Report: E-Commerce market in Romania reached a steady growth level

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The Romanian e-commerce industry reached the threshold of 6.3 billion euros at the end of 2022, the value being slightly higher that the value recorded in 2021 (6.2 billion euros), according to the estimates of GPeC, ARMO and of the other local main stakeholders.

After almost a decade of spectacular growth, the local e-commerce market is approaching maturity, followed by a period of consolidation, caused, among others, by the change in the consumption behavior of Romanians.

The lifting of the restrictions in March 2021 led the consumers to focus on outdoor specific products (e.g.: Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle), with lower average value than that of durable products (especially electronics and household appliances or furniture), that were preferred during the pandemic.

Although the figure of 6.3 billion euros from the end of last year is similar to that of 2021, the number of online transactions has increased, as well as the number of buyers – which shows the diversification of the types of products purchased online by Romanians and the discovery of the main advantages of e-commerce: saving time and money.

Romanian online commerce has a great development potential with predictions of doubling the market value in approx. 10 years, maybe even less. Precisely because it is a growing market, the opportunities are significant – just as an example, according to eMAG officials, in Romania there are approximately 15 million unique products in the offer of online stores, while in Germany there are over 100 million. This means that the market is permissive with new domestic players, the range of products available online will continue to grow, and the interest of international players for entering the Romanian market will be bigger and bigger. We already see many international online stores starting to operate in Romania, especially in the Fashion area”, says Andrei Radu, CEO & Founder of GPeC.

“In the last 3 years, the percentage of people who have placed at least one order online has almost doubled, currently being around 79% of Romanians with internet access, according to the latest available data. Under these conditions, Romanian online stores are looking with confidence towards the future, because Romanians have discovered the advantages of electronic commerce and will not give them up. We want a sustainable development of the e-commerce sector in Romania, and such periods of consolidation are normal, while the double-digit increases so far are the exception. Romanian online stores will continue to focus on expanding their range of products and offering their customers the best possible services,” said Cristi Movilă, president of ARMO.

66% of the Romanian internet users had placed at least one online purchase in 2022

According to the INS (National Institute of Statistics), 66% of internet users placed at least one online order in 2022, up by 8.7 percentage points from 57.3% as recorded in 2021. Strictly from this point of view, Romania surpassed Bulgaria (41%), Turkey (42%) and Italy (49%), according to Eurostat data. At the same time,  other private research carried out this year indicates that the percentage of Romanian Internet users who would have ordered at least once online during  last year has already reached 79%.

In addition to local online stores, 25% of respondents also shopped from other online stores, located within Europe, that is up from 21% in 2021 – according to the iSense Solutions study for GPeC carried out in September 2022.

At European level, in the last 10 years the number of online shoppers has increased by 20 % from 55% in 2012 to 75% in 2022. The most important increases in the last decade were registered in:

• Estonia (+ 47%)

• Hungary (+ 43%)

• Czech Republic (+ 41%) and Romania (+ 41%)

According to Eurostat, the 3 most important categories of products and services ordered online in 2022 at the European level were:

• Clothing and footwear (including accessories and sports items) – 42%

• Deliveries from restaurants, fast food or catering services – 19%

• Beauty (cosmetics, wellness) – 17%

Average value of an online purchase is higher on desktop

According to 2Performant statistics, on average, in 2022, Romanians spent 70.75 euros for purchases made from the desktop, compared to 66.67 euros in 2021. In the case of transactions carried out on the mobile phone, the value of the average cart was 46.48 euros in 2022, similar to 46.47 euros in 2021.

* The above stated values do not include VAT and there was considered an annual average currency exchange rate of 1 EUR = 4,9315 lei for 2022.

A Mobile friendly e-Commerce in Romania

76.7% of all transactions were made from mobile phones, up from 69.8% recorded in 2021, noting that the number of online orders made from mobile phones is significantly higher than the number of transactions made from the desktop, and the difference was accentuated in 2022 compared to 2021.

Also, more than 80% of the traffic of Romanian online stores is generated by mobile devices, an increase from 75.5% in 2021. In the case of experienced online stores consulted by GPeC, the traffic generated by mobile phones exceeds 85%.

