Most countries in Western Europe are members of the European Union and use its currency, the euro. It’s inevitable, therefore, that the EU’s institutions and their health and robustness – actual and perceived – are the dominant influence on the business climate in Western Europe.
Western Europe is a highly prosperous and attractive e-commerce market. The worst-case eurozone scenarios, drama in Italy notwithstanding, is highly unlikely to culminate in anything as damaging and dramatic as a eurozone exit. The future of Brexit is less clear. When we updated this report, we thought it likely that the UK would remain a non-voting member of the EU, at least in practice, for an extended transition period. Now, it’s impossible to make any prediction with confidence. If you’re prepared to hedge against these uncertainties – or you have strategies for riding them out – there has never been a better time to expand into Western Europe.
The Local Payment Culture
The most popular way of paying for online purchases in Western Europe is with a credit or debit card. These flexible friends have 40% of the online payments market. E-wallets come in at 24% and bank transfer has 22%. Various smaller payment methods have an 8% share of the online market. And cash has a 7% share. Be warned, however, that these averages contain sharp differences between national markets. Even neighbouring countries have widely divergent payment cultures. For more information on the specific payment culture in different Western European countries, speak to your PPRO account manager.
The E-Commerce Market
The value of goods sold online in Europe in 2018 is expected to reach more than €618 billion. Analysts expect more and more Western Europeans to start looking online for bargains, rather than on the high street. Market research company Euromonitor International predicts that e-commerce will account for 14% of all sales in Western Europe by 2021.
The Payment Services Directive, PSD2 took effect on 13 January 2018, but some of the more disruptive regulations are still being addressed by the EU Parliament and won’t come into force until September 2019, at the earliest. Its end form will have a profound impact on how payment-service-providers and e-commerce companies do their business.
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PPRO Country Insight Belgium
Belgium was created in 1830, merging the southern French-speaking provinces of Wallonia with the northern Dutch-speaking Flemish provinces. Much of the subsequent history of the country has been dominated by the difficulties of balancing the needs and interests of the two communities.
PPRO Country Insight France
Over the last decade, France has fared both better and worse than its European partners. In 2009 – the year of Europe’s big crunch – the French economy shrank by just 2.9%, compared to 4% in the UK, 5% in Italy, and almost 6% in Germany.
PPRO Country Insight Germany
In March 2017, the US online magazine Politico – a favourite with Washington insiders – ran the headline “The Leader of the Free World Meets Donald Trump”. The leader in question was German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
PPRO Country Insight Italy
In March 2018 the Italian general election produced a hung parliament with the right-wing Centre-right coalition and the left-wing Five-Star Movement the biggest parties. The two parties, which eventually formed a coalition, were relative newcomers to the political scene and both are avowedly Eurosceptic.
PPRO Country Insight Netherlands
Last year, Statistics Netherlands released figures showing that tourism is becoming increasingly important to the Dutch economy. Since 2010, the sector’s contribution to the country’s economy has grown by 43% to almost €25 billion. Last year, the number of visitors rose again, to 42 million, up 9% on the previous year.
PPRO Country Insight UK
On the night of 22 June 2016, the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw was lit up in the colours of the Union Jack. Many other European cities followed suit, staging similar displays in a show of solidarity with British voters: stay with us, they were saying.