According to ARMO (Association of Romanian Online Stores), GPeC and other industry players’ estimates, the e-commerce sector reached the 6.2 billion euro threshold at the end of 2021, almost 10% more than in 2020 when the value of e-commerce was estimated at 5.6 billion euro. The increase was slightly below the initial forecasts of expected 15% growth and 6.5 billion euro in online sales at the end of the year.
One of the reasons for the slower-than-expected growth was the low stockpiles of most global producers who had been affected by the pandemic and the difficulties encountered in the entire supply chain.
Also, the rise in energy prices at the end of 2021 has had a negative impact on the durable goods market, according to an analysis by The Economist which shows that a 10% increase in the price of energy translates into a decrease of 4.7 % of the durable goods market.
Last but not least, it must be taken into account that the Romanian e-commerce sector has entered a stage of consolidation that was expected since 2020, but which was postponed by the pandemic through the accelerated growth of online orders (30% increase recorded in 2020 compared with 2019). This stage of consolidation and slight growth is also planned for 2022.
The over 5.6 billion euro value of the Romanian e-commerce sector refers to all the transactions generated in Romania by both the local merchants and foreign online shops and it represents the e-tail segment only, that means only tangible products that were bought online. This cuantum does not include services, utility bills, digital content or plane tickets, vacations & travel, hotel reservations, show tickets or other events.
“Romanian e-commerce is constantly growing, even though last year this growth was lower than the spectacular 30% recorded in 2020
compared to 2019. This shows us the considerable potential for further development, in a market that is still permissive and very attractive for both local and international players – more and more online businesses from abroad are being located in Romania, and the trend will continue this year “, says Andrei Radu, CEO & Founder GPeC.
“Starting from the value of 6.2 billion euros as a balance of Romanian online commerce in 2021 and making a simple calculation results that Romanians have spent, on average, almost 17 million euros every day of last year for online shopping – an increase from 15 million euros, the daily average recorded in 2020 “, adds Radu.
“2021 was a stage of consolidation and validation for e-commerce in Romania. After a dramatic increase in 2020 and, despite all the difficulties faced by sellers, whether we are talking about the semiconductor crisis or the seizure of supply chains, 2021 was the year in which e-commerce expanded and we exceeded the 6 billion euro turnover generated by this sector in Romania. I am convinced that there are sellers who would have sold much more if the economy, as a whole, had not faced these obstacles”, says Florinel Chiş, ARMO Executive Director.
According to the estimations of the main players on the market, Romanian e-commerce will move forward in this consolidation and slight growth stage, closing in to reaching the 7 billion euro threshold at the end of 2022.
For 17 years, GPeC has been promoting the e-commerce sector in Romania, growing the largest community dedicated to online shops and organizing the main events dedicated to online commerce. Among others, GPeC centralizes the data and publishes the yearly Romanian E-Commerce Report.
Here are the main numbers, statistics and estimates for 2021.
Romania in the European context: internet users and online shoppers
According to the latest Eurostat report published in January 2022, 88% of Romanians used the Internet at least once in 2021, up from 85% in 2020.
44% of internet users made at least one online purchase in 2021, the percentage being 1% lower than in 2020, but – overall – the number of online shoppers has increased, given the growth of the internet base. Of the EU countries, Romania is followed only by Bulgaria with 42% of online shoppers out of total internet users.
If we refer to the entire population of Romania in the 16-74 age range (not only to internet users), 38% shopped online in 2021, a significant increase from 23% as a percentage in 2019 before the pandemic, which demonstrates the impact of the covid health crisis on the accelerated growth of the e-commerce sector.
However, Romania is at the bottom of the ranking compared to the European average where 66% of the population (16-74 years old) shopped online in 2021, which shows the great potential for growth of the Romanian e-commerce sector in the coming years.
On the age range of 16-74 years, top rankers are:
- Norway (92% of population shopped online at least once in 2021)
- Denmark (91%)
- Netherlands (89%)
- Sweden, Ireland (87%)
- Iceland (85%)
What did Europeans buy online in 2021
According to Eurostat, the 6 main categories of products and services sold online in 2021 at European level were (multiple choice question, therefore the percentages exceed 100%):
- 68% (+ 4% vs. 2020) – Clothing (including sportswear, footwear and accessories)
- 31% (+ 2% vs. 2020) – Food deliveries from restaurants, fast food, catering services
- 29% (+ 1% vs. 2020) – Furniture and home and garden accessories
- 27% (similar to 2020) – Cosmetics and beauty and wellness products
- 25% (-2% vs. 2020) – Printed books, magazines and newspapers
- 24% (in ranking vs. 2020) – Sporting goods (excluding sportswear)
The following categories are next in ranking of online shopping at European level:
- Computers, tablets, mobile phones and IT accessories
- Children’s toys or baby items
- Food supplements, pharma products, vitamins, diet products (online prescription renewals not included)
- Specialty food and beverage stores
- Electronics and home appliances
- Cleaning and personal hygiene products
- Auto & Moto (including spare parts)
- Movies and series on DVDs, Blu-ray, etc.
