What does the European market look like, and how does e-commerce work across borders?
A lot of e-businesses looking to export internationally think all they have to do is translate their site’s language, and that's just not the case. Before launching an international store, each website will need to be shaped to its target country.
The European market
Despite the economic crisis that has fallen on Europe these past few years, the e-commerce market has managed to show steady growth and remains an economically dynamic sector.
Forty-three percent of Europeans shop online, a figure that has doubled in the past five years, and one that shows every sign of increasing further.
According to a Kelkoo  study, in 2012 online shoppers in Europe spent an average of 1,221 euros, up from 50 Euros in 2011. One can then deduce that European shoppers are growing much more comfortable shopping online.
A diversified market
Marc Lolivier, Director General of FEVAD (Federation of E-Commerce and Distance Sales) explains, "there are a lot of inconsistencies in the European market – in some countries 65% of consumers shop online compared to only 5% in countries like Romania or Bulgaria."
So what are the key European markets e-merchants in other parts of the world should consider entering? In other words, as an e-business, where should you focus your time and effort?
The UK (59.42 billion Euros), Germany (45.07) and France (38.66 billion) are the most active e-commerce markets in Europe.
Before entering a new market, it’s crucial to study that market’s particularities. You should be prepared on all levels, and fully understand those countries’ issues.
When taking a site beyond borders, you can either launch in the 27 countries that form the European Union, or concentrate your efforts on one country in particular.
Today, we’re going to take an in depth look at the Spanish market.
Fourth-biggest European market: Spain
Spain represents an opportunity for e-businesses. With a smaller GDP than its English or German neighbors, Spain is still accessible for a budding e-tailer. This is a growing market that offers real opportunities.
The e-commerce is quickly being developed being developed thanks to improvements in Internet access throughout Spanish homes, as well as on the success of smartphones.
The Spanish market has grown 20 percent since last year and generated 10 million Euros in invoices in 2011. Despite the current economic conditions in the country, this sector is continuing to grow in 2012.
There are 14 million online shoppers in Spain, who spend an average of 830 Euros annually. The growth forecast looks very good.
Adapting your strategy to Spanish culture
The travel and tourism sector is doing particularly well in Spain. In fact, in the first quarter of 2012, the Spanish Telecoms Market Commission indicated that e-tourism represents around 36.3 percent of online sales in the country.
An eMarketer article stated that revenues in this sector in Spain are at 12.8 billion Euros. So turnover in this sector has doubled in just four years.
If the Spanish market hasn’t yet reached its full potential, it’s because demand outpaces supply – the so-called ‘traditional’ companies have been rather shy of the Internet. So some very real opportunities are there for the taking !
The Spanish market is also price-sensitive; that means that it isn’t the brands that determine consumer choices, but the prices of products and delivery. So your prices here must be competitive. We suggest that you study your competitors’ pricing strategies carefully before launching.
The revenue forecasts show that the growth potential for Spanish e-commerce has reached the same level as that of other European countries. The year 2016 shows enough growth potential to ensure that business will flourish for Spanish e-tailers.
The Spanish are strong in logistics and transport, and around 20 key players make up this fragmented market. Around 1,200 delivery outlets have been established in this country, making prices cheaper than in neighboring countries.
Fabien Leurent, Head of Logistics and Distribution Consulting for the e-commerce association Adigital, adds that "demand for furniture and related products is increasing."
In conclusion, the e-commerce market is growing exponentially in Spain. Online merchants looking to tap into this growth need to tailor their online to fit the Spanish market. Marketing is also key, and it would behoove all merchants to familiarize themselves with Spanish culture and traditions before focusing their e-commerce efforts in Spain.
 Centre for Retail Research