The Pandemic has helped European E-commerce Businesses - Germany is a clear leader

  • Published 19 July 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic, which spread in Europe in the first quarter of 2020 and persists in larger or smaller waves in European countries, has mainly been favorable and beneficial to Internet sales, i.e., e-commerce. The reasons for this include the epidemiological measures and related closings of brick-and-mortar shops and the reduced mobility of the population. According to Eurostat, e-commerce sales in the European Union increased by 25% in 2020, while before the pandemic, e-commerce sales grew by an average of 7-10% per year.

In this industry analysis, we will take a closer look at e-commerce in Germany and its neighbouring countries (England, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark).

Disclaimer: Our analysis accounts for companies that do not report sales. Aggregate figures do not include branches of foreign entities.

GERMAN E-COMMERCE MARKET

Germany has 24,772 companies operating in e-commerce, of which 63.7% (16,245) are self-employed (i.e., sole traders). Although compared to its neighbors, it does not have the most companies operating in e-commerce. On other side this industry achieves the highest median sales in Germany (half of the companies have higher and the other half lower sales than the median), more specifically 217,513 euros (excluding the self-employed and branches).

As many as 635 of these companies have annual sales of over one million euros. Of this number, 99 companies are self-employed in terms of their legal form.

Germany has the most companies with sales of more than 1 billion euros per year – six in total; the largest is Otto (GmbH & Co KG) with sales of 14.2 billion euros. Number two is Zalando SE with sales of 6.4 billion euros, followed by bonprix Handelsges. mbH with sales of 1.5 billion euros.

Germany: Companies with 1B+ EUR in sales
Otto is the biggest german e-commerce company

Companies in Germany Sales
1. Otto (GmbH & Co KG) € 14.26B
2. Zalando SE € 6.482B
3. bonprix Handelsges. mbH € 1.570B
4. zooplus AG € 1.524B
5. eBay GmbH € 1.071B
6. MMS E-Commerce GmbH € 1.009B

ENGLAND HAS THE MOST E-COMMERCE BUSINESS

England has the highest number of e-commerce businesses (total of 82,993), followed by the Netherlands (78,454), France (72,594), and Poland (51,369). Germany is fifth, with 24,772 entities operating in e-commerce.

Number of e-commerce companies
England has the highest number of e-commerce companies

Country Number of companies
ENGLAND 82,993
THE NETHERLANDS 78,454
FRANCE 72,594
POLAND 51,369
GERMANY 24,772
BELGIUM 13,207
DENMARK 9,747
CZECH REPUBLIC 4,144
SWITZERLAND 4,049
AUSTRIA 664
LUXEMBOURG 378

The low number of proprietorships in England (1,755) is caused by the lack of proprietorship data in our database, due to unavailability of data. On the other hand, trades are primarily used in the Netherlands (58,972) France (54,855), Poland (34,233), or Germany (16,217).

Number of proprietorships from the total number of companies doing business in e-commerce
Netherlands has the highest number of proprietorships

Country Number of proprietorships
ENGLAND 1,755
THE NETHERLANDS 58,972
FRANCE 54,855
POLAND 34,233
GERMANY 16,217
BELGIUM 7,421
DENMARK 6,087
CZECH REPUBLIC 1,468
SWITZERLAND 2,118
AUSTRIA 390
LUXEMBOURG 55

As previously mentioned, German e-commerce companies have the highest median sales. It is followed by Switzerland (202,256 EUR), France (180,108 EUR), Poland (127,703 EUR), and Belgium (120,055 EUR).

Median sales of e-commerce companies
Germany has the highest median sales in e-commerce

Country Median Sales
GERMANY € 217,513
SWITZERLAND € 202,256
FRANCE € 180,108
POLAND € 127,703
BELGIUM € 120,055
THE NETHERLANDS € 109,838
AUSTRIA € 98,928
LUXEMBOURG € 98,689
DENMARK € 96,570
ENGLAND € 86,166
CZECH REPUBLIC € 46,318

England has the highest number of companies with sales of over 1M EUR (1,684 businesses total), followed by France (795), Germany (635), Poland (455), and Czechia (369).

