June 11, 2013, 2:01 PM

A European union of big web merchants

The 100 biggest retailers accounted for 80% of all 2012 Europe 500 sales.

Lead Photo

Big online retailers are capturing an outsize share of the growth in Europe, even as the Europe 500 grows only slightly faster than e-commerce as a whole. In 2012 the total sales for all merchants ranked in the Europe 500 grew year over year 17% to $122.74 billion (93.64 billion euros). In comparison in 2012 European e-commerce grew 16.0% to an estimated $302.20 billion (232.17 billion euros), says research firm Centre for Retail Research.

However, Europe 500 sales are heavily weighted toward the biggest retailers. The top 100 merchants in the Europe 500 accounted for 80.3%—$98.61 billion (75.24 billion euros)—of Europe 500 sales. And the top 10—Amazon (U.S.), Otto (Germany), Staples Inc. (U.S.), Home Retail Group (United Kingdom), Tesco (U.K.),  Apple Inc. (U.S.),  CDiscount.com (France), Tengelmann (Germany),  Shop Direct Group (U.K.) and Sainsburys (U.K.)—account for 37%, or $45.36 billion. In comparison, the top 10 retailers increased sales 20.7% from about $98.61 billion in 2011 and accounted for about 38% of 2011 Europe 500 sales. Those top Europe 500 players are seeking to use the e-commerce infrastructure and assets they have built to grow, including in the faster-growing regions for online sales, such as Southern and Eastern Europe. A case in point is the leader in e-commerce in Europe as well as North America: Amazon.

With European web sales that grew year over 19.4% to $16.11 billion (12.36 billion euros), Amazon alone accounts for 5.3% of all European e-commerce sales and 13.1% of web sales for the Europe 500. With a network of 22 distribution centers in Europe, Amazon has placed product near many of the largest markets, making it easy for the big e-retailer to offer shoppers in the U.K. and Germany, its two biggest markets, a free one-month trial of Amazon Prime.  In Great Britain that offer includes free one-day shipping on all orders, free access to 300,000 downloadable books available on Kindle tablets and electronic book readers and a growing list of perks for an annual fee of $95 (49 pounds).

And Amazon is on the move. In addition to the localized e-commerce sites it already operated for the United Kingdom, Germany and France, the U.S. e-retailer in 2012 launched new e-commerce sites for Italy and Spain. And with the opening of two new distribution centers in late 2012 in southern France and in Madrid, Amazon is rapidly expanding its ability to reach new customers in emerging markets in southern Europe such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, says long-time Amazon.com observer and ChannelAdvisor Corp. CEO Scot Wingo. “They’ve been in the big Western European countries since the 1990s and that’s given them a long time to develop a technology, fulfillment and customer service infrastructure that they are now leveraging across the continent,” Wingo says. “Amazon has waited for the rest of Europe to catch up with them, and now it is.”

More on these and other metrics and analysis is contained in the 2013 Internet Retailer Europe 500.

The 2013 Europe 500 is available in three formats: print, digital and as part of the all-new and completely updated Top500Guide.com. Information on how to order the new 2013 Europe 500 is available here.

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