Research (supported by the Polish Internet Research [Polskie Badania Internetu – PBI]) indicates that e-commerce in Poland has been growing rapidly for several years now. There is no indication that this growth is going to slow down.
It seems that we will not be facing weakening consumer demand in the Polish market, but rather we can expect further growth prospects. This article is primarily concerned with the state of e-commerce in Poland and the development opportunities for CBEC (Cross-Border E-Commerce) and foreign entrepreneurs in this market.
Let’s therefore examine the main trends and challenges associated with e-commerce that shape the contemporary landscape of electronic commerce in Poland.
Table of contents:
- What is e-commerce in Poland and worldwide?
- How many Poles shop online?
- Who shops online in Poland?
- The Polish e-commerce market and the most popular product categories
- Shopping behavior – desktop or mobile?
- Preferred delivery methods
- Marketplace platforms popular in Poland
- Payment methods preferred by Polish customers
- AI and e-commerce in Poland
- The future of CBEC in the Polish market
- Why is e-commerce so popular among Poles?
- The value of the e-commerce market in Poland
E-commerce – in Poland and worldwide
Defined as the process of buying and selling goods and services over the internet, e-commerce revolutionizes traditional concepts of trade, providing customers with access to products and services without leaving their homes.
In Poland, as in other countries, e-commerce is developing at a lightning pace, transforming the way consumers shop and how businesses conduct their operations. Thanks to access to a wide range of products, the convenience of online shopping, and diverse payment methods, e-commerce in Poland is becoming not only a popular but also a dynamically growing industry.
Moreover, cross-border e-commerce, as highlighted in the report by E-izba, allows Polish companies to expand into foreign markets and beyond. It is also an opportunity for entrepreneurs from abroad to present themselves to Polish customers.
How many Poles shop online?
Out of the Polish population of 37.6 million, a staggering 30 million individuals are active internet users. According to the e-commerce report in Poland 2023 conducted by Gemius, about 80% of Polish internet users have made at least one transaction within the realm of electronic commerce.
Within this group, 75% of users make purchases from Polish stores, but a remarkable 30% opt for international offers. This indicates that European and global e-shops have the opportunity to attract the attention of Polish internet users.
It’s worth mentioning that a significant 19% of surveyed Poles indicated that they make purchases through social media platforms.
Who shops online in Poland?
It’s worth noting that both men and women make online purchases in Poland, with women having a slight edge. Therefore, the Polish e-commerce market is a space for offerings targeted to both men and women.
The most eager online shoppers are residents of large cities with higher education and well-performing households. The age groups 35-49 and 50+ are the most active in online shopping. It’s primarily these age groups that businesses should target with their e-commerce offerings, as they represent the largest demographic groups.
What about the younger groups of customers in Poland? The age group 25-34 constitutes 17% of online buyers, while the youngest consumer group aged 15-24 makes up 15%.
Most popular product categories
When Poles go shopping online, they prefer to buy the following product categories:
- Cosmetics and perfumes;
- Books and CDs;
- Pharmaceuticals and medicines;
- Consumer electronics and home appliances.
Shopping behavior – desktop or mobile?
In the e-commerce industry, the importance of mobile devices has been steadily increasing for years. That’s why there is a necessity to create responsive websites that will function efficiently and conveniently on smartphones during online shopping.
How does this look in practice?
Research conducted in the Polish market indicates that in 2023, as many as 79% of customers make purchases online using mobile devices. Of course, the youngest age group constitutes the largest portion of mobile device users.
Following smartphones (69%), laptops rank second as the device of choice, followed by desktop computers (38%). Tablets or e-book readers are much further down the list of preferences.
This clearly indicates that the smartphone in the digital space is becoming the dominant tool used for shopping among Polish consumers.
Preferred delivery methods
Observing the Polish online retail market, we clearly see the dominance of one type of delivery method.
Parcel locker services, such as Inpost or Orlen Paczka, are the first choice for the majority of consumers (82% of customers prefer and choose this form of delivery for online purchases). Classic courier services rank second (42%), followed by pick-up points (18%).
Why is parcel locker delivery so popular in Poland? For years, this solution has been gaining more and more supporters, leading to an increase in the number of locations with parcel lockers. The wide availability of points, 24/7 access, and speedy delivery make parcel lockers the most desirable delivery option.
In e-commerce, there is significant pressure on delivery times, and customers simultaneously strive for maximum convenience and the best shopping experience.
It’s also undeniable that considerable emphasis is placed on delivery costs. Currently, the most cost-effective option is delivery to pick-up points or parcel lockers.
Polish consumers, in light of rampant inflation (but not only), value the most budget-friendly solutions. Free delivery becomes one of the options in many stores (after reaching a certain value of the shopping basket).
The situation is similar when it comes to returning ordered goods. If a Polish consumer wants to return a package, they prefer to do so through a parcel locker. The second choice is returning the goods via courier.
Shopping through marketplaces
In Poland, there is undoubtedly a strong preference for using marketplace-type services. Many Poles, regardless of gender or age, take their first steps in online shopping on such platforms.
