7 trends shaping e-commerce in Spain
Online shoppers prefer shipping that’s free, rather than fast, and sustainability that doesn’t cost more. That’s according to a 2022 study on the future of e-commerce in Spain.
- Interest in sustainability is growing in the realm of e-commerce, but consumers are reluctant to pay more for it.
- Free shipping is a must: 9 out of 10 consumers prioritize receiving their package at no additional cost over ultra-fast or home delivery.
- The second edition of the Veepee-IESE study on the future of e-commerce in Spain finds the nation’s e-commerce habit is consolidating as digital purchases continue to grow.
Following a dramatic surge in online sales triggered by Spain’s pandemic lockdown, e-commerce in the nation is consolidating: 43% of surveyed consumers bought more online this year than they did last year. Seven out of 10 make purchases online at least once a month. This is reflected in the second annual Veepee-IESE study on the future of ecommerce in Spain, carried out by the flash-sales firm Veepee and IESE Business School. The study aims to capture the shopping habits of digital consumers and other trends in the e-commerce space. Here’s a rundown of its most salient findings.
Sustainability that doesn’t cost the consumer
Online shoppers show a growing interest in sustainability but are not willing to pay much for it.
- 50% of consumers buy and sell second-hand products online in Spain.
- 53% are willing to buy “on demand” to be more sustainable and reduce overproduction waste, despite the increase in delivery time that on-demand purchases entail.
- 31% regularly use clothing-recycling services.
- Only 1 in 3 consumers is willing to pay more for greener or more sustainable options, with the majority drawing the limit at a 10% premium.
Delivery that’s free and on target
Up to 90% of online consumers prioritize free deliveries over getting the package at home (versus a pickup spot) or very quickly.
- 30% would rather pick up the order at a delivery point if this saves money.
- 6 euros is the upper limit that online shoppers are willing to pay for fast deliveries (in 24 to 48 hours) or to receive packages at home.
- 14% would pay an annual subscription to receive free shipments, with an average annual rate of 27.50 euros (equivalent to 2.30 euros per month).
Regular returns at a minimal cost
Most online consumers in Spain (7 out of 10) make returns on a regular basis, although these returns represent fewer than 10% of their purchases.
- 21% of digital buyers are willing to pay for returns, but never more than 10% of the original value of the product.
- 3 out of 4 choose to go to the store to save on return costs.
- 1 out of 3 keeps the product or try to sell it via second-hand shopping platforms.
Mobile phones, essential shopping tools
For online purchases, more than 3 in 4 consumers habitually use their phones, although other devices are also popular.
- While 77% report placing orders via their phones, 50% use a laptop, 32% a desktop computer and just 18% a tablet.
- 73% of digital purchases are made through websites, and 6 out of 10 explicitly prefer websites over apps.
At least 20 euros per month
In Spain, 60% of consumers spend between 20 and 100 euros each month online, and 28% spend more than 100 euros a month.
- Only 12% of online consumers tend to choose to pay via installments.
- But among shoppers who buy online at least once a week, 1 in 5 opts to pay in installments. Generally speaking, the more frequent the shopping, the greater the tendency to pay over time.
- Only 5% of those who only purchase semi-annually or less frequently pay in installments.
Favoring fashion and travel
Fashion and travel continue to be the two most sought-after product categories online, as they were last year.
- 39% of shoppers surveyed plan to buy more clothing and accessories online post-pandemic, and 35% plan to spend on travel — dubbed “revenge travel” in some media outlets.
- Meanwhile, buying tickets for concerts and shows is planned by 33%, and purchasing technology products is on the horizon for 32%. Of the top shopping categories, only technology's popularity has declined slightly since last year (from 34%).
- Food delivery is also on a downward trend, with 23% of consumers surveyed planning purchases, compared with 26% a year ago. Finally, only 7% plan to shop for sporting goods online, compared with 8% last year.
An omnichannel customer journey
While online consumers' first contact with a brand is usually via traditional channels (physical stores and friends' recommendations), the digital world is increasingly important for gathering information and making the sale. In addition, multi-brand marketplaces are becoming a valuable source for product searches.
- 8 out of 10 surveyed learn about new brands from friends’ recommendations and/or from seeing them in physical stores.
- 80% use search engines and online shops to compare prices before deciding to buy.
- 7 out of 10 discover brands and research purchasing decisions via marketplaces. Multi-brand marketplaces are valued for their variety of offerings and competitive pricing, as well as for their after-sales services, shipping prices, punctual and flexible deliveries, and better return options.
- 50% of shoppers consult social media in search of product and brand information. Instagram is currently the most influential network in Spanish e-commerce.
- 59% of Generation Z consumers discover new brands via influencers, a percentage that drops to 28% when all consumers are taken into account.
- In the realm of travel, 3 out of 4 trips are purchased online in Spain. The picture is very different for food: only 1 in 4 grocery carts is filled online. In terms of fashion, technology and beauty, on- and offline purchasing patterns are more balanced.
Methodology, very briefly
The second edition of the Veepee-IESE Study on the future of e-commerce in Spain analyzed the online shopping habits and customs of 1,605 digital consumers who are over the age of 16 and residing in Spain.
The full study (in Spanish) can be downloaded here: "II Estudio Veepee-IESE sobre el futuro del ecommerce en España."
The 2021 study is summarized here: "10 trends shaping e-commerce in Spain."
"Retail Revolution: How retailers can prepare for an omnichannel future" is featured in IESE Business School Insight #162 (September 2022).