Booming e-commerce market makes Portugal top target for merchants


by Renata Vaivade, Senior Market Development Manager EMEA at PPRO 

The latest figures indicate that the Portuguese e-commerce market will grow by 8.4% per year to 2024 [1]. This is on the back of a massive 31.6% growth in 2020, with double digit sales growth over the  three years prior to that [1]. The average online shopper spends more than US$1,352 a year with e-commerce merchants [2]. And that figure is set to rise to over US$2,200 by 2026 [2]. 

The Portuguese particularly love shopping for clothes, with a third saying they have bought fashion items online in the last year [2]. Other popular shopping categories include electronics (26%), toys (21%) and homeware (11%) [2]. But e-commerce is rapidly expanding into other areas as well.

Between 2020 and 2021, the Portuguese online grocery market grew by almost 9% [3]. And this growth is set to continue for the foreseeable future. By 2030, online retailers are expected to have a 20% share of the country’s grocery shopping [4]. Online Portuguese shoppers now buy more than 12% of all luxury goods sold in the country [5]. And over the last three years, the proportion of Portuguese consumers who shop online has risen from 56% to 67% [6].

For merchants looking for a new frontier, or who are already operating in the country but perhaps haven’t prioritised the market as much as they could, now is the time to pay close attention to Portugal. Habits are still shifting in the long tail of the rapid digitisation brought on by lockdown. There is still time and opportunity to win new customers, build loyalty and create or expand e-commerce business in Portugal.

But for this to happen, merchants must localise. And more than anything else, they need to localise their approach to payments. In Western Europe, shoppers use cards to buy 39% of all the items they purchase online [7]. In Portugal, that figure is just 20% but is set to hit 26% by 2026 [1].The key to entering or expanding into the Portuguese market is support for locally preferred alternative payment methods. A further 15% use bank-transfer apps and 14% rely on e-wallets [1]. The remaining 31% use a range of other local payment methods that circumvent both card providers and more established alternative payment methods, such as the big international e-wallets.

When it comes to local payments in Portugal, two payment methods are key: Multibanco and MB Way. Together, they cover around 80% of the e-commerce market. 

Supported by a range of Portuguese banks, Multibanco lets consumers pay for online purchases either by bank transfer or at an ATM. With almost 25 million Multibanco cards in circulation, in a country with a population of just 10 million, this is an essential payment method for reaching Portuguese consumers [8]. 

The Multibanco-operated mobile wallet MB Way is a fast-growing payment method that has an equally large reach. A staggering 76% of online shoppers use it when it’s offered at the checkout; it boasts a 69% share of the Portuguese e-commerce market. Customers pay online simply by selecting MB Way at the checkout, entering their mobile phone number and following the instructions MB Way sends to them.

E-commerce in Portugal is growing at a faster rate than for Western Europe as a whole. Ever since lockdown, consumers in this rapidly digitising market have shown themselves readier than ever to change their shopping habits and buy online. Even as it stands today, the Portuguese market is something of a hidden treasure. 

For advice on expanding your presence in Portugal and localising your payment and checkout experience, get in touch with PPRO’s experts today.