Sales in cross-border retail rise to over 115 billion euros – eCommerce Magazin


Amazon and eBay recorded the majority of sales in 2020 with 44.3 and 22.8 billion euros respectively, which corresponds to more than half of the total market volume. The top 100 cross-border online marketplaces achieved a turnover of 100 billion euros in Europe. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the marketplaces recorded high sales growth of 37.5 percent, which was due, among other things, to the success of C2C marketplaces. It is expected that this development will continue this year and that 65 percent of cross-border online purchases in Europe will be on marketplaces by 2025. The study was conducted by CBCommerce carried out with the support of FedEx Express and Worldline.

Online marketplaces: Ranking based on eight parameters

The ranking is based on the evaluation of four higher-level parameters:

  • Cross-border online sales in Europe (28 European countries including UK, Switzerland and Norway)
  • SEO indicators for cross-border performance
  • Cross-border score, depending on the number of countries covered
  • Number and percentage cross-border site visits

The ranking is refined on the basis of four further, subordinate parameters:

  • Type of business model: B2C, B2B, C2C, P2P
  • Europe-wide brand strategy of the market place
  • AI and big data strategy of the market place
  • Type and number of service offers to the marketplace customers

The study takes into account all types of online marketplaces such as B2C, B2B, C2C and P2P as well as all industries except travel. The sharing economy is also excluded. According to the methodology described, the most successful of the cross-border online marketplaces in Europe were identified for 2020. The globally active top 10 marketplaces are:

  1. eBay (USA)
  2. AliExpress (China)
  3. Amazon (USA)
  4. Etsy (USA)
  5. Vinted (Lithuania)
  6. OLX (The Netherlands)
  7. Wish (USA)
  8. Discogs (USA)
  9. Zalando (Germany)
  10. Uber Eats (USA)

Online marketplaces: Second hand platforms have been very successful

Several trends for 2020 can be seen from the newcomers and climbers in the top 10. Platforms that focus on C2C second-hand sales achieved great success. OLX, a new addition to the top 10 ranking, operates classified ads websites in several European countries. Vinted, Europe’s largest online C2C marketplace for second-hand fashion, was able to improve its ranking by two places compared to the previous year.

It is estimated that second-hand sales will be 1.5 times larger than fast fashion by 2028. Second hand items will make up 11 percent of an average wardrobe. Millennials and Generation Z are driving this development forward, because 18 to 37-year-olds buy 2.5 times more used goods than all other age groups. The C2C share of second-hand goods will increase from 43 percent to 50 percent.

CBCommerce online marketplaces
The turnover of cross-border e-commerce in Europe with online marketplaces will reach 115.4 billion euros in 2020. (Graphic: CBCommerce)

Zalando rose to become a cross-border fashion platform

Zalando achieved a remarkable rise. The company, which can now be found in the top 10 ranking, is the strongest European fashion marketplace that operates across borders. In the 2020 financial year, Zalando generated sales of 10.6 billion euros, with Europe-wide cross-border retail accounting for over five billion euros, i.e. a growth of 30.4 percent. The active customer base grew by 25 percent to 38.7 million users last year. Zalando is now pursuing the goal of conquering ten percent of the European fashion market.

Benefiting from the corona pandemic, the top 100 cross-border marketplaces in Europe achieved a record turnover of 100 billion euros in 2020. This corresponds to an increase of 37.5 percent over the course of the year. The growth in the fourth quarter of 2020 was particularly strong for the marketplaces of the omnichannel retailers (plus 44 percent over the course of the year) and the C2C marketplaces (plus 50 percent over the course of the year). The market share of the TOP 100 marketplaces makes up 86.5 percent of the total turnover in the marketplace segment.