According to a recent study by Mintel, an independent marketing research firm based in London, European online retail sales will double to €323 billion by 2018. The leading countries driving this retail growth are the UK, Germany and France, with Southern European countries falling behind.

Another interesting conclusion from the research is that the British are exceptional online grocery shoppers: Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury are represented in the European top 10 with a market share of 2.3%, 1.1% and 0.9%. Clearly physical convenience stores just aren’t convenient enough any more. Shoppers at these supermarkets prefer to order their groceries in advance and collect them in-store, skipping long queues and busy aisles.

Companies have found digital marketing channels to be the most promising avenue of growth, using paid advertising, email marketing, search marketing and even text messaging to drive visitors to online stores. The efficacy of these strategies lends itself perfectly to seasonal sales opportunities and ad hoc campaigns, whilst the application of ‘big data’ helps increase sales volume and customer value.

With the festive season now looming, we’re expecting to see considerable growth in online retail against 2012, with increasing transactions from mobile devices and better offers for consumers (such as free delivery).

What we also expect is more competition for small and medium sized ecommerce websites as more and more traditional brick-and-mortar companies bring their trade online…