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Driven by Mobile, Spanish E-commerce Sector Enjoys 24.8% Surge

Spain's 2014 e-tailing growth far outstrips European average, according to latest government figures.

Photo: El Corte Inglés: Spanish retailer turned leading e-tailer.
El Corte Inglés: Spanish retailer turned leading e-tailer.
Photo: El Corte Inglés: Spanish retailer turned leading e-tailer.
El Corte Inglés: Spanish retailer turned leading e-tailer.

Turnover in Spain's e-commerce sector reached €15.89 billion in 2014, according to figures released by the Spanish National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC), the government body charged with overseeing the industry. This represented a massive 24.8% year-on-year growth and saw Spain easily outstripping the European average for the period (18.9%).

According to Spain's Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), seven out of 10 internet users in the country – 19.2 million Spaniards – now shop online. Typically, they make three such purchases a month, spending around €70 each time.

As with most other territories, m-commerce – shopping via mobiles or tablets – has also taken off in Spain. According Barcelona's Online Business School (OBS), 14% of online sales in the country were conducted via smartphones in 2014, a 280% rise on the same figures for 2012. In total, there are now approximately 3.2 million mobile purchasers in Spain.

Breaking the figures down, some 25% of online consumers buy through their smartphones, while 11% do so via a tablet. As 57% of the Spanish population now owns a mobile device, this underlines the significance of this still emerging purchase route. The OBS study also found that expenditure on mobile marketing was €110.5 million last year, a rise of 19.9% on the 2013 figure.

Overall, the sector that had the highest revenue was hospitality and tourism, accounting for some 13.2% of the total e-commerce turnover. Air transport then accounted for 7.7%, while clothing represented 5.7%. Home electronics, books and cosmetics were also among the most frequent online purchases made by Spaniards.

Spaniards Don't Buy on Spanish Websites

One of the most significant findings of the CNMC was that Spaniards have a preference for overseas websites when it comes to e-commerce. Almost 60% of the 2014 transactions were conducted via overseas platforms.

Of all the online transactions originating in Spain, but destined for overseas online platforms, 90.6% were conducted via sites within the European Union, while 3.9% of transactions took place in the US. The 10 most popular e-commerce platforms with Spaniards were:

1. Amazon (World's leading e-tailing brand)
2. Zara (International fashion retailer)
3. eDreams (Online travel services)
4. Booking.com (Online hotel and travel)
5. El Corte Inglés (Largest European department store group)
6. Privalia (Barcelona-based online fashion outlet)
7. ASOS (British fashion e-tailer)
8. Mercadona (Online Spanish supermarket)
9. AliExpress (Alibaba's B2C platform)
10. Rumbo (Spanish online travel agency).

Opportunities for Hong Kong Businesses

The growth of online trading in the country has made this an important channel for any Hong Kong businesses targeting Spain. A number of global brands have already successfully penetrated the market courtesy of these digital sales platforms.

The primary challenges to overseas companies looking to access the Spanish market via online sales, however, comes in terms of language and logistics procedures. Both of these issues may be tackled by partnering with one or more of the local digital platforms.

Xavier Serra, Barcelona Consultant

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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