Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and , reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 11/27/2018

Overview

Electronic Commerce (eCommerce) in Greece has exhibited considerable growth during the last three years, and this upward trend is expected to continue in 2018.  Today, in Greece, there are more than 3.5 million online shoppers and eCommerce sales reached about $6.15 billion in 2017, growing 25% over $4.9 billion sales in 2016.  Despite that growth, eCommerce in Greece is less advanced than in other EU member States.  The main reason, in addition to the prolonged economic crisis, is that Greece has not captured the benefits of ICT adoption and falls below the EU average in many ICT indicators defined by the European Digital Agenda.  Based on the EU‘s 2018 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) published by the European Commission, Greece ranked second lowest among the EU28 countries for its performance in the digital economy and society.  Furthermore, even though internet usage has improved compared to previous years, still Greece has one of the lowest levels in the EU, 67% compared to the EU average of 81%.  Improvement in these areas, especially internet penetration, would lead to stronger growth in eCommerce.

Current Market Trends

According to the latest annual survey of ELTRUN, the E-Business Research Center of the Athens University School of Economics and Business (AUEB), eCommerce continued to see increased demand in 2017, despite the financial crisis.  This is mainly attributed to income reduction that made consumers more price sensitive, the creation of many new local high-quality e-shops in all categories of products and services, and the continuation of capital controls.
 
Greeks have become highly price-driven, realizing that online retailing could offer them the advantage of comparing a wide range of products in a short time, as well as the attraction of online offers and discounts.  Even though Greece has started to show signs of recovery from the economic crisis the past instability continues to impact on Greek consumers’ purchasing patterns and trends.  Bargain hunting will continue to be the most important factor driving internet retailing in Greece.  Forecasts for 2018 remain positive, where 38% of online consumers are expected to increase their online purchases and 42% will continue at current levels, while only 20%  is expected to decrease spending.


Domestic eCommerce (B2C)
Business-to-consumer (B2C) electronic commerce in 2017 has improved compared to 2016, 
Although the average value and the number of online purchases did not change in 2017 compared to 2016, the increase comes from three factors. First, new buyers were added, with 2 out of 10 starting their online shopping in 2017, which is related to the relative upward trend that began with capital controls and the large range of Greek online stores with high quality integrated services. Secondly, the percentage of mature online buyers has risen since more than 31% make one in two purchases online compared to 29% in 2016 and to 25% in 2015. Third, 7 out of 10 online consumers make over 80% of their online purchases in Greek online stores from around 7000 businesses with a digital sales channel, from 6 out of 10 in 2016 and 5 out of 10 in 2015.
There are no changes in the ranking of the top 10 online shopping categories (percentages show the percentages of participants who made at least one online purchase from this category in the 2017 period) compared to 2016 and are: travel services (83%), accommodation (66%), clothing and footwear (61%), ready-made food (59%), books (49%), electronic appliances (47%), personal care products (45%) and vitamins / food supplements (41%).
The three categories where most money was spent are: travel services, accommodation and tickets. The categories where most orders were made are: tickets, ready meals and travel services. The categories with the largest online shopping rise are: ready meals, tickets and vitamins / nutritional supplements.
 
 Online shopping behavior is mainly driven by online market research, price comparison, and by the significant increase of online banking mainly due to capital controls.  Greek online buyers make 50% of their total physical purchases after they first search online in search engines and / or price comparison services. This justifies the significant amounts spent by brands on digital promotion to attract them to their physical network. At the same time, Greek online consumers make 20% of their online purchases after having visited the physical store first. This show-rooming is particularly worrying and justifies the emergence in 2017 of large-scale initiatives to upgrade the consumer experience in stores through digital technologies and mobile applications.
 
Price sensitivity is the major factor for online purchases (75%), followed by direct product comparison - mainly price and features (52%) and ease of finding new offers (41%). This, of course, results in low loyalty, as 65% of online buyers declare that 50% of their purchases were made in an e-shop that they visited only once a year. The second reason concerns the product range and the availability of products not found in physical stores (47%), the greater variety of products (38%) and the convenience of finding products from abroad (37%).
 