These spaces are deeply rooted in the consumer consciousness in Poland. Interestingly, until recently, mainly local platforms (such as Allegro, OLX, etc.) were leading the way, but now there is a growing popularity of services with global reach (e.g. Amazon, Aliexpress etc.).
The leader in the category of marketplace is Allegro, and according to Polish Internet Research, it excels both in terms of the number of users and the time spent on the platform.
Marketplace services are supported by special advertising systems (e.g. Allegro Ads), allowing businesses to reach potential customers even more precisely within the platform and beyond it.
An interesting aspect is the issue of social media commerce, where 39% of people make purchases through marketplaces (53% purchase through social media via direct contact with the seller or visiting an e-store).
Respondents say they use both specialized stores and marketplaces equally often, indicating the possibility of reaching the Polish consumer through various channels.
Payment methods in the Polish e-commerce market
How do Poles pay for online purchases?
Anyone looking to conquer the Polish online retail market should know that the most preferred payment methods for online shopping are:
- Fast payments (Przelewy24, PayU, DotPay, TPay) – 69% of customers
- BLIK – 63%
- Card payment at the time of placing the order – 43%.
A valuable piece of information from a future perspective is that the youngest consumer group opts for purchases using BLIK payments (as much as 71% of young consumers choose this payment method).
Online sales and the popularity of artificial intelligence
With the introduction of widespread access to ChatGPT in November 2022, the natural question arises: does AI influence e-commerce?
Research conducted by Future Mind shows that in an era of AI popularity and a great AI boom, e-commerce inevitably utilizes the capabilities offered by artificial intelligence.
Companies must and want to keep up with the times. Therefore, they use AI for content marketing, as well as customer service and personalization of offers for consumers. Thanks to AI, it is easier to adjust product descriptions to the needs of foreign customers, among other things.
Furthermore, the rapid development of artificial intelligence’s analytical capabilities allows for the lightning-fast processing of large data sets to better serve and tailor the best offers.
The power of artificial intelligence is also leveraged by advertising systems to create intelligent campaign types, allowing for reaching the most interested individual
The future of CBEC and the Polish market
The predictability days are long gone. Today, companies must contend with market changes, shifting trends, but they agree on one thing.
Entrepreneurs engaged in cross-border e-commerce, anticipate that the significance of international trade in Poland will increase in the coming years. Growth is already observed compared to previous years, and the trend in the era of widespread digital shopping can only continue to develop.
Of course, stores wishing to sell internationally face various challenges. The supply chain in e-commerce is much more complex, and customer service is no longer as straightforward a process as it once was.
Fortunately, technological solutions, such as the aforementioned AI, can help facilitate the smooth implementation of CBEC solutions.
But where do entrepreneurs see the sources of growth they anticipate?
Popularity of e-commerce in Poland according to Polish Internet Research
Why do online shopping entice internet users?
Polish consumers buying online pay attention to:
- Speed of delivery and availability of convenient delivery options (parcel locker service wins);
- Low delivery cost or free delivery;
- Ability to compare offers and prices on marketplace platforms and make the best shopping choices;
- The e-commerce IAB report for 2023 indicates that 53% of users choose online shopping due to better prices than traditional sales;
- Customers also appreciate the fact that online stores offer discounts and better promotions than brick-and-mortar stores;
- Convenient return and complaint policies;
- Efficient online shopping through mobile devices;
- Reviews from other customers;
- The quality of products, the origin of materials, the company’s mission, and production and advertising ethics are also important.
In summary, if a company meets these most valuable conditions for the Polish consumer, the chance of gaining market share and broad sales is higher.
Market value of e-commerce in Poland
Quoting from the Strategy& report, in 2023, the value of the Polish e-commerce market will reach 124 billion Polish złoty. For comparison, in 2020 (a breakthrough year for online sales due to the pandemic and lockdown), the value of the Polish e-commerce market exceeded 100 billion złoty.
Let’s continue comparing – the European e-commerce value is expected to grow by 9-10% annually in the coming years.
And in the next decade, the value of the global e-commerce market is projected to reach a staggering $16 trillion.
As experts predict, the three categories of products expected to grow most dynamically in the coming years are:
- Health and beauty.
These are also three of the most popular categories purchased online by Polish consumers. As you can see, they are promising for development.
E-commerce in Poland – summary
Online sales targeted at Polish consumers are a great and forward-thinking move. The value of the Polish online sales market is growing, and Poles are increasingly bold and eager to buy online.
Sellers through independent online stores are doing great, but so are e-commerce platforms like Allegro, Zalando, Amazon, Aliexpress, Vinted, OLX, Empik, and Black Red White.
As Poland places increasing importance on fast and convenient deliveries, it can be argued that both q-commerce operators (already present in Poland’s largest cities) and diligent sellers dealing with classic but efficient shipping will enjoy popularity.
Entry into the Polish market for foreign sellers is facilitated by AI and the ability to use convenient translation and content creation functions, as well as adapting offers to customers through artificial intelligence.
Staying on the subject of deliveries, high delivery costs and inconvenient payments are the enemies of success in the Polish market.
E-commerce in Poland is thriving, leveraging new technological solutions and keeping pace with consumer needs. Customers, in turn, are becoming increasingly aware of their preferences and needs, as indicated by every e-commerce report cited here.