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: 7/1/2017

Overview

Electronic Commerce (eCommerce) in Greece has exhibited considerable growth during the last two years, and this upward trend is expected to continue in 2017.  ECommerce sales reached about $5.0 billion in 2016, growing 18.8% over $4.2 billion sales in 2015.  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 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) published by the European Commission, Greece ranked third 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, Greece has one of the lowest levels in the EU, 69% compared to the EU average of 82%.  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 2016, despite the financial crisis.  This is mainly attributed to income reduction that made consumers more price sensitive, many new local e-shops in all categories of products and services, and the imposition 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. Since economic instability is expected to continue to have an 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 2017 remain positive, with six out of ten online consumers expected to increase online purchases, while only one in ten is expected to decrease spending.

Domestic eCommerce (B2C)
Business-to-consumer (B2C) electronic commerce in 2016 has improved compared to 2015, evidenced by an overall increase of 5% in the number of product categories purchased online.  It is estimated that three out of ten Greeks are mature online buyers and that 10% of online consumers began purchasing in 2016.  A large percentage (29%) of online consumers in 2016 made over 50% of their purchases electronically, while in 2015 this was about 25% and in 2014 only 9%.  The annual survey of ELTRUN also showed that six out of ten consumers made more than 80% of their online purchases from local e-shops in 2016, compared to five out of ten in 2015.  Greek consumers had one of the highest percentages of purchases in Europe from foreign e-shops at around 30%.
 
Despite the 5% increase in the number of product categories, the five top categories for online purchases remained unchanged from 2015.  Travel services topped the list with at 84%, followed by hotel reservations at 70%, electronic equipment and peripherals at 69%, entertainment tickets at 69%, and apparel and footwear at 62%.  However, three out of ten online consumers that made a purchase through an e-shop did not return for purchases again due to lack of trust.
 
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.  Specifically, price sensitivity is the major factor for online consumers (73%), followed by direct product comparison (55%), and finding better offers (42%). There are reasons related to the variety of products, such as finding products that are not available in physical stores (46%) and the availability of largest variety of products (37%).  These reasons, of course, also relate to the general decrease in stock in small physical stores due to cash-flow problems.  Popular e-shops include Amazon, eBay, Amazon third parties, e-shop, Plaisio, Public, and Skroutz.

Cross-Border eCommerce
Buying from foreign e-shops increased, as Greeks were again able to make online purchases by using their Greek bank cards in contrast to when capital controls were first imposed in 2015. Cross-border commerce in Greece accounts for 30% of total online purchases and estimates show that 54% of buyers prefer e-stores based in the UK, followed by China at 47%, the USA at 34%, and Germany at 21%.  Amazon and its third party merchants continued to lead internet retailing in Greece, recording a combined value share of 12%, followed by eBay 8%.
 
Despite the rapid growth of eCommerce, most businesses in Greece do not yet make the most out of the cross-border eCommerce potential. Only 24% of Greek retailers sell online to consumers in other EU countries, while almost twice as many (47%) sell online in their own country. 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. The main markets that buy goods and services from Greece are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy.

Online Payment
Cash on delivery remains the most popular method of payment, whereas most electronic payments are made with credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and Bank transfers.  51% of consumers used credit cards for their online purchases in 2016, up from 44% in 2015.

Mobile eCommerce
The use of the mobile devices for digital transactions is rapidly increasing among Greeks.  Nine out of ten online consumers have daily access to the Internet via their mobile phones, eight out of ten through a laptop computer, seven out of ten via a tablet, and only six out of ten via desktop PC.  Daily banking mobile transactions account for 25% of the total, bidding 20%, accessing suppliers’ or retailers’ mobile applications 20%, and one in six to compare prices while in a physical store.

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.

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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