At the end of 2010 there were 10,000 online shops operating in Poland, with this number growing by 30 % each year. At least in terms of e-commerce market growth, Poland can claim to be the number one in Europe. As for its total value, the gap between it and the most developed countries, such as Great Britain or France, is still enormous.
According to research firm ResearchFarm, the value of Polish e-commerce (spending in online shops and auction sites excluding tickets or similar services) in 2010 was € 3.3 billion, or €424 per year per household. In 2015, these figures are expected to increase to €5.9 billion and €521 respectively.
The decline in turnover through traditional trade channels may be an additional motivation for large Polish retailers to seek new opportunities and customers on the Internet, reports the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita. The costs of launching an online shop are comparable with those of opening a regular store, involving a similar amount of time to set one up. However, they provide the additional opportunity to reach customers that have no access to a company’s physical store. In addition, companies can now secure their position in a rapidly growing market, says Piotr Jarosz, analyst at the e-commerce site Sklepy24.pl.
The market leader in the Polish e-commerce sector is the retailer Empik Media & Fashion, which has achieved huge revenues through its online channel despite intense competition from a.o. Merlin. Childrens warehouse Smyk is ready for launch in November, while rumour has it that Romans is also planning a webshop within the next few months.
Over the past few years, a large number of international companies, including Auchan and Zara owner Inditex, have expanded their business by opening online shops in Poland. The British retailer Tesco will follow shortly. Industry circles report that even global market leader Amazon is planning a move into the Polish market by the beginning of next year.
On the Internet, customer loyalty is relatively low – a better offer on a competitor’s site is always just a click away. Perhaps that is the major reason why Polish companies are moving onto the web at the moment – enjoying the benefits of trust and brand awareness while they can before being confronted by the might of international competitors like Amazon.