Global Ecommerce

Spain: A chance for British retailers to win over Spanish consumers

Georges Berzgal, VP & Managing Director, Global Ecommerce – EMEA, Pitney Bowes

Spain’s ecommerce market is still maturing, but its customers know how they like to do business. British retailers are in a prime position to offer consumers the service they want.

Ecommerce took off very quickly in Spain.  It became so popular that it remains one of the country’s most resilient sectors to this day, even during Spain’s financial crisis that peaked in 2011. At that point, it was one of the few sectors that experienced double digit-growth, even continuing on into 2012. The total ecommerce turnover amounted to £9.8bn in 2011 which was 22% more than the year before. No other sector in the Spanish economy at that time could boast such growth and cultural popularity.

In 2017, the story was much the same. Spanish ecommerce turnover grew by 8% to £20.6bn, with 37.8m of its population of around 46m shopping online. Not only is the online community active, they also widely purchase items on international sites, too. This steady growth and increasing interest in foreign brands is fantastic news for British retailers. Fashion brands do particularly well as both Britain and Spain have a mutual appreciation of each other’s styles. For example, while we Brits flock to Zara, Mango, Bershka and newly introduced Stradivarius, Spaniards flock to the likes of Topshop, ASOS and Miss Selfridge.  

Nevertheless, U.K. retailers looking to trade online in the Spanish market must be prepared to go the extra mile and invest in building trust among Spanish shoppers. 2016 was the first time that the total amount of purchases made by Spanish shoppers on foreign online shops was lower than ones made on domestic sites.

One of the key factors behind the decline in cross-border sales is trust. Trust boils down to a number of things, including a lack of confidence in the returns policy, costly shipping fees, few customer reviews or product images and, importantly, only offering payment methods that shoppers are not familiar with or have high adoption.

However, all of these issues can be easily addressed by those hoping to enter the Spanish online market. Based on information from Observatorio Cetelem Ecommerce 2016, the most popular payment methods in Spain are debit card (61%), PayPal (51%) and credit card (23%). For this reason, UK retailers looking to expand into the Spanish market should always at least offer these options, making transactions easier for customers and eliminating the chance of abandoned baskets.

A second fast evolving trend is mobile commerce --  according to a survey by Nielsen, Spain is leading the U.K., Germany, France and Italy in terms of its intention to buy online via mobile devices; 38% of respondents in Spain said this was their preferred method of ecommerce, compared to 25% in the U.K. Spain has one of the highest penetration rates for smartphones, so retailers need to capitalise on this trend as it is only a matter of time before mcommerce booms in the region.

While Spain may be a more complicated ecommerce market than certain European counterparts, the potential it offers should be considered worth the venture. The sector is still rapidly developing and looking for sophisticated options that keep customers engaged and loyal, and British retail is at a great advantage in this regard. Catering to U.K. consumers who comparatively expect a flawless customer service, retailers have a chance to offer the same to the Spanish market and reap the rewards.

With Spanish consumers’ appetite for online shopping and their desire for British brands, those retailers that offer a reliable customer experience and service are on a good footing to do well in the region. Ultimately, as the total number of overseas products being bought online in Spain outweighs that of domestic sales, cross-border online sellers should be addressing this demand and start serving hungry customers. To facilitate this trade, a trusted logistics and delivery partner can ensure safe and cost-effective deliveries and returns, removing the complexities of trading abroad. This leaves British brands to ask themselves one question, “when do we start?”

Learn about Complete™ Cross-Border from Pitney Bowes, the scalable end-to-end global ecommerce solution that can handle all facets of enterprise retail cross-border expansion. 


Read more about the global ecommerce landscape from both the retailer and consumer perspective by downloading the Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Report, the first report to comprehensively analyse these two perspectives.

Love Brand Britain - Global demand for British brands is at an all-time high.  Discover what Spanish consumers find appealing about British brands. View video

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