From a value point of view, the mobile channel exceeds the desktop: in total, 68.3% of the value of online transactions in Romanian e-commerce comes from transactions carried out on the phone and only 31.7% from the desktop, even if the average value of a transaction is lower on mobile than on desktop. The percentage is increasing compared to 2021 when 61.7% of the value of e-commerce transactions was generated from the mobile phone.

For the first time – the average conversion rate on mobile has overpassed the 2% threshold, reaching 2.19% in 2022. However, the average conversion rate is higher on desktop, reaching 2.71% in 2022.

Most transactions on mobile take place between 20:00 and 22:00, maintaining the trend from 2021, while on desktop most sales are made between 11:00 and 15:00.

“Given that many consumers buy online in the evening from their mobile phones, it is recommended that online stores find solutions to ensure customer support until 10:00 p.m. – it could help increase the conversion rate”, recommends Andrei Radu, CEO & Founder GPeC.

Price, diversity in delivery options and user experience – main reasons for choosing an online store over another

During 2022, the market research company iSense Solutions carried out a quantitative research on a sample of 1,025 respondents, Internet users between the ages of 18 and 65, a representative sample at the urban level. The main criteria based on which Romanian consumers choose the online stores they buy from are (multiple answer question):

  • 81% – best price
  • 72% – have various methods of delivery
  • 69% – ease of site navigation / User Experience
  • 68% – the shortest possible delivery time
  • 66% – the ease of the product return process

According to the same study, before placing an order, 54% of all respondents actively look for reviews about the online store they are going to buy from and say that they would not buy at all if they did not find other customers’ opinions about the store.

Regarding reviews, Romanians are looking at:

  • If the products were fully compliant with their specifications – 64%
  • The authenticity of the reviews – 43%
  • Company’s replies to negative reviews – 40%
  • The highest marks received by the online store they are interested to buy from – 33%

Also, Romanian consumers say that they trust the reviews:

  • Published by independent/third party sites – 38%
  • Published in Social Media – 37%
  • Published by the online store as testimonials – 25%

Trends and recommendations for ecommerce businesses in 2023

GPeC has identified the main trends in Romanian online commerce for 2023 and the near future that could help online shops increase their sales:

Diversification in supply

According to eMAG representatives, there are approx. 15 million unique products within the supply of online stores in Romania, while in Germany there are over 100 million. This means that there are a lot of products that are not yet available on the Romanian market, but could represent an opportunity and be imported by the online stores for the local market.

Nurture your own community around the brand

It’s more important than ever that stores develop loyalty programs for existing customers and focus on increasing the degree of recurrence instead of acquiring new traffic. Also, it is crucial to build in on the trust in the products and services offered by the online store. Most of the time it is also an economical reason because the acquisition of a new customer becomes more expensive than the maintenance of the relationship with the existing customers and the stores should correctly calculate the Customer Lifetime Value and focus on keeping close to the customers who have already bought from them.

Expanding sales channels towards marketplaces

In order to maximize their sales, it is recommended that, in addition to their own website, online stores also focus on selling in marketplaces (there can be several and they can be both national and international).

Expanding cross-border

32% of European consumers buy from online stores outside the borders of their country of origin. It is recommended for online stores that want to scale their business to start selling outside of Romania either through marketplace platforms or by localizing their own website in other countries.

Delivery at fixed point (lockers)

More and more consumers want convenience and independence from the door-to-door courier schedule. For many customers, it is easier to pick up their package from the nearby locker, on the way home or to the office, at the time when their schedule allows.

Buy now, pay later

Delayed payment or by installments is increasingly demanded by consumers, especially within the current economic context. Conversion rates increase in the case of online stores that offer payment options by credit or in installments, as a result integration with Buy Now, Pay Later services are important at this moment.

The sources used in the making of this Report (in alphabetical order): 2Performant, ARMO, Brand Finance, eMAG, Euromonitor, Eurostat, Global Data, GPeC, INS, iSense Solutions, McKinsey, PayU, Semrush, Statista. Copyright: GPeC Martie 2023

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