Millions of consumers at your fingertips: why is it worth to trade with neighbors?

The low saturation with online stores and the relatively low activity of international e-commerce giants in the markets neighboring with Poland means that they can become a natural direction of expansion for native e-commerce. PayU data shows that currently only about 7% of cross-border sales of Polish online stores are directed to neighboring countries from Central Europe. The vast majority of e-entrepreneurs mainly export to the West – as much as 35% of goods sent abroad finds its way onto British and German markets.

In the coming years, we will witness the fight for nearly 40 million of non-online consumers from Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. Polish e-commerce with a great technological background and many mature online stores has all the resources at its hand to develop and manage this group – says Joanna Pieńkowska-Olczak, PayU Country Manager in Poland.

Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia are also one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in Europe. According to forecasts, by 2021 it will have increased by several dozen percent in each of these countries (as compared to 2016). In Romania, its value is supposed to be practically doubled (96%), in Hungary it may grow by 70%, in Slovakia – by 58%, and in the Czech Republic – by 42%. Polish e-commerce in 2017 was worth 5.92 billion EUR (an increase of 11% as compared to 2016), and by 2021 is supposed to increase by 65% ​​up to 8.73 billion EUR.

Few stores, many niches to manage

The rivalry on the Central European markets will be much easier than on the western ones as a result of smaller competition. In Romania and Hungary there are four times fewer online stores per inhabitant than in Germany or Great Britain. The exception is the Czech Republic, where the market is more saturated than in the West.

Due to the smaller number of online stores, consumers in CE and Romania have access to a relatively narrower range of products, which may be an opportunity for Polish entrepreneurs for faster cross-border development, both those entrepreneurs offering popular products (mainstream), as well as specialized or niche products.

Customers – boom in CE and Romania, but all is quiet on the Western front

In Western Europe, the number of online shoppers is gradually reaching natural limits. Last year, it increased by only 1% in the United Kingdom, while in Germany it decreased slightly. In Central Europe and the Balkan countries, the trend is completely opposite. The relatively small number of online buyers translates into its rapid annual increases: in Romania by 1/3 (up to 16%), and in the Czech Republic by 1/5 (up to 56%). E-customers entering the market do not have specific preferences and shopping habits, so it is worth to offer them products and fight for their loyalty.

According to PayU data, consumers from neighboring countries and Romania are also attractive in terms of the value of shopping baskets. Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak customers spend an average of 54.13 EUR on one-off online shopping, which is 40% more than Poles, whose average basket value is around 32.37 EUR.

The study was based on data from the following sources: PayU, Eurostat, Statista, APEK, Bisnode,, GPeC, Ecommerce News.

PayU is one of the leading online payment providers in Central and Eastern Europe. In Poland and Romania, it is a market leader, while in the Czech Republic it has the strongest position among all non-bank payment service providers for e-commerce. PayU is responsible for the area of financial technologies of ​​Naspers Ltd.