Austria - eCommerceAustria - eCommerce
Almost 90% of the Austrian population (7.75 million) use the internet. Of those internet users, 84% accessed the internet outside of their household or workplace. Primarily, those aged under 35 use the internet on smartphones, tablets, and laptops while on the go. Of all Austrians aged 16 to 74, 62% purchased goods or services online in 2017. In 2017, Austrians spent $7.9 billion when shopping from domestic and foreign online retailers. The average revenue per user currently amounts to $1,290 per year.
Current Market Trends
The eCommerce market is growing rapidly. Over the last ten years the number of people ordering goods and services online has increased by 72%. This trend spans over all age groups. The most popular product purchases reported by online shoppers are clothing and sporting goods (66% of online shoppers), holiday accommodations and travel expenses (56%), books, magazines, e-books (42%), and household items (37%).
Total eCommerce spending by users shopping on smartphones increased by 25% between 2016 and 2017 alone. A further growing trend is the “click and collect” option, where customers buy products online and pick them up at a local store. Besides saving on shipping costs, this option also allows the customer to pick up the purchased item at a convenient time.
Even for retailers that are not selling products online, having an online presence is becoming increasingly important. Of Austrian shoppers surveyed in 2016 by Statistik Austria, 75% said they search the internet for product specifications and price comparisons before making retail purchases.
The field of eCommerce is closely interconnected with the logistics sector. According to the World Bank Logistics ranking, Austria was ranked 7th worldwide in 2016, based on the ease of making deliveries to Austria. Even though only 66% of the Austrian population resides in urban areas, the infrastructure and logistics exist to also quickly and efficiently deliver to rural areas.
Many of the goods ordered by Austrians online are imports. Austrian shoppers spent $7.9 billion online in 2017, of which $4.3 billion went to foreign online retailers. Austria ranks third within the EU in online shopping from foreign retailers.
When it comes to cross-border eCommerce, the European Union has launched various incentives to reduce trade barriers and support online shopping within the EU. The European Commission (EC) has listed the creation of a Digital Single Market (DSM) as one of their ten priorities. The aim is to create a single market where citizens and businesses can trade and innovate freely, whatever their nationality, and wherever they live. By reducing barriers, regulatory or otherwise, the European Commission hopes to provide better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe and to transform public services towards an e-government approach.
The most important eCommerce event in Austria, “eCommerce Day,” is organized annually by the Austrian trade organization (Handelsverband). Since 2017 this event takes place in combination with the “Google Shopping Day.” eCommerce events are regularly organized throughout Europe. More information regarding those European events can be found under: https://ecommercenews.eu/events/
Popular eCommerce Sites
Amazon continues to dominate the Austrian online retail market. According to data from 2016, the ten largest online retailers in Austria by turnover are: Amazon.de ($615 million), alando ($193 million), Universal ($123 million), Otto ($79 million), Amazon.com ($71 million), E-tec.at ($56 million), Tchibo ($55 million), Electronic4you ($53 million), Media Markt ($47 million), and Cyberport ($4 million).
In Austria, the preferred means of payment for online shopping is bank transfer (31%), followed closely by credit cards (30%). The share of PayPal transfers is rising and is currently the preferred form of payment for 23% of online shoppers. A growing interest can also be noted for immediate transfers (9%). In contrast, Austrian preferences for paying cash upon delivery of items bought online has decreased from 14% to 3% over the last decade.
When paying online, Austrians expect safe, inexpensive, and straightforward payment processes. As a result, when offering products online in Austria, it is especially important to provide various means of payment. On average, online marketplaces in Austria usually offer three or four different payment options.
Over 75% of Austrians (16-74 years) own at least one smartphone, and 72% also use it for Internet access while on the go. Almost 50% of Austrians are using smartphones to search for retail goods online and 23% actually buy directly via smartphone from internet retailers. The trend towards online shopping via mobile devices is likely to continue. Online retailers are adapting to this need for mobile friendly websites by implementing a new web presence and mobile-optimized online stores.
The Electronic Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) mentioned in the direct marketing section above provides rules for online services in the EU. It requires providers to abide by rules in the country where they are established (country of origin). Online providers must respect consumer protection rules such as indicating contact details on their website, clearly identifying advertising and protecting against spam. The Directive also grants exemptions to liability for intermediaries that transmit illegal content by third parties and for unknowingly hosting content. The European Commission released a work plan in 2012 in order to facilitate cross-border online services and reduce barriers and released a report on implementation of the action plan in 2013. Details can be found at:
The EU applies Value Added Tax (VAT) to sales by non-EU based companies of Electronically Supplied Services (ESS) to EU-based non-business customers. U.S. companies that are covered by the rule must collect and submit VAT to EU tax authorities. From 1 January 2015, all supplies of telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services are taxable at the place where the customer belongs. In the case of businesses this means either the country where it is registered or the country where it has fixed premises receiving the service. In the case of consumers, it is where they are registered, have their permanent address, or usually live.
As part of the legislative changes of 2015, the Commission has launched the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) scheme, use of which is optional. It is meant to facilitate the sales of ESS from taxable to non-taxable persons (B2C) located in Member States in which the sellers do not have an establishment to account for the VAT. This scheme allows taxable persons (sellers) to avoid registering in each Member State of consumption. A taxable person who is registered for MOSS in a Member State (the Member State of Identification) can electronically submit quarterly MOSS VAT returns detailing supplies of ESS to non-taxable persons in other Member States (the Member State(s) of consumption), along with the VAT due.
The most important pieces of legislation on VAT are the EU VAT Directive 2006/112/EC and its Implementing Regulation 282/2011. The EU also maintains a website for information on how VAT works for ESS.
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