Poland - eCommercePoland - eCommerce
Although there are no barriers to conducting electronic commerce activities in Poland, American companies should consider the strict requirements of personal data protection regulations and tax issues that match those of other European Union countries.
The Polish e-commerce market was estimated at USD 11.1 billion at the end of 2017. It is expected to reach value of USD 13.8 billion at the end of 2018 and USD 17 billion by 2020. With double digit annual groeth, Poland is one of fastest developing e-commerce markets in Europe. The digital economy currently accounts for 3% of Poland’s GDP, and it is expected to rise to 9.5% by 2020. At the moment, e-commerce accounts for 7% of retail sales, and it is expected to reach 10% in the next 2-3 years.
In Poland, e-commerce is one of the most important drivers for economic development, contributing to the rapid growth of logistics operations, E-commerce currently accounts for 60% of the warehouse space used by retail chains and logistics operators. Poland is a hub for several e-commerce operations serving Western European countries, including Amazon and Zalando.
Easy and affordable access to the internet through multiple tools, comfortable online purchasing platforms, and customer-friendly regulations (please see the information on the Digital Single Market below) all drive e-commerce growth. Online sellers benefit from the recent ban on Sunday trading, where most brick-and-morto retail operations are closed on official holidays and two Sundays each month. The Sunday Ban, enacted in 2018, will gradually expand to cover all Sundays by 2020.
There are a total of 27.8 million internet users in Poland. Approximately 24.1 million people use personal computers and 22 million use smartphones and tablets. More than half of customers use multiple devices for online shopping. The following is the breakdown of equipment used: laptops (80%), personal computers (61%), smartphones (47%), tablets (21%) and e-book devices (3%). In general, the number of internet users participating in on-line shopping has grown. 48% of internet users shopped online in 2016 and 54% in 2017. By 2020, 70% of all internet users in Poland will shop online.
Current Market Trends
As technology changes allow customers to easily compare prices and products offered by various sellers, retailers tend to take an omnichannel approach to combine traditional and online sales channels to retain or expand their customer base. An increasing number also invest in advanced analytic tools. The industry primarily reaches customers through personalized advertising and content marketing. As for product popularity, the fastest growing segment of the e-commerce market is online grocery sales. This segment’s value is expected to reach $670 million by 2020, a 458% increase over $120 million last year.
Domestic e-Commerce (B2C)
The vast majority of online shopping is done locally in Poland. The most popular products bought online are clothing, shoes and accessories, toys and child care, home appliances, consumer electronics, books, music and movies, and cosmetics. Other popular products include car appliances, airplane, train and bus tickets, sporting goods, and tourist equipment and travel services.
While only about 16% of Poles have shopped in foreign stores, 40% of Poles have never shopped online internationally. At the same time, only a little over 10% of Polish e-shops sell abroad. This places Poland, along with Romania, as one of the countries with the lowest level of cross border e-transactions in the EU.
The B2B e-Commerce
The B2B e-commerce market is estimated at over USD 60 billion, and it is expected to grow 8% per year to reach USD 92 billion by 2020. At the moment, only some 35% of Polish firms use internet purchasing platforms. Approximately 30% of businesses, especially small businesses, do not maintain their own websites.
In general, e-commerce platforms in Poland are eager to work with foreign suppliers and sell their products online. Nevertheless, many limit their suppliers to European sources. They have little experience, if any, in dealing with suppliers from the United States and logistical support is limited.
e-Commerce Intellectual Property Rights
Polish law enforcement agencies are increasingly focusing on Internet crime, but intellectual property infringement continues to be a problem. According to a recent study by Deloitte, Poland's businesses have lost over USD 760 million due to illegal use of content, while the state treasury has lost USD 210 million. It is estimated that most people use both legal and illegal content, sometimes making payments to piracy services. Video and audio are the most common forms of stolen content. Please see the Intellectual Property Rights section below for general information on this topic.
Popular e-Commerce Sites
The most popular e-commerce platform in Poland is Allegro, with over 50% market share. Initially established as an auction platform, over the last few years, Allegro has expanded its services and currently hosts a variety of sellers, which make up 90% of the offers on the site. In November 2017, Facebook launched its Polish Marketplace, which is quickly gaining popularity as well. Amazon has a large presence in Poland, where it operates five fulfillment centers in addition to an R&D center. Amazon offers a Polish language site on its German platform.
Top ten e-commerce platforms in Poland (end of 2017):
Allegro,pl All types of consumer goods
Ceneo.pl Price comparison service
Euro.com.pl Consumer electronics and home appliances
Mediaexport.pl Consumer Electronics and home appliences
Empik.com Books, games, toys,music, gifts, tickets to cultural events
Aliexpress.com All types of consumer goods
Skapiec.pl Price comparison service
Approxomately 70% of Polish banking customers actively use internet banking services. Poland is also one of the strongest markets in Europe in mobile-payment technologies and Poland leads in the number of contactless transactions. Some 90% of all cards issued in Poland are contactless enabled (the same as in Czechia), while 83% of cards issued in Germany don’t have such an option. The most popular methods of payment are fast money transfers, preferred by over 50% of buyers as credit card payment and cash on delivery, which accounts for 23%-24% of payments. As for money transfers, the most popular service is PayU followed by Przelewy24 and Dotpay. Customer preferences are likely to shift as Applepay launches this year and Facebook’s payment service also enters the market.