England has the highest number of companies with sales over 1M EUR
Number of companies with sales of more than one million euros per year

Country Number of companies
ENGLAND 1,684
FRANCE 795
GERMANY 635
POLAND 455
CZECH REPUBLIC 369
THE NETHERLANDS 267
DENMARK 217
SWITZERLAND 98
BELGIUM 68
AUSTRIA 44
LUXEMBOURG 9

Only 5 European countries have e-commerce businesses with sales of over 1B EUR - Germany (6), England (4), France (2), Luxembourg (1), and the Czech Republic (1).

Companies with sales of more than one billion euros
The biggest e-commerce player in Europe is Amazon

Company name Country Sales
1. AMAZON EU S.A RL LUXEMBOURG € 32.19B
2. Otto (GmbH & Co KG) GERMANY € 14.26B
3. Zalando SE GERMANY € 6.482B
4. ARGOS LIMITED ENGLAND € 4.831B
5. NEXT RETAIL LIMITED ENGLAND € 4.717B
6. VENTE PRIVEE.COM (Veepee) FRANCE € 3.700B
7. ASOS.COM LIMITED ENGLAND € 3.112B
8. CDISCOUNT FRANCE € 2.289B
9. SHOP DIRECT HOME SHOPPING LIMITED ENGLAND € 1.782B
10. bonprix Handelsges. mbH GERMANY € 1.570B
11. zooplus AG GERMANY € 1.524B
12. Alza.cz a.s. CZECH REPUBLIC € 1.136B
13. eBay GmbH GERMANY € 1.071B
14. MMS E-Commerce GmbH GERMANY € 1.009B

ENGLAND

There are 82,993 e-commerce businesses based in England, 1,755 of which are proprietorships. All these businesses have median sales of 86,166 euros. Sales over 1 billion euros are achieved by four companies, while 1,684 companies report sales over one million euros. The number of companies in England and the relatively low median sales of the e-commerce industry indicates many smaller companies with lower sales.

The largest companies in England

1. ARGOS LIMITED
2. NEXT RETAIL LIMITED
3. ASOS.COM LIMITED
4. SHOP DIRECT HOME SHOPPING LIMITED
5. J.D. WILLIAMS & COMPANY LIMITED

THE NETHERLANDS

In the Netherlands, 78,454 companies operate in e-commerce, more than half of which (58,972) are self-employed. E-commerce companies in the Netherlands report median sales of 109,838 euros. 267 companies in this industry have sales of more than one million euros per year. Just as in England, in the Netherlands, according to the number of companies and their median sales, smaller companies achieve lower sales.

The largest companies in the Netherlands

1. bol.com B.V.
2. Coolblue B.V.
3. MobielWerkt B.V.
4. Wolverine Europe B.V.
5. Tinka B.V.

FRANCE

72,594 companies operating in e-commerce are based in France, 54,855 of which are self-employed. E-commerce companies in France achieve median sales of 180,108 euros. A total of 795 e-commerce companies in the country have sales of more than one million euros. In France, there is a difference compared to other countries, such as the Netherlands or England, having a similarly high number of smaller companies with lower sales results, as in France, the industry achieves higher median sales.

The largest companies in France

1. CDISCOUNT
2. VENTE PRIVEE.COM
3. LA REDOUTE
4. FNAC DIRECT
5. SHOWROOMPRIVE.COM

POLAND

There are 51,369 e-commerce companies in the country, 34,233 of which are self-employed. The median sales of this industry in Poland is 127,703 euros. 455 companies achieve sales of more than one million euros.

The largest companies in Poland

1. EOBUWIE PL S A
2. MORELE NET SP Z O O
3. BONPRIX SP Z O O
4. SMALLTRONIC PL SP Z O O SPÓLKA KOMANDYTOWA
5. SZOPEX DUTKIEWICZ SP Z O O SPÓLKA KOMANDYTOWA

BELGIUM

In Belgium, 13,207 companies are operating in e-commerce, 7,421 of which are self-employed. The median sales of these companies are 120,055 euros. 68 companies achieve annual sales of over one million euros.

