FECIF - The European Federation of Financial Advisers and Financial Intermediaries

Editorial - September 2022

Vincent DerudderVincent Derudder
Honorary Chairman & Board member

European e-commerce continues to grow

Despite consumer caution about spending – because of the war in Ukraine, uncontrolled inflation, disruption of global chain supplies and a general sense of uncertainty leading to pre-pandemic level growth – e-commerce has continued to grow in 2021 in Europe and it looks like it will be the same this year and in 2023…

In 2021, e-commerce reached €718 billion in Europe alone. More than 73% of the five hundred million European Internet users bought online in 2021, a market of more than 350 million potential buyers. E-commerce already represents 15% of retail trade (to be combined also with the acceleration of home deliveries and click and collect).

Furthermore, for the past 2 years of Covid, e-commerce has allowed many potential local, closed physical businesses to maintain activity.

On average, marketplaces grew twice as fast in 2020 than in 2019.

The boom of affinity marketplaces

Purchases are made on e-commerce websites such as Amazon or Cdiscount, which connect Internet users with a multitude of suppliers in different fields. Amazon concentrates 5% of European e-commerce with €32.2 billion in turnover. Smaller players Otto (€7 billion) follows Amazon, then Zalando (€6.5 billion), Apple (€5.75 billion), Tesco (€4.8 billion), Veepee (€4 billion) and Carrefour (€3.1 billion).

About 15% of online purchases are made on marketplaces (sales made on behalf of third parties).

Although generalist marketplaces (which sell all types of products) still represent most purchases on the Internet, for many years we have noticed the rise of affinity marketplaces, i.e., marketplaces dedicated to a specific community of Internet users (members of a trade association, business or leisure clubs, regional power, etc.). The rise of this type of e-commerce sites is concomitant with the explosion of the number of associations regarded as truly representing the interests of the people better than political institutions, and, in general, with a trend towards grouping by area of interest with structures created and organized by area of interest. This trend has been increased by the development of social networks over the last ten years.

The affinity marketplace: an advantage for everyone

Marketplaces involve three types of actors for whom it brings real advantages:

- The member of the affinity community who will have access to a multitude of products and services that truly fit its center of interest. Internet users go to marketplaces both to specifically find a product or service they need, but also increasingly to discover new products and services about which they did not know.

- Sellers who will be able to reach Internet users that fit with their core target. Sellers no longer want to be drowned in the middle of unrelated products; they want to protect their brand image. For example, a major luxury brand does not want to appear next to a very mainstream brand.

- The audience editor that creates the marketplace will secure a new source of income and a way to retain its community captive. The business model of marketplaces is to take a percentage of the transactions conducted on its site. An association with its own marketplace will be able to monetize its membership base and provide it with new services. In addition, the association will generate more traffic on its site, which will allow it to better negotiate with its partners by bringing them more audience.

It is possible to find all kinds of products on these affinity marketplaces even if some products (travel, leisure, novelties...) and some services (software, financial products and services, recruitment...) work better. It all depends on the community that is targeted: an association for the protection of pets will have every interest in offering products related to this sector, while an association such as FECIF will most certainly promote economic management software or financial investment products.

Finally, the last interest of these new affinity marketplaces for the Internet user is to have a trusted third party that he or she knows since they are already a member of this “club.” They will therefore be more inclined to buy safely in this known marketplace.

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