Despite the rapid growth of e-commerce in Poland, experts claim that this market sector is not as great as it might seem. The general number of consumers is the same as other medium-sized European countries. Poland’s forté, however, is the market potential of e-commerce. In Poland, 72% of internet users shop online, though 60% of them buy products on the internet only a few times a year. 25% of consumers make repeat purchases in the same online shops thanks to various loyalty benefits and programmes. Only 16% of online customers use mobile devices as purchase tools and 23% consider smartphones and tablets too difficult to use for online shopping. At the same time, this gives the chance for the development of new mobile applications in order to make online shopping easier. 42% of internet users regard online shopping as risky, however, compared to 2011, this number decreased by 6%. Online buyers are most concerned about transfers. These are the conclusions based on an ‘e-Commerce report’ commissioned by Gemius. In 2012, there was over 22,500 online shops in Poland, (1,500 more than the previous year) and the great majority were available on Allegro, Poland’s most popular online auction website. 88% of online consumers did their shopping there. According to the Ministry of Economy data, 16% of all online shops (including Allegro shops) have their own domain. Allegro, Empik and Merlin are the most popular online shops, thanks to interest in CDs and DVDs. Clothes, jewellery and gadgets are the second most popular group of goods purchased by online customers. Online food shopping has also become popular recently with shops such as Alma, Tesco and Piotr i Paweł gaining ground. Coffee, tea, sweets and spices are the top products purchased by online customers here. Only 15% of internet users do their shopping in foreign online shops and 11% on foreign online auctions.
This situation may change due to EU laws which regulate returns and guarantees. The Ministry of Economy is also working on new regulations that will help solve the most common consumer problems. During the European Economic Congress that took place in Katowice this year, Tesco‘s deputy chairman Czesław Grzesiuk claimed: “Offline trade will always dominate”. He added, “We have decided to open an online shop for our F&F clothing brand; Tesco is one of the largest clothing retailers in Poland and the online shop will be a new way to further our reach”. The deputy chairman announced that: “Tesco HQ in the UK is currently working on software that will allow our customers to use a virtual fitting room”. Czesław Grzesiuk also commented on the most costly part of e-commerce, that is logistics. Nowadays, an important market trend is the development of advisory services such as smartphone applications that, for example, suggest to us where to buy clothes we haven taken pictures of; however, the most important factor for Polish customers is price. 59% of consumers use websites that compare the prices of different online shops. Only 19% of online customers use offers provided by collective buying sites (e.g. Groupon). Tomasz Czechowicz, a partner at MCI Management claims that the European e-commerce sector is valued at €700m, however, the Polish e-commerce sector lags behind. There are several reasons. Investment funds in the e-commerce sector cannot be purchaded because of restrictions in law. Therefore, e-commerce can only develop with the participation of international groups, such as Tesco or Naspers. “Nobody finances the e-commerce sector in Poland,” according to Czechowicz. The deputer Minister of Economy Dariusz Bogdan claims, “In the second half of the year we want to implement virtual access to the processing of invoices, and in 2015 it will be mandatory for all public institutions that undertake public procurements”. The government has also had the idea of creating information points for entrepreneurs that will help them get information about running online shops. This includes information about regulations concerning online shops and how to establish them. The Ministry together with the Institute of Logistics and Warehousing has prepared the Euro Label logo that only trustworthy online shops can use.
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