The largest companies in Belgium

1. Supplies Distributors
2. Enterprise Services Belgium
3. Ranson
4. Newpharma
5. Medi-Supply Internet

DENMARK

In Denmark, 9,747 companies operate in e-commerce, the majority of which are self-employed (6,087). The median sales of all companies operating in e-commerce amount to 96,570 euros. Even though there are less than 10,000 e-commerce companies in Denmark, 217 of them have more than one million euros in sales.

The largest companies in Denmark

1. Nemlig.Com A/S
2. Whiteaway A/S
3. Proshop A/S
4. Cs-Online A/S
5. Aarstiderne A/S

CZECH REPUBLIC

4,144 companies are operating in e-commerce in the Czech Republic, 1,468 of which are self-employed. Median sales of these e-commerce companies reach EUR 46,318, which is the lowest value from among Germany’s neighbors. On the other hand, concerning the small total number of companies, many companies have sales of more than one million euros (369). Sales exceeding one billion euros per year are achieved by one company.

The largest companies in Czech Republic

1. Alza.cz a.s.
2. Internet Mall, a.s.
3. Notino, s.r.o.
4. CZC.cz s.r.o.
5. VELKÁ PECKA s.r.o.

SWITZERLAND

In Switzerland, a total of 4,049 companies operate in e-commerce, 2,118 of which are self-employed. The median sales of the industry amount to 202,256 euros; 98 e-commerce companies achieve sales of over one million euros per year.

The largest companies in Switzerland

1. MIACAR AG in Liquidation
2. Digitec Galaxus AG
3. digitec AG
4. Saxoprint AG
5. Ricardo AG

AUSTRIA

There are 664 e-commerce companies in Austria, and 390 of them are self-employed. The median annual sales of these companies amount to 98,928 euros. 44 companies achieve yearly sales of over one million euros.

The largest companies in Austria

1. UNITO Versand & Dienstleistungen GmbH
2. Mail Order Finance GmbH
3. Buttinette Textil-Versandhaus GmbH.
4. Farnell GmbH
5. Servus Handels- und Verlags-Gesellschaft m.b.H.

LUXEMBOURG

In Luxembourg, a total of 378 companies operate in e-commerce, 55 of which are self-employed. The median sales of the companies in this industry are 98,689 euros, and 9 companies achieve more than one million euros in sales.

The largest companies in Luxembourg

1. Amazon EU S.à r.l.
2. CHRISTAL S.A.
3. ITIX S.A
4. Optik Kaufman S.A.
5. Only Keys

CONCLUSION

In terms of median sales, Germany is the strongest country in e-commerce compared to its neighbors. At the same time, Germany is fifth when it comes to the total number of e-commerce businesses. That means that e-commerce companies in Germany are, on average, more prominent than those operating in, for example, England, the Netherlands, or Poland. At the same time, Germany has the most companies with sales of over 1B EUR (total of 6). However, compared to its neighbors, Germany does not have the highest number of companies with more than one million euros in sales. Interestingly enough, Czech Republic has the fourth-lowest number of companies (4,144) yet has 369 e-commerce companies with more than one million euros in sales.

Total Overview of Countries

Country Total number
excl. branches
Of which are
self-employed
Median sales
(excl. the self-employed and branches)
Total number of companies
with sales over 1 mil.€, excl. branches
ENGLAND 82,993 1,755 € 86,166 1,684
THE NETHERLANDS 78,454 58,972 € 109,838 267
FRANCE 72,594 54,855 € 180,108 795
POLAND 51,369 34,233 € 127,703 455
GERMANY 24,772 16,217 € 217,513 635
BELGIUM 13,207 7,421 € 120,055 68
DENMARK 9,747 6,087 € 96,570 217
CZECH REPUBLIC 4,144 1,468 € 46,318 369
SWITZERLAND 4,049 2,118 € 202,256 98
AUSTRIA 664 390 € 98,928 44
LUXEMBOURG 378 55 € 98,689 9

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