012, more enterprises in Luxembourg and Ireland reported selling to customers in other EU countries (15 %, 12 % respectively) than to their own country (14 %, 7 % respectively).
Data sources and availability
In 2013, 147 000 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.
Figure 5 and Figure 6: only countries that have reported turnover for both, web sales and EDI-type sales, are presented in the graphs.
Data presented in this article are based on the results of the 2013 Community survey on 'ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises'. Statistics were obtained from enterprise surveys conducted by National Statistical Authorities in 2013. The surveys' reference period was January 2013 or for some questions (like e.g. e-commerce) the year 2012.
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).
Further Eurostat information
- Share of turnover from e-commerce stable at 14% in 2009 and 2010 - Statistics in focus 18/2012
- Information society, see:
- Policy indicators (isoc_pi)
- Benchmarking Digital Europe: 2011-2015 indicators (isoc_pibde15)
- e-Commerce, Customer Relation Management (CRM) and secure transactions (isoc_bde15dec)
- Benchmarking Digital Europe: 2011-2015 indicators (isoc_pibde15)
- E-Commerce by individuals and enterprises (isoc_ec)
- Value of purchases and sales by Internet and/or networks other than Internet (NACE Rev. 2) (isoc_ec_evaln2)
Methodology / Metadata
- Regulation 808/2004 of 21 April 2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
- Regulation 960/2008 of 30 September 2008 implementing Regulation 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
- Regulation 1023/2009 of 29 October 2009 implementing Regulation 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
- Regulation 821/2010 of 17 September 2010 implementing Regulation 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
- Regulation 937/2011 of 21 September 2011 implementing Regulation 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
- Regulation 1083/2012 of 19 November 2012 implementing Regulation 808/2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society
- Regulation 696/1993 of 15 March 1993 on the statistical units for the observation and analysis of the production system in the Community