- Music on CD, Vinyl, etc.
Purchase frequency and money spent online by Europeans
One third of all European online shoppers have made up to 5 purchases in the last 3 months, while 15% of them have bought online more than 10 times.
People in the 25-54 age group are frequent buyers: 6 to 10 purchases (17%) and even more than 10 purchases (18%) made in the last 3 months.
Young people (16-24 years old) and seniors (55-74 years old) limited themselves to 1-2 online purchases in the last 3 months.
According to Eurostat, 4 out of 10 online shoppers have spent between €100 and €500 on online purchases in the last 3 months.
In general, young people (16-24 years old) spend less (less than 100 euros), while people in the 24-54 age group spend mostly between 100 and 500 euros, while 11% of them spend between 500 and 999 euros. Another 9% of them spend over 1,000 euros on online shopping.
As a general trend for all age groups (including seniors), budgets spent online that exceed 500 euros in the last 3 months are less popular.
The most common issues with online shopping
According to the Eurostat study, 63% of European online shoppers said they did not encounter any problems or difficulties when shopping online. The percentage is down from 71% in 2020.
The main issues identified by European consumers were (multiple choice question):
- 22% (+ 5% vs. 2020) – delayed deliveries
- 10% (+ 2% vs. 2020) – difficult to use website (UX issues) and functionality issues
- 8% (similar to 2020) – received other products than they had ordered or received damaged products
- 6% (+ 2% vs. 2020) – encountered difficulties in finding information about product warranty or consumers’ legal rights
- 5% (similar to 2020) – encountered difficulties in making a complaint or did not receive a satisfactory response to the issues reported
- 4% (similar to 2020) – encountered problems with foreign online shops that did not sell products in the consumer’s home country
- 3% (similar to 2020) – complain about higher final costs than originally indicated on online shops websites
- 3% (similar to 2020) – other issues (products or services were not delivered at all, misuse of card data, etc.)
The main reasons why European consumers did not buy online were (multiple choice question):
- 18% – prefer offline shopping (to see the product before or out of habit)
- 14% – did not need to buy online
- 6% – have concerns about payments or personal data security
- 5% – consider that they do not have the necessary skills to buy online
- 5% – have concerns about returning the goods and recovering the money they paid
- 3% – have concerns about delivery costs
- 3% – have concerns about the reliability or speed of delivery services
32% of European consumers buy online from cross-border sellers, two percentage points growth compared to 2020, which demonstrates the appetite for shopping within a single European market, outside the geographical limits of each state.
“Romanian online shops should take full advantage of the European single market and start selling to consumers outside the country, either through marketplace platforms or by locating their own website in other countries. It is not very complicated and there are courier companies covering the whole of Europe at competitive prices or fulfillment companies that can help shops throughout the supply chain to ensure fast deliveries in many European countries “, says Andrei Radu, CEO & Founder GPeC.
E-Commerce in Romania 2021 – Average Order Value on Desktop and Mobile
According to statistics from 2Performant, the average value of online transactions slightly increased in 2021 compared to 2020, both for purchases made from the desktop and for those made on the mobile phone.
On average*, Romanians spent 66.67 euros on online desktop shopping in 2021, compared to 61.5 euros in 2020.
Regarding mobile transactions, the average order value was 46.47 euros in 2021 compared to 43.5 euros in 2020.
* The above average values do not include VAT and an average annual exchange rate of EUR 1 = 4.9204 RON in 2021 has been taken into account.
The average order on desktop is still higher than on mobile, which indicates that Romanians make more important purchases in terms of price on the desktop.
How much did the Romanians spend on different product categories?
In general, the average order increased in most product categories except toys and baby items, as well as pharmaceuticals where there were very slight decreases in both desktop and mobile.
Invariably, on all product categories the average order is higher when the transaction is made from the desktop compared to the tablet or mobile phone.