Almost 90% percent of Poland’s Internet users use mobile devices to access the Internet, and over 20% use them for online shopping. The mobile channel generates over 20% of all sales for almost 20% of e-shops and 10%-20% of all sales for 24% of e-commerce suppliers. The mobile segement is the fastest growing part of the e-Commerce market. However, many e-commerce platforms continue to struggle with making their platforms user-friendly for mobile users.
n 2017, online advertising grew by 9% and its value exceeded USD 1 billion. The value of digital advertising is expected to surpass expenditures on traditional advertising by 2020. As much as 75% of small and medium size companies in Poland use specialized marketing companies for digital marketing. Ads on Google and Facebook accounted for 64% of growth of all expenses in digital marketing. While 62% of e-shops pay search engines for promotion, over 50% placed paid ads in social media; mainly on Facebook or LinkedIn. The most advertised product online in Poland is clothing.
Major Buying Holidays
Christmas shopping is the best time for e-commerce activities, with 42% of sales taking place online. Black Friday and Cyber Monday-type sales are new in Poland but are slowly gaining popularity.
Approximately 90% of Polish internet users, use social media. This is 2% above the world average. The average user spends 2 hours and 19 minutes on social media each day. The most popular social media platform in Poland is Facebook. 70% of Polish Facebook users are active every day. Other popular services are YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat. As many as 97% of e-shops market and communicate with clients on social media platforms.This applies to all large e-Commerce platforms. The most popular social media e-commerce platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.
The European Union’s Digital Single Market Initiative
Creating a Digital Single Market (DSM) is one of the ten priorities of the European Commission (EC). The overall objective is to break down barriers, regulatory or otherwise, and to explore online opportunities in Europe, from e-commerce to e-government. In doing so, the EU hopes to do away with current fragmented markets and create one borderless market with harmonized legislation and rules for the benefit of businesses and consumers alike throughout Europe. The EC set out its vision in its May 6, 2015. DSM Strategy has been followed by several concrete legislative proposals and policy actions. They are far- reaching and include reforming e-commerce, VAT, copyright, audio-visual media services, consumer protection, and telecommunications laws. New legislation has already been finalized on portability of online content and geo-blocking. Many DSM proposals are still going through the legislative process. DSM-related legislation will have a broad impact on U.S. companies doing business in Europe. In addition, a new data protection law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entered into force on 25 May 2018.
The three main pillars of the strategy are:
Pillar I: Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe
Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe
Remove key differences between the online and offline worlds to break down barriers to cross-border online activity.
Pillar II: Shaping the right environment for digital networks and services to flourish
Achieve high-speed, secure and trustworthy infrastructures and content services
Set the right regulatory conditions for innovation, investment, fair competition and a level playing field.
Pillar III: Creating a European Digital Economy and society with growth potential
Invest in technologies such as cloud computing and Big Data, and in research and innovation to boost industrial competitiveness and skills
Increase interoperability and standardization
For more information: Digital Single Market DSM Strategy
The Electronic Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC) 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. Comprehensive Market Research on e-commerce in the EU is available upon request.
Key link: e-Commerce
For information on this topic please consult the Commerce Department’s Country Commercial Guides on EU Member States.
Alternatively, search the Commerce Department’s Market Research Library, available from: Market Intelligence
Value Added Tax (VAT).
The EU’s VAT system is semi-harmonized. While the guidelines are set out at the EU level, the implementation of VAT policy is the prerogative of Member States. The EU VAT Directive allows Member States to apply a minimum 15 percent VAT rate. However, they may apply reduced rates for specific goods and services or temporary derogations. Therefore, the examination of VAT rates by Member State is strongly recommended. These and other rules are laid out in the VAT Directive.
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 resides. 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 launched the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) scheme. While its use is optional, it is meant to facilitate the sales of ESS from taxable to non-taxable persons (B2C) located in Member States where the sellers do not have an established presence to account for VAT. This plan allows taxable persons (sellers) to avoid registering in each Member State where they sell products and services. A taxable person who is registered for the Mini One Stop Shop in another Member State (the Member State of Identification) can electronically submit quarterly Mini One Stop Shop 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. After receiving numerous complaints in relation to the new rules on ESS, the he Commission is in the process of revising them (draft proposal). The most important pieces of legislation on VAT are the EU VAT Directive 2006/112/EC and its Implementing Regulation 282/2011. Further information relating to VAT on ESS.
Poland Trade Development and Promotion