To better understand the European ecommerce industry, it’s a good idea to look at online consumer behavior in Europe. Over the years, dozens of interesting studies have been conducted which shine some light on how, when and why the average European consumer shops online.

A study from 2017 shows that one in four Europeans who have internet access have shopped online at least once a week, while over 60 percent shopped online once a month and 6 percent even bought products or services via the internet every day. The study also shows that consumers in the United Kingdom are some of the most frequent online buyers in Europe. In this country, 8 percent shop online every day, while 41 percent do this weekly.

Time Europeans take to buy something online

Another study conducted in that year shows the time Europeans take to buy something online. For example, Italian and Spanish online consumers don’t take too long between seeing something online and buying it, while French consumers take over 8 hours before buying sneakers they’ve seen online. By way of comparison: the European average is 2 hours and 20 minutes.

European spend 5% of spending on subscriptions

More recent research shows that subscriptions are here to stay, as Europeans spend 5 percent of their spending on subscriptions and spend on average 130 euros per months for subscriptions. And every year, 350 billion euros is spent on these type of purchases in Europe.

Europe is ecommerce ready

It seems safe to say that Europe is ecommerce ready. An index by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, ranking the countries’ capacity to support b2b ecommerce, shows that the top 10 of countries that are most ready to benefit from ecommerce consists of 7 European markets. Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway form the top three.

Online consumer behavior in Europe

Low adoption of online groceries

Is there something in which Europe still lags behind? Yes, unfortunately there is. Europe has a relatively low adoption of online groceries. In Europe, the best performing countries are the United Kingdom (6.9 percent), France (5.3 percent), Spain and the Netherlands (both 1.7 percent). Research agency Kantar says Europe is “a continent divided”, as there are some very varying levels of FMCG ecommerce share across the continent.

“In 2020, Sendcloud conducted a large study on online consumer behavior in Europe.”

2020 Study on online consumer behavior in Europe

In 2020, Sendcloud conducted a study amongst a total of 8529 consumers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria. All respondents bought products online. Here are some of the most important findings from this study:


Online shoppers in Europe order online 1.9 times per month on average;

On average, 5.3 products are ordered online in the last three months;

If consumers leave an online store, it’s mostly because the shipping costs are too high (65 percent);


70 percent of European online shoppers are likely to add another product to their shopping basket to reach a free shipping threshold;

On average, European shoppers believe that orders made just after 4 PM should still be eligible for next-day delivery;

Costs of delivery are the most important part of the delivery to online shoppers, followed by the speed of delivery and the flexibility in delivery options;

European shoppers expect to have their order delivered in 3.1 days; The average maximum time they are willing to wait for their delivery is 4.4 days;

For 47 percent, the carrier(s) offered by an online store has/have an influence on the purchase decision;

“European shoppers expect to have their order delivered in 3.1 days.”


  • European shoppers prefer to receive delivery updates through email (64 percent) and SMS (43 percent);
  • They want to be kept up-to-date on the delivery status of their order, especially when their package has left the warehouse, has been handed over to the carrier
  • and is on its way to the delivery address;
  • Consumers are least interested in receiving an update when the order is delivered;


  • 53 percent of European online shoppers will typically return products if they are not satisfied;
  • If they don’t return a product, it’s mostly because returning is a big hassle to them (50 percent), or returning the product is more expensive than keeping it (44 percent);
  • European online shoppers believe that online retailers are mainly responsible for arranging and paying for the return shipment of their order;
  • 56 percent of Europeans always check the return policy before they decide to buy a product from an online store
“56% of Europeans always check the return policy before buying something.”

  • 45 percent prefer to bring their return to a drop-off point; followed by 34 percent wanting it picked up at home or at work;
  • Online shoppers are willing to wait for a refund only 5 days after they’ve submitted a return (the law saws a maximum of 14 days is allowed);

Cross-border shopping

  • 53 percent of online shoppers have ordered from an international website in the past twelve months;
  • Main reasons not to order from abroad are: delivery costs are too high (51 percent), potential extra costs for customs (42 percent), and difficulties in returning products (40 percent).


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