Average order values by different categories in 2021, depending on the device from which the purchase was made (EUR, excluding VAT):
- Auto & Moto – 226.37 euros on Desktop (160.1 euros in 2020) and 150.7 euros on Mobile (136.1 euros in 2020)
- Electro-IT & C – 161.1 euros on Desktop (157.4 euros in 2020) and 120.86 euros on Mobile (113.5 euros in 2020)
- Home and Garden – 163.9 euros on Desktop (130.5 euros in 2020) and 142.25 euros on Mobile (105.7 euros in 2020)
- Sports & Outdoor activities – 71.9 euros on Desktop (71.2 euros in 2020) and 56.05 euros on Mobile (56.4 euros in 2020)
- Baby items & Toys – 66.8 euros on Desktop (71.2 euros in 2020) and 49.57 euros on Mobile (54.6 euros in 2020)
- Fashion – 54.23 euros on Desktop (45.9 euros in 2020) and 46.64 euros on Mobile (39.3 euros in 2020)
- Pet Shop – 54.98 euros on Desktop (44.7 euros in 2020) and 36.68 euros on Mobile (36.9 euros in 2020)
- Beauty – 46.16 euros on Desktop (40.6 euros in 2020) and 33.63 euros on Mobile (32.8 euros in 2020)
- Health & Personal Care – 48.04 euros on Desktop (40.1 euros in 2020) and 39.14 euros on Mobile (31.2 euros in 2020)
- Adult – 43.38 euros on Desktop (39.4 euros in 2020) and 30.01 euros on Mobile (26.8 euros in 2020)
- Pharma – 31.87 euros on Desktop (37.9 euros in 2020) and 26.61 euros on Mobile (24.9 euros in 2020)
- Books, Movies and Music – 30.88 euros on Desktop (28.9 euros in 2020) and 26.12 euros on Mobile (23.6 euros in 2020)
- Others – 30.23 euros on Desktop (58.9 euros in 2020) and 26.47 euros on Mobile (46.2 euros in 2020)
According to 2Performant statistics, in terms of the number of transactions, the 3 most important categories that registered significant increases in 2021 compared to 2020 were:
- Fashion – an increase of 26% year-on-year, most transactions being made from Mobile
- Books, Movies and Music – 25% increase, with transactions balanced between Desktop and Mobile
- Beauty – 11% increase
Mobile phones drive traffic and online orders
Even though the average order value is lower on mobile than on desktop, the number of online orders placed on mobile phones is significantly higher than the number of transactions made on desktop, and the difference has increased in 2021 compared to 2020.
Thus, 69.8% of all transactions were made from mobile, increasing from 65.6% as recorded in 2020. The difference of 30.2% are transactions made from desktop.
In general, wherever detailed product research is required or the price is higher or more similar products are compared, the share of mobile transactions tends to decrease in favor of desktop.
On the other hand, when it comes to impulse shopping, which does not necessarily require a thorough documentation of the product or a long time in making the purchase decision, Romanians buy online mainly from their mobile phones.
Romanian online shops traffic is generated in proportion to 75.5% by mobile devices, increasing from 71.9% in 2020. In the case of experienced online shops surveyed by GPeC, the traffic generated by mobile phones reaches up to 85%.
In terms of value, mobile surpasses desktop: in total, 61.7% of the order values in Romanian e-commerce comes from transactions made by phone and only 38.3% by desktop, even if the average order value is smaller on mobile than on desktop. The percentage is increasing compared to 2020 when 57.4% of the value of e-commerce transactions was generated from the mobile phone.
Average conversion rate exceeded 2%
In the case of online shops in the 2Performant network, the average conversion rate is higher on desktop than on mobile, but this has increased in 2021 on both types of devices as follows:
- Desktop – from 2.26% in 2020 to 2.5% in 2021
- Mobile – from 1.68% in 2020 to 1.88% in 2021
If we make an average between the conversion rate on desktop and the conversion rate on mobile, it would result in an average conversion rate of 2.19% for online shops in the 2Performant network.
It should be noted, however, that the average conversion rate can vary significantly both upwards and downwards depending on many factors such as (but not limited to): the notoriety of the online store, the vertical of which it belongs, loyalty programs, marketing campaigns, customer retention or cart abandonment campaigns etc.
Times when most online shopping occurs
Traffic increases proportionally during the morning on mobile and on desktop, but, while on mobile it continues to increase progressively after 11:00 AM, on desktop it starts to decrease starting with this time. On mobile, the peak traffic is reached between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM.
On desktop, most sales are made between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM, and on mobile between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM, keeping the 2020 trend.
The transactions with the highest values are made from mobile between 9:00 PM and 10:00 PM, and from desktop between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM.
The days of the week with the most transactions are from Monday to Wednesday, the number of transactions decreasing from Thursday to Saturday, only to increase again starting on Sunday evening. The trend is visible for both mobile and desktop transactions.
In 2021, the highest e-commerce order values were registered on Mondays, while Saturdays were on the opposite pole.
The purchase decision is made in 60% of cases within the first hour after the click, and in 4.6% of cases within the first 24 hours after the click.
29,000 merchants on the eMAG Marketplace platform
According to the data provided by eMAG for GPeC, at the end of December 2021, in the eMAG Marketplace platform were registered approx. 29,000 active online merchants, a significant increase from 23,000 in December 2020.
