The Q1 Shopping Index, which analyzes the shopping activity of half a billion global consumers, revealed some interesting findings during the first three months of the year — consumer spending boosted global growth, in part thanks to AI-powered recommendations from Salesforce Einstein, which drove 26% higher average order values.
Our data uncovered three top learnings about European shopping in Q1 2019:
Traffic declined but orders grew
Digital commerce in Europe grew 9% YoY in the first three months of the year, weighed by slower growth across some mature markets. Overall traffic declined 2%, partly due to declines in traffic in the UK, Germany, and France.
Orders kept pace, however. There was a 12% growth in digital orders in Q1 2019, in line with growth seen in the same period last year and comparable to 15% global growth. Growth was led, in part, by the Nordics and Spain.
Mobile shift drives growth in the Nordics
Indeed, it wasn’t all doom and gloom in Europe. Retailers in the Nordics saw digital commerce grow 25% YoY in Q1 2019, making it the fastest growing region globally — a status that has been consistent over the last five quarters (except for Q4 2018). Traffic grew 17% and orders leapt even further ahead with growth of 38%.
Of course, this healthy pace of growth is likely driven by the region’s rapid transition toward a more digital economy, helped in part by the relatively recent shift to mobile in the Nordics.
Interestingly, our data shows that average discount rates in the Nordics declined 14% YoY to 25% and free shipping rates on orders dropped to 47%, down from 55% in the same period last year. To put it another way, Nordic retailers are growing despite cutbacks on promotional tactics.
Free shipping is now the norm in Spain
Meanwhile, when it comes to cutting back on tactics to entice online purchases, the reverse seems somewhat true for Spain, which saw the second most digital commerce growth globally at 22%.
Traffic increased 7% and orders grew 33% with a notable 85% of those orders shipped free of charge — compared to the global average of 67%. This has been the trend for at least the last six quarters and indicates that free shipping is the norm in Spain — a likely result of Amazon’s effect on consumer delivery expectations. Amazon is doubling down in Spain, having tripled its employees there last year, which means consumer expectations for free shipping in the region is unlikely to go anywhere soon.
So with free shipping now commonplace, it seems increasingly important for Spanish retailers to find new ways to differentiate themselves. One such way could be to invest in new technologies such as AI, to personalize the shopping experience and help drive greater engagement with customers — that should go some way toward winning over the 64% of shoppers who feel that retailers don’t truly know them.
For more data-driven insights, check out the interactive drill-down of our Q1 Shopping Index. The data gathered on 500 million digital shoppers, from such key markets as the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Australia/New Zealand, Spain, and the Nordics, makes for a rich source of insight and trend.