The main factors influencing an online consumer to choose an online store is confidence, including a secure way of paying through a well-known carrier (46%), low prices and offers (42%), speed and ease of navigation (37%), clear terms of use (35%), good reviews on blogs / forums, etc. (32%), site usability (29%) and good service (27%).  Popular e-shops include among many others Amazon, eBay, Amazon third parties, e-shop, Plaisio, Public, and Skroutz.


Cross-Border eCommerce
Cross-border commerce in Greece accounts for 25% of total online purchases down 5% from last year, mainly due to the increased number of companies in Greece offering their products for purchases online. Estimates show that around 7,000 companies in Greece, both local and foreign, offer their products online. Greek customers prefer to buy from US, UK, Chinese, and German sellers.
 
Despite the rapid growth of eCommerce, most businesses in Greece do not yet make the most out of the cross-border eCommerce potential. Currently, only 24% of Greek businesses offer their goods abroad via ecommerce, and ship products mostly to the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Italy.  Nevertheless, the cross-border trade is constantly growing as an increasing number of Greek traders are selling abroad and expand their business at international level.


Online Payment
For the first time in 2017 there is a change in the preferred payment method, since debit cards are now the most popular means of payment as 64% of online buyers use it, followed by Cash on Delivery 57% and credit cards 42%. This is related to measures and Tax incentives to promote the use of plastic money. For the first time, the digital wallet also appears with 17% (due to the more related products from banks and electronic payment institutions) and PayPal with 9%.

Mobile eCommerce
The use of the mobile devices for digital transactions is rapidly increasing among Greeks.  98% of online consumers have daily access to the Internet via their mobile phones. Online buyers use the mobile as a basic device for their commercial digital transactions, such as the use of search applications (93%), price searches while in the physical store (65%), use corporate applications (34%) and electronic banking (21%).

eCommerce Legal Framework
Entrepreneurial activity in the retail B2C eCommerce is governed by the general consumer protection law (Law 2251/1994) and the legislation regulating electronic commerce (PD 131/2003, which incorporated the Directive 2000/31/EC on electronic commerce; and the Joint Ministerial Decision Z1-891/13-06-2013, which incorporated Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights).  These laws provide for the free and unlicensed provision of e-commerce services as well as the ability to produce valid contracts by electronic means (3 and 8 § 1 of PD 131/2003).  As regards the privacy of the end-user, the data protection law (Law 2472/1997 and 3471/2006), which incorporated Directives 95/46/EC and 2002/58/EC, applies.
The e-Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC has created the basic legal framework for online services, including electronic commerce in the Internal Market. The purpose of the Directive is to remove obstacles to cross-border online services in the European Union and provide legal certainty to business and citizens in cross-border online transactions. The Electronic Commerce Directive (e-Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC), adopted in 2000, sets up an Internal Market framework for electronic commerce, which provides legal certainty for business and consumers alike.
The Directive establishes harmonized rules on issues such as the transparency and information requirements for online service providers, commercial communications, electronic contracts and limitations of liability of intermediary service providers. It also enhances administrative cooperation between the Member States and the role of self-regulation.


Web Resources
Greek e-Commerce Association (GRECA) 
Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA)
The Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE)
Hellenic Bank Association (HBA)
The Hellenic Management Association (EEDE)
Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media
Ministry of Economy
Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT)
Greek Industry Association of Communications and Technology
European Commission
A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe
EUROSTAT
A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe
Summaries of European Union (EU) legislation eCommerce
eCommerce Directive - European Union
Online Services - European Union Directive 2000/31/EC
Directive 2000/31/EC – electronic commerce in the EU
European eCommerce Association
 
 
Commercial Specialist: nikos.papachrys@trade.gov

 
 

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