At the beginning of October the Polish site Internet Standard issued their fourth report about the Polish e-commerce market. From the report, the marker emerges as considerably lagging behind Western Europe and the US, but at the same time quickly catching up. The characteristic features of the Polish e-commerce market include Pole’s inclination to buy at online auctions or, to be precise, the auction site Allegro.pl that basically dominates the market, still unsatisfactory offer of freight forwarders, and backward marketing thinking of the Polish shop owners.
Out of 29 countries (EU + Norway + Iceland) examined by Eurostat, the European Union statistical office, Poland was ranked 19th when it comes to the proportion of inhabitants who did online shopping. In 2009, 23% of Poles did online shopping at least once. The number equals Spain’s result, considerably exceeds that of Italy (12%), Portugal (13%), or Greece (10%), but is much smaller than that of Norway (70% and ranking first) or the United Kingdom (66%, second position). What deserves attention is the quick increase of the percentage of Poles shopping online. A year earlier it was 5 percentage points lower (18%), which means a rise by more than one fourth – only Belgium, Malta and Cyprus noted better growth dynamics.
The Polish e-commerce market has been assessed at approximately 3.4 billion EUR (2009, Stowarzyszenie Marketingu Bezpośredniego – Polish Direct Marketing Association), out of which as much as 2 billion EUR (60%) are linked to online auctions. It turns out that Poles not only shop more often at auction sites than in online shops, but also that this trend is becoming more and more popular! The online auctions’ turnovers are growing faster than that of online shops (25% vs. 17.66% rise in relation to 2008). The whole e-commerce market has expanded by 22% in relation to 2008.
How does the above mentioned 22% increase in Polish e-commerce turnover relate to the increases in the previous years? It is smaller; for example, the 2007 -> 2008 increase amounted to over 36%. The fact that the growth dynamics is slowing down might suggest that the market is becoming stable and reaching some degree of maturity. The slower pace of the growth tendency might have also been influenced by the economic slowdown and poorer demand, especially in some sectors of particular importance to e-commerce, such as TV & Video, Home appliances, and IT.
The share of e-commerce in Polish retail amounted to 2.2% in 2009, but large differences between particular categories should be pointed out. For example, the share of online transactions in grocery shopping did not exceed 0.1-0.2%, while for some of the electronic products it exceeded 20%. According to the forecasts for 2010, e-commerce is expected to reach the share of 3% in traditional commerce.
What product categories are most often purchased online by Poles? With regard to the value, electronics are bought most often – this category amounted to as much as 22% of all the online purchases. The second most popular category is beauty products with the share of 21%, which amounts to approximately 190 million EUR according to Euromonitor’s research. On books and multimedia Poles spent only 120 million EUR in 2009 (13% of sales).
According to the analysts from Euromonitor, Polish online shops can expect further growth. The predicted e-shops sales value for 2010 is over 1.6 billion USD (5.56 billion zł), 2.1 billion USD (7.3 billion zł) for 2012, and almost 3 billion USD (10 billion zł) for 2014.
An average Polish user does not spend much money shopping online. Over 92% of users questioned as part of the Nettrack study carried out by Millward Brown SMG/KRC replied that they spent less than 1,000 zł (app. 250 EUR) the previous month. The group included also those who have not made any purchases.
The most numerous buyer group are users from the age group of 16-24 (2.4 million) and 25-34 (2.7 million). According to the Polish statistical office (GUS), the most number of users did online shopping during the month preceding the study, which might suggest that it was not chance but rather regular and repeated shopping. GUS’s data also show that the largest proportion of users are e-clients from Central Poland, and south-western and northern regions.
How will Polish e-commerce market develop in the nearest future? It is safe to expect that the proportion of Internet users shopping online will grow faster than the proportion of Poles using the Internet. At the same time, Polish users’ expectations will grow regarding the quality of customer service in online shops, payment and shipment methods, insurance and – in general – the safety of transactions. Auction sites, or actually the market leader Allegro, will be turning into B2C market at the expense of C2C market. In response to the market’s break-up (faster growth more due to the number of new players rather than the turnover’s value), more and more importance will be attached to the reputation of a shop, its brand, as well as external guarantees/ safety certificates, such as Eurolabel, Trusted Shops, or certificates granted by price comparison services.