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Cross-border e-commerce: These are the top marketplaces in Europe

by Editorial Office

From sneakers and furniture to beauty products: In the coming year, companies will once again meet attractive sales opportunities on international marketplaces. However, if you only consider the big players Amazon, eBay or AliExpress, you are giving away valuable sales and growth potential. We give you an overview of which European marketplaces offer attractive profit opportunities beyond the big players.  

Amazon and eBay in Europe

There is no question that the cradle of e-commerce lies in the United States. However, U.S.-founded companies such as Amazon and eBay have long been established players on the European market. According to a recent study by Cross-Border Commerce Europe (CBCommerce), these two sales platforms accounted for a total of 67.1 billion euros in sales in 2020 – more than half of the total online market volume of 115.4 billion euros in Europe. However, the Chinese platform AliExpress, which is enjoying growing success particularly in Eastern Europe, is also gaining in popularity.

Online marketplaces in Europe are booming – despite the pandemic

In addition, marketplaces, which accounted for 58 percent of total cross-border trade sales in Europe, recorded a high year-on-year sales growth of 37.5 percent. This was due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the growing success of C2C marketplaces such as the second-hand portal Vinted. CBCommerce, the platform for promoting European cross-border online trade, expects this growth trajectory to continue in the coming years.

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Successful marketplaces in Europe

International retailers looking to enter new markets in 2022 should keep an eye on alternative marketplaces in addition to the major players and secure market share in growing markets such as Southern or Eastern Europe early on.

We present five profitable online platforms for international retailers that are currently among the most promising marketplaces in Europe according to the CBCommerce ranking.

Alternatives to Amazon and eBay in Germany

Germany is one of the top three e-commerce nations in Europe. More than 85 percent of Germans already purchase online, spending around 83 billion euros last year – and the trend is rising.

According to CBCommerce, two extremely promising marketplaces on the German market are zalando.de and aboutyou.de.

zalando.de (Germany)

  • The former online mail order company Zalando has now become the strongest European cross-border fashion marketplace and is placed among the top European marketplaces in the CBCommerce ranking. The German company is now represented by more than 4,500 brands and in 23 markets in Europe.
  • In the fiscal year 2020, Zalando generated sales of 7.98 billion euros and increased the number of active customers by 25 percent, to a total of 38.7 million. Clothing remains the product category with the highest sales numbers, followed by shoes, sports and beauty products.
  • Zalando is also active in other business areas, such as maintaining outlet stores and the Zalon advice service.

aboutyou.de (Germany)

  • A similar product portfolio is also offered by the online platform About You AG & Co. KG, which was founded in 2014 as a subsidiary of OTTO and has been managed as an investment company since 2018. In addition to the aboutyou.de and edited.de webshops, the company also operates the About You shopping app and is active in 24 other European countries besides Germany.
  • In the past fiscal year (March 2020/2021), it generated sales of approximately 1.17 billion euros.
  • The long-established company OTTO is also one of the top-selling online retailers in Germany. However, the OTTO marketplace is still being developed and has thus so far only offered access to a smaller number of retailers. Therefore it wasnot included in the current CBCommerce ranking.

Successful marketplaces in Eastern Europe

Rising Internet usage rates and growing purchasing power in Eastern Europe have made the region an attractive destination for international retailers. Interested market entrants should keep an eye on countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic or Romania in particular – and secure market share in good time.

According to CBCommerce, the most promising European marketplaces also include the following platforms from the growing Eastern European region:

emag.ro (Romania)

  • Companies planning e-commerce business in the Southeastern European region should keep an eye on the eMAG platform. The former online store for computer systems and office supplies currently sells over 10.8 million products from the PC, household appliances, furniture and categories of toys, generating sales of 1.8 billion euros in 2020.

g2a.com (Poland)

  • Last year, a total of 307 million people visited the G2A.COM Limited (G2A for short) online store for digital content, which was founded in Poland.
  • 400,000 retailers offer video games, gaming hardware, software, but also toys or clothing on the platform. The 19 million active customers provided G2A with sales of 436 million euros in 2017 for digital games trading alone.

joom.com (Latvia)

  • Latvian sales platform Joom, with its focus on European m-commerce, describes itself as the “fastest growing shopping app in Europe” with its more than 250 million iOS, Android as well as web users. The marketplace has focused on the European market (including Turkey) since 2017, where it generates up to 50 percent of its GMV. Joom is present in almost all European countries and is available in 21 languages.
  • The online store offers 20 million active shoppers a wide range of different product categories – including apparel, electronics and pet supplies.
  • Good to know: Joom joined the Initiative Product Safety Pledge in March 2021 to remove dangerous products from its website.

Cross-Border Logistics: Successfully overcoming hurdles

Different fee schedules, country-dependent customs regulations and local peculiarities with regard to payment or delivery are the biggest challenges for internationally operating retailers when entering the European market.

In addition to a solid cross-border strategy, interested companies should also have sound know-how on VAT or customs clearance and be familiar with the local preferences of Europeans in order to be able to assert themselves on the European market.

Cooperation with an external service provider such as Hermes International, a division of Hermes Germany with extensive know-how and a smart cross-border logistics strategy, can be very helpful in this context. Through cooperation, new market entrants can benefit from many years of experience and thus secure cost and speed advantages.

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