It should be noted, however, that not all merchants who choose to sell online through marketplaces or ad platforms also have their own online shop, so it is difficult to estimate the number of independent online shops in Romania.
According to information provided by eMAG officials, the top product categories with the most transactions recorded in the Marketplace platform were:
- Mobile phones accessories and services – 51.9 lei* in 2021 vs. 52 lei in 2020
- Toys – 111 lei in 2021 vs. 130.2 lei in 2020
- Household products – 96.7 lei in 2021 vs. 103.8 lei in 2020
- Personal care products – 126.3 lei in 2021 vs. 137 lei in 2020
- Medical supplies – 80.9 lei in 2021 vs. 132.1 lei in 2020
* Average order values in lei, excluding VAT
In terms of generated volumes, the top 5 verticals were:
- Mobile phones – 965.5 lei in 2021 vs. 874.5 lei in 2020
- Furniture – 488.4 lei in 2021 vs. 480.5 lei in 2020
- Small appliances – 202.5 lei in 2021 vs. 220 lei in 2020
- Large appliances – 833.5 lei in 2021 vs. 760.9 lei in 2020
- Toys – 111 lei in 2021 vs. 130.2 lei in 2020
From the trends analyzed by eMAG Marketplace representatives, the verticals with significant growth potential in 2022 are Fashion, Home and Groceries.
In terms of consumer behavior, eMAG officials believe that delivery to lockers is a trend that will intensify in 2022 and further. The representatives of FAN Courier are of the same opinion, claiming that the lockers will be the defining aspect of Romanian e-commerce in the coming years.
Romanian online commerce from the perspective of couriers
According to data provided by FAN Courier for GPeC, the number of e-commerce deliveries has increased, on average, by 12% in 2021 compared to 2020.
For FAN Courier, the month with the highest number of shipments was November 2021 with a total of 7,250,000 shipments, and February 2021 was the month with the lowest number of shipments, 4,750,000 respectively. Historically, the trend has been maintained in recent years, even if the numbers are different (increasing) from one year to another.
As of Black Friday (November 2021), the number of deliveries has increased by 15% compared to Black Friday 2020, reaching approx. 4,700,000 shipments made by FAN Courier for this event alone.
The top product categories that recorded significant increases in 2021 are – in this order – Fashion, Food Supplements and Home & Deco, while the IT&C vertical decreased in 2021 compared to 2020.
Verticals on a growing trend: Pharma, Fashion, Pet Food and Furniture.
According to FAN Courier, the main trends for online commerce in the coming years are:
- Expanding locker networks and significantly increasing this delivery method to customer preferences
- Further development of Click & Collect services, which grew by 600% in just two years (2019 and 2020)
- Development of Social Commerce and Live Shopping
- Ultra-fast delivery through micro-fulfillment centers (dark stores) that allow deliveries in 15-30 minutes over short distances (1-2 km proximity to the dark store)
- Growing Direct D2C (Direct To Consumer) Online Commerce
- Sustainability and eco-friendly online commerce
iSense Solutions 2021 study for GPeC: Online consumer behavior in Romania
During 2021, the market research company iSense Solutions conducted a quantitative survey on a sample of 3,138 respondents, internet users aged between 18 and 60, a representative sample at the urban level.
According to the study, the main criteria by which consumers choose the online shops to buy from are (multiple choice question):
- 80% – the best price
- 73% – having various delivery methods
- 69% – delivery time as short as possible
- 68% – the possibility to easily return products
- 68% – ease of website navigation / UX
- 63% – fast refunds
- 57% – the possibility to choose the delivery interval
- 56% – customer loyalty programs
- 49% – the notoriety of the online shop
- 44% – recommendations from friends / acquaintances
In addition to domestic online shopping, 22%* of the respondents also bought from online stores in China last year, down from 27% in 2020. Also, 21%* bought from online shops on the European mainland and only 5%* from US stores (*multiple choice question).
The main reasons why Romanians choose to buy from abroad are (multiple choice question):
- 85% – better prices
- 24% – products that are not available in Romania
- 15% – the perception that the shops are more reliable than those in Romania
Before placing an order, 53% of all study respondents are actively looking for reviews about the online shop they are going to buy from.
Regarding the product return process, Romanians want (multiple answer):
- 76% – free returns
- 74% – fast refunds
- 69% – easy return procedure
- 29% – no paperwork required
- 18% – to be able to return to the physical store, if any
- 17% – to be able to return to the locker
The report can be taken over and published only with the mention of the source: GPeC and link to https://www.gpec.ro/
The sources of figures and market estimates published in this report are (in alphabetical order): 2Performant, ARMO, eMAG, Eurostat, GPeC, iSense Solutions, and the online shops contestants from the GPeC Competition 2019-2020-2021.
Copyright: GPeC 2022